Living alone can be quite a wonderful thing. You can listen to James Taylor as loudly as you like and sing along even more loudly. Nobody tracks mud across the off-white carpet or loses the remote to the ceiling fan on your vaulted ceiling. You don’t have to share your Skittles. And your keys are almost always in the little wooden key dish in the kitchen. But living alone isn’t fun on the fifth day of bronchitis. When the fridge and cabinets are empty, the medicine has run out, the Kleenex are long gone and you’re down to your last ten squares of toilet tissue. And when I found myself in that place last February, then, the internal debate began.
You have to call someone.
Who will you call? They’re all busy. They have jobs and families.
But you’re sick. Surely they’ll understand.
But what if I make them sick? Then, they’ll make their kids sick. And then, I’ll feel really bad.
But you’re really sick.
But you can’t burden them like that!
And so, I put a half-hearted message up on Facebook saying that I needed food, medicine, and Kleenex to doctor my bronchitis. But when nobody local or available responded, I simply bundled up, grabbed my keys, and went out to take care of myself, by myself.
Last week, twice, I found myself in conversations with other women who were saying, “I need help, but I don’t want to be a burden.” When I answered them, “You’re not a burden! Please ask for help! I’d love to help you!” I was cut by the double-standard that jabbed its razor-sharp edges into my memory.
The truth is that we’re all in this life together and if we don’t help each other, we’re not going to make it out in one piece.
Last week, I got news that a chronically-ill blogger-acquaintance, Sara Frankl, has finally had to call in hospice. She’s young, but she’s sick, and she’s dying. I watched as the world closed in around her. Her family and local friends gathered at her bedside. Churches rallied to pray. Our fellow bloggers and probably thousands of readers and folks on social media flocked to her website to leave messages and goodbyes. My description here doesn’t begin to do it justice. Literally, thousands of strangers have gathered to pray, say goodbye, and support each other and Sara’s family. To retell all the ways that their lives had been changed and made better by this person that most of them had never met in person. I was astounded.
I was also reminded of one of my favorite passages from poet, John Donne:
“All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne, English poet (1572-1631)
I am reminded—and I need to be reminded—that we are all important. We are all a vital piece of the puzzle. The world is not whole if a single one of us is missing. And because of this, my needs are not burdens because my needs are your needs—and your needs are mine. It’s my pleasure to meet them, because making you better makes me better—and makes the world better.
1 Corinthians 12:12,26 (ESV) says it this way:
12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
And CS Lewis says it this way:
“If you could see humanity spread out in time, as God sees it, it would not look like a lot of separate things dotted about. It would look like one single growing thing—rather like a very complicated tree. Every individual would appear connected with every other. And not only that. Individuals are not really separate from God any more than from one another.” (Lewis, 156)
This post is part of a weekly discussion that my friend and co-facilitator, Jason Stasyszen and I are having with our readers about CS Lewis’ classic book “Mere Christianity.” Whether you’ve read the book or not, we invite you to read the posts and join in the discussion. If you’ve written a post to add to the discussion, please feel free to add it to the widget below. And please stop by my co-facilitator’s site, Connecting to Impact, to see what insights he has on the topic!