This weekend MTG and I went to a marriage conference at our church. Dave Harvey, author of When Sinners Say “I Do”, spoke on “Marriage and the Mercy of God.” It was, by far, the best thing I’ve heard or read on marriage.
Friday night he spoke about sin and marriage and the fact that marriage is a sinner marrying a sinner. Of all the really great stuff from that session, this was the most profound to me: “Our strengths become our weaknesses when we become smug.”
And now, for a musical break:
Back to the program already in progress. But first, a little background on me and our marriage: I am a competent, self-reliant person. I don’t say that to brag; it’s just the fact of who I am and how I’m built. In fact, relying on others and opening up to others is something I struggle with to my detriment. MTG and I were married on September 4, 1999. Sometime in the next 3 or 4 weeks, Little Miss was conceived. I then proceeded to get sicker than I have ever been in my life. I had hyperemesis gravidarum. Have you ever had food poisoning? Now imagine that all day, every day, for months. If you ever meet a woman with hyperemesis, here’s a tip: do not tell her to sip ginger ale and eat a cracker. If she can muster the strength, she will kill you. Be assured, she’s murdering you violently in her mind.
So here we are, weeks into our marriage, and this highly confident, self-reliant woman is sick as a dog and weak as a kitten. The drug we could afford knocked me out, and the drug we couldn’t afford, but got anyway, we used so sparingly to be of little real use. I was completely and totally reliant on MTG.
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I survived that pregnancy and rather unkind delivery (I won’t go into the gory details, suffice it to say not every woman’s body responds kindly to childbirth.) Thirteen months later, The Sprite was conceived and another, longer bout of hyperemesis began. Four pregnancies, all with hyperemesis. We did wise-up halfway through pregnancy #3 and learned how to use the mail-in system with the maximum prescription. We were also blessed with doctors willing to prescribe whatever we needed. Many doctors are “discouraged” by insurance companies from prescribing the full dosage of Zofran because of the high cost.
But my point, and I do have one, is that very early experience with my extreme incapacitation had a profound effect on our marriage. My strength is my competence. You got a job to do, I can do it. Just don’t get in my way. I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan. But because I was forced to utterly rely on MTG, I think we “became one” in fact easier and more quickly than we would have had I not suffered that illness. In short, I think God showed me and our marriage extreme mercy by allowing me to suffer through the most trying time in my life.
And I want to be clear, it was awful. I literally prayed for God to allow me to die from the floor of my bathroom. I suffered depression and condemnation about not being the mother my children needed or the wife my husband deserved. My dream of having a big family gave way to the reality that my body just couldn’t handle any more pregnancies. I have struggled with this, not “why me” because, well why not me. But nonetheless, I felt the loss.
This weekend, I recognized that God granted me a special grace and our marriage a special grace by binding MTG and me together in this struggle. I received such tender, compassionate care from MTG. He not only carried my part of the household chores, but he cared for me with such gentleness and understanding. For a time, all I could choke down (ever so briefly) was fruit loops and bagels. He was faithful to keep me well supplied with these essentials. He never once complained, never once whined about his new bride’s lovely shade of green and semi-permanent position on the bathroom floor. I was and am blessed beyond comprehension. I won’t say that I don’t still struggle with self-reliance and “do-it-myselfness” but rather that MTG and I are much more a team than had we never dealt with that trial.
And I am thankful that I have been blessed with the revelation of God’s grace through that trial. Hopefully, my eyes will be open to the next experience of His goodness and grace to me in trial.