Happy New Year!
What? I’m a little late, you say? Well, that’s true. I apologize for being gone for so long. I have some really good excuses, though, if you’re interested!
Truthfully, this post is a little tough for me to write. Here’s why:
By nature, I’m an optimist, a “Pollyanna,” a glass-half-full kind of gal. In addition, “hospitality and encouragement” are two of my strengths. Yes, I know I often fail in that regard. I’m sarcastic and snarky lots of the time – and yes, I might rub some folks the wrong way with my biting remarks and strong opinions, but the truth is, I hold back WAY more than you’ll ever know because it is truly important for me to be encouraging and loving toward others. Some of that is altruistic – I do it because I really do love and care about others (with the supernatural love that can truly only happen by the power of the Holy Spirit – Christ’s spirit within us), but I also admit that some of that is because it makes ME “feel good,” too. Anyway, it’s part of me – “who I am.”
But the stuff that’s kept me from writing lately has been some pretty tough, personal stuff. And some pretty aggravating stuff, too. So right now I’m writing this from a point of frustration, and yes, even some discouragement. And being the Pollyanna that I am, that’s tough for me to admit to you.
But there you go. I did it. I admitted it. Ripped the ol’ bandaid off and let it bleed right before your very eyes. And I survived it, so…I’ll tell you a little more. Maybe by sharing some of this tough, and very personal, stuff with you, we can all be encouraged – at least that’s my hope.
Why is it so tough for people like me to admit when times are tough? Well, I’ve done a lot of “pondering” on this issue whilst (I love that word – it makes me think I sound like someone from Downton Abbey, instead of a hillbilly) I’ve been stuck to my Tempurpedic mattress for the past month. (And if you’re going to be stuck to your mattress, folks, Tempurpedic is the ONLY way to go!)
It’s tough to admit things are tough because I want to BE TOUGH! I want to be strong enough to be able to serve and take care of others around me, no matter what. If someone is sick, I want to be the one to take the meal. If someone needs prayer, I want to pray for them. If the boys’ classroom needs cupcakes – let ME take them! I want to be the one that keeps the stats for the boys’ basketball games! You need a home for middle school boys to stay all weekend during a retreat? I’ve got room! You need a Bible study teacher for elementary school kids? Got it! You need a home for small groups to meet? Me, me – choose me!!! Superbowl party? Let’s have it here! I even scour Facebook multiple times a day for updates of friends and family members who are hurting, sick, sad, need a virtual hug, a fervent prayer, or just deserve a “like!” How much crazy is THAT???!!!
I don’t want to say no to ANY of those things! I want to “be there” when I’m needed. I want to be the rock others can lean on. I just really don’t want to let anyone down – ever!
But then, this past month happened. In fact, this kind of month has happened to me before – several times. Health issues. Took. Me. Down. For the count.
And I was the helpless one.
I needed the prayers. And the meals. And the help with my boys. And people to lean on. Shoulders to cry on. And yes, sometimes I simply needed a “like” on my pathetic Facebook posts.
For a quick explanation of what happened, I had a routine surgery scheduled for January 2nd – a hysterectomy/oophorectomy (removal of uterus, cervix, & ovaries – if that’s TMI, I’m sorry. Not really.). It went very well, and I came home taking almost NO pain medication and feeling like I could almost jump back into life like Wonder Woman. Seriously. I was a marvel of strength and health – amazing the doctors and nurses around me! They were probably going to write an article for the “Amazing Medical Miracle People Journal” or something like that. (Well, almost!)
And then – BAM!
One week after my surgery, on January 9th, I began having some severe pain. In fact, it was so bad that I did something I never do – I posted a request for prayer on Facebook, FOR MYSELF! The HORROR! Admitting I was in pain and suffering!
But I did it – and my friends responded, quickly, with prayer. I know it because I got so many likes! No…just kidding! I know it because I FELT IT. Thank you!
