As I walked up to the kitchen sink this morning, I was taken aback by the number of little plastic cups and fat medicine tubes covering the bottom. I had cleaned everything in the sink before I called it a night, hadn’t I? And almost as soon as I had had the thought, I remembered that Wendy gave Emmett two more rounds of medicine since I had gone to bed, one at two and the other at six a.m. Now, a little after eight, I was adding my contribution to the pile.
I immediately felt a weariness for her, as I realized that ‘catching up’ on housework during Emmett’s chemotherapy weeks wasn’t a realistic possibility. With a bouncing boy demanding her undivided attention when she was home, lesson plans and grading that would start to accumulate as the new semester began, and the typical chores that keep any wife and mother from feeling like she has any free time, Wendy already had a full plate. Add to her schedule doctor’s appointments and middle-of-the-night meds and feedings, and I could only imagine her level of physical fatigue, not to mention emotional and spiritual, as well.
Before I arrived in Nashville for these few days with Wendy and Emmett, my mind began to ponder something Emmett had written earlier.
It was a blessing to get ringside seats at my brothers wedding, but I listened to the exchange of vows with a new perspective on things. “through sickness and through health” took on a new meaning. I was touched by how we pledge through sickness first, which is the hardest time to love, especially when sickness can be so long reaching, and can disrupt things for an incredibly long time. (Emmett 8/3/2010)
I, too, had to taken the vow to love someone in sickness and in health, yet I know now that I had no idea to what I was committing eight years ago.
When I got married, I was under the misconception that if I loved someone with all my heart, promising to nurse him through sickness would come naturally, with a willingness because of that love. As a young woman at just twenty-two, I couldn’t imagine what that kind of sacrifice would entail, but I was sure that my love for Matt would make me better than I am if that time should arise. I realize now that I was wrong. Loving someone doesn’t make me a better person; instead, his love for me gently points out all my imperfections, showing me exactly how far I have to go.
Since I’ve been married and have had children, I have become more acutely aware of the naturally selfish tendencies within me. Yes, I willingly make many sacrifices for my family, but more often than I’d like to admit, I know my mind focuses on the word ‘sacrifice’ instead of seeing my action as an offering of love. And the more Matt and my children love me unconditionally, the more I am aware of my shortcomings.
When I look at Wendy and Emmett and contemplate the words that they share through their own journey, I am inspired. They share so openly and honestly about their own struggles with faith and love, and, at times, I feel ashamed for my own feelings. They are experiencing a hell on earth, yet their focus is to show others a glimpse of heaven. Their trust in Jesus with their lives is amazing, and I want that faith. I want my focus to shift from inward to heavenward so that my life emulates Christ, no matter the circumstance.
I don’t want to be selfish. I want to pray as Wendy prays: Lord, make me more like you, but do it gently, for I am weak (Wendy 8/16/2010). As much as I’d like to think that my love for Matt would enable me to care for him in a time of sickness, I know it is not enough. I know I am weak and that I easily weary. Instead, I need the love of a Savior who illuminates my imperfections and gently carves away at them, filling the void with Him. I need to be filled with more of Him and less of me.
I came here for a few days to offer a hand to Wendy, but instead, she has helped me. She is a beautiful picture of the love of Christ poured out for those He loves. And I pray that as I drive away tomorrow from this family covered in devotion to one another, their example would serve as a reminder for all that I need to allow God to change in me.
Please join me in praying for Wendy and Emmett and their young son Quinn. You can follow their amazing journey of faith through Emmett’s battle with cancer at teamemmett.com.
The M.O.B Society (Mothers of Boys) was also gracious enough to allow me to contribute to their site today. I would love if you would stop by and say ‘hello.’
4 thoughts on “In Sickness and In Health”
Oh girl I cannot even imagine. Isn't heaven going to be amazing?! Come on Lord, we're ready! 🙂
Oh – this hurt my heart. The sickness part of the vow. It scares me. Because of the great valley of loss it opens us up to. Watching my dad lose my mom like that – it's something that makes heroes of us or defeats us utterly. What a blessing you must be to them to be there like that!
I thought of you, Lisa-Jo, knowing that you would relate to the suffering of my friends. Yes, this vow scares me, too, because I fear that I'll discover that I'm not the person I want to be, whether I'm the one sick or I'm the caretaker. My hope, though, is that the Lord would give me the strength that I would need if I were in that situation. Trust me–Wendy and Emmett are more of a blessing to me than I am to them.
My heart smiles knowing you are there helping your dear friends. And, yes, it is always better to give than receive. Your drive home will be filled with thoughts of wishing you lived closer to lend a hand more often. And your thoughts will be filled with seeing your own precious family and thanking God for good health. What truly amazes me is how young Emmett and Wendy’s marriage is to go through this trial ,and to stay so focused on the will of God. And yes, we need to pray them through every day. God will be there with them always, and He sends angels, like you, as a reminder. xxx000