ALONE AND STARTING OVER
I haven’t written for a while…been swamped getting ready for some life changing events that were coming my way. One was that last week I was lying on a hospital bed prepping for shoulder surgery. My wife was in the room with me, and there was a full medical staff preparing to take me into the operating room. And yet, in those moments before surgery, I was struck with the awareness that it was me alone in the situation. I was the one who would be cut on, I was the one who would be going into the surgery room, I was the one whose body was going to experience the changes and impacts of the knife.
Afterwards, returning home with my arm limp and numb, again my wife was at my side to assist and aid, except when she wasn’t. She has other responsibilities. And so it was, in the middle of the day, when I thought about having a tuna sandwich that I realized how dependent I now was on the help of others. It occurred to me that while I would like a tuna sandwich, I did not have the ability to work the can opener with just one arm functioning. In fact, there have been a lot of things I have not been able to do on my own, from washing my hair to putting on a shirt to almost everything around the house! At least, not without learning a different way to do the things. For instance, I did have the tuna sandwich, when I recalled that Nola had recently purchased some tuna in pouches and I COULD open those.
It all reminds me of some of the things I experienced during a divorce. There was that sense of being alone, ultimately, in a house without my first wife. There was the realization that things were going to be different. I could continue to do things, but not in the same way. Tasks that once were shared were suddenly entirely dependent on my own ability to do them. What had once been familiar routine was suddenly altered and had to be done in other ways…down to the fact that even the kitchen utensils had been divided and so sometimes I would reach for something that was no longer in my possession. I had to learn a different way.
In my case, these changes of how I am doing things is temporary, in a month or two I expect to using that other arm once again. Many adjustments in a divorce are permanent, but some are also temporary. In my case, the intense aloneness of an empty house has been replaced with the companionship, love and attention of my new wife, something I have especially appreciated during this beginning phase of recuperation! Regardless, though, life is always filled with changing circumstances that challenge us to learn how to adapt and shift to meet the situations we face.
The other thing that has come to my mind has been the whole issue of feeling all alone, and how significant it is that God speaks time and again in the scriptures to this need in our lives. God’s promise is that he will never leave us nor forsake, and as Jesus was preparing to leave earth in the ascension, his words were that he would be with us always, even to the end of the age. One of my favorite passages is from Isaiah 43, where God promises to be with us when we pass through fire or flood. As I entered that surgical procedure, and sensed the aloneness that comes in such situations, the promise of God to never leave us alone was reinforced in a fresh way. Nobody else was allowed to accompany me into the operating room, but no door could keep God from walking with me into that experience. Even while I was unconscious of what was happening, God was present and aware of each knife cut, each suture, each drop of medication. Knowing that my church’s prayer chain had my procedure on their list, and that other friends at a distance were petitioning God on my behalf, meant that I knew in those moments I was never truly alone.
Neither are you. Even if you feel that your life has been disrupted in a radical way, even if your house sounds still and empty, even if you sense nothing around you but darkness and fear, God is always present, nearer than your next breath, just waiting for you to reach out and ask him to guide and protect you through the changing life you are experiencing. I believe that, just as God designed the body so that the wounds made by the doctor will heal, God also has a healing process for our inner beings, and that his remedies for the maladies of our lives are always good. Whatever you are facing today, whatever hard adjustments you are having to make, whatever risks you are taking as you step out into something new, know that God is always willing to walk with you through it all. You have but to call out to him and ask. And while you are asking, please feel free to include my own recuperation in your prayers (and probably patience for my wife in handling her semi-invalid husband!).