(This has nothing to do with my post but I fear this could be a real scenario from my life.)
While I was at work yesterday I got the privilege of caring for a man that had suffered a stroke. The stroke had left him with weakness down his right side so much that he was in a wheelchair. He had also lost the ability to talk. When I looked to see how old he was, his chart said he was 58 but his face looked much older. He had had the stroke just last year. Prior to that his chart indicated he was very active and outdoorsy. It said he participated in things like cycling, hiking, and other sports. Knowing only this much of his story made me sad. This once vibrant human being was now confined to his debilitated body. And even if he wanted to talk about it he couldn’t use his voice to do so.
Then I met his wife. She looked healthy and strong, like one of those women in an REI ad. She was chipper enough and had kind eyes. We didn’t talk much outside of her husband’s health history but I did learn that they had been together for 15 years and married for 4. As I watched her take care of him, I noticed she was strong and tender. She talked to him with the care of a wife but also as a caretaker. He would make a noise and she would ask him questions in order to figure out how to ease his discomfort. It was so touching and I left with a sense of awe at their relationship.
As I thought more about it later, I tried to imagine that being my situation. Kyle has a stroke or gets in an accident and I’m the one left to care for him. I’m going to let ya’ll in on a secret. I may have a degree in nursing but I am not good at being a nurse to my husband. I know he’s reading this and wholeheartedly agreeing. I tell him to suck it up. He does tend to overdramatize, as I know other men do, about the state of his well-being but still, I stink as a wifenurse. But what if he really did need me to take care of him? Would I resent him? Would I love him more? Would I live in a constant state of self-pity? I don’t know. I hope my love for him would deepen obviously but I know how selfish I am and I wonder if parts of me would secretly be resentful. I hope never to find out.
I’ve watched women, amazing women, care for their husbands’ when God has taken them at their vow of “in sickness and in health.” They are doing what they said they would do. They are choosing their husbands even in sickness. They are choosing the harder path. They are choosing love. This is what commitment looks like, ya’ll. This is what a covenant is. We choose our spouse.
So many times we allow our circumstances to steal us of our choice. We always have a choice. We think we don’t but we do. One of them is usually easy and the other is hard. Sometimes they’re both hard. They are both rarely easy. In the situation of caretaking, I feel like the choice for these women wasn’t whether or not they would stay. No, that was the easy choice. They made the choice to love their spouse. This was by far the harder choice. I think it would be much easier to grow bitter towards your circumstances and grow resentful towards your spouse. These women are more connected to their husbands now than they were before the health issues. This is some sort of miracle.
If you know someone who is taking care of a spouse/loved one be sure to encourage him/her. They are brave. They are choosing the hard thing. They are telling the other person, “I want you in sickness and in health because both of those things give me you. And all I want is you.” This is a precious gift to give someone.
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