Sidelines: On Being a Big Toe

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By Monica deRegt

As I write this, I am trying to elevate my big, broken, black and purple toe. Somehow I broke it yesterday while descending our stairs with my 6-month-old in my arms. By "descending" I don't mean gracefully stepping down. It was more of a slip-trip-crash-hard kind of a thing. Thankfully the baby is fine. And thankfully, it was just my toe that broke. Right?

Actually, I have found myself thinking in the last 24 hours that I may as well have broken my leg or arm for all the fuss this incident has caused. Who knew a small, mostly behind-the-scenes little body part could play such a big role in my quality of life? And who knew how blessed I would be through breaking it, and having my eyes opened in 3-D vision to the blessings of living in community?

Did you know that without your big toe, you can't walk properly? Mostly because you have no balance. Also, almost every hour I find myself wanting to use that toe for some purpose or another, from flicking on the nightlight in the baby room while I'm rocking my son to sleep, to turning on the scale in the bathroom, to holding myself up on the edge of the bottom bunk to kiss my daughter goodnight on the top bunk. I can't even drive!! It's not like my big toe does the driving, but without it, I'm confined to my home.

There are so many things I can't do without the use of my big toe. And while I have been in awe reflecting on the surprising necessity of this part of my body, I have also been showered with blessings by my friends and neighbors who have scaled the walls of my inability to ask for or accept help (a character trait that snuck up on me while I was a youth pastor's wife and felt the need to appear as if I "have it all together"), and these wonderful people have stepped in to care for my children and drive me to appointments and bring meals and clean my house. I am overwhelmed with the sheer joy of being part of a bigger body, and beginning to understand how very important it is to allow myself to be fully part of that body, instead of holding myself at arms length.

So, of course, the obvious analogy I'm leading up to here is the Bible verse that states that we are all parts of one body. But the uniqueness of this situation for me is how much I can relate to my big toe! As a ministry spouse, we might not be the ones doing the actual ministry, just like my toe is not doing the walking or driving. But without us, there would not be the balance that is so needed for that ministry to be done effectively, or done at all. Whatever that balance looks like in your relationship and your role, know that without it, the ministry would be limping! And limping is hard work that eventually causes lots of other aches and pains and problems.

So maybe you help keep your husband grounded when he is in his super-hero-I'm-going-to-conquer-the-world's-youth-ministry-problems mode, or maybe you are the one who keeps reminding your spouse of his/her gifts when they have been bombarded by discouraging emails, maybe you proofread his unintelligible articles (oops, sorry dear, was that our secret?), or you are the sounding board for your spouse to bounce ideas off of. Maybe it's as simple as the hug your spouse needs after he has dealt with a teen crisis, or the refreshment of being with someone who doesn't put him/her on a pedestal. It can even come in the form of handcuffing him to the fridge while you hammer out vacation days on the calendar before there are youth events booked during every single available week in the summer. There are so many ways we bring balance to our spouses and their ministry.

You are needed, and you are necessary when it comes to your spouse's ministry. It might not be glamorous or exciting to think of yourself as a big toe in this particular body, but let me tell you, after the week I've had, I'd be honored to be compared to a big toe! And wow, watch out if you mistreat us or overextend us--we can turn purple and mean-looking and land the whole body flat on it's back for a while if we want to. And yet, with a little care, we can also be a beautiful asset. Here's to a pedicure!

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