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Lean

I am a self-appointed "word nerd." I love everything about words-definitions, synonyms, antonyms, spellings, pronunciations, rhymes, palindromes. I'm that annoying person who got excited when my first grade teacher said it was "phonics workbook time." Yes, I even thought it was fun to diagram sentences. I can't believe I just typed that! Wow! That takes nerd to a whole new level!!


Oh well! Since I can't deny the nerdy nature of word loving, let's just roll with it. As any true word nerd would do, I sometimes choose a word, look up its definitions and synonyms, and search for quotes, songs, and Bible verses that contain it. One such word I have recently chosen is LEAN.


According to wordhippo.com, lean has 25 different meanings. (Fellow word lovers should definitely check out this website.) Since the 3rd meaning of lean "athletic in build, with very little body fat" doesn't exactly apply to me right now, (insert laughy emoji!) let's consider the 14th and 16th definitions: #14-to depend on with full trust or confidence and #16-to be dependent upon.


The best example of lean being used in this way is the well known and much loved song "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers. (You're already singing it and doing the motions, aren't you?)

"Sometimes in our lives we all have pain

We all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there's always tomorrow.


Lean on me when you're not strong

And I'll be your friend

I'll help you carry on

For it won't be long

"Til I'm gonna need

Somebody to lean on." (LyricFind)


The upbeat and lighthearted vibe of this song is undeniable. Every time I hear it, I get this big ole goofy smile on my face and start dancing (if you could call it that!)...BUT...the lyrics become so much more than just fun rhyming words when leaning on someone or something becomes your necessary reality.


At the beginning of July, my family and I traveled to Rochester, Minnesota for six greatly anticipated appointments at Mayo Clinic. It was a huge blessing to meet the doctors and nurses at Mayo, and we gained some very helpful information even though it was difficult to swallow. I have lost 80 percent of the balance function on my left side. The neurologist I saw suggested I drive only when absolutely necessary. During one of the appointments, a physical therapist encouraged me to use a walking stick especially on uneven terrain. Wait! What? Limit my driving? But I'm the mom taxi! Use a walking stick? I'm only 43! Walking sticks are ugly!


Honestly, I'm still working to swallow all of this! Proverbs 3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Did you catch the word lean in there? I'm so thankful I don't have to lean on my own understanding because, to be quite honest, I don't understand it! The footnotes in my Bible say, "Leaning has the sense of putting your whole weight on something, resting on and trusting in that person or thing." As a pastor's wife, a mother of 3 teenagers, and an online business owner, putting my whole weight on anyone or anything is beyond difficult. Maybe that's why I'm struggling with the whole walking stick thing. It requires me to come to terms with the reality of my situation...I have a weakness, and I need help.


So this is where the beautiful part of the story begins...the help I need is, and has always been, readily available. God reminds me daily through prayer and Bible study that He is with me. He is my number one source of strength, hope, and peace.


Secondly, my family is amazing! I didn't realize until recently how often I rely on my husband to keep me steady (literally and figuratively.) I have a habit of holding on to his arm when we are walking. While this started as an affectionate gesture, I now depend on it to help me keep my balance. My daughters continually step up to help me and are willing to wear lots of different hats-chauffeur, chef, errand runner, and toenail polisher to name a few. My parents and mother-in-law are faithful to pray for me and are always willing to help as needed. One of my cousins is my personal trainer...she goes on walks with me for exercise, and she is super patient and encouraging when I don't feel like walking. I know I can count on ALL of my family members anytime day or night!!


Finally, I have the most wonderful friends! My best friend lives about 3 hours away, but she always has a way of texting me right when I need it most. The members of our church are among some of my dearest friends. Their prayers, cards, and kind words keep me going. My best friend from college has been one of the biggest supporters of Apple Jacks. I love when she places an order because I know I'm going to get to see her when she picks it up! My teaching buddies still keep in contact, and that means the world to me! Then there are the friends who are willing to help even if I haven't seen or talked to them in years. One such friend saw my Facebook post about trying to find walking sticks to paint. (I'm just not going to have an ugly walking stick!) She got her husband to make three for me. I fully intended to pay for them, but she insisted they were a gift.


That brings me back to my buzzword for this post...lean! While it is has not been easy for me to depend on others with full trust or confidence, it has been rewarding. I have grown closer to my family and friends and to God. Sometimes I still try to lean on my understanding, and that's when I start to stumble the most. That's also when I start singing the first verse of "Lean on Me."

"Sometimes in our lives we all have pain

We all have sorrow

But if we are wise

We know that there's always tomorrow."








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