Monday, 23 September 2013

No Man Is An Island

We all nod enthusiastically when we hear John Donne's famous words that 'no man is an island', but sometimes wouldn't we quite like to be?

Sometimes, hiding away from the rest of the world is a very tempting opportunity.  Not having to think of anyone's needs but our own, locking the door and fielding the phone calls, we shut ourselves away on our very own blissfully selfish desert island.

But islands can't stay self-sufficient for long and all the resources are used up quickly.

Such was my experience this weekend with a husband away and a nasty illness to contend with.

Locking the door to the world, I wanted to cope on my own.  I didn't want anyone to enter my house wondering if we had been burgled whilst I was lying on the sofa (I'm not joking, the mess really was that bad) and I certainly didn't want to reveal any cracks in my 'I can cope' shiny armour.  I couldn't bear the thought of 'burdening others' when they were already busy.  So, I retreated to my island, not alone but with my three boys.

It turned out that my reserves were drained rather too quickly for my liking and by Saturday morning, I could not move from my sofa.  In floods of tears, I admitted my weakness (gone was the fake 'coping' sheen) and asked for help.

That day, no less than seven friends came to my aid in differing ways - bringing tablets, taking my boys out or dropping them off at birthday parties, bringing food, sorting my piles of laundry and tidying my non-burgled house.  Each time they arrived I was aware that, despite the fact that I was still in my pyjamas with unwashed hair, they were coming because they loved me. 

Humbled, I remembered another wise saying in an old books called Proverbs:

"A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity."

My friends love me all the time - even when I am still in my pyjamas and my house is a tip and my boys are bored and wrestling on the floor.  And my family are there for hard times.  Friends and family aren't just there to make us feel good, like the uplifting background music on X factor, they are there for our support and our good - warts and all.

We're not meant to be on our own.  We're not created to be an island.  We need each other, and we need to accept help from our friends even when it doesn't make us look good.  We need to take off a piece or two of that shiny armour that is so hard to walk in sometimes so that our friends can love us at all times - even the parts that we would rather they didn't see.  Vulnerability replaces self-sufficiency.

I'm grateful that my friends and family built me a raft this weekend so I could escape my lonely island.   Thank you, friends, for loving me at all times.

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