I was talking to my friends several weeks ago and I mentioned something in passing about the leg braces I used to wear when I was younger. My friends flipped out—“Why didn’t you tell us you wore leg braces? What do you mean you wore braces? How have you not mentioned this???”
The honest answer is I don’t think about them a whole lot. I’m incredibly blessed that even though my legs are not exactly what they should be, the problems I have with them do not hold me back in any real way or provide any major hurdle in my life. I have arthritis from a surgery I had several years ago, and chilly mornings like this one make my knees and hips ache. Sometimes I hyper-extend my knees because a weird thing that came with my birth defect was being double jointed everywhere. And sometimes, because my feet bones are not properly aligned, my feet really hurt after a long day. But really, these are small complaints, and I am just thankful that these are my only ones. So I don’t really bring up the braces, the casts, the surgery, the custom arch supports. For the most part, all of that is in the past.
Except, after my friends flipped out, I realized how much all of that stuff still impacts my day to day life.
The biggest way, perhaps, is that I have an obsession with fun socks. My leg braces were plastic and went from my toes to my knees (luckily I was allowed to have colored plastic, and I had blue tie-dye braces). To prevent the braces from rubbing my legs raw, I had to start wearing knee socks under them. My mother, who could see this turning into a very bad situation for a then middle-school me, spent hours on the internet searching for and ordering fun patterned knee socks so these braces didn’t turn into a punishment, but into an expression of sorts. It’s been eight years since I wore braces on my legs, but I still haven’t bought a plain pair of socks to wear. My current favorite pair have donuts all over them, and the plainest pair I have are still polka-dotted.
I also realized I still don’t particularly prefer ponytails. I’d rather wear braids or buns if I give myself the time to do my hair. Before I had knee surgery, I limped. For a long time, I didn’t realize it. An orthopedist once asked my mom how long I had limped, and she said forever. All of a sudden it made sense why my ponytails swung from side to side so violently while I walked–I was limping. There was no equilibrium state in my walk, and my hair reflected that. Braids and buns don’t swing from side to side, and made it easier for me to forget that I was limping. Braids, buns, and loose hair all require a little more effort, but for the younger me that was once embarrassed by my problems, it was far more preferable, and now it’s just become a habit.
Now these aren’t really big deals, but they did make me pause and think. What other things from my past am I still carrying with me? What embarrassments, what insecurities, what fears am I still holding, when I should be laying them down at the foot of the cross? What have I been trying to hide from God, instead of handing those things over and letting myself be healed? Bringing these things out into the light has freed me, incredibly. I feel the most comfortable in my own skin I have ever felt, because since that conversation, I have been working through these things from my past and dropping that weight. I am free to live in this moment, right here, and be the goofy, bold me that I knew was in there all along. My past, those things I carried with me–Jesus has victory over those. He has made me a new creature.
A new creature who still loves a good pair of fun socks.