I like to mow grass.
Not exactly the most appealing way to start off a blog post. Agreed. But there’s a reason.
Back in my younger adult years I even found great joy in mowing grass for my neighbors.
Sometimes I did it just to be nice. Sometimes I did it to earn some extra cash. Most of the time I did it for my hard-working husband who often worked 50-60 hours a week as a grocery store manager.
I’m not as young as I used to be these days. And I don’t have a yard of my own to mow anymore, but I can remember when the thought of mowing grass petrified me. You wouldn’t catch me pushing a lawn mower around. No way.
I didn’t even want to be in the same yard as a roaring mower.
When people ask me how I lost my eye, I usually tell them, “In a backyard accident as a child.”
That usually satisfies their curiosity, but occasionally someone will press me for more details. I don’t mind talking about it.
Gone is the pain and discomfort I felt in my youth. Present is the peace and contentment I have in my God.
If this weren’t so, the words, “I like to mow grass,” would never leave my lips. But, yes. I’ve made peace with the lawnmower.
Funny thing is, that backyard accident wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was a freak accident.
It was one of those things that doesn’t happen to just anybody. Or in every backyard. It was one of those things that happened to me.
I wasn’t following my Dad around as he cut our grass. I wasn’t even running around the yard.
My Mom and I were sitting on a bench outside our back porch steps, letting the rays of the summer sun beat down on us.
All was calm. All was bright. All was peaceful.
My Dad was mowing on the other side of the driveway. We had a gravel driveway back then and sometimes the rocks would get lost in the grass.
Funny how life is so freakish sometimes.
When the unusual happens in the ordinary. When the unexpected happens in the common. When in the middle of calm and bright and peaceful, life just freaks you out.
When a lawn mower becomes a symbol to a little girl of all that’s agitating. All that’s threatening. All that’s disquieting.
But see, here’s the thing…if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all turned things into “symbols” of what’s wrong in our lives. For me, for so long, it was a lawnmower and I had to make peace with it.
The only way I could do that was to make peace with God first. That meant surrender. Surrender to the gift of grace through Jesus Christ and then surrender to His will, His way, His plan, His purpose. For me.
Losing an eye as a child wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened to me, but it didn’t make it any less traumatic. I had a lot of emotions to work through, especially as a teenager. The real healing had to take place in my heart.
Did I always think God could use the loss of my eye to fulfill a divine purpose? No.
What matters is I do now.
I’d like to think I’ve learned to handle it well. Not for my sake. For God’s. He knew one day I’d learn to live as gracefully as I can, not just with a prosthetic eye but hearing aids, too.
I was born with hereditary, degenerative hearing loss. My loss is now severe on the auditory scale.
The reality of my life is this: Someone could be standing right beside me on my left side and I wouldn’t know they were there. I don’t see them. I don’t hear them.
I need to see your face when you talk to me. I need to watch your mouth move. Don’t even get me started on how I cope with the new normal of life with face masks.
Really, Nina. I have always been and will always be enough for you.
I know it’s a passage of Scripture that’s quoted by many, used by millions, and inspired multitudes, but God spoke these words straight into my heart decades ago and they became my life message:
But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ 2Corinthians 12:9 & 10
For all the times I felt less than.
For all the times I endured teasing.
For all the times I experienced discomfort.
For all the times I embraced tears.
For all the times I struggled to hear.
For all the times I struggled to keep up.
For all the times I struggled to overcome.
For all the times I felt inadequate for the service.
For all the times I felt unequipped for the task.
For all the times I felt unempowered for the calling.
His grace has been my sufficiency. His power has been my salvation.
Hear me boast.
When it comes to thorns in your side you have two choices: You can allow the enemy to use that thorn to keep you from being effective in the ministry God has called you to OR you can use that thorn to the glory of God.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going for the glory.
When someone says to me, “Nina, if you hadn’t told me, I would never have known because you don’t act like someone who has those issues,” well…that’s just testimony to the grace of God.
It’s a real thing, my friends.
It’s what enables us, equips us, and empowers us to serve and minister and bear fruit no matter how sharp the thorns, how deep the issues, how tragic the backyard stories.
It’s how God is most glorified in the ordinary of our days.
In the calm. In the bright. In the peaceful.
And it’s what can turn a lawn mower into a powerful symbol of what God can do with a surrendered heart.
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