Last night was the last class of a series on my booklet Living as a Wounded Healer. We were talking about the difference between co-dependency, enabling, and Christian service. Someone asked a question which I couldn’t quite decipher. So I asked her to talk about it more – which she did. As she and the other class members talked back and forth, I thought, “I’m still confused about her question.”
Then one of the class members looked directly at me and said, “Karen, we all really enjoy this class, but I think we would all agree to end early if you need to.” That woke me up. I said, “Why would I need to leave early?”
She responded that a very good friend had told her many years ago about the signs of low blood sugar, and it looked as if I was displaying those signs. “Do you have diabetes?” she asked. I nodded my head.
“But I’m fine,” I said. Now the other class members were looking worried, and I was feeling foolish. “This is our last class,” I weakly protested.
She repeated, “I think we should end the class and one of us will take you home.” Heads nodded.
“I’m fine,” I protested. “I can drive myself home.”
She shook her head. “My diabetic friend told me that she would say she was capable of driving, but that I shouldn’t believe her. So I think I shouldn’t believe you either.”
Now another class member said, “I think she’s right, Karen. I had been thinking that you looked lost in thought, but now I think it’s more than that. I’ll close the class in prayer, and then I’ll drive you home.”
Immediately she started praying. Afterwards as I sat in disbelief, a class member started putting materials away as others discussed who would drive my car home and who would follow to give her a ride back to church. I felt embarrassed. I was supposed to be the one in charge.
After a few minutes, I said, “Let me just try walking down the hall and see what happens.” I wobbled out of the room, took about 20 steps, and sat down heavily. “Okay, I guess I can’t drive home.” As they escorted me to my car, I remembered another time when a kind sales person had intervened, pointing me to a chair and bringing me some orange juice. Was I really having an episode like that again? How could I not know it was coming on?
As we drove home, I tried to have a conversation with the driver, but I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight and give her directions to my house at the same time. Finally, we pulled in the driveway and I struggled to the front door and went in the house. I quickly took my blood sugar; it was 63 – way below normal for me. As I ate some food, I began to get some clarity about the day. The nurse had commented on my low blood pressure that morning. Then I got my chemo injection. It was a busy day and, while I had lunch, I didn’t make time to eat before the class; I thought I would be fine until I got back home at 9:00. However, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, chemotherapy were obviously a disaster waiting to happen.
As usual, I started to wonder what I could learn from this episode. Aside from eating regularly, carrying juice or chocolate with me at all times, not taking chemo treatments for granted, and deciding never to teach again on a chemo day, I learned this:
Brave, assertive friends are God’s gift to each of us. The members of this group all had tendencies to enable others. But during the course of this class they had learned (or re-learned) that making someone happy was not always the wise choice. They were given a test that night, a final exam, if you will. They stood up to me and they did what was best for me – whether I liked it (or them) or not.
I also learned something about myself. Giving up control of a situation, listening to wise people, and following their instructions are spiritual disciplines that we need to practice throughout our lives. God uses people to help us; when we plead for help, we have to remember that help may come from others when we least expect it, and perhaps don’t even want it.
In her book, Descent into Love, How Recovery Cafe Came to Be, K. Killian Noe recalls a Sufi story about “a spiritual seeker who was distracted by the sick, crippled, and beaten down who continuously passed by as he tried to pray. Finally he cried, ‘Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and do nothing about them?’ Out of the silence, God said, ‘I did do something about them. I created you.'”
My friends and I were created (as were you) to “do something” about the sick, crippled, and beaten down.” And when we are the sick, crippled, and beaten down, our role is to accept their help graciously, as it comes from the hand of God.