Quote from "Stepping Heavenward" by Mrs. E. Prentiss

"She says I shall now have one mouth more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music and drawing.

Well! This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other.

Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which dwells is worthy of all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other dear darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, wondrously blest!"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

...or for worse

When Rusty and I took those vows 26 years ago, I bet he never thought how bad it could get.   I've never called him home from work for myself in the nearly 30 years that we've been together until Monday night.  As a young man, I guarantee he never dreamed he'd have to help his wife with cancer off the bathroom floor into the shower and clean a bathroom covered in vomit.     As he helped me to bed after he called the doctor, I told him I guess he gets to cover the "for worse part" of the vows now, so sorry.    He's never complained nor have the children these past 3 months despite the extra load they've had to carry.  But it has me wondering about the "or for worse" part of the vows even more.

What does the "for worse" look like?   For some, it's the elderly woman caring for her husband with Alzheimer's for as long as she his able.   Then after putting him in a home, she visited him every day until he passed.   For another, it's caring for the other after a horrible accident or illness that's left him/her paralyzed.   Our hearts are touched by the stories we hear of people who care for others in sacrificial ways especially when it costs them much.   How will our relationship hold if we lose a child?  What if his/her business fails, we lose it all, and we go bankrupt?   A child is born with special needs?   We've been married shortly, and now one of us is diagnosed as bipolar?  If there is an affair for which the other party is truly repentant?   The spouse now has addiction issues?   The spouse breaks the law and is sent to jail?  What if the spouse has just become a jerk or depressed ALL THE TIME?   How will the marriage vows hold up then?   I think it's an important part of premarital counseling to discuss if two people would be willing to keep their vows when faced with such difficult circumstances to really prepare a couple that life will get hard.   It's good to be determined to stick together before trouble comes, but it's kind of like going on a diet.  It's really easy to decide at the end of the day before the next meal is before you.  Disciplined dieting is where you have to decide to make a good choice each meal of each day.   Pondering all these circumstances, I couldn't come up with any easy, pat answer but that I'm unsure how you stay strong in any of these circumstances without the strength of the Lord.

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."   Ecclesiastes 4:12

Rusty and I decided from the beginning that divorce would never be an option nor part of our vocabulary.  It couldn't be used as a weapon against one another at any time. We haven't had to face many of the troubles that others have, but we've suffered some.   In times of doubt and uncertainty, I've had to dig into the Word and seek wise counsel.    

“Love is not self seeking, it’s not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong."  I Corinthians 13:5

It says in I Corinthians 13:7 that love "always protects."  I don't think that means that love enables, covers over, or hides those things that should be brought to the light. (However, love that protects is being very careful and prayerful of when, where, and with whom, we share “personal” details of our married life that need extra help and wise counsel.) When we want to truly love our spouse, we will protect them by showing honor and respect for their feelings-- not revealing or doing anything that will embarrass them or “cut them down.” When we do that, we are dishonoring them and showing that we don’t value them.
“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, 
covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. 
So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”  Malachi 2:16

That is not to say that there aren't many people who would have loved to reconcile and make a relationship work, but the other partner wouldn't participate or they have legitimate reasons (abuse, infidelity) to separate.   This is definitely not a judgment against anyone divorced, because but by the grace of God, that could have been my story.  But I think, as a whole, we are a generation that prefers a life of ease and we run from trouble, difficulties, or stress.   My natural response when things get too overwhelming is to want to quit EVERYTHING!!   However, as I've matured (at least some;) winking) over the years, I've learned to press through difficult times.  It may mean things do have to change, but I don't need to give up. 

So how do we push through the "for worse" times of marriage?   For me, again, it's preaching to myself the truth from Scriptures.   I'm reminded He will never leave me nor forsake me.   Therefore, I know whatever I'm facing, He knows and will equip me for every good work.  I must keep looking towards His Word for strength.   Pray.  Pray.  Pray.   Surround myself with others who will encourage me to do what's right and speak truth to me in love even if I don't like it.    Remember I John 3:16 that states, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”   It's not easy, but the Gospel is never more demonstrated to our children when we serve our spouse when they are at their worse.   Rusty's commitment to me when he rushed home, cleaned me up, took off the next day to care for me spoke volumes more to my children about love than any words we could have spoke to them.   Let's strive to stick to our vows, and watch how God blesses us through our obedience.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any blemish, but holy and blameless.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of His body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  Ephesians 5:25-33

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