Sunday, September 8, 2013

Step By Step

I've been judgmental of my husband.  Since it's been a few years since the stroke, I expect that it's time for him to rally, to come back stronger than before.  I can't understand why he won't get up and do more - take a walk, visit friends.  I can't understand why he can't embrace his "new" self and accept that this is who he is.  I can't understand why he can't just move on.

Because I don't understand.  I don't understand what it's like to drag half my body around all day, every day.  I don't understand what it's like to have my arm hanging at my side, unable to muster any will to make it move, regardless of how hard I try or how badly I want it.  I don't understand what it feels like to struggle just to turn over in bed or to get up and use the bathroom at night.  I don't understand what it's like to go out in public and have people stare at me or not know how to act around me.

Even more, I don't understand what it's like to know that I can't provide for my family the way I used to.  I don't understand what it's like to wonder if I will be able to walk my daughters down the aisle.  I don't know what it's like to not be able to take my son on a camping trip.  I don't understand what it's like to feel like my life is over.

Most of my selfish thoughts have centered around ME.  Why can't he help me more around the house?  Why can't he pay the bills?  Why can't he help more with the kids?  Why is our relationship so strained?

Well, obviously!  Our relationship is strained because I am expecting far too much of him, and then I'm dumping all my grief and misery on him when he doesn't live up to my expectations.  

I am ashamed.  I apologize, openly, here, to my husband.  And to my kids, who have seen me treat their Daddy poorly.

The truth of it is that Al is as much of a man as he ever was, maybe even more of a man.  He may not have the physical strength he once had.  But he has more emotional strength than before.  He has more spiritual strength - he prays every. single. day. regardless of whether he feels like he's "getting anything" from it.  He is faithful.

Al loves me with a superhuman love.  There have been times that I have behaved so poorly that I believed it would be in his right to just walk away and leave me.  I have screamed and ranted.  I have pouted and sulked.  I have said very unkind things to him.  I have wallowed in self-pity.

And Al just loves me.  He is very quiet and very constant.  Through my tears and wails, he has remained steadfast.  Even after days that I've acted like Kate from The Taming of the Shrew, his commitment is unwavering. After everything I've done, he is still tender and caring and loving.

And then I remember that this was one of the major reasons I fell in love with Al:  I experience of the love of God through him.  

Recently, this song has been playing through my head, over and over.  Maybe the Lord put it there to remind me of the love Al has for me and his family.

You take that first step,
Ask her out and treat her like a lady
Second step, 
Tell her she's the one youre dreaming of
Third step, 
Take her in your arms and never let her go
Dont you know, step by step
Step by step, you'll win her love
 (Step by Step, Eddie Rabbitt, 1981)

Yeah.  My husband loves me like that.  I've been too self-focused, looking at the practical things that may have been lost after the stroke.  I had forgotten, but now I remember, that I am married to a truly wonderful, loving man of God.

Monday, September 2, 2013

My husband's blog

If you want to hear from the stroke survivor himself (or as he refers to himself, Gimp-In-Chief), here is a link to his new blog:  Diffrent Stroke

A Sad Glimpse of Hope

Yes, the title is a bit oxymoronic. Isn't Hope always happy or … hopeful?

A few nights ago, I rolled over in bed to grab my husband's left hand. I do this sometimes just because I love him, but mostly because his left arm gets spastic during the night and it stretches out toward me, becoming a stiff beam across the bed and locking me into an uncomfortable position on an outer sliver of the bed. If I hold his hand or stroke his arm, sometimes the tone will soften and I can push his arm back toward his side and reclaim some of my part of the bed.

As I reached for his hand that night, I was only half awake. Strangely, I was greeted by movement. I squeezed his hand, and he fluttered his fingers back. Still being groggy, I did it again, wondering why it seemed strange to me. Then my eyes shot open and I asked him, “Is that your left hand moving???” Sadly, his response was, “No.” He was using his right hand to stretch out the fingers in his left hand, which sometimes become uncomfortably tight during the night. He wears a splint on his left hand to keep it straightened out instead of shrinking into a tight ball, but sometimes his finger pull out of the splint and do their own thing anyway. He had been fumbling with his fingers to get them to cooperate enough to get them back into the splint. I had grabbed his right hand, not his left.

Of course, I was disappointed. But I was also somewhat surprised that, in my sleepy fog, it didn't seem so strange to feel his hand moving. It was as if, somewhere in my subconscious, I knew it would happen some day.

But in my conscious mind, I realized that I have given up hope for Al to experience any further physical recovery. I no longer expect my husband to walk perfectly or to regain the use of his arm and hand. Is this reality, or am I becoming a pessimist?

There is a reality in the medical world that says his chances of regaining further mobility at this point in his post-stroke rehab are slim to none. But there is an even greater Reality that says that everything is possible for him who believes.

The father of the boy whose son was possessed by demons said to Jesus:
But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
'If you can'?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:22-24)

It is time to return my true Hope to the One who deserves it. I do not hope in the medical community, although they have much to offer. I choose to hope in Jesus.

Lord, I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.