A week ago, a team of masked professionals leaned over my prone form and asked, “Are you ready?”
I was as ready for my first surgical procedure as I was ever going to be, and my first surgery was a doozy — cracked chest, open heart. I was born with a defective aortic valve and finally hit the time when my own valve was, to quote one medical professional, “crumbly.”
Just under 24 hours later, my new valve and I got our first workout together, strolling the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit. I thanked God then, and I thank God now, for professional health techniques, technology, facilities, and, most of all, PEOPLE, from the surgical team to the cleaning staff.
Like most folks,I am less enthusiastic about those expose-you-to-the-world, open-in-the-back hospital gowns, however.
Out of critical care and onto a “regular care” floor of the hospital the next day, a walk down the hall still required help and left me breathless. And feeling exposed, even with an extra gown to cover my backside.
My wife took one arm and nursing assistant Dorothy took the other as I wheezed and shuffled along. Suddenly, Dorothy burst into song: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.”
“Help me remember the rest,” she insisted, so the three of us moved further along and serenaded staff and patients with more of that Bill Withers’ staple: “For, it won’t be long, ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”
We paused to recall the next verse. “Please swallow your pride…” my wife suddenly burst out, chuckling as she flipped the back of my too-short, too-open gown.
The apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Corinth of God’s counter-intuitive truth: My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me… for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Feeling humbled, weak, vulnerable, foolish, or dependent is part of the human condition and comes to all at times. But those who cannot swallow their pride, ask for help, and lean on God and God’s saints, are at greatest risk of falling.
I am thankful for the support and care of everyone in my time of weakness and recuperation. And I am really thankful to be out of that humbling hospital gown, too.