It is a true statement that husbands and wives shape each other. Actively or covertly, the nature of living together with the same person for decades makes its imprint and changes us.
It’s either the process of an artist, gently coaxing the vision in their head out of their selected medium (ok, there’s nothing gentle about someone going to work on a pile of marble with a hammer and chisel, but you get the idea…), or the process of water running down a rock face, doing the slow work of changing the shape of the hard surface below, taking little bits of the original away in the constant flow.
One way or another, stuff changes.
Now, people who know me and my beloved have often thought that she was probably a normal, sane, practical person before she hooked up with me, and that somehow I warped her into the normal, sane, practical, and slightly crazy person that she is today. May I just point out that the roaring bonfire of craziness can be fanned from a very small spark. Let those who have ears hear what I am saying…
But yes, I have been molded and shaped by her gentle spirit, her servant’s heart, and her love for God’s creatures, great and small. It’s been more of the water eroding the rock sort of thing, since I’m a mighty big boulder, made of the Adamantium of stone, hard and resistant. But it has happened, and continues to happen.
To my shame, the inverse is true as well. Ok – I’m not ashamed about the crazy part. She is my match in every way, and to be otherwise would make for a stressful existence. She shares my sense of humor, my joy, my curiosity, my eclectic musical taste, and my belief that God alone is worthy of my praise, my devotion, and my whole heart.
So why do I mention shame? Because of the things I’ve forced her to become.
She’s had to become a caretaker, doing everything (and I do mean everything) for a husband who, at his heaviest, weighed 486 pounds.
She’s lugged immensely heavy equipment to any number of gigs, gotten everything set up, waited patiently while I did my thing, packed everything up and loaded the car, drove me home, unloaded the heavy things and carried them to the basement, and tucked me into bed when I had no strength left after performing for an hour or two.
She’s lived in a closed world, having the burden of all household things, physical and mental, on her back. The taxes, the bills, the dishes, the filthy floors and walls, the clutter everywhere.
She’s endured all kinds of medical issues – huge sturdy recliners, adjustable beds, CPAP, tons of pillows and mattresses to make it possible for us to spend a night or two away from our nest, shower chairs, wheelchairs, hoping to not have another toilet seat break, leg braces, canes, walking staffs, compression stockings, trying to find some sort of shoes that will let me walk and will last more than six months.
She’s gotten used to not being able to go someplace without having to plan the kind of logistics that would baffle engineers. Finding someplace for me to sit, wandering through exhibits alone while I sit and wheeze, doing all the grocery shopping while I sit in the car, carrying the dog food so that I’d have a friend to keep me company in my depression and loneliness.
Those are just some of the physical issues…
She has endured a mate who has been a spoiled brat, who never learned to grow because his weight gave him an easy excuse. A mate who was an emotional roller coaster, showing moments of love and tenderness, followed by hours of rage or weeping. Someone who had such a low self-esteem that his only worth came from her love, always needy, always wanting, always afraid of losing her.
So, she learned. She learned to bend to my wishes, since I’d be sulky and stupid when I didn’t get my way. She learned to put up with the roller coaster, to duck when necessary, to stand quiet, and to ride the storm. She learned how to deal with being needed. All the time. Non-stop. She learned to put her hopes and dreams aside, to squash and silence them, and to surrender to the eroding force of the needy spouse.
You thought I was the unyielding boulder, huh? Indeed, I was in some ways, but more often I was the running water, constantly irritating, constantly tearing and wearing, chipping away and carrying off pieces of the original, leaving it worn and marked in my path.
Hence my shame.
And yet, she loves to hear me play. She loves it when I tell a story. She hugs me, gives me smoochies, laughs with me, and brings a light to my eyes when she smiles.
She never once saw me as an immensely obese person. She looked past the weight and saw ME. And loves what she found there. She’s the only person to ever do that, totally and completely. She sees me like my Father sees me, and I see His love reflected in her lovely green eyes.
I promised the Lord a while back to be transparent in this journey – to put the good and the bad out there, for others to see. It’s one of the reasons He poured this grace into my life. But this is hard to write, and harder still to know others might see and read. But on we go…
I’m not the person I was a year ago. That’s not just an advertising blurb for the surgery – it’s the truth. Through the surgery, the weight loss, the counseling, the health interventions (mental and physical), and through God’s abundant grace, the guy sitting here typing away is not the guy who rolled into the operating room a year ago. And while some of the changes have come fast as a landslide, others are slower in revealing themselves…
I now need to change how I’ve molded my wife. Somehow, I need to repair the erosion, rebuild the damage, and restore the pieces I’ve washed away.
When I ask her what she’d like to do, I need to help her see that I really want to know her preference, and won’t get sulky if she picks the one I don’t want to do. If I have a preference, I’ll express it, but I’d much rather know what she’s interested in.
When I ask her what she thinks about something – a dream, a thought, an idea, I really want to know. And I won’t go off on some “but mom, I want it NOW” tirade if she seems to like something I am interested in. My dreams aren’t worth much without her in them.
She needs to know that I’m determined to dig us out of the hole my wants and desires have put us in, both financially and in launching all the clutter we are surrounded with as a result of those wants and desires.
She needs a safe place to flourish, so that there is time and space for her hopes and dreams – not just space for all of my needs.
Her needs have a place, and they should be met.
The weight needs to be lifted from her shoulders, so that much of it can be placed on mine. My shoulders are smaller than they were, and really bony, but are still strong.
She should be loved as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her.
I’m ashamed that it took so long to get here. But in God’s mercy and grace, I see that it couldn’t have happened any earlier – it happened exactly at the time it should. Regret is a powerful tool of the enemy, but God’s grace can shatter it.
One thing I know – I’m incapable of doing any of these things myself. It’s impossible for me to undo the damage of 28 years. What I can do is walk in step with the One who CAN undo the damage and heal our hearts. All I can do is live as a new creature, follow Him with a whole heart, and love my beloved like He loves her. He doesn’t ask me to undo the past, but walk in the present with Him as together we love and care for my sweetie.
Now that I can do.
Father, forgive my mistakes. Thank you for waking me up, healing my body, and clearing my mind. Help me to be worthy of my beloved’s trust, not because I deserve it, but because I place my trust in You. I take Your hand, then take her hand as You lead us both. Restore what has been broken, keep regret from shattering our spirits, and lead us on this amazing path You’ve laid before us. Thank you for my beloved, and for the opportunity to show her Your love. Keep my eyes on You, so that I can love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.