I’m scheduled for surgery in eleven days. While on the one hand I look forward to it, on the other hand, I am anxious because surgery is extremely serious. I will be “under” for about five hours. Outwardly, I have lots of energy; I’ve been extremely productive over the past couple of weeks. Inside, however, I have no energy to prep for my after-care or think about what the after-effects of the surgery may bring.
I’m not allowed to lift my arms above my shoulders for four weeks. I cannot cook or clean or lift anything during my recovery. This includes washing my hair, doing laundry, reaching for plates, or taking out my garbage. Thankfully, I can shower after two days, but I need to rely on help from friends and neighbors.
I have cooked and cleaned for others who had need here in my senior housing community – those who have had surgery or just needed a supportive helping hand. I did not hesitate to say, “Yes,” when help was requested. So why do I hesitate to request help for myself?
Asking for help isn’t easy. In fact, it’s downright antithetical to the way I run my life; independent, self-sufficient, in control. But none of those attributes are the attributes and character traits of those who follow Jesus. And they certainly aren’t a part of the serenity prayer that truly speaks to Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I have been cooking and freezing meals for myself, but I know that won’t be enough. I will need to ask neighbors and friends to come in and do my laundry, vacuum and dust, take out my garbage and maybe even do my dishes. I can’t afford a cleaning lady and my health insurance doesn’t pay for a nurse, so do I offer payment to neighbors for helping?
Five neighbors have already volunteered to cook. One has volunteered to do my laundry. All have said they will pray for me. And all of that helps me surrender and accept the help they offer.
Thankfully, my best friend who I consider my sister volunteered to come twice a week to shower with me and wash my hair. She will stay overnight with me the first two days I’m home from the hospital. Her 15-year old son will be cooking extra dinners (and some breakfasts) for me, which his mom will deliver in the mornings on her way to work.
At times, all I can do is surrender myself to the Spirit, ask His help to pray, and open my heart to Jesus who I know and trust will comfort me and remind me of my Father’s love and grace. I know I must empty myself in order to receive.
In doing so, I open myself to the help and prayers being offered in love and grace from friends and neighbors. In doing so, I accept the gifts to be given in unconditional friendship, knowing the gift bestows just as much joy to the giver as it does to me. I have experienced the joy of the giver before, and I will not rob my friends and neighbors of that joy now, as I pray for the strength to receive.