Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Anniversary - Part 3

This is it. I promise. The end.

Because, really, who wants to hear someone else’s sick stories? I don’t.

But thank you for indulging me.

Today I wanted to share probably the biggest lesson I learned through my hospitalization and recovery at home. Those of you who know me well probably already know what it is.

It’s no big news flash that I’m a pretty independent person. I’ve always been able to take care of myself and my family without too much trouble. I’ve been known to go to great lengths to NOT ask for help at times.

So what happens when an independent girl suddenly finds herself not able to do even the simplest things for herself? What happens when she suddenly needs the help of other people just to get through the day?

She learns to ask for help.

Well, sort of. I had to come to grips, first, with why I have a hard time asking for help, and what I realized is that it’s mostly my pride. Pretty simple. Pride.

Pride keeps me from opening up. Pride keeps me from accepting offers of help. And pride certainly keeps me from asking others for help.

But I found myself in the most humbling state of my life, and I quickly realized, while lying in that bed, that I was going to have to start asking for help. It’s not like people weren’t offering—they were. Like crazy. But I honestly couldn’t think of anything to ask people to do.

So like me.

So I started small. One day prior to the surgery I happened to take a good look in the mirror and realized that my eyebrows had gotten out of control. Girls, we all know how embarrassing it is to be headed toward unibrow status, so I asked my friend, Margery, if she would please get me a pair of tweezers. Can’t go into surgery with eyebrows you can braid now, can you?

Margery hopped to it and brought me a pair of tweezers. The most beautiful tweezers I’ve ever seen. It might as well have been a gold brick; I don’t think I’ve ever loved a gift so much before. I’m happy to report that I’m still using those tweezers, and I think of my sweet friend every time I use them.

Next came meals. It became clear pretty quickly that B wouldn’t be able to keep up with the three girls, his job, and visiting me in the hospital every night. Life was quickly getting out of control on the home front, so receiving help with meals took so much stress off of him. Friends from church rallied and brought meals for week which turned out to be a huge blessing, even after I got home from the hospital because I couldn’t do much of anything.

Once I finally got home I had to ask for more help. For the first few days I knew I couldn’t be alone, but B really had to go to work (he had missed quite a bit of work at this point), so I asked a few friends if they would just come sit with me while my girls were in school.

When I think of it, this was such a huge sacrifice on the part of my friends. I mean really, who wants to sit around doing nothing with their friend who can’t do anything? But God provided in such perfect ways exactly what I needed.

On my first day home, my friend Micah came to be with me. She’s a pretty high-energy girl, so she took a look around and started digging in. She noticed a huge (and I do mean huge) pile of ironing, so she set up shop in the kitchen and ironed all my clothes. Happily. With a smile on her face. While I lay on the couch and watched. I still remember the sweet time of talking with Micah and feeling blessed beyond belief.

My second day home was a little harder. I started having some memories of the surgery, and I did a lot of processing and crying that day. But once again God knew what I needed because he sent my dear friend, Cheryl, who is a counselor. She brought me a box of Kleenex and listened patiently while I processed. She made me feel like everything was going to be just fine.

Not only that, but Cheryl folded my laundry. Since I know how much my friend just loves doing laundry, this was going above and beyond the boundaries of friendship.

She also did this.

God must have known that I needed to laugh that day.

As if taking meals, asking for tweezers, and allowing my friends to touch my laundry weren’t humiliating enough, there was one more thing God used to humble me and to teach me that asking for help every now and then isn’t so terrible.

On my third day at home, two friends, Kim and Jymette, came by to spend the day. Such good friends they are, I actually let them do the unthinkable. . . . they cleaned out my refrigerator! We still laugh about the fuzzy carrots and the green sweet potatoes. Talk about embarrassing.

I guess my pride problem was pretty big because God used all of these experiences to humble me and to teach me that sometimes I just need to ask for help. It’s still not easy for me, but when absolutely necessary I will and do rely on the help of others.

But Cheryl is never getting near my laundry again.


  1. Shelly,
    Thank you for sharing these three days. I really appriciated it. I had only heard about this from Kate, because at the time, I didn't know you very well. But I remember praying for you and for the girls often. It's really neat to hear about all that God did during that time. Thank you again,as always, for your honestly and vulnerability and all that I learn from what God has taught you.

  2. Stoic is the word that came to mind when you described how you were before. But stoic can mean stuck. Your "sick story" was recounted in a way we all learned with you. And God help me learn from you and not have to go through this!! You're a tough cookie - because of who lives inside you!