If you are a child of an earlier generation (that sounds so much better than saying "we old folks," huh?), you will definitely remember the song, "Lean on Me." I was reminded of that song as I made my chaplain visits today. It is amazing the strength of the human spirit that leans on God. However, we are human, frail and, at times, we lose the strength, fortitude and courage to move ahead. It is then that we need someone to lean on.
Personally and transparently speaking, there are times when I need people. Being a "people person" by nature, I need people most of the time. I love people. Rarely, if ever, do I meet someone I do not like. However, it is when I begin to withdraw from people, that I realize I need them all the more. That also can be a signal to you concerning yourself or your loved one that you need to reach out. Sure, we all need to "come apart before we fall apart," I've heard. Alone time is a good thing in moderation. But, when you find yourself or observe your loved one avoiding people, social situations and any type of human contact, watch out: an unhealthy pattern may be developing. Personally, when I sense this in my own life, and I've had adequate alone time, I force myself to get out and make contact. I'm always glad I did and I think you'll find the same is true in your own life.
How does one lean upon others? Some of us are notoriously independent and though it is easy to allow others to lean on us, it is more difficult to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and lean on someone else. The key here is humility. I've heard that humility is the one attribute that dissolves as soon as we think we have it. Humility in this respect, is the act of being humble and realizing that we were not placed upon this earth to be a Lone Ranger. Lone Rangers, or "living on an island" so to speak, have no room in the life of a healthy individual.
As I reflect upon my many friendships, I come to realize, as you probably do, that often friendships are formed on common interests and mutual goals; but most often, it is the hardships and trials that bond us to one another. One of my very best friendships was formed when both of us were going through a very difficult time. Instead of the friendship being one sided, we supported each other and our friendship was bonded throughout that horrendous time in both of our lives. A good friendship does what the Bible explains as sharpening us: "iron sharpeth iron." And so it should be. What if I had held in my pain, and chose to walk through that trial alone and played the "Lone Ranger?" Probably, my physical and mental health would have suffered, possibly would even still be suffering. Reaching out for help as well as reaching out to help is therapeutic in every facet of our life. Being man enough or woman enough to say, "I'm having a really hard time right now" is key to others knowing "how" to help. Most of the time our leaning is just that: leaning. Oft times there is absolutely nothing someone can do to fix things. However, having someone to lean on lightens our load.
With this in mind, I must share with you the story of our little miracle girl: Dainelle Bartlett. So many of you have prayed for and sent cards to 10-year-old Dainelle Bartlett from Richwood. I am delighted, thrilled and ecstatic to tell you that Dainelle is now cancer free. She and her parents are absolutely humbled by the out-pouring of support they received during Dainelle's ordeal. You will remember that Dainelle was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on her brain. Her one desire was to receive 1,000 cards. Thank you to you precious folks for sending cards. The last count I heard concerning this was that she had received around 40,000 cards and gifts.
She is now Children's Miracle Network Child of the Year. Recently, she and another friend she met in the hospital served ice cream at an ice cream parlor to benefit children with cancer. Her mother and father have reached out to other parents who have a child who is ill. Dainelle prays for her friends she met at the hospital. My thoughts on this young lady, is: "World: you ain't seen nothin' yet." God obviously has an amazing plan for her and I believe she will be allowing people to lean on her for the rest of her life. Strength, courage and fortitude have made their way into that small frame and great things will be accomplished, I am sure. Dainelle and her parents had to lean on God and others. Now, they are the rock that others will be turning towards for years to come.
(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and the grief counselor/bereavement coordinator and chaplain for Mountain Hospice. Contact her at Kim @ firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 304-823-3925, ext. 136.)