The prayers provided great comfort, and great strength to help get me through it, because I have never been in such pain and misery before in my life! We had to rush to the emergency room, where CT scans revealed that I had a severe hernia of my small intestine. In fact, it had looped through my peritoneum twice and tied itself into a pretzel knot – the largest they’d ever seen, according to the two surgeons who eventually operated.
They moved me by ambulance to a hospital 30 minutes away. I was pumped so full of pain meds that I began to go in and out of consciousness. It was late at night by this time, and the surgeons were hoping I could wait until morning to perform surgery. However, upon consultation, they realized that my brain was nearly completely fried by the huge doses of pain medicine and that there would be no way that they could tide me over until morning without killing me. Within minutes, they were opening me up. And a good thing, too. The surgeon later said that if they had waited any longer, I would have most definitely lost a significant amount of my intestine. As it was, they were able to save it, all of it. Praise the Lord!
So, a bunch of sutures and staples on my insides, and about 30 or more staples on my outside, a few more days in the hospital, and I was finally sent home. Still in pain. Still nauseous. Bowels not working properly (I won’t go any further into detail about that, I promise – let’s just say that eventually, everything came out alright). I was home – but it was a blur for a week or two, from all of the pain medications required.
Here we are, February 5th. I’ve come a long, long way, but truthfully, I am still in pain and have lots of nausea. I am still taking medication for it daily. I’m on restrictions from lifting and driving. My husband has been mom and dad and chauffeur and cook and launderer and homework teacher and grocery shopper and house cleaner and EVERYTHING for way too long, now. And he’s finally beginning to show the signs of wear and tear for it. He is amazing. He is a rock.
Yes, I needed a rock. Several rocks. And you know what, God provided.
In the midst of all of this, I wanted to be strong. I wanted to prove that I didn’t need pain medication, or lots of help getting things done. I did not want to be a nuisance to anyone – please don’t let me intrude on your lives, I’m fine!
That’s what I wanted you to think.
So I posted funny stuff (way too much stuff!) to Facebook. Tweeted out a few interesting things here and there. Combed my raggedy looking hair (it hasn’t seen a stylist since before Thanksgiving – yikes!) and put on a smile when you came to see me. Insisted we didn’t need meals – but you brought them anyway, bless you! I put on my sweat pants and went to the boys’ basketball games. Rode to the ski slopes to watch everyone else ski. And yes, I’m going to pull on the ol’ pants and go teach a kids’ Bible study class tonight.
All while I’m in pain and so nauseated I’ve eaten nothing but Halo clementines for the past two days. And I’m STILL on pain meds, a month after all of this started. And every time I need a refill, I panic, sure that the doctors think I’m a drug seeker.
I don’t want to need help.
There have been a few days when I dissolved into tears because of the pain and nausea. And there have been a few days I dissolved into tears because of simply feeling like a helpless, dependent wonder.
There were times when I hurt so much that I wanted to get on Facebook and beg for prayers. But I couldn’t force myself to do it. Why? What is up with that? I mean, like I said, I’m one of those who checks up on everybody daily on Facebook to see if prayers are needed, or help, or anything. So WHY do I have such a problem admitting my own weaknesses?
Honestly, I’m not quite sure about that. I don’t mind admitting my silly, sometimes stupid, mistakes to you. I’m pretty self-deprecating when it comes to things like that. I can be the butt of a joke, admit when I’m wrong, admit when I’ve done things that prove I’m much less than perfect and wonderful. This stuff is pretty often, folks. So why can’t I just admit when I need help? When I need a virtual hug? When I need a stupid “like” on my Facebook post!!! Why can’t I reach out and let someone know I need them to come and pray with me NOW – or I might dissolve into a puddle of ugly cry tears that won’t end anytime soon?
I believe that a lot of it is pride. And I believe that a lot of it is worry that I can’t afford to bother others. Or maybe, maybe I’m afraid that others don’t REALLY care. And if that’s the case, I really don’t want to know the truth.
