“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9
Tough Question: What does loving your wife mean?
In 1994, during a party my wife and I were attending, someone asked me a question I regret ever answering the way I did, “Do you think you could love your wife if she were disfigured, maimed, or paralyzed?”
In my drunken stupor, I responded, “I’m not sure.”
Needless to say, my wife didn’t buy the “It must have been the alcohol talking” excuse.
August 4, 2015, marks a quarter-century with my beautiful wife. I can’t imagine being with someone else. I envision us dying together like the old couple in the movie Titanic. But, then, as the ship goes down, we’re lying in bed, spooning, knowing we lived a wonderful life together at peace with what’s to come.
Last February, that vision went cloudy with two words: “Breast Cancer.”
The day before, we had been making grocery lists, putting kids’ schedules on the calendars, and about to start a new church. Then, the very next day, we heard the doctor say, “Stage 2,” and life was put on hold as we started facing the real possibility of death.
So we gathered ourselves together, started mining information, and faced some tough decisions. Should we go chemotherapy or mastectomy or double mastectomy? Frankly, I wanted to go back to choosing between Frosted Flakes or Cocoa Puffs.
We chose to start with chemo, and the doctor reminded us of all the side effects: loss of hair, weight loss, extended sickness, nausea, diarrhea, and just plain tired. And like clockwork, these side effects hit my wife. She lost 25 lbs, all her hair, and has been sick throughout the chemo.
My wife has always been the backbone of our family. So it’s been tough for our four kids to see Momma the way kids shouldn’t have to see Momma.
Unlike the fear that the children and I have – a fear of death – my wife has had a different kind of fear. Not that dying doesn’t come to her mind now and then, but she has struggled with me wanting to leave her. Or fall out of love with her during this sickness because of my joke 20 years ago. I wish I could go back in time and hit my 24-year-old immature self upside the head and give my wife the security that I meant what I said on our wedding day: “till death do us part.” I wish I could have reassured her at that moment we would be the old couple on the Titanic and told her I was not going anywhere.
But since I can’t jump in the Delorean and go back in time, I remind her daily that I’m not going anywhere, she is more beautiful than ever, and I will love her until the ship goes down.
Last February and many days this year, my wife and I needed a reminder of what I committed to 25 years ago. So, men, pray for wisdom and put a guard on your mouth before you hurt your wife and poorly reflect Christ.
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