Chronic Illness and Marriage

My husband is my hero.  Honestly.  If you look at a picture of him, I swear there’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of a halo.  And yet, he calls me his angel.  How did I get so blessed?

Our wedding was a blissful September occasion in 2013, just a mere 2 years, 8 months and 24 days ago.  But, who’s counting? It was a perfect fall day surrounded by family and friends and completely blessed by God. I’m sure I thought that our lives would continue to be that perfect.

I was already chronically-ill at the time of our wedding, but it was mostly things I could ignore, like headaches and sinus infections.  I blamed all on the Tennessee allergens.  But it wasn’t too long before I went through knock-down illnesses over and over again until ‘ill’ was my new ‘normal’.

Let me tell you about this man I married. He is a Special Education teacher and he is amazing at his job.  He has a generally lovable personality and gets along with everyone.  He helps those he can, to the best of his ability. And he has taken care of his chronically-ill wife since the moment we said “I Do”.

In case there wasn’t already enough mush, here is the song I wrote and sang to him on our wedding day:

My Miracle

It feels like a dream that you are here with me
You came into my life and you made me your wife
How can this be true, that I love you?
God has shown his favor, and you're my miracle.

You looked into my eyes and you touched a place inside
That I had locked away because I was afraid
Now my love pours forth.  My heart is yours
Why God blessed me, I'll never know, but you're my miracle.

I promise you.  I do.  
With all my heart, forever, you're my miracle.
For the rest of my life, you're my miracle.
Jason, you're my miracle.

You can watch me try to Dolly Parton-it with my big ole fake nails here. Everybody now….. AWWWW!  I love him just a little.  I could not have imagined how much truth this song would hold throughout the next few years.

I often think that my beloved got the raw end of the deal.  Although it breaks my heart, it’s sometimes hard for me not to think that he deserves a healthy wife.  A wife who can take care of him when he is sick, who can contribute to the household bills so the burden is not solely on him, who can attend social events with him, and who can serve alongside him.  We have never experienced the “in health” part of marriage, and the “that’s not fair” part of my brain acts up sometimes…er…a lot of times.

Depression often comes with chronic illness.  I can usually feel myself slipping down that slope but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do about it until I hit the bottom and start climbing back out.  In the depths of the pit, my beloved holds me while I cry and helps to pick off the rubble that fell on top of me on the way down.  I honestly cannot imagine what I would do without him.

It is very clear to me that God gave my husband to me at the perfect time. Some days I find it hard not to tell God he could have at least given us a couple healthy years, but his timing is much more complicated and perfect than we could ever imagine. I have never needed someone so much. Sometimes I think about what this illness would be like without Jason and it scares me.  I’m certain I would have lost our home and I would be on the floor of my room in my parents’ house rocking back and forth in the fetal position.

But I still regularly have those “it’s not fair to him” moments.  I say to him, “I want to be better for you”, and this saint-of-a-man always responds with, “I want you to be better for you.”  I also regularly struggle with wanting my life to count for something more than this.  In the depths of my despair, I lament the end of my career, my social life, my service to others.  I hit the bottom again a few days ago and I, once again, told Jason I just want to do something meaningful but I’m lost.  He responded with something like, “You’re my wife”, and because I was being so negative he added, “for what that’s worth.”  Let me tell you, friends,  I BROKE.  How could this man think that being his wife is anything less than EVERYTHING?! He is literally saving my life and doesn’t even realize it, because I haven’t told him enough times to cancel out all of my negativity.  I haven’t let him know enough how much he is being Jesus to me.

A Spirit-filled thought came to my mind at that moment:

“Stop minimizing your husband’s ministry.”  

It never dawned on me that saying things like, “It’s not fair to you”, “I wish I was better for you”, or “I wish you had a healthier wife” was minimizing my beloved’s God-given ministry of service to his wife.  I realized in that moment that God has called him to daily serve someone who needs him more than words can say, and the moment he said “I Do”, he committed to accomplishing that ministry to the fullest.  What a difficult challenge he has accepted!!

To say that I am grateful is pretty much the understatement of a lifetime. Though I struggle with thinking I don’t deserve it, I am grateful to God for choosing a man who will help him carry me through the valleys and over the mountains.  I am humbled that God would make caring for me Jason’s ministry.  I am grateful to my husband for saying “yes” to this incredible and difficult opportunity.  And I’m grateful to God for opening my eyes to the beautiful ministry that is happening right in front of my face. I am the bride of my husband, who is pouring all of himself out in sacrifice to me. I am the bride of Christ, who has already poured himself out in sacrifice to me.  I never want to take any of this for granted.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." - Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV)

Wow!  My husband has quite the job to do!  I am so incredibly thankful he is there to carry me, love me, and cleanse me with the love of Christ.

Maybe you are the ill spouse, who feels guilty for putting all of the burden on your beloved.  Oh my dear ones, please hear that you are your spouse’s God-given ministry.  Let it sink into the depths of your heart how incredibly loved you are by God. Maybe you are the spouse, who is weary from taking care of the household or from trying to convince your spouse that she/he is worth every moment.  Please hear that you have an amazing gift.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for serving God by serving your spouse. I hope that sharing the insight God gave to me will speak to all of your hearts.  Much love and prayers to you, and much love to my beloved.  I would marry you every day if I could!

And they lived happily every after…

 

My Miracle

Photo Credit:  Kara Faith Photography

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Author: Karina Baker

Hello, my dear friends! Glad to see you here. Thank you for reading about my beautiful rubble – my struggles with life, faith, and autoimmunity. Feel free to share your stories in the comments. My love and prayers to all of you!

4 thoughts on “Chronic Illness and Marriage”

  1. well, now you have made me cry. I never really looked at my illness as an opportunity for Rocky to serve God. I just always worry that it’s all too much for him. I can also relate to the feeling of wanting my life to count for something more. Sometimes it feels like I’m not able to do as much as I should be doing.
    We have to see that in the midst of the illness God can still find ways to use us. Writing is one of those ways. You never know who will be reading your words and hear the message they need to hear.
    Maybe for this season of life that is your ministry. That is what you are doing that counts.
    I think our husbands are God-wired to protect us, so maybe we just need to relax and let them – they serve us and we are grateful. Maybe that’s enough.

    1. Teresa,
      I did read something recently that made me think that maybe this season of my life is to be some sort of an encouragement to someone else in a similar situation. I had never thought of it that way and it definitely makes it more bearable. I feel another blog post coming on! Blessings to you and Rocky, always.

  2. Karina, thank you for your utter transperancy in this part of your life. It is a lesson God has been teaching me in the last few months and you have stated it so beautifully. We, who make it a mission to help others, want to be the “blesser”. We welcome the people that God brings into our lives so that we can be a blessing to them. We must recognize, however, that at some point God is calling us to be that person that God is calling others to bless. It is a sobering, humbling thought that God “needs” us to be needy for someone else’s ministry. Take heart, dear lady, that as you receive love and encouragement from Jason and others in your life, you are ministering
    to many with your faithful expression of gratitude to God for the many ways He blesses us in the midst of your brokenness. From one broken pot to another–thank you

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