This is part two. Click here for part one.
My heart is filled with gratitude in this season. And gratitude cannot be fully realized until it is expressed. Though the minute-by-minute days are long and painful, the overwhelming essence of this season is warmth and tenderness and devotion.
3. Our clan
Our clan runs so much deeper than Ryan or MacLaughlin blood.
Our clan is you, my readers, who have listened to my story and lifted me in prayer. You do more than you know.
Our clan is the church that has come alongside us, prayed over us, and cared for us. We are reminded that church is not a building, but a living and breathing body. It’s an inclusive community that treasures God and neighbor over self. It is a vessel of quiet generosity asking nothing in return. It is a taste of Heaven on Earth.
Our clan is the friends that have rallied prayers, checked in, dropped off essentials, and thought about us when there are easier things to think about. It is our coworkers who have sent cards, gifts, and prayers as they also pick up our slack at work.
And of course our clan is our families, those who have sacrificed time and sleep and miles for my health. My fierce independence pushes them away, but they keep leaning in, keep checking up, and keep me accountable when I just want to wallow. I don’t yet know the love and worry that comes with being a parent, but this season has opened my eyes to the depth and ferocity of love my parents have for me.
Naive realization: Their love for me doesn’t diminish, even when I have my own home and little family. And though my need for them is different from my younger years, I still need them and it is a gift to have them.
2. My Husband
From my company’s point of view, they are missing one employee. For my parents, one of their children is ill. This is all serious and not to be taken lightly.
But for my husband, he is without his one and only. Half of us is operating at about 5%. I simply cannot give the 100% that I usually can. I can’t pack his lunch, can’t make dinner, can’t keep the house clean, can’t accompany him on walks, and can’t dream like we usually do. I’m a big wad of “can’t.”
My husband is deeply and passionately in love with me; that was reiterated on August 6. He could not love me less. But honestly, right now there’s less of me to love. And it hurts. I am new to being sick, and Jimmy is new to having a sick wife. In truth, it doesn’t suit us, and I pray this season passes soon.
I can’t imagine going through this without Jimmy. He is a godly man, a spiritual leader, and he fights fiercely for me. He works all day and cares for me at night, when I have nothing to give in return. When holding a conversation with anyone else seems impossible, I long for his company. His voice is salve to my soul and there is healing power in his kisses. We make nerdy jokes and he tells me I’m beautiful when I haven’t washed my hair in days.
Marriage is just as beautiful in this season as it was as newlyweds. Though neither of us expected to have “in sickness and in health” tested in our first year of marriage, our bond is strengthened by this trial. Our braid is under fire, but toughened by the heat. For him I am grateful.
1. The Suffering
I am grateful for this suffering. Not because the Bible tells me to be, but because I find great joy in observing God’s kingdom at work:
This suffering is giving me the great gifts of compassion and empathy. In fact, these gifts cannot be bestowed independently from suffering. It’s difficult to put into words; I just get it. Though this affliction is far lighter than others have endured, there’s just some level of “mhmm” that comes from waking up in pain for a month straight or being unable to work or canceling a trip. And I know firsthand that empathy is one of God’s greatest vessels for healing. I am honored to be a part of that ministry.
This suffering is showing me the value I errantly placed in fleeting things. Not bad things inherently, but things that can be taken from me: health, career, financial security, food, vacations, intelligence, athleticism, _______. Anything that isn’t Jesus can be stripped away, and will take with it whatever portion of my life I have invested there. But perhaps God’s light shines brightest in us when those things are out of the way.
This suffering allows me to share with my Lord.
This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15 NLT
Jesus faced suffering. Not just that, but rejection and torture and ridiculing and ultimately separation from His Father, something I will never have to endure. The thin invisible barrier between comfort and suffering is broken down between Jesus and me. A layer peeled back, I can know His heart just a bit more clearly. That verse goes on to say:
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – Hebrews 4:16 NLT
I don’t know about y’all, but right now we need it most. Will you storm the throne room with me? Together we can have our thirst quenched by the living waters of mercy and grace, cast our burdens down, and collapse into His arms.