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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

Lord, Prop Me Up... - December 2020
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

Many years ago, I noticed an old barn that was leaning slightly to the left.  On the leaning side of the barn, a small tree sprouted close to the foundation.  The old weathered barn sets fairly near old Highway 81, just a few miles north of Salina, Kansas.  It is easy to notice. Whenever I occasionally drove on the old highway to Salina, I watched for that barn.  Each time, the barn was leaning a little further to the left, and the tree was just a little taller.  As the barn leaned more, the tree grew taller and larger in circumference, and it supported the increasing weight and pressure of the barn.

The last time I drove old Highway 81, my husband and I pulled over to the side of the road so I could make some photos.  By then, the barn was leaning at about a 45-degree angle, but the tree was still standing tall and strong.  Its strength was propping the old barn up on its leaning side. An unknown author had a leaning barn, perhaps similar to the one I have watched throughout the years.  That person wrote a story entitled “Lord, Prop Me Up on My Leaning Side.”  Here’s the story.

Often when I pray, I think of my good friend that was a deacon and always prayed, “Lord, prop me up on my leaning side.”  After hearing him pray that prayer many times, I asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently.

He answered, “Well, sir, you see, it’s like this. I have an old barn out back.  It’s been there a long time.  It’s withstood a lot of weather.  It’s gone through a lot of storms, and it’s stood for many years. It’s still standing, but one day I noticed it was leaning to one side a bit.  So I went and got some pine poles and propped it up on its leaning side so it wouldn’t fall. Then I got to thinking about that and how much I was like that old barn. I have been around a long time.  I have withstood a lot of life’s storms.  I have withstood a lot of bad weather in life.  I have withstood a lot of hard times.  I have developed a bunch of bad habits, and I’m still standing too. When I find myself leaning to one side from time to time, I like to ask the Lord to prop me up on my leaning side.  At times, I figure a lot of us get to leaning. Sometimes we get into the bad habits of leaning toward anger, leaning toward bitterness, leaning toward hatred, leaning toward not taking good care of ourselves, leaning toward a lot of things that we shouldn’t.  So I pray, ‘Lord, prop me up on my leaning side, so that I will once again, stand straight and tall."

All of us have a “leaning side,” times when we have weathered “storms” of life, when life has not made sense, when circumstances do not seem fair, or people have been unkind.  During those times, it may be easy to lean toward doubt, anger, depression, and fear, even toward bitterness if it feels like we are being pushed around.  The leaning barn and the tree reminded me of my own life, of my own “storms,” times that I have needed something or someone to lean on.  Like when my husband was ill with cancer.  After he died.  When my youngest daughter and family moved thousands of miles from Kansas to Wales. When my best friends died.  At times we begin leaning in a direction we do not want to go.  That’s when we need someone we can depend on, someone we can lean on until we are strong enough to make it on our own again.      

After my husband died, I really dreaded that first Christmas without him.  But my little sister invited me to come to Alaska and spend time with her and her family.   She listened.  She cared.  She was kind.  In a sense, she “propped” me up so I could get through Christmas and my anniversary three days later.         

If you are grieving, take extra good care of yourself during the holidays.  Let those who love you know how they can make the holidays a little easier for you.  Many times, people want to help but do not know how. During the tough times, it is okay to depend on the strength of others to help “prop” you up.  And it might also be a good time to breathe a prayer to God for a little extra propping up—“Lord, prop me up on my leaning side.”  It just might help.   

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice
709 Liberty, Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator