I am an overly independent person. There... I said it!
As an extreme extrovert, I love teamwork and the thought of doing life in a group but when it comes to people helping me, or doing things for me, quite honestly, I have seen little value in it. In fact, I have learned over the years from my family and life experience to devalue the idea of anyone doing for me what I can do for myself. Some folks are offended and uncomfortable with the thought of others serving them. Not me, I just don’t think about it. It is so far from my mind that I have started and restarted this blog several times in attempts to adequately articulate my thoughts about it. I am still struggling a bit, honestly.
I also have an “add on” to my extreme independence. I have recently discovered that I draw much of my self worth from my ability to push myself to accomplish the extraordinary. Not trying to be a superhero or anything but If I am being 100% honest, I would have to say that I don’t feel good about me if I am not pushing me to exceed the expectations of those around me and even my own. It is an attribute that has served me well in life but like any strength it has it’s weaknesses.
Early in our marriage my wife and I read the book: “The Five Love Languages.” It is a great book that explains the various ways we express and receive love but right away I struggled with finding myself in it. For years I have found it difficult to define “love” in terms of receiving it from others. I’m a hugger and a pretty physical person in general so I figured my love language is physical touch. It may be, but I have had a recent experience that has opened my eyes to a world of love that I have just not been receiving.
I recently tore my Achilles’ Tendon. It is the first time I have ever sustained this kind of injury. It was my first time needing surgery. It would even be my first time getting stitches. But it was also the first time in my life that I have ever been in a position to not really accomplish life on my own. My wife came alive at the opportunity to serve me as did many other friends and family members. Over a day or so of my wife (and others) carrying things for me, opening doors for me and getting things from the other side of the room for me, I started feeling my heart swell in ways that I have never felt before. Within a couple of days I told her that I was feeling very loved by her and how I had been processing the fact that my extreme independence had probably been in the way of me receiving this kind of love. What a great moment.
The next day our furnace went out. It was 19 degrees outside. Let me tell you something. As a devoted husband and father of four, when your family is in crisis and all you can do is sit… There is likely no greater feeling of helplessness. Just the night before, some great friends asked if we needed anything to let them know. My wife informed them of the situation and they sprang into action too. They gave us a tremendously generous financial gift and dinner for that night. My parents opened their home to let the six of us spend the night as the furnace would be repaired the next day. Our church family, again made it a point to be there for us to make sure that we were good. I remember breaking down on the phone with a pastor friend of mine. I was so overwhelmed with swinging back and forth from feelings of helplessness to heart filled to over flowing with receiving love that I just couldn’t handle it. I broke down a couple of times that day.
Over the last week and a half I have been incredibly intentional about receiving help from others (and even more difficult for me) asking for others to do for me what I would normally push to do for myself. Not because I am milking this injury… it actually is VERY uncomfortable for me. I am enduring the vulnerability of sitting because I am learning to receive love from those around me who are more than willing to express it. I know this won’t last forever. I don’t known that I can handle it much longer really. But while I am here… just sitting… I will learn as much as possible of this kind of love so I can give it and receive it more fully.
I have never been one to believe that cliche, “everything happens for a reason”. But I do believe that because of God’s grace and because of His love for us, we can find His presence and experience growth in the most uncomfortable of situations if we seek Him and are vulnerable before Him and others.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”