This post was originally written in October of 2012. Since I’ve been run down with allergies and behind on my writing this week (but thank God no major sinus infection yet) , I thought it appropriate to republish this piece.
On day eleven of a battle with sinus infection and allergies, I finally hit that point in illness where despair begins to creep in. After being sick and miserable and stuck on the sofa for days on end I had hit my limit. One sick day at home or two can seem like a nice break from life, but this was heading into the territory where I was beginning to wonder if I would ever wake up in the morning and actually feel well again. Add to this the disappointment of not being able to travel to the training that I had been looking forward to for months. As I finally unpacked my hopeful suitcase that had been sitting on my bedroom floor for days, the waters of depression began to lap up around me. I was tired and sad and tired of being sad.
Because we were low on groceries I dragged myself to the car and drove to Kroger for the first trip beyond picking up prescriptions in several days. I scowled at the evil fields of allergy inducing weeds that I drove by on the way and walked inside the building. I had already decided to visit the Starbucks counter hoping for a little lift out of the fatigue that comes from both infections and antibiotics. Waiting at the counter I engaged the barista in an extended conversation on the greatness of the new salted caramel mocha and details on exactly how to make it. I realized this was one of my few actual conversations in many days. Under the guise of “rest” I had holed up in the house and avoided human contact in general.
Walking around the store and sipping on my latte, I felt my spirit begin to lift. I picked up fruit. I browsed the organic section and picked up more herbal tea. I walked through the book aisle and picked up a book on how to understand your dog. Since all I had been doing all week was lie on the sofa with the dogs and read, I might as well read up on my furry friends as they keep my company. I chit chatted with pretty much every employee that I encountered, asking for directions for products I was buying and anything else I could think of. After I left the store I noticed that I wasn’t so tired and depressed anymore. And I’m thinking it wasn’t just because of the latte.
I read a blog this morning that talked about how God is the answer to all of our longings. It was a really sad story of a woman who had suffered great pain and loss after being seriously wronged by another person. I totally get her point that God is there for us always even when other human beings fail us. And I get that other human beings will never satisfy our innate longing for God. But I gotta tell you I think she was missing the mark on this one.
I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s new workbook Storyline this week and he writes about how the story of Adam and Eve illustrates our God-created need for other people. He explains how in this story Adam lived on earth in total communion with God. Adam even had the company of the animals, but still something was fundamentally missing for him. There was a longing, a longing that was fulfilled only after God created another human being.
I think this is why my trip to Kroger was so healing. I can sit on my sofa for hours and days reading Scripture and praying (as I have) and it still doesn’t satisfy the need God created in me of connecting with other people .
God is good and loving and a million other things, but God can’t hug me like my children can or stroke my hair like my husband or even hand my a latte like the random barista in Kroger… because God doesn’t have hands. But people do. In part because God meant for us to use them to care for each other.
Isolation is dangerous not only for sick people and introverts, but for others as well. We all have known or even been the person who gets hurt by the church and decides they can be a person of faith just fine all on their own. They avoid any other interactions with spiritual communities and stick to themselves and God. The spiritual equivalent of being laid up sick on the sofa. I have been hurt by the church as I’m sure I will be again, so I understand this reaction. But the problem here is that God didn’t create us to be alone. That’s why we have families and communities and also faith communities. People of faith need other people of faith just like Adam needed Eve. None of us are perfect (have you heard about that incident with the fruit?), but we still need each other in order to be healthy and well.
So thanks to all the people at Kroger who made me feel truly human again today. In honor of you I’m going to remember to take some soup to someone who’s been ill and laid up for a while. Because I too have hands and God expects me to use them.