|Warren and I after our hike yesterday.|
As has become our tradition, during our hike yesterday, we paused at a particularly beautiful spot---this year beside a gentle stream at the base of a huge boulder--to pray, thanking God for another year of marriage--both its joys and its burdens. As we looked up at the jagged boulder, Warren remembered a quote attributed to an old woman who lived in the mountains, “You can’t climb smooth rocks.”
Warren is the one who has resolutely kept us climbing ours.
Warren is a man of outstanding physical strength, once even lifting the weight of an entire car off his father’s hand when they were working on it together, and the car slipped off the blocks it had been set upon. What I did not know for many years in our marriage, was how strong is Warren’s love and commitment. In the beginning of my illness, I was actually offended when Warren didn’t show much interest in learning about my pain disorder, or in attending medical appointments with me. It took me a while to recognize what Warren would provide would be so much greater.
I married a man who meant what he said when he committed to stay “for better or worse”, and “in sickness or in health”. Warren arrives home after work each day and immediately seeks me out. He never complains if the house is a wreck, or if dinner isn’t prepared, no matter how hungry he is. He’ll whip up some scrambled eggs and toast in a moment, and he’ll clean up the house without ever making me feel guilty. He has driven the carpools, attended the meetings, done the Christmas shopping, and held me against the raging attacks of pain throughout these six years without wavering.
Warren has never talked about leaving me, although I have talked about leaving him. Not him, really, but my life as it is. When the day-in, day-out living with pain becomes too much for me, I fantasize about moving somewhere else…to a small, simple, quiet place deep in the woods, where I could garden, paint and write and be far removed from the noise and clutter of my current life. More than once, in a pain-driven frenzy, I have thrown together my overnight bag and threatened to leave, screaming to Warren, “I cannot take it one more minute! Any place is better than here!”
In response, my husband, the one who bears the weight of our home and family cares, instead of throwing all of these things into my face, will tell me he loves me and could not stand it if I left him. If even just once, Warren were to say, “Just go then!” I would probably pick up my bag and march out into the night, pointing my car to God only knows where… and drive off. It wouldn’t take me long to realize my pain does not have any kind of geographic boundary.
Yet, Warren lets me save face, drawing upon his warrior strength.
I met a man at a medical conference a few years ago whom I believe summarized what Warren feels. I asked him how he found the strength to stay with his wife through many years of physical suffering. He told me that when he first came to realize his wife would most likely remain ill for the rest of her life, he did seriously think about leaving. He went to his pastor and told him he didn’t know if he could give up so much of his own desires in life, for another person. His pastor listened, and gave him some scriptures to study, but in the end the man told me, this is what he came to see:
“I came to see that real men stay. So that was the choice I made, and every single day I make the same choice. There is no option for second guessing.”
This is what superhuman strength and love look like. It is why, when people tell me how “amazed” they are at my faith, or at how I live with such great pain, I tell them if they really want to be amazed, they should not look at me, but at my husband.
Warren only reluctantly allowed me to write this post because he avoids the spotlight, and he does not believe he is anybody extraordinary. I was only able to convince him to let me do so, because I believe you will be encouraged by the hope his strength demonstrates. May God continue to strengthen Warren, and the thousands of others who daily choose to stay.
Until next time,