And that’s so sad…sad on MY part. How did I let myself get to that point of believing that others really don’t care about me enough to truly help?
Because you know what? You really proved me wrong. Even though I didn’t cry out (much) – you came. You sent meals, flowers, cards, and even fingernail polish and lip gloss! You sent me funny stories to read online, and let me know you were praying for me. You invited my boys to come play with yours and made sure they were having fun and keeping up with life while I was down. You brought me lunch and laughs, and sat with me while I was feeling bad. You texted, messaged, emailed, posted, tweeted, and I don’t know what else – and that’s just the stuff I can recall from the pain med fog I’ve been in!
And I can only imagine the avalanche of love that would have covered me had I really cried out to you from the deepest pits!
In the past couple of days, the tragic death of a wonderful actor, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, has been in the news. He died of an apparent drug overdose. He has admitted that he was lonely. In pain. Suffering. He felt things deeply, and he needed to know that he was not alone…and yet, he could not bring himself to reach out to ask for help. He couldn’t share his weaknesses with the world. With anybody.
I’ve wondered why. I’ve wondered if his reasons were the same as my own.
Now that he has passed, the world mourns the loss of a brilliant, talented actor. Some news accounts are even reporting that he was THE MOST brilliant, talented actor of our time. Friends, loved ones, peers are coming out of the woodwork to talk about how much he meant to them, how much they admired and respected him and his work.
But he didn’t know that. He had NO IDEA. He had a hole full of emptiness, and he did not know how to reach out to others and ASK for help.
For me, in my times of pain and hurting, Jesus Christ fills that hole of emptiness, sadness, loneliness, pain, and suffering within me. Every time. No matter how deep into the pit I allow myself to go before I finally cry out to Him – He has never let me down, never failed me. And He will fill that hole for YOU. He will go down into that pit and bring you out – YOU, and ANYONE and EVERYONE who opens up their heart to receive Him. He got me through those tough times when I was too full of pride and unbelief to reach out and ask for help from others. And He will get you, anyone, through it,too. No matter what. Just cry out to Him. Just ask Him.
But, you know what? Christ is not here in bodily form with us right now. Yes, we have his Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to lead and guide us, and fill that void until we are with Him one day. But the great thing is that Christ gives US, us crazy humans, the privilege, and the means, of being a comforter and friend to those who are suffering right before our very eyes. He uses us to accomplish His will right here on Earth. In fact, he creates many of us with a DESIRE to do that!
So, don’t deny us that privilege! Reach out and ask for help! And I’m preaching this to myself, too, my friends!
I’ve been the very blessed recipient of some of the sweetest love and the most compassionate care imaginable lately! Could I use some more? Heck yeah! Bring it on!
The more I experience the love, compassion, and care of my friends, the more I am experiencing the love, compassion, and care of CHRIST – and I can never get too much of that!
And so, I want to say THANK YOU – to all of you who did any of these things for me! I can’t even begin to tell you how much it meant to me and to my family. I’m on the path to healing, even though it’s still a tough time right now. But thank you so much for overlooking my pride and my unbelief, and for reaching out in spite of me. Thank you for responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and showering me with love – a kind of love that has most certainly helped to keep me on this path to healing and wholeness!
And I want to say this to ALL OF YOU – take a lesson from me. When you are hurting, when you are in pain, no matter what the source of it is – YOU MATTER! REACH OUT! PLEASE LET US KNOW! LET SOMEONE KNOW!
There are lots of folks like me, who are literally chomping at the bit to help you and be there for you! And you know what, there are probably untold numbers of others who want to, and are willing, to let you know how much they care – whether it’s with a bowl of soup, a fervent prayer for you, a virtual hug, or a stupid Facebook “like.”
YOU MATTER. YOU ARE SPECIAL. YOU ARE LOVED.
Give us a chance, the privilege, to show you.
With much love & gratitude,