This past Fall, I woke up with the most incredible back pain out of nowhere. I couldn’t point to a certain event or action that caused it…all I knew was that I could not move without my tears springing to my eyes. I spent the next 8 days following a strict regimen of pain medicine and muscle relaxers, heating pads, and trying not to move.
What was possibly more difficult than moving about was the inevitable need to ask for help throughout the day. I don’t know about you, but I consider myself “a helper.” I do what I can for those around me to try to ease their burdens. Suddenly, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to ask for help.
At church, I had to ask my youth to lift boxes and move tables that I would have normally set up myself before youth group. At home, I had to ask my husband and daughters to do the tasks that I would normally do without thinking (bending over to feed the dogs, carrying laundry to the laundry room).
Why is it so difficult to ask for help? Perhaps it is because it meant that I had to admit that I can not, in fact, do everything on my own.
But a beautiful thing happened while humbling myself to ask for help – not a single person ever turned me down. Family, friends, strangers…everyone I asked gladly offered to help me. I once had a friend who in the midst of a family crisis repeatedly declined offers of assistance from others because she didn’t want to burden to them. She said that a wise friend finally gave her a dose of tough love and told her that she was preventing others from responding to the Holy Spirit’s promptings by not letting them minister to her. Her pride was getting in God’s way!
How’s that for a reminder that we sometimes need to humble ourselves and allow God to use our pain and weakness to work in our lives and the lives of others?
My back slowly returned to normal. At our Youth Group Friendsgiving, we were going around the circle telling the things that we were thankful for.
I was going to say that I was thankful for my health after having been feeling so bad, but instead I realized that I was thankful for my pain.
It allowed me to slow down and appreciate the love of family and friends. I rejoiced in the fact that God has blessed me with a tribe who has my back – quite literally – and I felt a closeness to the saints who so beautifully embraced pain as a way to become closer to Christ.
The purest suffering bears and carries in its train the purest understanding.
St. John of the Cross