The Empowering Embrace of Helplessness

The Empowering Embrace of Helplessness

As mentioned in an earlier posting, I had elective surgery recently. I’ve been recuperating at home ever since. I’m progressing nicely, but surgery by nature is invasive and an assault on the body, so recovery is a slow process. There’s been a fair amount of physical limitation and stress during the healing process, including limited movement, flexibility, energy, weight bearing, and overall comfort, with impacts on sleep and various other daily functions we normally don’t think much about. I’m a lot better now, but for the first week especially, I was unable to do much on my own, and was very dependent on my wife Helen’s loving care. Given that I had not had surgery or major illness since I was a child and was very used to taking care of myself, this experience of helplessness and loss of control was a bit of a shock.

My initial impulse was to resist the experience and feel miserable, frustrated, and impatient about it. But my recent focus on transformative change, in the worship services I’ve led, offered me a different path, and I felt inspired – even compelled – to practice what I preach. Rather than fighting or indulging in the helplessness, I’ve been practicing

embracing it, as a learning and an opportunity to see myself in a new, more balanced way; it’s an opportunity for gratitude and compassion, for rest and renewal, for deepening love and trust with Helen, and for acceptance that I’m mortal, aging, and not always able to be in charge. The more I am able to embrace the helplessness of my body and be in tune with it, the more I feel empowered in both body and heart, because I am being a fuller me that is growing and making empowered proactive choices about how I will experience what’s going on, rather than be helplessly reactive.

Believe me, I’m eager to be back to my healthy, independent daily life, as soon as possible, but in the meantime, I embrace my body’s helplessness, in order to more effectively heal, and to strengthen the wholeness of my Self, and expand its resilience.