One of my favorite passages of Scripture, that I personally declared as the passage for our marriage (though of course it’s applicable to all of life really), is Matthew 7:24-27, “the wise and foolish builders.” It’s the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus explains that those who put into practice all that he has said, will be like the man who builds his house on a rock. Well, instead of paraphrasing it for you, I’ll just copy it in full here:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Yes, I realize Jesus wasn’t speaking specifically of marriage here, but the illustration still works. You face a lot of crap in a marriage and if your foundation is weak, it’s likely to come crumbling down with a great crash. But if your foundation is strong, it can withstand the beating that is sure to come.
But this isn’t meant to be a sermon on marriage or a declaration that it’s that simple, or a “hey look at us, we’ve got it all together” post. I just want to share a little deeper about what life was like during the most recent “storm” that hit our “house” and give thanks to God that it’s still standing!
Looking back on the last 5 years of marriage (and it’s only been 5!) our hardest times seemed to draw us closer together, but this time especially. I’m grateful though, because I know the opposite could’ve happened. Renovating a house together during our first year of marriage, living out of 1 room and doing dishes in the bathtub. Job and financial struggles. Moving away from our family, across the country and basically starting a new life together. Suffering miscarriage #1. Having 2 babies 14 months apart. And now, an accident and another miscarriage- losing twins. All in 5 years of marriage!
So here’s just a little glimpse of what life has been like recently…
You may have heard the overview of injuries that Ivor suffered after the accident: broken collar bone, 2 back fractures and a spinal cord contusion in his neck which caused nerve damage, but you might not realize the effect of those injuries on his daily life. In the beginning, he was in so much pain, it took a few days before he could even stand or walk for more than 10 minutes. The nerve pain was debilitating. He had a hard time feeding himself. He needed help going to the bathroom. He couldn’t bathe himself or get dressed by himself. Getting him comfortable was a constant struggle and he still has yet to get a good night’s sleep. So for the past month or so, but especially in the very beginning, he was as dependent on me as our 2 kids are. (And I can now say that I know that man more intimately than any other person on this planet. Helping your spouse go to the bathroom is something you might expect to go through in old age, not this soon.) But who can expect or predict things like this? Life is going along swimmingly and then you hear screeching brakes in the form of a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, with a sinking feeling in your stomach when the person on the other end asks, “are you Ivor’s wife?”
It could’ve been so much worse. I am thankful that my husband is still alive. And not paralyzed. But I will still rightly recognize the last month or so as being really sucky and really difficult. It’s easy to dismiss things and try to make yourself feel better by comparing yourself to others worse off than you. There’s nothing wrong with a little perspective, but you can still have perspective and valid feelings of grief for whatever it is you’re going through at the time.
Anyway. I wish I could say that I’ve handled every moment with grace and self-sacrificing love. But that would be a self-righteous lie. There have been several times over the course of the last few weeks that I’ve wanted to scream “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CAN I JUST GET 2 MINUTES TO MYSELF WITHOUT SOMEONE NEEDING ME????” (and all the moms of world said “amen!”) After all, I was miscarrying at the time too. I was going through my own personal struggle of grief over having life begin and end inside my body ….for the 2nd time. And dealing with the emotions of having and losing twins. But I barely had a moment to dwell on those feelings because of everything else going on. Because of Ivor’s injuries, he was unable to help me with the kids. I’m used to being on my own with them during the day while he’s at a work, but not 24/7. It’s been exhausting (to say the least). Single parents- you have my utmost respect and admiration.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing” (Philippians 2:14)? Fail. I’ve grumbled. I’ve argued. But God’s mercies are new every morning, and each day He has given me a renewed, supernatural strength to care for my family. And has reminded me what a privilege it is to be needed, and why I do what I do for my family. It should not be out of obligation or duty (though, it is my duty), but the motivation should be out of love. Oh, I’ve had my weak, selfish moments. But I’ve also had a full heart absolutely bursting with love for my husband and our kids- where taking care of them wasn’t even a question in my mind. It was automatic. Not a burden. Yes, I took vows and take them seriously. So of course I will care for my husband when he can’t care for himself. But I also do it because I love that man, and I want to take care of him. It’s a much better feeling, personally (and to those who are receiving it), when you’re fueled by love, and not obligation. And that is a daily prayer of mine as a wife and mommy because it doesn’t come naturally. Any good that I’ve done for my family, all the right attitudes I’ve had- – – it’s not because I’M so strong…it’s because I have a strong God holding me together. And it’s only by the grace of God that this “house” is still standing.