Olivia Newport walking boots

I have my choice of two boots. It turns out one is better than the other for sleeping in. Just a piece of trivia.

“How’s your foot?”

These days I get that question before I get a hello. From the neighbors. At church. From friends. At the gym (yes, I’m attempting exercise).

Six weeks ago I broke an ankle. These things take time, and there’s not much to rush the process of healing.

The answer to the question is that I am now “weightbearing progressively as tolerated.” Meaning I keep my crutches within reach, but I’m stepping down more every day. The real problem is that range of motion is pretty well lacking because of six weeks of immobilization for bone healing. So I have to do things like try to pick up a towel or marbles with unresponsive toes.

On one hand, everything seems so much harder. All the stuff I’m used to doing for myself. Faster. Without thinking. On the other hand, there’s more time to think, because it’s impossible to rush.

So I’ve been thinking about weightbearing.

1. I really looked forward to weightbearing. Just being able to put that foot on the floor made a world of difference in stability and mobility and independence.

2. I needed help. I couldn’t go straight from no weightbearing to full weightbearing. Whether crutches or people, something to lean on is a good thing.

3. Learning to walk again will be step by step. After measuring my limited range of motion at the first visit, the physical therapist said, “Well, we’ve got some work to do.”

4. Weightbearing is a risk. I have to do the exercises, but I also have to learn when to trust my own body to not throw me in the ditch again. At some point I’ll have to let go and take a step with my full weight.

The New Testament reminds us to bear each other’s burdens. That’s a different sort of weightbearing. We care for each other’s bodies. We hold each other up in our spirits. We share the load, even a crushing financial load. We offer emotional support and spiritual mobility on the soul journey.

And I can’t do without a community to bear the burdens that threaten my spiritual journey anymore than I can do without the crutches that keep me safe right now. So in the end:

5. Weightbearing is a gift. It’s a gift we need to give and receive with equal grace. The orthopedist’s first instructions were to put only 10 percent of my bodyweight on the injured foot. That did not seem like much to me, but it brought instant encouragement and a vision of my own healing. And when we bear each other’s weight, even just a small portion of it, we help create a picture of healing and wholeness and hope and a future.

No one of us has to bear all the weight of someone else’s burden. A little bit of weightbearing and burden-sharing brings enormous benefit. We can give that to each other.