Courageously Committed Despite Affliction

Affliction and sickness - Dollar Photo When we vow to be faithful during times of “sickness and in health,” who really believes our commitment will actually be put to the test? That’s especially true when it comes to a serious accident or an illness. They test every fiber of who we are in our marital commitment. Who would think, who would believe we would ever have to deal with an affliction like this? Yet sometimes, it does.

And when it does, there are times when every part of you screams out, “I didn’t marry this!” And yet you did. I did. In my wildest dreams (or nightmares) it never occurred to me on our wedding day that I would be called upon in the future to keep this particular promise (with my husband’s health issues). Many times God has reminded me of the original vow I made, when I’ve needed to be reminded. How easy it is to forget during trying times of affliction!

Courageously Committed

That’s why I named this blog, “Courageously Committed Despite Affliction.” It takes sheer courage and perseverance to stay committed and loving when illness attacks, or an accident crashes into your marriage.

I recently finished reading a book titled, The Vow. It tells the true events that happened to Kim and Krickitt Carpenter where their vows were tested to the fullest. As it states in the book:

“Two months after their marriage, a devastating car wreck left Krickitt with a massive head injury. She was in a coma for weeks. When she finally emerged from the coma, she had no idea who Kim was.”

It’s quite the story and quite the test of the determination Kim has had to live through when he “made a vow.” Both Kim and Krickitt have persevered, nonetheless. (By the way, they are now releasing a movie based very loosely on their story. Prayerfully, it will be an inspiration to others who need to grab onto that type of courage in their marriage relationship.)

Strength and Courage Needed

Recently, we had a wife named Jenny, and an unrelated husband named Kirby who left comments on this web site. They posted under the article, “Starting Marriage Over After a Brain Injury.” Both tell a few of their struggles to hang on. Their spouses changed dramatically after they were married because of Traumatic Brain Injuries. How I pray the Lord gives them the strength and courage they need, when darkness creeps into the situations they face. It’s what I call the “silent scream stage.” That’s where everything within you is screaming, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

We don’t know all that Kim and Krickitt and Jenny and Kirby are going through exactly. No one can know unless they have been put in a similar situation. But I do know about the silent scream stage. That’s because I’ve lived through it many times.

When my husband Steve (who became a Type 1 Diabetic about two years into our marriage) has gone into full-blown insulin reactions, which bring about dementia episodes, I’ve wondered how I could continue on in our future, after the immediate crisis settles down. All of this is frightening, confusing, and difficult, to say the least. Type-1 Diabetes is more complicated than most people realize. It’s difficult for my husband Steve and it’s difficult for me. It also can truly be trying on the strength our marital commitment, at times.

God’s Strength

But THANK YOU GOD for the strength and perseverance I’ve/we’ve been able to grab onto, to push past the fear and confusion that grabs hold during times of affliction. I never realized when I said, “I do,” on our wedding day, that this would be a part of our lives together.

A while ago, I came across an article written by Ken Tada. He is the husband of Joni Erickson Tada. He actually DID recognize the seriousness of his wedding vows to honor and love his wife in illness. She was already quadriplegic when they married. I’m sure, however, he never realized the degree to which his vows would be tested. But tested, they have been!

Ken’s Testimony

In a Todayschristianwoman.com article titled, “In This Thing Together”, Ken wrote:

“My wife and I aren’t marriage experts. We aren’t even experts at doing the disability thing. But we know this: suffering can either drive people apart in a marriage, or it can bind them together. And just as God reveals tender, intimate things when we patiently hold fast to him through our personal suffering, a marriage is tenderized when a couple patiently holds fast to God. This also happens when they hold onto each other —through hardships.

“I say this to any husband and wife going through tough times: God always reveals himself to us when we come together. He reveals himself when we need him desperately. And when we cling to God out of need, one of the most satisfying fruits of the Holy Spirit —the fruit of patience —can’t help but take root in a marriage.

“I don’t automatically recommend marriage to young disabled couples when ‘quadriplegia’ is in the mix. It’s difficult. It requires a lot from any two people. But for those, like Joni and me, who choose it, or for others who experience illness or injury after the wedding vows, God’s grace really is sufficient. I guess that’s because he’s in it ‘together’ with you.”

Another Helpful Article

That’s the theme of another article concerning suffering during times of affliction. It’s posted in on another web site, and is written by Jerushua Ann Clark. I highly recommend you read:

SUFFERING TOGETHER

And then, the ministry of Family Life Today had a 3-day radio broadcast series that you may want to either listen to, or read the transcripts through the link provided below. I believe you will find them to be very inspiring:

“In October 1995, Pastor John Bishop lost his memory to Aseptic Meningitis. His wife, Donna, stood by his side helping him to learn how to walk, talk, read, and write all over again.”

FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND

For Those Suffering Affliction

For those of you who are living with a spouse or a child who is seriously ill (or injured), or you are suffering in this way, please know that God is with you. Even when you don’t see Him or sense His presence, He is with you. God will “never leave you nor forsake you.” This is true no matter what the present circumstances scream out to you. Eventually, you will see that. It just may not be in your timing and in your way you expected.

