In a moment, I changed from apologizing for coming to shocked at what I faced.
Everything started on Tuesday. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off in my eye. The one I had surgery on. Wednesday morning, I called the doctors office. I struggled to describe the situation because it wasn’t that bad. But they told me to come in to get things checked out just in case.
So I hopped in the car and took the 90-minute trip. I got my eye dilated, and the doctor spent 30 minutes shining a flashlight in every part of my eyeball. It felt like torture. Finally, he said, “Your retinal wall came loose again. You need another surgery.”
This news didn’t surprise me but still felt like a ton of bricks dropping on my head. I could only think of the fact that my girls had a special dance on Friday. My new surgery would happen on Thursday.
Sharing the news with Ashley, I broke down in tears. I hated not getting to attend the dance for my girls. I already knew what recovery from eye surgery looked like, and I didn’t like it.
After I spoke with Ashley, I wrestled with who I wanted to call. I had a lot of people I needed to call, but for a moment I held a pity party. I could only think of a couple of people I wanted to share this with just as a friend. Did this mean I didn’t have close friends?
Serving as a pastor is relationally ironic. I have a life full of relationships, but most of those hinges on the title I have. I relate to and care for many and love what I do. But I don’t feel close to many people.
Then it struck me. I have a web of friendships. Many people fill many friend rolls in my life.
Driving home, I called a friend named Paul Thomas. He willingly gave up all his plans for Thursday to chauffeur me to and from surgery. Paul’s friendship showed up in a sacrifice of time.
Arriving home, my wife hugged me and emotionally shared my grief over the news. Ashley stands as both my marriage partner and one of my best friends.
For dinner, Wednesday, a couple of friends came over for our regular small group meeting. Angela and Ryan willingly changed plans from studying together to merely talking and going for a walk. I needed friends to walk with literally as I anticipated a hard day ahead.
Throughout the evening, I received calls from a couple of friends who have experienced my eye surgery. They encouraged me from their experience.
Logging online I read comments from dozens and dozens of people around the world empathizing with and praying for me.
I need to guard against letting my feelings tell me how friend full my life is. Sure, the circle of people I can chat with maybe small. Friends show up in many ways. I count as friends many generous, self-sacrificing people. How I feel in a moment doesn’t always reveal the depth and breadth of the friendships I have.
I just opened a new chapter with a second surgery. I need friends to sustain me emotionally and physically. I realize different friends play different roles in my life. Part of learning to live well as appreciating the various friends I have. And it is giving friendship in many different ways.