Making Peace With My Lawnmower

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I like to mow grass.

So sue me.

Back when I was in my thirties and forties I even mowed grass for my neighbors. I was stronger then. Now I just mow for myself. (And my hard-working husband, of course.) I’m not as young as I used to be, but I think mowing grass helps keep me ‘young…-er’.

I look at it like this: I’m not a member of a gym. I don’t lift weights. I don’t treadmill, row, or bike. I need an aerobic workout. Mowing grass gives me that.

I wish I could cut grass all year long, but the mowing season is short-lived in these parts. Some people might think the season is lo-o-o-o-ng, but 4 months out of a 12-month year is only a quarter. Forget mowing in a summer drought. No need to mow fried grass.

I can remember when the thought of cutting 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 with a roaring mower. The only thing about it that bothers me these days is when I see dads mowing their yards while their child pushes a toy mower behind them. I guess they think it’s cute. Or teaching them something. Makes me cringe. I want to stop and yell, “Get your child in the house NOW!! What do you think you’re doing?!? This is dangerous and I’m living proof!”

Seriously, there’s nothing ‘cute’ about the power of a machine with the potential to shoot out rocks and debris like a shotgun. I’ve got 2 broken window panes to prove it. The holes look just like bullet holes.

AND. I’ve got a prosthetic eye to add all the remaining proof you may need.

When people ask me how I lost my eye, I usually tell them, “In a backyard accident as a child,” and that’s enough to satisfy them. Occasionally, someone will press me for more info. I don’t mind talking about it anymore. There’s no pain or discomfort. I’ve made peace with it all. If I hadn’t, these words, “I like to mow grass,” would not even enter my mind. But, yes…

I’ve made peace with my lawnmower.

Funny thing is…that backyard accident wasn’t anyone’s fault. Not my Dad’s. Not my Mom’s. Not mine. It was a FREAK accident. Unusual. Atypical. Irregular. Unexpected. 

Rare.

It was one of those things that doesn’t happen to just anyone. Or in every backyard.

It was one of those things that happened to me. In MY backyard.

I wasn’t following my Dad around with a toy lawn mower as he cut the 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 atypical happens in the common.

When the irregular happens in the constant. 

When the unexpected happens in the assumed. 

When in the middle of calm and bright and peaceful life freaks you out. 

And a lawnmower became a symbol to a little girl of all that’s agitating. All that’s threatening.

All that is disquieting.

But see…here’s the thing, and I’ll make this simple…we all have things that have become ‘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. And that meant surrender. First of all, of course, was surrender to the gift of grace through Jesus. Then, there was the surrender to His will, His way, His plan, His purpose. For me.

When the freakish things in life rear their ugly heads and rocks in the grass become weapons of destruction I’ve had to learn that surrendering to God first means letting Him in my backyard where, YES!, even the unusual happens. The atypical. The irregular and the unexpected. The places where I’m usually the most comfortable. The most familiar. The most peaceful.

And it means surrendering the symbols that represent what’s wrong in my heart and soul. God wants all of me so He can make what’s wrong right. Like the freakish things of life. He turns them from ‘rare’ to ‘remarkable.’

God entrusted this to me. This rare and unexpected thing. It happened to me because He knew I could handle it. He knew I would surrender it all. My heart. My soul. My mind. My strength. 

He knew I would make peace with a prosthetic eye. And my lawnmower.

And instead of it being a symbol of weakness. It would become a symbol of strength.

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It would become a workout.

Not just to build physical strength. But to build character.

You know, my ocularist-the man who made my eye, said something like this to me at my last visit, “I think it’s hard for people who’ve lost an eye to talk about it because it’s rare. They feel alone. Their personalities have a lot to do with how they handle it. For some, it’s very painful. For others, it doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal, but because they’re all different, how they handle it will be unique to each one individually.”

I’d like to think I’m handling it well these days. Not for me.

For my God.

Because He thinks I can handle a lawnmower just fine. And you know what else?

He knew I would one day actually like to mow grass.

“But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God…For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:12, 16

Sweet Child Of Mine

Moms have these defining moments when memories of their children are forever engraved on their hearts. Memories that carry us through a lifetime. Memories we replay over and over again. We  can recall with great clarity a child’s facial expressions, mannerisms, words of profound wisdom or deeds of great significance by tapping into our memory bank at any given time. My first born son was married this past Saturday. The past few days I’ve relived some precious memories, from his birth to this very present moment in time. Jason may be a man now, but I’ve not forgotten the joys of raising him and watching him grow in grace. I’m so glad my memory bank has been filled to overflowing.

I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect bride for Jason. Laura is amazing. She has a heart of gold, a spirit of compassion and a soul that radiates with love for my son. What more could a mother hope for her son? My heart is thrilled for them both.

