The other day, someone asked me about my basketball season that I underwent this past year. Specifically, their question was, “what was it like playing on one leg?” Well, if you don’t know me I have two legs, don’t worry. But, for those who do know me know that I have had 5 different knee surgeries/operations on my left knee. Some were simple ACL replacements and some were much more extensive, involving reconstructions of ligaments, bone resurfacings, and a screw removal… I have some sweet scars. The main problem with my knee is that I don’t have much of a medial meniscus or much healthy cartilage left, both of which function as types of cushions for my bones and joint in my knee. My knee hurts after most any moderate activity and swells at the sight of any basketball court for longer than 30 minutes. So when I decided that I wanted to continue to play I knew that I would be “limited.” Limited is a word I hear all the time. I hear it from my surgeons, from athletic trainers, from my coaches, and even from my strength trainers. It’s a reality for me. When I first began to play, the word limited and the word limitations left a sour taste in my mouth. I knew that I would never be able to move the same way that I had once moved, especially on the court. But, I had a hard time accepting the restrictions. I thought, if I willed myself enough, if I told myself it didn’t hurt enough, if I denied the boundaries enough, that I would be able to push beyond them. I knew that God could move mountains and I was hopeful and prayerful that He would move mine. I learned quickly that my body did not agree with my way of thinking. I was in a lot of pain and wanted to do and be more than what my limitations would allow. I was playing basketball, and so grateful to be doing so given my history, but I didn’t feel like me. My game had taken almost a 180 from what it used to be because of the simple fact that I couldn’t run, jump, spin, or dribble like I could with two good legs. The way that I felt when I played was a foreign feeling. I was being forced to change under the walls that were my limitations- my mountain was unmoved and it was harder than I expected.
Sometimes when we hear the word limitation we get a sour taste in our mouth. Our mental connotation of words like restrictions and limitations become bitter. Naturally, why would we want to be held back? Why would we accept something that confines us?
My game completely changed this year and so did I. I got to experience what limitation really is. Limitation is not a 4 sided box. It is more like a 3 sided box. One with the top cut off. You fall into the box and all you see are walls. All you can see is where you can’t go. But once you run into the wall a few times and you feel your way around, with the good Lord’s help, you will look up and see that there is an opening. I embraced my new game and I began to embrace the openings that these limitations in my life were bringing. When I was in a lot of pain, especially days after games, I would have to sit and read because it was one of the only things that would keep my mind off of my knee. I read so many great books this year in the midst of my literary therapy. I spent more time alone during some of those times based on the simple fact that I didn’t want or feel like getting up and walking around. But I was able to spend a lot of that time in prayer and I was getting to spend intimate time with my heavenly father in those moments where I would just lay in bed. Our relationship developed and we got pretty tight. I was forced through these limits to self reflect. When you have a knee like mine, you have to look back at the things you did that day in practice or how many minutes you played in a game and reflect on how it made your body feel. Adjustments had to constantly be made to keep me on the court and without reflection I couldn’t make them. So, I learned how to reflect. I changed my diet and now am a vegetarian because I simply learned how to look at how I was feeling related to what I was eating. Veggies made me feel good. So I mostly eat veggies now, and I feel great.
Although my diet is cool and all, that’s not the point. I changed in so many ways over the last three years but I believe that God gave me my limitations in His preparation for my role in His kingdom. He is giving you challenges to push you to become a vital part of the vision. I love these verses in John chapter 9. It says, “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” We aren’t being punished. I didn’t fail because I blew out my knee and had to give up my dream of a Division I basketball career. Instead, through my limits Christ will be seen in me. It’s still the day and it’s time for us to go to work. Although limits will continue to come for me and for you, I hope that they leave a slightly less sour taste in our mouths.