Pride can be so ugly

I did check on my husband after writing that last post.  He was ready for help so I donned gloves, removed the soiled clothing, put on the clean, and got all his accumulated dirty clothes in the washer.  He is too heavy for me to lift, so he had to roll onto his hands and knees before I could even attempt to help him up.  Once on his feet he was very unsteady and started falling backwards onto me.  Before I returned to school, my everyday job involved assisting people with balance issues so I knew exactly how to keep my husband upright.  He was able to take a small step towards the chair.  His judgement was way off and he began to sit before he was properly in place.  The last thing I wanted was for him to be on the floor again, so I maneuvered my leg to allow his bottom to slide from my hip to the chair.  Simple body mechanics based on years of practice and training enabled him to end up safely on the chair.

My husband then started yelling at me, claiming that I was pushing him and trying to make him fall.  That bothered me so much that I started yelling back at him.  I was so mad that he thought I would intentionally try to shove him onto the floor and that I didn’t know what I was doing.  I slammed his belt onto the tv tray beside him.  I felt like hitting him.  He wouldn’t let me speak, he wasn’t listening to any explanation.  He just kept yelling over and over again, “Go away!  Leave me alone!”  With a dramatic door slam I did just that.

A few minutes later I calmed down and decided to give him some food since he had not eaten in nearly a day.  I set it in front of him and asked him (nicely and without yelling) why he was so intent on killing himself with alcohol.  He has no sense of time, so he believes that the bottle of vodka he opened this morning was actually begun a couple days ago.  With the head injury and the alcohol in his system, there was no point in arguing with him.  I checked on him a few hours later and discovered he had consumed the food.

Ephesians 4:32 urges us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving, because Christ has forgiven us.  This morning as I was reflecting on how my pride had flared up and caused me to fail miserably at living that out, I was reminded of an old hymn by Theodore Monod.

Oh, the bitter pain and sorrow
That a time could ever be,
When I proudly said to Jesus,
All of self, and none of Thee.

Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree,
And my wistful heart said faintly,
Some of self, and some of Thee.

Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Brought me lower while I whispered,
Less of self, and more of Thee,

Higher than the highest heaven,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last has conquered:
None of self, and all of Thee.

I want to live a life that reflects that last verse, but obviously I am not there yet.

 

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Enough is Enough

This morning my husband had fallen again.  He now has an ugly bruise and gash on his head.  As he laid on the concrete floor of our basement I removed his soiled pants, washed his bottom, applied a skin barrier and got some clean pants on him.  (Thirty some years ago when we were married I never imagined that one day I would have to put diaper rash ointment on him.)  He continued to lay on the floor for another couple hours.  Then he was able to navigate the stairs with my help, and flop onto the couch.

Fast forward 8 hours and he had fallen on the concrete floor again.  He seemingly wasn’t hurt and didn’t want to get up, so I left him there.  As I dove into my homework, I honestly forgot about him.  A couple hours later, when I did remember to check on him, I found him still on the floor, but now he was ready for my help.

I gathered up everything I needed to clean him up and then he asked me how much vodka was still in the house.  He really didn’t like my answer of “There’s enough”.  He began demanding, in very colorful language, that I go buy more vodka.  I thought that I could ignore his words and begin to help him become presentable.  However, when he immediately switched from demanding to insulting, I didn’t feel so charitable anymore.

“What, are you so stupid?  Do you understand?”

I decided to not put up with it right now.  I laid his clean clothes down and walked out of the room.  The last thing I heard was him yelling at me to give him the car keys so he could drive himself to the store.  Yeah, sure.  This from a man lying on the floor, who doesn’t know what day it is, and cannot walk well.  I just had to chuckle.  I will check on him in a couple hours.

…at all times.

Oh how fickle the mind can be.  The past few days my husband started showing signs of chronic liver failure along with other serious issues.  He could barely function.  I know that his body is too far downhill for a turn-around.  I thought I was ready for his death.  I was surprised at how sad I felt, being on the verge of tears for days.   All I could do was pray that he didn’t suffer.  Pity and kindness filled my heart.

