4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails.
The Lord has been impressing upon me lately what love truly is; not according to what my mood at the moment says it is.
As many of you know, my husband suffers with chronic, 24/7 pain. He has pinched nerves, herniated discs and arthritis in his neck. He also has herniated discs and scoliosis in his back.
We've tried every single option there is, outside of the spinal fusion surgery the doctor recommends. All to no avail.
As any wife can understand, it's hard to watch someone you love go through such agony all the time. Even though I do what I can by way of rubbing his neck or back, and praying constantly for a total healing, it's never enough.
He can't do all that he wants to do around the house. He can't make it through the day without a handful of pills, nor can he fall asleep at night without them. The pills take the edge off, but do not provide total relief.
And it's very hard for him to remain cheerful toward me and the children all the time; I get that. (Honestly, when I've got cramps, I'm not the nicest person in the world. I understand.)
But to sympathize and really "get" what it's like for him?...I can't imagine. To be in such pain on a day-in/day-out basis...To never feel relief, no matter what pills you take, or how long you wear your neck collar. Nothing you do helps. I can't imagine.
However, I ache watching the man who's always been there for me, who's held me up during trials of many kinds, who's been my rock---spiral down into depression. At times it makes me feel like I'm drowning right along with him.
It's so hard when the one who's "not supposed to give up", curls up into a ball.
But as much as I try to be there for him--as much sympathy as I have for him most days--it doesn't stop me from getting into my own whiny, crabby-baby mood.
During my worst times, I give in to the feeling of being "cheated". After all, I didn't "sign up" for a chronically-in-pain-spouse. I didn't foresee the pile of medical bills on our wedding day. I didn't plan on having some needs of my own go unmet, because my husband was in too much pain to meet them. When I'm in pain from my endometriosis or joint pain, I want sympathy...lots of it. But I rarely get it, or at least to the degree I'd like it, and at times that makes me mad.
I'm sure it goes without saying that my foul mood does nothing to improve the situation. Quite the opposite, in fact. And that's where the Lord has me now.
He has been showing me that love is "not self-seeking", and I've indeed been selfish. Very, very selfish.
Ten years ago, I made vows that "for better or for worse" and "in sickness and in health", for the rest of our lives, I'd be there for Dean. No matter what.
Within the realm of my marriage, there is no room for my selfishness. Not even an inch. And that's exactly what all my whining and pity-partying boils down to; selfishness.
- I'm selfish for thinking that it's "not fair" and "what about me?"
- I'm selfish for muttering or thinking things like, "You're always in pain..."
- I'm selfish during those times when he could really use a neck rub, but I don't feel like it.
- And I'm selfish for pouting over my unmet needs or desires, when he constantly sees to the provision and needs of this family by working 14-16 hr days, all while in constant, makes-him-want-to-cry, pain.
(Oh, Lord. Forgive me....please, please forgive me.)
Here is what I've learned during this morning's prayer time:
Love is patient. I have to be patient with his moods, patient with his feelings. Because I don't know what it's like to walk a mile in his shoes.
Love is kind. I must be willing to do anything I can to ease his burden; not add to it by my whining, pouting or complaining.
Love is not rude. No muttered or unspoken thoughtless comments. Ever.
Love is not self-seeking. I cannot and will not seek my own way or desires. I will do all I can to meet his needs, and look to the Lord to fill the needs that my husband cannot.
Love is not easily angered. I'm not angry at him; I'm angry with the situation. But my reaction sometimes doesn't reflect that very well. Instead, he feels like I'm blaming him for something that's completely out of his control.
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. I must protect the sanctity of my marriage by doing all I can to yank the "ugly weeds" that sprout up inside my heart. Weeds of discontentment, discouragement, resentment and anger have to be ruthlessly plucked out, if I'm ever to have peace.
I must trust that the Lord will see to all my needs, great or small.
I must continually hope and pray for my husband's healing, and not give up when the pain seems worse.
I must persevere; for the sake of my marriage, for my husband's physical, spiritual and emotional health, as well as for my children's sakes.
I am setting an example, one way or the other, about what a wife should be. Do I want my daughters to be resentful of their husbands, should--God forbid--they suffer the same things their Daddy does? NEVER!
Do I want my son to avoid marriage out of fear that a wife will, in the end, be nothing more than a shrew who treats him poorly when the going gets tough? NO!
I love them all too much to allow that to happen. And believe me, I understand how this can happen from experience. My mother and step-dad have been in this very same situation for as long as I can remember.
He got hurt several years ago on the job as a construction worker. His pain is constant, and he hasn't worked since I was 10 years old.
My mother at first did all she could for him, but soon her emotional pain gave way to resentment, which slowly deepened into bitterness. Oh, she still loves him. They're still married. But the hurt is very evident in her voice.
I'm not blaming her, nor am I judging her. But I've seen what the results of allowing those "ugly weeds" to grow are. And I refuse to allow that to happen to me.
I love my husband. I can't just allow myself to become this selfish, resentful shell of a wife. I am to be his supporter, his champion, his encourager, his friend, lover and confidant. To be anything less makes a mockery of my vows and the three words I say to him each morning; "I love you".
A wife must treat her husband with patience, kindness, and respect. Devotion is shown through the small, everyday kindnesses that make his life more pleasant. Whether he be able-bodied or not.
Lord, thank you for this lesson. May you never stop teaching me, may I never stop learning and may I never forget to treat Dean as if this were my last day on Earth. Because in the end, one never knows when that day will come. And I want his memories of me to be beautiful...