Saving Face

I’ve heard the term “saving face” before – and usually people use it when an embarrassing social situation occurs and people are trying to make things better…but I’m using it in a different way.

I am in the process of saving my own face – literally.  About 3 months ago I woke up excited to attend a breakfast at our church and meet our new Pastor.  I hurriedly showered, dressed and fed the kids.  When I went upstairs to put my make-up on I realized my left eye wasn’t closing all the way.  This little event didn’t worry me much – in fact it was quite helpful when trying to put the make-up on my right eye!  However, I started to worry when I took a drink of orange juice at the breakfast and the liquid dribbled onto my lap via the left corner of my mouth. 

Things only got worse and soon I found myself asking lots of questions and getting very few concrete answers.  I think the worse part was when the doctor asked me to furrow my brow.  I thought I was doing what he asked until he held a mirror up and I realized the left side of my forehead was completely smooth and unresponsive. I heard the term Bell’s Palsy and soon understood that this was a condition that can last forever or go away – no one knows why it comes or how long it will last – but they did know that antibiotics and steroids would attack the virus and hopefully help me begin to heal.

The weeks that followed were filled with tears, frustration and pain.  In order to eat I had to take tiny bites, tilt my head so it touched my right shoulder and hold a napkin over my lips on my left side.  Talk about humbling!  The worse part was my left eye never closing.  My eye was the most painful part of the whole thing and I found myself taping my eye shut and wearing patches almost 24 hours a day.

We tried to find humor in the situation.  Whether we were practicing pirate-speak or the boys were asking me to drink out of  a cup so they could watch the liquid dribble down my chin – there were definitely times when laughter was the best medicine.  The boys learned to stay away from my left side and kissing them on the cheek became awkward…those were the moments that I really missed what my face USE to do.

The good news is that I am almost healed!  I say almost because this condition has changed me – forever. I now have a built-in “shut off” button.  I use to be able to do so much more. I could juggle, process and manage a million things at once – but not anymore.  Even when I begin to think about my list of things to do I can feel my cheek starting to droop.  I have to take a deep breath and refuse to let the anxiety overtake me.

My brother says that I don’t know when to stop so God put a little switch in me to help me learn when to take a break and slow down.  Don’t tell him this, but I think he’s right.  As moms we just accept our reality as it comes our way.  Sometimes we deal with each child, each situation and each day without stopping to look at the big picture and at ourselves.

Do you ever feel like you don’t really know what “stressed out” feels like because you kind of live there all the time?  I really thought I was good at juggling things and honestly some would say I was.  I could keep my cool, answer questions and keep a smile on my face – but let’s be honest – all those cheery, well-balanced public moments are draining.  I don’t think I realized when my body was telling me to slow down because I didn’t think I had the option to listen.

Well, I don’t have the option anymore – this is it.  My face is going to fall off (well, at least fall down) if I don’t slow down! So I’ve learned a new way of life.  I simplified things at work, I can only handle a certain number of activities within a weekend, things like that.  I had to start balancing the energy I DID have with my public and private activities.

This has been a good lesson for me – to know that I DO have limitations, I DO need rest and I DO  deserve a break. And you know what – you do too!  So here’s my challenge for all of us – at least twice a day we need to stop, sit down, put our feet up, take five slow deep breaths and relax.  I know it sounds kind of new-agey and weird, but just the slow breathing and having my feet up for a couple of minutes can make a world of difference when it comes to dealing with everything the day throws at me.

You may not have half of your face falling off, but I hope my experience can act as a warning bell to all moms – KNOW YOUR LIMITS, listen to your body and please don’t apologize for taking a moment to refuel! 

I’ve taken time to evaluate and teak my life, but I would have NEVER made it through this without my friends. They’ve helped save my face too!  Women from our Sunday School class brought meals, took my boys to playgroup, offered to clean my house, do the laundry – anything I needed done so that I could rest.  Sure it was humbling to have to wipe the drool from my mouth and talk with only half my lips – but nothing prepared me for how grateful and humbled I was going to feel when friends started coming to my rescue.  It’s hard for me to accept help but this time I didn’t have a choice. 

I praise God everyday for these women and I love knowing that I will one day get to return the favor in their time of need.  For now I’m still dealing with the effects of this whole thing.   I still have limits and I need help.  You may not have a physical condition that instigates people’s help but if you’re like me and you’ve come to this crazy place of humility, honesty and reality – you know you need to save more than just your face.

So take some time to rest, renew and relax this week – take a deep breath.  Summer has begun and kids are around you all the time – don’t let that drain your joy – God is our source of strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble and He knows exactly what we need, what we can handle and how we can succeed – if we’ll just listen 😮

You are amazing – thanks for sharing time in your day with me!


1 Response to “Saving Face”

  1. 1 realnice June 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM


    Thanks for sharing. Now, I know why God put a day of rest in the calendar of creation; because He finds it important.

    Your story–and it has just begun, is a wonderful testiment to the humbling nature of your life you live under a supreme God that knows you intimately.

    It’s been great getting to know your family and see you and your little men in action on a daily basis.

    I’m humbled to call you “friend”.

    In Him,
    Andrew Kneisler

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