Petty Stuff

I normally have nice, fun dreams.  Lately, there have been times in my dreams that I have broken down crying.  They almost always stem from dream interactions with my husband.  In my dream I try to tell him that he always puts me down, makes me feel stupid, is very unkind.  In reality, he is not always that way.  In fact, right now, we are at a good place.  He is not overly drunk, therefore his interactions with me are nice and courteous.  He is even washing the dishes almost every day.

Washing dishes is one of those tasks that I would start, pause, and come back to later.  Sometimes my husband would get mad at me for putting the dishpan full of soapy water and dishes in the sink and leave them there.  His reason for being mad was that the sink would be blocked.  I didn’t see it as a problem because one can always lift the dishpan out of the sink.  He, on the other hand, washes dishes by putting them directly in the sink.  Then he will walk away, sometimes for hours, leaving the sink blocked.  One has to remove all the dishes and drain the water to use the sink.  (Writing it out now makes it very clear that this is all really petty stuff.)

Anyway, this morning he filled the sink up with soapy water and dishes and prepared to leave the kitchen.  Very nicely, I asked him if he remembered all the times he used to get mad at me for blocking the sink.  I wanted him to see the double standard he was living.  Of course he didn’t remember getting mad at me ever and saw no problem with the way he was washing the dishes.  Right after that, I immediately regretted even bringing it up.  Why do I need him to acknowledge my hurt?  Why should I try to punish him or push him into guilt?  Blocking the sink is such a minor thing and certainly not something to fight over.  Have I been hurt in the past?  Yes, it even shows up in my dreams.  But, that does not mean that I should try to hurt him now.  I need to forgive my husband to the same extent as I have been forgiven by God.  That certainly isn’t easy unless I focus on what I have been forgiven of.  Even so, I find that it can be a very long process.  I am not there yet.  I can be kind to him and sometimes initiate conversations.  But, for the most part, I do my best to avoid and ignore him.  Not very Christ-like.  Right now it is the best I can do.

A song by Keith and Kristyn Getty has been going through my mind.  “The grace of God has reached for me, and pulled me from the raging sea, and I am safe on this solid ground, the Lord is my salvation…”  There is no need for me to jump back into turmoil.  Forgive.  Forget.  Move on.

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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.

Remember the Right Stuff

Oh, how quickly I forget!

This morning I started my day by creating a document which I could eventually tape on my bedroom door as a reminder:

truth

The rest of the day stressed me out.

I had to make two different trips to stores.  It wasn’t the fun kind like grocery shopping.  It was school related stuff.  (I am now a full-time online student.)  It was snowy and slushy so my car is really coated with salt now.

The dogs acted like needy, whiny, crabby toddlers.

My biology experiment had some major setbacks.

I discovered that I wasn’t very prepared for the first major test in another class.

I am a bit overwhelmed in another class because the technology is brand-new to me.

Husband was running a circular saw while being very drunk.  He always was a high functioning alcoholic, but operating power tools while intoxicated really is a dumb thing to do.  And, as usual, there was the periodic need for me to shut the door to the outside.

Throughout the day I battled in my mind.  Should I quit school because it takes me so long to complete everything?  Am I too old to do this?  Should I wait and go to school when my life is less crazy?  Realistically, what kind of grade point average should I expect of myself?  Why can’t I convince myself that healthy food tastes as good as corn chips and oreos?  Am I taking care of my husband in a way that is pleasing to God?

So, here I am at 3am, unable to sleep, and nursing a pretty good headache.  I took some medication and am now getting relief from the pain.  Jumbled up snatches of songs are running through my brain.  I am putting everything into God’s hands.  I am His servant and I need to just go to bed.  Everything will be fine.  He loves me.

 

 

 

 

False Alarm

A week ago, after several more falls and injuries, my husband took a turn for the worse.  He wasn’t drinking nearly as much as usual, but the effects were so much more pronounced.  He was slurring his speech, drooling, unaware of his location or position, and hallucinating.  He spent 24 hours not being able to stand, walk, or crawl.  After that segment of time there was a day or two where he could barely sit up and take a step.  He had other physical symptoms indicating that his body was shutting down.

I made the hard decision to immediately quit my job.   It was time.  My husband looked like he needed a full-time caregiver, and that person is me.   It would not be right to have my kids be the ones to change his clothes and bathe him.

