I’m Not Fine


abby norman -i’m not fine-3

I gave up self-sufficiency for Lent. I didn’t really want to, but I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice. This semester has come on full speed ahead. A few days before it started, I was given an appointment as a head pastor of a small church. I’m taking 15 credit hours. I have two daughters who are in early elementary school and a husband with a terrible commute. I was handling all that just fine.

Then my esophagus broke. Normally when you swallow, your esophagus pushes all the stuff down into your stomach. Mine doesn’t do that. It’s just a tube you can drop things down and hope they don’t get stuck. I have been on a liquid diet for about two weeks.

Hangry (angry because I’m hungry) has been the most predominant emotion I’ve felt. I’m cranky. I’m tired. And I do not want to. I don’t want to write my sermon or feed my kids or let the dog outside or go to class or do my homework or do anything else I’m supposed to do right now. I don’t want to. You can’t make me. Yes, I have pretty much reverted to a two-year-old in my heart of hearts. If I thought anyone would pay attention, I likely would have thrown a fit somewhere in my life, kicking and screaming and telling I-don’t-even-know-who that “They can’t make me” and “I won’t do it.” But I’m a grown up and that isn’t an option.

Instead, I took a good, hard look at myself. I looked to see why I was reacting so strongly to what is a pretty serious annoyance. I found my heart on the altar of self-sufficiency, of “I can do this,” and “I got this,” and “I’m fine and need no help.” I found myself telling people I got this, when the only thing I had was a deep desire to take a nap and eat a cheeseburger. I was worshiping the American Lie of pulling yourself up by your boot straps when I could have been resting in the promise that God provides.

So I pulled off the lie and I pulled up my email. I asked the administrator at my church to start a meal train for me. I asked people to come walk my dog or bring their dog over to play. I asked if anyone would like to make me soup, so I could eat something besides Ensure. I asked them to blend it before they brought it over. And people said yes! They came alongside me.

God hasn’t miraculously healed my esophagus … yet, but God has provided through the love of the church and my community. And in a world that feels scary, divisive and cruel, what better way for me to reflect the light of Jesus Christ than to let other people love me?

Still, it feels hard for me to ask for help, to say “yes” when someone offers help I could genuinely use. It is hard to accept from my friend the offer to fold our clean laundry. It is hard for me to say, “I cannot currently walk my own dog.” Heck, the other day the bagger at the grocery store had to insist I let him do his job and help me out to the car. I just keep telling people, “I’m fine.”

I’m not doing myself any favors. First of all, it is clear that I’m lying when I say I don’t need help. (Like totally completely obvious.) Secondly, if we don’t admit when we need help, the body of Christ cannot work properly. I need help. I cannot do this by myself. I’m not SUPPOSED to do this by myself. I’m supposed to be one part of the body of Christ, and I need to let the other parts help me out for a little bit. What better testimony is there to the world?