August 13, 2010

On Wives, Servants and Miserable Health

On Wives
Today, I suddenly felt the inexplicable urge to apologize to James. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself and I wasn't trying to make him feel any responsibility to me that he doesn't already have or has taken on. But as the two of us have struggled with our confusing thoughts, conundrums, moral dilemmas, futures etc., I have found that I am viewing him as much as a fellow human being as I am my husband. This is a good thing.

If I view him only as my husband, the danger is to only see the vows that he made to me on our wedding day. Love and honor, sickness and health, til death do us part. Doesn't he owe me those things if he promised them to me?

But if I view him as a human being, I see someone with great passions, great talents, great dreams... no small future. I see him through the more compassionate eyes of someone who is watching another person's dreams get "tied down" (for lack of a better word). This is certainly not what I envisioned for my life, but it is equally not the future that I envisioned for James. In the last few weeks we've been given so many possibilities, statistics. According to medicine I could live anywhere from less than 1 year to up to 10 years. That is a lot of time of uncertainty, of opportunities possibly missed, of emotions that are constantly changing.

Today I really felt that as one human being to another I needed to express to James that I feel deep and sincere regret for him. I wanted to acknowledge that he is experiencing multiple layers of loss. I wanted to recognize it, not as a guilt tripping wife or an anchor hanging around his neck, but rather as an acknowledgment of his value. I did so, and in that one moment, it was amazing how the dynamic between the two of us changed. Both of us dropped the roles that we are "supposed" to play. He didn't try to fight it and say that he wasn't facing loss. I didn't cry and expect him to tell me how untrue it was. It just is. How can I show him how much I value his commitment to me, if I refuse to acknowledge just how huge that the price tag is?

And I do value his commitment. He is not hiding from me. Of course only a jerk would physically run away at a time like this and desert his wife, but many more people would just check out emotionally. James has not. What courage.

On Servants
Yesterday evening, my mom and I sat in an outdoor patio and talked together for good long time. As we spoke, I managed to express something that has not come out clearly until now.
It goes again with this path that we are on, and the distinct feeling that we need to follow it exactly where it takes us. Here it is.

I have an opportunity that can not be missed. I have the chance to walk a path that many people walk, the path of watching my physical body deteriorate and die. Through this I will be able understand and experience many things that I would never otherwise be able to understand or experience. However, lets just say that that at some point on this path, God in his perfect will decides to heal me.

Wonderful! I mean that with my whole heart! Just think of how amazing it would be to have that second shot at life! If he heals me, then someday I will be on the other side of this and I will have many years to contemplate all the things that happened, all the thought processes I had and all the things that I learned. But this is the clincher, if I find myself on that side, I want to be able to say that I made the most of this opportunity that I was given.

There is a famous parable Jesus told, where an employer gave three servants different amounts of money to be taken care of by them. To one servant he gave 5 units of money, to the second he gave 4 units of money and to the third he gave 1 unit. The first two immediately went and invested their money and both of them saw double returns on their investments. The third one took his money and hid it in the ground where it would be safe.

One day the employer asked the servants about the money. The first two gave him back double what they had been given and the employer was very pleased. His response was to trust them with even more. But when the third one gave him the same amount of money back, the employer was angry and called his servant lazy and afraid. "Why didn't you at least get a little interest on it from the bank?" And he took away even the little bit that the third servant had been given.

If I am healed and someday Jesus comes to me and says, "Jessica, what did you do with that experience that I gave you?", what do I want my response to be?

"Well, at least I endured it. I refused to think bad thoughts and I survived by shear willpower. I never stopped believing. By golly, I fought it and thanks to that fight, I am alive today!"

I don't want to just survive! What a waste! My life is worth more than survival, of that I am sure. Call me egotistical if you want to. I want to LIVE, even if my body dies. But if my body does live, I want to know that even while my body was dying, I truly was alive. I don't want to sound like I am demeaning any else's experience, if that is what their experience is. As I said before, I can only speak for what I want. Maybe for now, I know more about what I don't want and it comes out sounding really strongly opinionated.

On Miserable Health
Bold statements, I know. Premature? Possibly. Especially as I am heading into six weeks of very hellish sounding treatments. Today I was told that I will most likely lose hearing in my right ear (thanks to Krang's elaborate position in my brain). And that is only the tip of the iceberg. I have pages and pages of all the possible side effects that I might experience and every last one of them bites. Many are life threatening. Its very sobering reading, I can assure you. Probably the most sobering thing for me is that this will be the first time that I will physically FEEL like I am wasting away. Until now it has mostly been statistical facts and figures and strange medicine side effects.

But I also know that God will give me what I need when I need it. He has so far, and he will continue to do so. There are enough people out there who have gone through chemo and radio that I can only assume that God has special provisions for those who are undergoing it. I guess we'll just have to wait and see!


Anonymous said...

i was given your blogspot from laura funk, who is a coworker of mine. i also am a cancer patient. if you ever want to chat, have questions or want a second opinion about health related stuff, feel free to email me. this last year has been a giant learning curve, and if someone can benefit from what i've learned, that's great. pmsfarms gwen martens

Love's Door said...

james and Jess - we just had a very close friend of ours "die" of cancer recently. But what an inspiration she and her family were to all who watched the 3 1/2 years she lived to the fullest. Sure, the disease limited thier activity, but not their fullness. They enjoyed life like never before - sure with pain and setbacks and disappointments. But such a close walk with Jesus and with her family made it seem more like Living than Dying. I asked Ginger how she could do it, and she just immediatly looked me in the eye and said, "Dan, when you are there, God will give you the grace. It is all him!" I trust you will find the same.
We love you guys and will keep you in regular prayer.
dan and regina bumstead