I shed lots of tears that day.  I discovered deep down that I was not ready for my husband to die.  Yes, on the surface he irritates me and I wish this whole phase of my life could be over.  But, I will miss him for who he used to be.  I will also miss the wonderful people that I have worked with over these past 9 years.

Wouldn’t you know, the day after I quit my job, my husband was back to his somewhat normal self.  He was walking, talking, and acting just the same as he was two weeks ago.  A couple of the symptoms of body shut-down went away.  He even was able to walk up a short flight of steps.  I am continually amazed at how this man’s body defies science.

He is eating better now because I am making him small meals now and then.  Partly done out of compassion.  Partly done because I am tired of him making a mess in the kitchen.  Eating soup with a fork can leave lots of debris behind.

This near brush with death hasn’t made him change his mind about his lifestyle.  If anything, he wants to do all he can to speed up the process of dying.  What a waste of all that God has given him!

Every day I still need to choose how I live.  I sing with Jesus Culture:

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice ’cause You set me free….I am Yours.

Challenges

This morning I woke up with the phrase “whatever happens I will not be afraid…” running through my brain.  As I lay in bed, trying to pray, trying not to worry why the furnace keeps running, that portion of the song by Tenth Avenue North kept a continual loop of music in my mind.

I finally did get up to check on my husband.  He has been falling several times a week because he gets so thoroughly drunk.  I am getting quite proficient at pulling him out of doorways and dragging him across the floor.  This morning he had fallen again, but at least the door to the outside was mostly closed.  (It is 0 degrees outside.)  He had fallen in an interior doorway and I still had to drag him across the floor so he could eventually get up.  As I was sweeping up the broken glass, he decides to tell me that he is fine, his pants are clean, and there is no blood on the floor.

I know that since he is currently very drunk and naturally combative he is unable to see the mess he is in.  But, I still found myself getting mad at him.  I told him I was angry at him for throwing his life away.  I reminded him of how gifted, talented, and blessed he used to be.  It ended with me telling him that I am still willing to help him get cleaned up when he sobers up.  Then I gently slammed the door.

Which brings me to this moment.  I am starting a second college degree and am taking online classes.  Technology has never been my friend and causes me lots of frustration.  I have had to learn so much before the classes even begin.  Today will be filled with continuing to learn how to navigate in my new world and completing as many assignments that I can before they are due.  I need to work ahead so that if my husband does die, I can take a little bit of time off from my studies.

It seems like a very morbid outlook, but it is my reality.  It is a miracle of God that my husband is still living today.  He defies all medical and conventional wisdom.  The day could come that he would die from a stroke, heart attack, total liver failure, lung cancer, brain injury, or simply bleeding to death.  (He almost did that in November.)

So, as I begin my new college career, I need to remind myself that I am in God’s hands.  With his help I can do all things.  “I have this hope in the depth of my soul in the flood or the fire you’re with me and you won’t let go…”

Hospital Again!

I am so thankful for my pastor and the way he preaches through a book of the Bible a verse at a time.  Lately he has been preaching on the armor of God in the book of Ephesians.  The breastplate of Christ’s righteousness that covers me protects my heart.  The shoes of the gospel of peace remind me that I am not condemned by God anymore and I can spread that peace to others.  Those insights and more are what got me through this week.

Monday I was in the ER with my mother-in-law and then she was admitted to the hospital.

Tuesday I was with my husband at another hospital to check on his head trauma from November.  He was totally drunk and could hardly walk.

Wednesday I was with my father-in-law in the ER at the same hospital my mother-in-law is in.  He at least got to go home after several hours.

Thursday I was with my husband in the ER at a different hospital.  He had fallen face first on the concrete floor.  Ended up with only a broken nose.  Since he was very drunk, it took us 3 hours to convince him to go to the hospital.  The one benefit of that time is that I was able to bathe him and get him into clean clothes.  He really didn’t have a choice in the matter.  He was covered with blood from head to toe.  After four hours in the ER he was released to go home.

It was physically tiring to work, take care of my father-in-law, make extra driving trips each day to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital, argue with husband on why he is not going to drive anymore, and try to keep up with the daily household chores.  Focusing on what God has done for me gave me strength each day to serve my family, to be thankful for all that I have, and to keep my heart and emotions steady.

I thought alot about the song “Rescuer” by Rend Collective:   “He is pasture for the weary, rest for those who strive….so come and be chain-less, come and be fearless, come to the foot of Calvary, there is redemption for every affliction…”.

I am looking forward to a calm and uneventful Christmas.