Two years ago I stepped back into “normal” life after brain surgery.
In May of 2018, I was in a hospital room needing help to sit up in the bed. In August of 2018, just two and 1/2 months later, I was walking back into work as if nothing had happened . . . but something had and I was not the same.
I always had an independent streak. I liked being able to do things on my own, except hanging pictures on the wall and knowing what to do when a hazard light came on in my car—sometimes you just need your dad. I studied hard in school, I worked hard in jobs, I prayed hard in life, and I eventually moved to a new city to start a new life on my own. The problem with this need for independence (also known in my case as control) was that it created an unsustainable cycle of hustle. I needed to work harder and smarter and longer to earn a job or promotion. I needed to manage my finances to prove I could live life on my own. I needed to do it all to prove that I could.
Yet there’s just something about surgery that shatters independence. It’s hard to maintain an independent nature when tears fall daily because each step feels like getting whiplash and you wake up at 3am needing a bathroom but unable to get there in your own strength.
For two and 1/2 months I depended on others for almost every need in my life. During that time something began to shift. I began learning how to ask for help. I started to see that needing help wasn’t a sign of weakness. I was learning the truth of 2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
As I stepped back into life in August of 2018, there had been many lessons learned in what a mentor of mine termed my “crash course in joy.” More than anything, I learned that strength can be found in sharing our struggles.
We were not created to be DIY people. When it comes to fixing up a piece of furniture then, by all means, DIY, but when it comes to your struggles—the physical limits you have, the mental and emotional toll a situation is taking on you, or the spiritual battle of wondering where God is when He seems to be “out of office”—please friend, don’t face your battles alone.
I tried fighting alone for the almost three months leading up to my surgery, and it resulted in frayed relationships and a deep case of depression. Through the gracious heart of God, I have seen first hand how the Lord works as we open our hands and release the struggle we so tightly hold to ourselves. I’ve seen how He carries and rescues and sustains us in this life as promised in Isaiah 46:4. I have also seen how He enables His children to be His hands and feet walking on this earth as the Body of Christ. In witnessing both, I have found that freedom is not found in independence, rather it is found in constant dependence upon our Creator.
When we admit our struggles we simultaneously free ourselves from bearing the burden alone and invite the Lord to reveal Himself as our sustainer and defender and deliverer, whether through His own Spirit or through the people He places in our path.
Through the process we find freedom in laying down our burdens, holding our empty hands to the Savior, and whispering “Help me, Jesus. I cannot do this alone.” This is where the power of Christ rests upon us. This is where strength can be found even when you cannot even lift your own head to the sky. This is where we witness new depths of God’s love for us. This is freedom.