There is something incredibly humbling about finding yourself largely dependent on another person to get by in life. It is something which, if you have not had to experience since childhood, you automatically rebel against. It is like flying a flag over your head that reads ‘I am useless on my own’.

I have experienced this increasingly over the past year, and over the past few weeks, as I find myself increasingly dependent on outside support to do the simplest task, I have been reflecting on what it means for ‘who I am’.

I am at a point now, where the exhaustion is so complete that tasks such as emptying the dishwasher or hanging up the washing need to be carefully planned into my day. If I am already doing something, they don’t get done by me.
I often need help getting dressed and undressed, I almost never cook, Mike and I have had to start asking for help from friends in the cooking of meals that can be frozen to ease the pressure on him. I have to consider the cost of every time I step outside my front door, and work out if it is really worth the pain and exhaustion it will cause.

The thing is, without Mike, I don’t know what I would do. He is my carer, he makes sure I eat and drink, he helps me get about, he does 99% of the jobs around the house and does so without making me feel more guilty than I already do.

It is hard though, because guilt seems to come alongside this growing dependency for me. The knowledge that if Mike had married someone else, he would have an easier life, is hard not to think about. He is happy with me and I trust that, but it isn’t always enough, especially on a bad day when I cannot even do something as simple as getting dressed or walking unaided from one room to another, to stem the tide of guilt that ensues.

What does it mean for me that I am now (hopefully only temporarily) entirely dependent on another human being to get through each day?

I don’t really know, but it makes me feel weak and pathetic. It makes me question sometimes, what is the point in being alive if living is such an effort? All these people around me go on things like country walks, go shopping, go out for dinner – and do so without enormous discomfort and pain and I can’t help but wonder how to enjoy life, from my pretty stationary position at home.

Dependency is humbling. It points me to what I have always taken for granted, and it highlights something else. I don’t think I have ever really submitted my life to God fully. I certainly don’t depend on him. I have always been a fan of being in control and dependency goes against that.

Finding myself forced into dependency on others, shines a light on how little room I actually allow God to operate in my life. I give him space to speak, but only a little in case he says something scary. I say I will follow him anywhere, but I am scared of what that will mean, and so try not to hear his answer.

Dependency on other people has made me painfully aware of how little I am willing to depend on God. How little I trust him to actually catch me if I fall.

I marvel at people who are able to more fully depend on God, those who follow him no matter the cost. I am not sure I am brave enough to actually submit myself fully to him. I don’t actually believe he is going to make me move to the other side of the world or do anything similarly drastic. I do, however, wonder, how he might challenge me to change.

The struggle I face with depending on God, is that I would have to trust him in who I am. I have spent a life time seeking affirmation from those around me, a life time hoping that I could be loved and controlling my behaviour, actions and appearance in order to make myself more acceptable.

Dependence on God, more than anything else, would require me to let go of that control and trust that I am enough as I am.

Dependency is hard. It involves absolute trust in those on who you depend, and it would appear that I often struggle to trust in what God says is true.

I’m working on that…

One of the few Walking Alongside posts that is written by me.

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  • Oh girl, I GET this. I really get it. I’m still battling with the whole trusting God thing…! Trusting Jon has become easier, though. That’s what the wedding vows are for – you promise ‘in sickness and in health’ without knowing what that will look like, or what events will come. And with this illness we never know the future, and it’s hard to predict. I’m praying like anything that things will improve after the baby is born, but even if things don’t improve, I want you to know this: you will be okay. It will be a different kind of okay, but it will still be okay. You’ve got a good church family, and that counts for a lot.

    I love the connection between dependency on others and dependency on God. Being ill has made me look again at what it’s like to be elderly – if I ever get old enough to be elderly, I will have had plenty of practice. But it’s HARD. And I think it’s difficult for others to imagine it from the outside looking in, sometimes.

    I love the way you still look to God and what He be teaching you, and in so doing, how you help the people of God. Sending a solidarity high-five your way.

    • Katherine & Tanya I get it too, I know how you mean Tanya, about feeling old. Having ME feels like being about 90, only then you hear from people in their 90s like Judith Kerr who does a full day’s work daily&runs up the stairs! Though of course comparisons are odious.

      Katharine it is hard, dependence, on people&God, I’m not sure I’ve got it sorted yet. You make some good & challenging points, stuff for me too consider&spend time with God over. It can become interdependence with others though; I find sometimes that because I have so much time on my hands I can be present with people in ways I wouldn’t necessarily manage if I were well&busy. Even if that presence is only a text or a chat online.

      I’ll be praying too. One last thing, it says it’s more blessed to give than to receive in the Bible & by letting people help you you are allowing them to be blessed. It’s something that’s helped me with feeling dependent.

  • I really ‘like’ your point about the lack of room you leave in yourself to trust God. I feel like that’s true for me too, and I have a lot of conversations with others who go through something similar. I wonder if it stems from the (false?) idea that we should want to do everything ourselves. Humans weren’t designed to be like that, nor was it God’s design for how he wanted to relate to his people. Tentatively, there’s something of a gift that is offered to the one on whom we are dependent, however often it doesn’t feel like that, too. That person or group of people gets an opportunity to show love and honour the one who depends on them in a way that is beyond the experience of most people.

    As usual, this is a really good post. We love and miss you guys

  • After a big operation, I was stuck in a hospital bed for a few weeks, unable to move much and needing help to even roll over in bed. My sister brought in my 5 day old new nephew to meet me. As he lay next to me in the bed I realised that in that moment, despite the 25 year age gap, we were equally dependant on others. Depending on other people to feed us, wash us and protect us. The difference was that he was completely content in that, knowing nothing else and having no expectations on his own ability to cope alone. I meanwhile was (and still am) battling it with everything I have. Whenever I hear ‘faith like a child’ I think of that moment in hospital. A total, complete comfortable surrendering to the will and love of God. Much readier said than done

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