I really have been feeling my singleness lately. Not because I’m around a lot of married couples or children or because it’s wedding season.
I’ve felt it because I’ve had to ask for so much help.
I’ve always lived within 30 minutes of an immediate family member. And while we might not have seen each other daily, or even sometimes weekly, there was great comfort in knowing someone would lend a hand if I needed it. But even more, I didn’t feel as if I were imposing or that I owed them something in return. Because, well, it’s family, and that’s what families do for each other.
But since I’ve transitioned to a new town, I’ve found a million things that have required me to beg the assistance of others.
For instance, it takes more than one person to hang pictures or window treatments, and it’s practically impossible to put together a chest of drawers without a small army. Same thing goes for a daybed–especially when I’m not sure what types of nuts and bolts are needed because I lost the original ones in the move. (In case you were wondering, taking a photo of the hole does not help the patient Lowe’s employee know exactly which screw fits.) And then there are the car repairs, home technology issues, or the hanging of exterior illumination.
Normally, my family would make various trips, no matter the distance, to help me get set-up in a new location. But this time, due to circumstances beyond everyone’s control, no one could make the trek, so I’ve been on my own. Thankfully, I spend a lot of time with college students who have been more than willing to help me out.
But if I’m being honest, it makes me feel very weak. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.
If I were taking stock of things I thought I’d done well while I was single, I would count my “independence” at the top of the list. I’m not a feminist, and my independence isn’t my way of saying “I don’t need a man.” I was simply proud that I hadn’t allowed my single state to slow down my living.
Until it did recently.
I kept doors to rooms shut because I was waiting on a family member to show up. There were many things I left unfinished in my home because I didn’t want to break down and ask for help. I didn’t want to look vulnerable to others; I wanted to make sure they knew I was independent and could take care of myself.
It’s ridiculous, I know.
I’ve heard and read much discussion from Christians on whether or not singles should live with other people until they are married. There is much merit to the argument that says we shouldn’t live alone. Living with roommates or family teaches us interdependence and helps curb selfishness.
But what I don’t hear mentioned much is how independence is really a facade. In my life, for example, there was an external illusion of independence but it was really no independence at all because I was depending on my family.
In Meditation XVII, minister and poet John Donne writes, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…”
Most of us aren’t going to become a hermit tucked away at the end of a long gravel road who intentionally shuts himself off from the world. So try as we might to lie to ourselves that we are independent, we’re not.
Whether it’s co-workers with whom we partner on projects, friends who send us simple text messages reminding us that we’re a part of their lives, or family members who teach us that we really know nothing about potting plants, we are interdependent. The people in our lives need us to ask them just as much as we are in need of their help. We were created to need each other.
We can attempt to not burden others with our problems, but the truth is we never have been independent and we never will be. And we’ll be miserable until we stop railing against it.
In the past few months, my pride has rightfully been put in its place. Consequently, one might could say that the dam has broken and I haven’t stopped asking for help. I might even have to write another post soon on how not to be a burden to your friends.
But I’ll do that after I get them to help me hang this one last light fixture…
Do you struggle with being independent? Have you had to force yourself to ask for help lately?
Photo credit: stars alive