And also, please know that my husband Steve and I value you. To us, you are one of the (unrecognized) heroes of today. It takes more courage to get through your days than anyone else will ever know. And the loneliness you feel at times is enormous. That’s because it’s not easy to find anyone else who could ever understand what you have to wrestle with, push through, and push past each day.

All this goes on while you see others who have “normal lives.” You sometimes think to yourself, “I wonder what it would be like to live like that?” It’s easy to go into the “How I wish…” cavern in your mind. But beware. It can take you places that can zap you of the strength you need.

Our Wish and Prayer

Here’s a “how I wish” for you —how I wish I could be an encourager for you. How I wish I could help you in some way, beyond the words I am writing. And how I wish I could lift up your arms like Aaron and Hur did for Moses (as written in Exodus 17) to strengthen you when you feel weak.

After the battle where Aaron and Hur held up his arms for victory Moses said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord.” I am praying that whoever reads this blog will feel strengthened, by the Lord Himself, as I lift you up before the Throne of God.

Peter, as told in Acts 3:6, told those who came to him for help, the same thing I would like to say to you. “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you.” I pray for you, cry for you, and I cheer for you that you will do what you know you should and can. I encourage you with these words to embrace:

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.(Galatians 6:9)

I hope you won’t. I hope together, we won’t. May we keep persevering through times of affliction, and do “good” all the days of our lives!

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.(Isaiah 40:30-31)

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.

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Filed under: Marriage Blog Mental and Physical Health

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Comments

6 responses to “Courageously Committed Despite Affliction

  1. (USA)  Cindy, Thank you for sharing your heart and for being so transparent in your weakness. You are doing what the Bible calls “boasting in your weakness.” Something that has baffled my proud heart. I never want to admit my weaknesses, much less boast in them, but through this post you have led the way. I pray that your prayer will reach many hurting and lonely couples who are facing great difficulty in their marriage. You are a blessing to many around the world, and I pray YOU will experience the joy of the Lord. Blessings to you and Steve, Debi

    1. Thank you Debi, Your affirmation means more to me than I can express. You and Tom are wonderful examples to Steve and me of the importance of transparency in marriage (how to be living examples of love and grace) and also in continually kicking up romance in our marriages. I visit your web site every day and hope to inspire as many as I can to do so, as well. God is using you in very important ways. May God continue to bless and grow your love for Him and for each other. Hugs to you and Tom!

  2. Thanks for sharing this write up. You’re really a blessing and may God bless you. How do I support and help my husband who has been very supported and helpful for the past 14 yrs. of my being ill and using a wheelchair. I realize he sometimes get tired of the whole situation ( though he doesn’t say so) which causes very unpleasant petty quarrels.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing and opening a place for others to share. I for one needed to not feel alone this morning. Two years ago my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury and nearly died. He miraculously recovered to the extent that he can walk, talk, and drive. He isn’t totally different, like you hear of often, but every personality flaw he once had is now accentuated.

    We had just come through one of the most difficult times in our marriage when all of this took place, and we’re just starting to put things back together.

    Now I feel like we are starting over, except this time he doesn’t have the capacity to work on it with me. His actions often leave me feeling very neglected and alone. Somehow I have to find a way to deal with this. On the outside it appears I have my husband back, but in all reality I feel as though I am just losing him slowly. No doubt I’m thrilled beyond words that he’s still here with our family, but I have no idea how to change myself to accept that I won’t ever really have the same emotional relationship we once had.

    It’s very hard to change my perspective on his inflamed behaviors, when for 25 years I reacted negatively to them because of how they made me feel. All those behaviors are now worse and I have to learn to not take them personally. I’ve read many accounts of brain injury recovery, but have never heard anyone speak about these inflamed negative behaviors that existed on a small scale prior to the accident. Please forgive my punctuation as I’m typing this from my phone after a rather sleepless night.

    1. Dear Cindy, Thank you for your kind constructive sharing in your blog. When I read you mention about your writing – It’s what I call the “silent scream stage,” where everything within you is screaming, “I don’t know what to do …I don’t want to do this anymore”, it really depicts my current situation very well.

      My husband, who was an executive pastor of an international church in Indonesia, became a severe TBI survivor from a car accident leading a mission team in secluded jungle of Indonesia, building churches and schools. It happened 3 years ago this August, and I can say that I’ve been on a roller coaster of faith since the incident.

      At first, I was so sure that God will miraculously made him well again, and all glory be given to Jesus our Lord. Visions from other mature believers and friends all over the world are coming in and very encouraging. My husband’s first year’s improvement also very good, to the point many of us are sure within the first year God will enable him to walk again.

      Yet, God has chosen another way …until now he’s sill unable to stand nor walk, bed ridden and needs intensive help for self care. Where we reside, there’s no support group nor care group for caregivers. I have nobody real to talk to, aside from praying to God. The stigma of bringing shame to the family and many other cultural issues made it even harder to start one.