Last night all those warm, fuzzy feelings went away.  He reverted back to nasty, demanding, verbally abusive husband.  God gave me the grace to not verbally retaliate when he was insulting my character, my mom, and my entire family.  He is not in his right mind and therefore it would be silly to try to argue with him.  I did get irritated with him and just wished that he would leave me alone.

This morning it occurred to me that “a friend loves at all times”.  Do I still love my husband?  I suppose that I do based on how I felt towards him over the weekend. Do I like him?  Maybe not right now.  But, I am still concerned about him.  I guess love doesn’t always feel like cashmere against the skin.  Sometimes it is more like burlap.  Today is a burlap day.

A Heart of Compassion

A new semester is starting and for the past several days I have waffled back and forth on if I should stay enrolled.  My husband’s health took another turn for the worse.  Should I skip this semester and therefore not have to lose any school time in the event of him passing away? Is he going to need more care and I won’t have enough time to actually study?

This morning as he sat half-naked in his basement chair, he was drooling, slurring his words, and unable to comprehend some basic information.  He had fallen again and really couldn’t walk well.  I offered to help him get some clean clothes on.  He didn’t want my help.  I offered to get him a blanket which he did accept.  I brought him some tissue so he could wipe his face.  I asked if he was hurt or bleeding.  His response:

I want you to go away.  I don’t ever want to see you again.  You are a curse to me.”

I did have an appointment soon, so I left him sitting there in his filth.  I was briefly offended that he had been so nasty when I had been so nice.  It was uncalled for.  I did not deserve that.  God immediately reminded me that what I just went through was nothing compared to what Jesus went through.  I needed to still have a heart of compassion towards him. Jesus was a servant to all, and I should serve my husband.

“And so as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, patience, and humility…”

After my appointment I came home and laundered all of his clothes that he had piled in a disgusting filthy heap. I made an extra trip to the store to buy him alcohol.  I washed the dirty dishes that he had accumulated.  I offered to make him a sandwich.  His response:

Go away.  You are so condescending.  You treat me like shit.”

That’s just fine.  Still nothing compared to what Jesus went through for me.  I did roll my eyes as I left him sitting all alone.  He is so blind.

Surrender-it’s a good thing

It is finals week and life is intense.  I still don’t know what to expect from my husband.  One minute he is telling me how proud he is of me in going back to school and making good grades.  An hour later he wants to get into a verbal fight with me.  When I don’t respond, his go-to reply is, “Are you so stupid that you can’t have an opinion?”

Last night I asked him what was all over the floor, pee or water.  He said it was pee, but he cleaned it up.  “Then that is a puddle of water?” I asked.  The next few sentences out of his mouth claimed that yes it was water because he cleaned up an accident, and no, it was pee because he had an accident.  I tried to ask him which it was and his response was, “Really?  You’re that stupid?”

He will complain that nobody talks to him and that we all must hate him.  Shortly after that little rant he proceeds to insult me, our children, and my parents.  He doesn’t always remember stuff that we do tell him about.  Most of the time though, we have shut him out of our daily lives because it is too painful to keep him fully involved.

It has been a long time since my husband’s flip-flopping has increased my blood pressure or gotten my emotions out of whack.  I haven’t always been able to express why this is when my closest friends ask me how I am doing.  All I know is that there is something about the peace of God passing all understanding, if I am willing to surrender.

I have one dog who will let me totally cover her up with a blanket.  She does not freak out, probably because she knows I would never hurt her.  My other dog hates to not be able to see, even for a short time.  Which dog will I choose to be like?  I don’t know if today is the day my husband dies or if it will be next year.  I do know that God has a perfect plan for me and a path to travel.  I cannot see it, but I am ok with that.  My God has covered me with his blanket of peace, and He loves me.

“You still my soul with quiet joy…through the fire and the flood, I know that I am loved.  I can hear You singing over me…”

A Second Chance?

