Learning to Lean


CrutchesSo exactly how authentic would you like me to be? Would you like some of the more grimy details related to surgical recovery?

A picture of what it’s like to be suddenly down to one leg?

Well, okay then. A little peek into our days just now, a glimpse of where I find myself post-surgery, and some of what I’m learning while I’m here.

Have you ever tried to get into a shower with one foot? Can’t be done, I tell you. Cannot be done. I’ve recently begun to master the fine art of hopping. But jumping? Not gonna happen. And any shower with a normal door requires one gigantic jump, let me tell you.

The only appliance–and believe me, we have several–the only appliance that helped me get into that shower is my new best friend, a four-wheeled contraption called a knee caddy. The walker just did not cut it. The crutches? Fuggedabout it. Even the shower chair, on loan from a friend, didn’t help all that much. But that funky scooter, coupled with one determined husband?

Yeah, that did the trick.

Half in and half out, my injured leg atop the cushions on said scooter, I finally managed to make the small leap over the shower lip and land safely on the tiled bench we built into our shower over a decade ago. Our shower is part of the master suite, the suite which has become my home of late, and also, my prison.

I knew this would happen. I’ve been preparing for it for a couple of months now, practising my maneuvers on one leg, learning to keep everything I need within reach, asking for help when I need it.

But it’s that last piece that is the worst one of all.

I am not good at asking for help. I’m pretty good at giving it; been doing that all of my life. But receiving it? An experience so unfamiliar as to be downright unrecognizable, almost undoable. It seems I would rather take the risk of falling out of bed to make that one … last … reach than to raise my voice and shout for HELP.

Why is that, I wonder? Have I secretly looked down on those who have needed my help over these long years of my life? Do I feel I am somehow less of a human being if I can’t do it for myself, but must rely on others to do it for me? Am I such a determined control freak that I cannot trust the ministrations of others to truly be effective?

How about all of the above? I’m taking a good, hard look at myself in these early days of recovery, and I’m not liking what I see very much. Not liking it at all.

Turns out, I like being in a position of relative power and strength. I like being the one other people look to for advice, assistance, encouragement, ideas. I like to feel like the expert, the one who has the answers, the one who knows what to do.

I do not like not knowing. I do not like not getting it done. I do not like being reliant on anybody else for every single thing in my life.

I do not like leaning.

I would rather do it myself, thank you very much.

And that shower yesterday was the last straw, the push right over the edge, the ultimate humiliation. Yes, the hot water felt heavenly. Yes, it was grand to wash my hair. Yes, it was needed, important, healthy, helpful.

But no, I’m not sure it was worth it. I’m working on that, but I’m not 100% convinced. When I finally hobbled my way back to my bed, having combed through all the necessary hair products, slathered this unhelpful body with the usual creams and lotions, deodorized, dressed, gotten my one shoe back on my one foot–when I had finished it all, I collapsed in a heap of tears. A heap, I tell you.

Frustrated, embarrassed, tired, done in–all from a shower. A shower.

Well, not exactly just the shower. That event was the tipping point, but the issue? The issue is much, much deeper. And much more dangerous.

Because what’s at stake here is that most basic of issues along this journey of faith: can I learn to trust someone else for my ultimate well-being? Can I let go of this ever-lovin’ need to be in charge? Can I yield?

If these eight weeks serve no other purpose, I hope they will move me from my rather calcified and well-protected position of staunch self-reliance to one of softness. I hope I will catch a whiff of the sweet scent of submission–in the best sense of that term, not the hackneyed ways it’s been abused and misused over the centuries.

Because at the root of it all, submission is what is being asked, isn’t it? Can I let go of pride, release the strings of control, accept my limits, and learn to lean?

Oh, I hope so! But if I’m being honest, I’d have to say that the jury is still out.

It is still out.


Dear SheLoves friends, we’d love to know: 

How do you deal with the demon of self-reliance?

How do you find your way to trust, to letting go of the reins, to resting in the care of Someone Else?


Image credit: Anthony Crider

Diana Trautwein
Married to her college sweetheart for over 50 years, Diana is always wondering about things. She answers to Mom from their three adult kids and spouses and to Nana from their 8 grandkids, spread over a 19 year age range. For 17 years, after a mid-life call to ministry, she answered to Pastor Diana in two churches where she served as Associate Pastor. Since retiring at the end of 2010, she spends her time working as a spiritual director and writes on her blog, Just Wondering. For as long as she can remember, Jesus has been central to her story and the church an extension of her family. Not that either church or family is exactly perfect . . . but then, that’s what makes life interesting, right?
Diana Trautwein

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