      Feeling isolated and secluded are the least I can say as a caregiver and a mother of 2 preteen boys. Judging eyes and hurtful comments from the least expected sources have put me into a crash course of “focusing on God not people”, forgiving and forgetting are constant decisions to make practice.

      Being at places that we visited before bring tears to my eyes even till now. (With my background in Christian Family counseling, I’m aware that I’m in and out depression state, but no help available).

      My boys are growing up without their father that they love and respect. I lost my wise, gentle mannered, capable and strong husband that I love so much. He’s drifting away from me, physically he is “in” but mentally he is “out”.

      I can identify with Stacey’s comment about “On the outside it appears I have my husband back, but in all reality I feel as though I’m just losing him slowly. No doubt I’m thrilled beyond words that he’s still here with our family, but I have no idea how to change myself to accept that I won’t ever really have the same emotional relationship we once had.”

      The saddest thing about this is I’m so alone in this turmoil… yes I know God is with me and He will never forsake me, but I really need to know what should I do next before I lose my mind literally.

      Desperately needing your prayer support, so the Lord will clearly direct me the next step I should take for myself and family. Thanking you all in advance for remembering us in your prayers.

      1. Dearest Linda, How I wish I could do more for you than write articles… how my heart cries for you! There are no words to describe how grievous this must be for you. If you go to the article, we have posted on our web site on “starting over” after a brain injury: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/starting-marriage-over-after-a-brain-injury/ you can read in the linked articles and the comments how tough all of this is (as you so painfully are getting to know). Perhaps through that article, you will learn something that will help in some way. It’s so tremendously sad when the former “normal” is gone and a “new normal” is having to be built, as a result. Again, I cry with and for you.

        How I wish I could say that your husband will come back to you as strong as he was. Perhaps, all things are possible, but barring a miracle, it isn’t likely. This is where you reach down deep inside and ask God to show you how to live the life that is now thrown at you, in the most compassionate, yet wise way that is possible. It will be a “one-day-at-a-time” journey… actually, it’s often one minute at a time. And we don’t know from one minute to the next what to do… the wisdom is many times not given to us ahead of time. Sometimes it is, but in situations like this… it isn’t often. It’s all a part of this faith walk journey we’re put into.

        You are going to learn (painfully) to travel a faith walk that you never realized, when you married. Here, you thought you would be pursuing a different mission. But life on this side of Heaven many times veers off in a different direction… sometimes it’s a painful one. We aren’t promised otherwise, in this life. You will need to learn how to put together a support system… prayerfully, you will find one. Yes, God is with you… and He will be your main support, as you lean on Him (often times, He may be your only support, because it will be difficult for others to know how to help you).

        I’ve seen so many (and lived through some) life-changing/shattering experiences that change the course of one’s life. Here’s when it comes to light, that, which is deep inside of us. Will we persevere and do as God would have us, or will we try to (unsuccessfully) run in a different unhealthy directions, complicating matters all the more? I do know one thing Linda, if you persevere in Christ, and run the course He would set for you as you minute-by-minute ask for His wisdom, God WILL bring redeeming moments and times your way, and in the life of others. God cannot use us to the same capacity to help many, until we are broken and willing to be His light in dark places.

        Be careful where you seek help and relief. The enemy of our faith will try to trip you up and injure you and others around you all the more… taking a painful situation and heaping more pain on top of it all. Be on the alert. The walk you walk “from this day forward” will be a heroic one, with little fanfare, little help and understanding on the part of others, and many temptations to go in directions you shouldn’t. But isn’t that the life of Jesus? It isn’t little “sunspot experiences” of light and happy moments, but “trials and tribulations” that we share with Him.

        I want in my heart to encourage you and lavish blessings on you Linda. But the reality is that you have a tough course set in front of you. Your boys, and many others are looking to you… you are “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” that will be watching. Your mission has changed. What you do with it now, is your new reality. Will you have any “sunspot moments” and times of laughter ahead of you? I’m sure you will, as you look for them, and as they find you… but they won’t be as easy to see and find right now.

        What I recommend is that you plant your faith in Christ –not looking at the life of others around you… but look to the Lord to bring people and situations your way that will help you and inspire you. You may want to read (in whatever spare time you can steal) about other women of faith who have persevered through tough trials. That is what I often do when I find myself caught up in my own pity parties. I read books and articles and such of those who have “kept the course and finished well.” Their trials may be different than mine, but the difficulty of the journey has threads of similarities woven throughout. I figure if they can do what they did under their circumstances, I can do what I need to do, as God helps me.

        I pray this helps in some way. I cry with you, pray for you and for your husband and family, and hope for you. Many will misunderstand what you are going through and will judge you in their ignorance, but please despite it all, hold your head up high, remembering that He is “the lifter of our head.” Keep in mind that “even in the darkness light dawns for the upright” (Psalm 112:4a) as we look to Him.