Well my husband has mostly recovered from traumatic brain injury that occurred in November and a mini-stroke that occurred at the beginning of this year.  He is not falling down several times a day anymore.  He does not suddenly fall out of his chair, either.  He can go up and down entire stairways again.  He can speak normally.  He does not sit and stare into nothing for hours at a time.  The physical signs that told me his body was internally shutting down have disappeared.

When I talked to him about these changes and said that God is showing him mercy and kindness and giving him a chance to start living differently, his response was disbelief.  He was sober during this conversation, but still unable to see the big picture.  Why can’t he just surrender to the Creator who gives life to all?

My husband and I are so far apart in our thinking and living.  It reminds me of a song called “Just One Touch” performed by Kim Walker Smith:

“I searched the earth when all that I needed was just one touch, …my soul won’t rest ’till I find rest in You, for there is no peace, no freedom apart from You,”  This is the part that my husband just doesn’t get.  He keeps trying to find peace and freedom with alcohol and thoughts of dying.  He is content to wallow in misery.

“Here at the end of me you are my victory, I’m trading my scars for all that you are, for just one touch.”  He doesn’t see that in surrender there is true victory.  We can give all our scars, hurts, addictions, etc., to Jesus and he will give us an abundant life.

The next part of the song expresses the truth of my life:  “My joy overflows from all of Your beauty revealed to me…”  (Anatomy and Physiology class shows me every day just how awesome the human body is with its billions of cell actions and complex muscles.)  “I have been longing, I have been yearning in reckless abandon, surrendered to You, I feel Your fire, I feel You healing, all that You are is all that I’m needing,  here at the end of me, You are my victory…with arms stretched open wide come set Your heart in mine, I’m here at Your feet, Jesus I need just one touch.”

I have surrendered to the God who loves me and my heart is at peace in spite of the turmoil of my surroundings.

Pick a Different Road

What do I say to those I know who are believers in Jesus, or at least were raised in a church, but choose a lifestyle of drinking alcohol?  Several times a week they are consuming more than just one or two drinks.  Frequently they are at the point of fall-down stupid drunk.  We live in a culture that yells “don’t judge!” when a conversation tries to occur so what can I say to them?

How can I tell them that my heart breaks to see the path they are on?  Don’t they know the consequences of continuing in this lifestyle?  It might seem fun right now, but can they think ahead several months or years down the road?

Are they ready to accept heart damage, liver inflammation, pancreatitis, a higher risk of developing certain cancers and a weakened immune system?  Do they want to live with frequent stomach pain, diarrhea, loss of bladder control, sexual dysfunction, muscle cramps, and possible diabetic tendencies?

Are they ready to accept that their thought processes in the future will be really messed up?  That they could get to the point where their moods are not what they used to be and it will be difficult to think logically for any length of time?  That the ability to do simple tasks like putting on a belt will take significantly longer than normal?

If their physical bodies are working fine right now, are they willing to give that all up for muscle loss and loss of coordination?  How about loss of appetite or even throwing up while eating because of the irritation alcohol has done to the intestinal system?

Are they willing to lose their job and the dignity that comes from contributing to society?  Are they willing to be cut off from friends and family?

My whole being wants to shout at them.  I want to be in their faces to point out the wrong way they are on.  I want to open their eyes to the amazing lives they have.  I want them to be grateful for how well their bodies work right now.  I want them to have a good look at the amazing world in which we live.  How can they see all the beauty around them if they put themselves in a grey cloud of alcohol?

I wish that I could go back in time and say all these things to my husband.

The song running through my brain says, “Fresh outpouring, tear the fabric open.  Come, Jesus, come.  Breath of heaven, nothing left unshaken, we long for more. We need a fresh outpouring…”  Sometimes all I can do is pray:  Let my friends be gently pulled back to You by Your Spirit.  Remind them of how much they are loved.  Help them to live in ways that are pleasing to You.