3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
My Wife Shelby
Here’s a late Valentine’s Day gift for my wife. Though she would be embarrassed by any extra attention brought her way, I feel compelled in my heart to write this because of my love for her.
It has been a difficult time for her this past year due to unemployment. In many respects, it has been hard for her not only because of the economy, but because of her physical limitations as well. It’s not that a job or career is what defines her, but employment does give a person a sense of value. A job gives a person a feeling of being needed and having something to contribute. This is what she is missing.
It was shortly before losing her job that she discovered she had a neurological disorder. Working from home allowed her flexibility in that if an episode occurred where she could not function for the time being, she would be able to take a few hours off and make up the time later in the day or sometime during the week. Not that she would admit this, but it’s my belief that this disorder had some part in why she lost her job.
This neurological disorder of course has a name: trigeminal neuralgia. The short version of this disorder can be described at the Mayo Clinic website as follows:
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. If you have trigeminal neuralgia, even mild stimulation of your face — such as from brushing your teeth or putting on makeup — may trigger a jolt of excruciating pain.
You may initially experience short, mild attacks, but trigeminal neuralgia can progress, causing longer, more frequent bouts of searing pain. Trigeminal neuralgia affects women more often than men, and it's more likely to occur in people who are older than 50.
Because of the variety of treatment options available, having trigeminal neuralgia doesn't necessarily mean you're doomed to a life of pain. Doctors usually can effectively manage trigeminal neuralgia with medications, injections or surgery.
There’s so much more to this condition that it would take pages upon pages to go into more detail. Suffice it to say that treatment is not as easy as is described here. (Notice the phrase in the third paragraph “…doesn’t necessarily mean…” Although you could take this to mean that a person with this condition doesn’t have to suffer through with this condition, it’s more appropriately taken into context when it’s understood that in some cases, treatments may help certain patients.) Also, the symptoms aren’t as simple as is described here either. It also doesn’t help that ongoing treatments would cost more than what we can afford, and if we could there are no guarantees that any of the treatments available would be the cure.
It makes my heart ache knowing that there is nothing I can do, as her husband, to help her with this particular problem. Worse yet is the fact that there is nothing I can relate to that would help me to understand her pain. It does help, however, that there are others who have this condition that she can communicate with, either through facebook, twitter, or other media, that has given her some level of comfort that she is not alone in this.
My wife is such a strong person, with determination that this condition will not rob her of her entire life. But there are moments when circumstances do weigh heavily on her. As we all know, life does have a way of becoming a burden at times. This is no big surprise because as she knows, and I know, sin has been a plague for mankind since the beginning.
God, of course, has been and will always be her Rock. He is the Anchor that keeps her from drifting away. If you didn’t notice in the description above on trigeminal neuralgia (TN), this condition can “progress, causing longer, more frequent bouts of searing pain.” Without God, this would seem like a death sentence. And unfortunately, for some, it has been. God helps her to keep all of this in perspective. She knows that her time here on earth is short. That there is an eternity that awaits her, in the presence of our Loving Savior, that will be spent without pain or suffering.
Does this knowledge mean that there are days that don’t get rough for her? No, of course not. But in the middle of those episodes when she’s experiencing pain or some other letdown, she knows, even if it’s in the back of her mind, that there is hope.
There’s another issue here though. Partly because of the TN, partly because of the down-turn in the economy, and partly due to other extenuating circumstances, she has been in a dejected state. It’s difficult for anyone when there are periods of isolation. Living in Iowa during the winter months has not been kind. One of the triggers to her pain is a rapid fluctuation in temperature on her face, thus the many days and weeks indoors.
With all of these circumstances, it’s easy to see why my wife is feeling low these days. In one conversation, I remember her saying that she doesn’t feel like she has much to offer. Anyone in her situation would probably feel much the same way.
This is where I hope to offer something for my wife. Honey, you are a gift from God. You are special and unique and you have so much to offer the world, despite the feelings you are currently experiencing. Your value doesn’t come from a career or a job. Your value is in who God created you to be.
Please don’t see this comment as coming from a sexist point of view, but God saw a void when he created man. In that moment, He took a part of man to bring to life a remarkable creature…woman. This isn’t to diminish the value of any woman; rather it highlights something significant about man. His life is incomplete alone and God saw that he would need a partner in his life to be his helpmate.
That is who you are in my life. Alone, I see my life as being incomplete. When you came into it, suddenly there was a sense of purpose. I know in reality that for both of us that God is the One who gives us purpose. But I believe God uniquely designed you, my wife, to add a whole new dimension to my life and my perspective of it. That is what you have done for me.
But there’s so much more. I know I can’t see your heart the way God does, but I do see a woman with a caring heart. You have so much compassion for those less fortunate. When there is pain and suffering, when there is sickness, death, or other calamity, you have the ability to empathize. That puts you in a special place to be able to pray for people and intercede on their behalf. You are a prayer warrior.
I also know something else about you. You have a desire to serve. I hear how much you enjoy taking care of people when they step inside our home. Your focus is on them and making sure they are enjoying themselves rather than involving yourself in on the fun or the conversations. It’s a servant’s heart. And to me, that’s very attractive.
You also light up a room. Your smile is infectious. When you’re in a conversation with others and you are obviously having a good day, it seems to add so much to the ambiance. You have a way of putting others at ease. It is a gift that goes well with being the hospitable woman that you are.
Then there’s this side of you that not many get to know. You are an extremely loyal friend. But this loyalty does not come without a cost. It may be the reason why it’s difficult for you to get to know many friends. Loyalty is not something that happens immediately. It takes time to get to know you and to build trust. It’s an investment that not many are able or willing to take the time for. Perhaps the reason most people are unwilling to nurture a relationship like this is most likely because of our culture. Far too many rush into friendships and want immediate results. This often leads to surface-level relationships. They’re superficial and do not endure the test of time.
However, if there was another girl friend that was fortunate enough to get to know you in this way, she would experience the benefits like no other person she was ever associated with. She would have a staunch supporter on her side. She would have a prayer warrior who would thoughtfully petition the Lord for her needs and concerns. And there would be no greater friend when trust was on the line. She could be secure in the knowledge that she had someone she could confide in with and know that her words would be held in confidence. It would be a friendship that is as deep as any sister-to-sister relationship.
In a way, you are indispensable. God created you with a purpose. You have only to listen, wait, and be patient. God will reveal to you in His timing the things that He wants you to do and be a part of. The thing is is that in the meantime God is preparing you. There is this Scripture that comes to mind:
You have so much to offer. God has uniquely gifted you to be a part of His plans. You know that discernment is one of your gifts. So is hospitality. Are those highly visible gifts within the body? Maybe not. But when you use your gifts in the service of others, you become a blessing to them.
You are also a blessing to me. I know how empty my life would be without you. I want you, and need you, to know how much I admire you and love you for the woman that you are. Always know that I am on your side. And that I am yours forever.
Your loving husband,Dean