Almost 27 years ago, when I promised to honor my husband and to love him in sickness and in health, this is what I signed on for. He signed on for the same thing. In the almost 3 decades that we've been together, he's seen me through two surgeries, childbirth, three bouts of pneumonia, a shattered wrist, and prolonged physical therapy on two different occasions. Phil has had one outpatient surgery, a couple of bouts with flu, one bout of pneumonia and that's about it.
When we went to the physical therapist on Thursday, to our relief, we could see that the simple exercise Phil had to do was working. The therapist warned us that Phil would hate him because this exercise would tax Phil's biceps to an extreme, simply because of the repetitive nature of the exercises. Ten to fifteen every hour - more if he can stand it.
I just expected Phil to do them while I played on the computer, read mysteries, washed clothes, cooked, and did a minimal amount of house work. And he did do them. Until one arm was so sore that he couldn't raise his hand to his mouth to brush his teeth. At that point, he had extreme pain in his leg, his back, and his arms and could find no relief. He was at the end of his rope and I was wanting to retreat further into my mystery novels simply because I didn't know how to help him.
Then Phil's sister came over last night, brought movies, used hot towels on his back and talked with him and I could see a huge improvement in his attitude. I was so grateful for her and still am.
Last night was rough and neither Phil nor I got much sleep. This morning I woke up contemplating everything that could go wrong - mostly regarding Phil's health, his job, and our health insurance. Life seemed bleak. As I've been trying to do for the past few weeks, I got up and sang a brief song to God. However, just a remarkably short time later, I was wanting to curse everything about our situation. The words of James came to mind about how a fountain doesn't spew both bitter and fresh water, how one doesn't bless God and curse man. I wasn't cursing man but the principle still applied. Bitter water was definitely spilling out of my heart. For the first time since this started, I felt like nothing good would come out of it.
And then God brought a short phrase to my rebellious mind: This is what you signed up for...
I thought about that as my spirit quieted down. I remembered the day when I walked down the aisle, my eyes fixed on my soon-to-be husband, my heart full of joy and anticipation. And I realized that this is exactly what I signed up for on that momentous day. This and more.
At that point, my thoughts went from total selfishness to the realization that I've not been fulfilling my part of the bargain. I've mostly left him in the trenches alone, so to speak, thinking that getting him to the therapist, helping him walk when he's weak, and bringing him food fulfilled my part of the equation. The rest was his job.
I wasn't approaching this as if we were one. Yet, according to Scripture, we are.
And this is indeed what I signed up for.
Pain, right now is our enemy. Our enemy. Pushing through the exercises is our way to wholeness and health. And so today, we watched a movie together - instead of me burying my face in a book and leaving him alone in the spare bedroom with his pain. During the movie, we hit pause from time to time so that I could apply hot compresses before he went into the exercises. And then the two of us rejoiced when he was momentarily free of pain and had slightly more range of motion than he had before.
Once God showed me that this is our job, that this is exactly what I committed to almost 27 years ago, that these exercises are our battle, and that since He is in it with us, we can win this war, everything changed. I don't know how 7 little words could bring about such a transformation.
All I know is that they have.
I'm grateful for my husband and my best friend. He is and always has been a "keeper". Not perfect :) But a keeper....
I'm grateful for God's grace. Can't imagine where we would be without it. Seriously.
And I'm grateful for today's God-given aha moment of insight when it really hit me: this is what I signed up for.
And I'm so glad I did.