Monday, February 4, 2013

The Hurt Club

     A rat trap is humane, but it still hurts. I don’t know if something was wrong with me not being able to set it properly or the trap was just faulty. I kept pulling the bar back and trying to set the rod in place. My fingers were getting greasy with peanut butter and I was having trouble focusing on the close-up view. I raised my head to look under my glasses and kept trying. I heard the crack and saw my right thumb beneath the bar. Then I felt the pain. The rat trap had closed on my thumbnail. I had just been considering that this trap would break someone’s finger. I didn’t think mine was broken.  I could still move it.
I took a break from work and soaked my thumb in some ice water. Yes, it hurt. But I reflected back to three other times I hurt my fingers and tentatively placed this at number four. When I got back to work I tried to set the trap again, but my dexterity as well as my nerve was completely gone. The next time the trap snapped shut I sprang backwards leaving my eyeglasses on the floor. I left it there on the floor and tried to go back to my normal work.
I couldn’t turn keys and my thumb was beginning to hurt more and more. I did something I had not done in years. I took the rest of the evening off as a sick day. Prajna fussed over my injury. She helped me bandage it and borrowed some miracle ointment that really did improve it. Nathaniel made me a get well sign. I spent evening watching classic Star Trek on Netflix and slept reasonably well. I wore the splint Prajna bought for me to work the next day and assured people that it didn’t hurt that much. And really, compared to the time I mashed two fingers with a sledgehammer head six years back, this was pretty minor.
Two days later I was vacuuming at work when I felt my phone vibrate. Prajna told me that Nathaniel had seriously cut his thumb. He had been cutting himself an orange and sliced his left thumb. We conferred over the best course of action. She was still a little jittery and Nathaniel was wrapped in a blanket. I asked to talk to him and she put him on.
I told Nathaniel that I was sorry that he cut himself. He didn’t seem to upset anymore. Then I told him that he and I were both in the hurt thumb club. He seemed to enjoy that realization. I asked him if maybe he could make a sign and membership cards and he liked the idea. He has not made anything yet, but we have a special handshake where we gently touch sore thumbs and make a little ding.
This morning Yucaipa and parts of southern California are reeling from a tragic bus crash just north of town. The fatality count is still growing. That in addition to the senseless violence in the news is heartbreaking. And sometimes my theology is shaken. I become confused as to if God allows bad things to happen and I think that I used to know the answer to this question and felt solid in my belief. But just like how the trauma of watching a rat trap snap on my finger killed my nerve, I lose my nerve sometimes in believing that God is in control.
I do however stand firm on this belief: God never wastes a hurt. When my youngest son was sitting on the couch, I don’t know how traumatized he was from seeing his thumb bleeding all over the place. But he was able to talk to someone who said, I know how that feels and you and I have a special kinship. I don’t think that God had Nathaniel’s injury in mind when the trap closed on my finger. I don’t know how His plans work. I was just grateful that I could be there for my son.
I just wanted to share what I am convinced of. God will never waste a hurt. And if that is true, God is indeed in control.
Nathaniel's get-well sign

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