Monday, June 13, 2016
In Sickness and In Health
She had a beautiful smile and took the time to smile profusely with each introduction.
But I was curious about the cane. During the course of the evening she told me that in the past year she had been diagnosed with MS. She said she's trying not to question God, because she's seen others worse than her; she used to be the life of the party now she feels like such a dud; she has 2 children who are teenagers that she is trying to be there for all without losing control, or as she said, "falling and busting her head." She's glad she has a husband but then she said, "and my husband doesn't like me." She is trying to maintain a positive outlook while dealing with the reality of the toll her illness is taking on her life.
For most of us, when our husbands get a cold it taxes us because they appear to act like they are at death's door. They can't move, and they need extra love and attention. But at least they are well after a couple of days. What it requires on our part is a sacrifice that we are not initially willing to make.
Imagine dealing with a chronically ill spouse. I would venture to say, initially, most of us can't handle it and we would have to learn to deal with it. We would have to tell ourselves that what seems like an inconvenience to us is the spouse's reality. Most of us are wired to deal with the good stuff, but when things aren't ideal we are forced to reevaluate ourselves. Some of us fight tooth and nail against our situation - you can't be sick, I'm sure you can do this yourself; some of us - just go with the flow; some of us harbor resentment until we realize that even in bad situations good things can come from it. We inadvertently make the ill person feel like a burden. I've never met a sick person - a chronically sick person who enjoys being ill. It is at this point the reality of in sickness and in health kicks in.
Perhaps LL feels her husband doesn't like her because now that she is ill he never spends any time with her. Perhaps all she needs is a kind word, some attention and a physical touch. Perhaps the husband is overwhelmed by the complexities of the illness and does not know how to respond so he does what he's always done - hide himself in work.
I've witnessed many facets of sickness and health. My brother was healthy when he said his vows but for most of his marriage he was chronically ill. The illness took a toll on both of them until he passed away. I've mentioned LL, whose husband does not seem to be attentive to her, and through my Bible study group I became aware of another couple. The husband is suffering from a rare form of cancer that disfigures while being painful. To get a sense of his well being, his wife may say "he is sub-par, but status quo within the sub-par."
When your status quo is sub par it's hard to remain optimistic and supportive. But this is the beauty of love and grace. It is in these instances that we are reminded that love is sacrificial, love is patient and love is kind. It is in these moments that we cannot rely on our strength but on Someone bigger than us to give us the strength that we need to take another step; nurse another wound; dispense more medicine; go to another doctor. The Lord knows we can grow weary in doing good which is why he tells us not to do so but to hold on. In our sicknesses, we get to know our spouses; we see that we really do care and though we may want them to get better we deal with the reality that it may never be the case here on Earth. Because we made a choice to love them we can love them through the good and the bad.
It's only the grace of God that can give us caring hearts to deal with tough situations. Let us choose to accept this grace and extend it to our spouses. Don't let sickness or any other negative tear your love apart.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 [NLT]
Have you dealt with this part of your vows in your marriage? How did you handle it?