Jason asked me a few weeks ago what song I wanted to dance to at the wedding. The mother-son dance, I mean. Our dance. The one that would melt my heart and open a floodgate of tears. It took me all of ten minutes to choose Carole King’s, Sweet Child Of Mine. I want to tell you why I knew this song was perfect for us. I want to tell you of a memory that is very dear to my heart….a memory that defines what kind of man Jason has become. A memory that defines the kind of husband he will be.

Seven years ago I had to have a new prosthetic eye made. It had been a long time since I had a new one. It’s not something I like having done, but I was fighting frequent infections and irritations. On the advice of my ophthalmologist I just couldn’t put it off any longer. Some people hate going to the dentist, but that doesn’t bother me one single bit. I’d rather have work done on my teeth than go through the process of having a new eye made. It’s not that it’s painful physically. It’s just emotionally draining. Ocularists aren’t found on every street corner. They’re not even found in every city. The closest one to my home was almost two hours away.

At the age of forty-eight, I felt pretty confident in the fact that I had dealt with my “stuff.” I felt for sure I had gotten past the need to have someone hold my hand during the process of having a new eye made. It’s actually a pretty fascinating process, but I’d never really learned to appreciate it before. There’s the mold that has to be made, the shaping, the firing, the buffing, the painting, more firing, more buffing. It takes several trips and I wanted to be a “big girl.” I wanted to do this all by myself. My husband was skeptical. He wanted to be with me, but I assured him I needed to do this one on my own.

I was so proud of how well I had held up until the final fitting. With the new eye completed,  I looked at myself in the mirror and was caught completely off guard. To me, the color was wrong and it wasn’t a good match, but what did I know? Talk about a hundred foot drop…that’s what I felt my heart did. It crashed. I practically ran to the car, pulled the visor down so I could get a good look in the mirror and I burst into tears. I was back in my young-girl-skin at the community swimming pool and I saw a freak. I called my husband on my cell phone and cried. I called my Dad and cried. As much as they loved me, though, they couldn’t get to me in a parking garage an hour and a half away. That was one long drive back home.

When I walked in the door, my husband put his arms around me and spoke words of comfort. Shortly afterwards, my parents came to the house and I cried some more. Later that evening Jason just happened to drop by, totally unexpected and completely unprepared for what he would see…his Mom at the dining room table, her eyes red, her cheeks wet, her countenance fallen. Gosh, how could I have been so pitiful? I didn’t even know what was really wrong with me, why I was so upset, but somehow my son did.

After my father explained to Jason what had brought on the flood of tears, he bent down, put his arm around my shoulder, looked me right in my eyes and said what no one else had, “Mom, you are still beautiful.”

With that, I put my face on his shoulder and sobbed. How could he have possibly known there was a fear deep inside of me that threatened to take me back to a place I didn’t want to go? A place where I didn’t see myself as pretty to look upon. How did he know? Because he is a child of mine…

“Although you see the world different than me/Sometimes I can touch upon the wonders that you see; All the new colors and pictures you’ve designed…Oh yes, sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine. Child of mine, child of mine…Oh yes, sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.”

The next day, I went to work. Yes, I did. I was never one to hide. Jason came to see me at work that day. He said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking about you all morning. I wanted to do something for you so I went shopping and I found this.” He gave me a figurine of Jesus holding a little girl in His arms.

“Mom, that’s you,” he said. I replied, “Yes, in the arms of Jesus.” How could he have possibly known what I needed most? To be reminded that true beauty is in the eye of the Beholder and He would always hold me close when I was insecure and unsure of myself. How did he know? Because he is a child of mine…

“You don’t need direction, you know which way to go/And I don’t want to hold you back, I just want to watch you grow; You’re the one who taught me you don’t have to look behind…Oh yes, sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine. Child of mine, child of mine…Oh yes, sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine.”

So, on Saturday I watched as my father married my son and his beautiful bride…the woman of his dreams, the one he would love and cherish always. Surrounded by our family and his friends I watched and pondered, digging into my memory bank wondering how in the world I was ever going to find the room for more memories because I know there are still plenty to come.

Before the evening was over, Jason would take my hand and the DJ would play our song.

“Let it all out, Mom. It’s OK,” he said.

And I did. I cried, but who cared? It was a wedding and they were happy tears.

“Nobody’s gonna kill your dreams/Or tell you how to live your life; There’ll always be people to make it hard for a while, But you’ll change their hearts when they see you smile. The times you were born in may not have been the best/But you can make the times to come better than the rest; I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind….Oh yes, sweet darling, So glad you are a child of mine.”

And another memory has been engraved on my heart….forever. Thank you, sweet child of mine. I love you.

(P.S. My father went with me back to the ocularist and he made some adjustments on my eye. All is good, but so is God. Always.)