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One load over the line, sweet Jesus

January 24, 2014

I remember the moment like it was yesterday. It was a youth basketball tournament in Redwood Falls. Several kids were playing a pick-up game on an open court. A loud scream echoed through the cavernous gymnasium. In a primal movement, I bolted at the sound a mother recognizes. On my way to the court, I plowed into a boy exclaiming with tears in his eyes, “It’s Sawyer! He’s hurt!”. It was agonizing to see our boy crumpled on the hardwood floor, writhing in pain after he had only recently began to walk again following more than two years of rehabilitation. After comforting him, I returned to the fan bleachers for the girls’ game.

Quietly, I said to my friend, “I’m going to hold it together for my daughter, but could you meet me behind the bleachers after the game is over? I’m going to lose it then.” The girls lost devastatingly, only scoring two points on non-shooting technical fouls because an opposing player refused to remove jewelry.

When the game was over, that friend along with at least a dozen other moms, held me as I sobbed behind the bleachers. They cradled, hugged, and cried with me. Those sweet women spoke words of truth into my heart as I had reached overload. My mettle meter was busted. Not one cell in my body could be strong at that moment. Audible and silent, their prayers soothed my soul. It was probably one of the worst and best crying sessions I have ever had.

I remember all the faces of those that walked by. You could read their thoughts as if they had cartoon bubbles escorting them along. It is just elementary basketball. It’s just a game. How can she be that upset?

The burden was just too big for me. Even though, I didn’t really care what other people thought, deep in my heart I wished for some universal sign to say, “Be gentle. I’m sinking.” I wanted normal – whatever that was – back in my life.

My devotion yesterday introduced me to a new idea regarding the carrying of burdens.  The Plimsoll line was a completely foreign concept to me, but the devotion was one that resonated with my soul.

While I won’t advocate for a load line to be painted on those who are suffering (no matter what the reason), I do wish, in a world where hasty judgments of misunderstandings are a norm, there existed a signal for “OVERLOAD” for our burdens.

For years, I have said that black armbands should have never gone out of fashion. I am just old enough to remember their use in my childhood. What are black armbands? I’m glad you asked. The black armband replaced the mourning dress of all black to signify that someone was grieving. I don’t think I could pull off the black gowns of Miss Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, but the armband could be my fashion trend.

I’ve pointed the bands out to people who completely missed them all together, and then find they are astonished to know they never noticed them.  The Bailey family in It’s a Wonderful Life don black armbands in the scenes following the death of the patriarch Peter Bailey. The simple slip of black cloth worn on the upper left arm signifies to the world the wearer is mourning the loss of someone dear.

President Calvin Coolidge wearing an armband in mourning for President Harding.  Photo found at

President Calvin Coolidge wearing an armband in mourning for President Harding. Photo found at

There are days when I am brave and strong and could tackle ten lions with one arm behind my back, but then there are the other days. Those painful hours when a black armband could save me from some of the cruelty of life. The simple cue that says, “Today I am struggling”.

I never thought I would see leg warmers come back into fashion. Completely wrong was my thinking as my little girl’s bureau can attest. So, a girl can always hope that black mourning bands might see a fashionable comeback.

Even if they don’t, we can all use a reminder that the well-worn shoes of another never truly feel comfortable no matter how close the size.

We can remember that a kind word goes much farther than harsh one. A hug is better than words most of the time. And no one truly knows how it is to live someone else’s life.

For some of us – I daresay the blessed ones – we are also surrounded by friends who simply get those last three sentences. They are the friends who will sit on a gymnasium floor and whisper, “God loves you. We love you. You will make it through this.”

Those friends see the black armband that is invisible to the rest of the world.

Thank God they do!

  1. melissafaithbodin permalink

    I will gladly sport a black arm band (well three) with you dear friend! Let’s bring it back, one arm at a time. 🙂 Love this post and you!

  2. Thanks Missy. I actually once thought about sewing myself one and just wearing it – even if it was a comfort measure for me. Love you right back.

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