A friend of mine recently required some minor surgery for an ongoing health issue. We had been out for coffee the day before, and finding myself with relatively few commitments that week, I said, “Please don’t hesitate to call if you need anything.” My cordial gesture was met with the usual, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
I wasn’t at all worried. Like most single women I know, my friend is strong, independent, and self-sufficient – certainly not the kind of person to ask for help or be thrown for a loop when it comes to something as routine as a simple out-patient medical procedure. She had taken all the necessary precautions, stocked up on groceries, and reluctantly arranged for another friend to drive her home from the hospital.
The doctor told her to walk no further than from the bedroom to the bathroom – at least for the first 48 hours. She thought he was being overly cautious. Surely she would be able to get around her small one-bedroom apartment without any problems!
Late that evening, I received a text message asking if I could stop by. Once home from the hospital, she found that she was much less mobile than she had anticipated. As the anesthesia wore off and before the pain medication kicked in, she was feeling uncomfortable at best. Hobbling the few short yards from bedroom to bathroom felt longer than a football field! I was happy to give her a shoulder to lean on (literally), grab snacks from the kitchen, and provide a welcome distraction from the events of the day.
Despite our attempts to talk about something else, our conversation kept coming back to what it means to be single when we’re sick. We both agreed that it’s easy to be single when we’re feeling on top of our game, but there is something about being under-the-weather that is incredibly isolating and lonely. I’ve survived food poisoning, falling down the stairs, and a face-first dive into the sidewalk. A good pain killer might numb the pain, but it doesn’t erase the confusion and loneliness we feel after suffering a major trauma or minor surgery.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to ask for help, especially when we live alone. As single people, we don’t like to be dependent on someone else. Asking someone else to assist with even the most basic tasks makes us vulnerable, it requires that we show our weakness and admit that we cannot do everything on our own.
Yet, when we are able to let down our guard and ask for help, we often experience the love and care of God shown through the goodness of others. Physical healing can be a slow process at times. The spiritual growth that accompanies our physical healing may include an increase in faith, a deepening of prayer, and a greater willingness to surrender those things which are beyond our control. Ultimately, we are reminded that God heals all of our ailments from broken bones to a broken heart.
When I cried out, you answered; you strengthened my spirit. (Psalm 138:3)