Two days ago, I had surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in my left shoulder, so now I’m pursuing a regimen of exercises to strengthen it. My medical team says I’ll need to wear a sling for at least 12 weeks, with several months of recovery after that. The physical therapy isn’t the most challenging adaptation that I face, though; a much bigger challenge is learning to accept a life of dependency.

For much of this recovery period–certainly while my arm is immobilized in a sling–I have to depend on my wife Judy for the most basic things:

  • Washing me
  • Clothing me
  • Helping me in and out of the car
  • Driving me

Etc., etc.

Although Judy is incredibly patient, I don’t always reciprocate. You see, I cherish my independence so much that I get exasperated by having to be dependent on anyone. But dependency is my vocation for this season of life.

Last night, two neighbor couples appeared at our door with hot food and cheerful smiles. They said they were eager to help in other ways during this time — preparing meals, driving me to appointments, and so on. Their generous expressions of love and support warmed my heart.

As we sat and talked together, I felt my exasperation begin to ebb away. Their visits reminded me that a life of interdependency is healthy. We need each other on the most fundamental level, whether we admit it or not, and this temporary disruption of my normal routine demonstrates that. It reveals the fabric of caring which holds us together.