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It seems like a lifetime ago that these vows were made between my husband and I, “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.”
We were young and had a future of hopes and dreams in front of us. We knew that life would have ups and downs, but never in our wildest dreams were we prepared for the news we would receive on August 3rd, 2003.
You have breast cancer.
When I first heard those words ten years ago, I knew I had two choices. I could either let self-pity swallow up my life and make myself miserable, along with everyone else around me, or I could make the trial of cancer have meaning, I could make it count and turn others towards God because of it. During this time God spoke to me and He said…”Give me the glory through it all. Let my light shine in you so that they may see who I really am.”
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 (NIV)
God not only wanted me to be a witness to friends and extended family, he also wanted me to be a witness right inside my home to my husband and children.
God has taught me two very important lessons in regards to being a stage IV breast cancer fighter and respecting my husband of 21 years.
The first thing I learned is, I’m not the only one fighting this. In the words of my husband, “He has cancer too.”
It can be very easy to get wrapped up in self when walking through an illness. As wives, we need to remember that we’re to fulfill our duties of honoring and respecting our husbands, regardless of the circumstances that are going on around us. We need to remember that we’re in a partnership, we’re not going at this solo. We have to learn to be “selfless” in respect to our husbands and think of his needs and not just our own.
“not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 2:4 (NIV)
Take a moment to put yourself in your husband’s shoes when you are going through cancer, or any type of chronic illness and realize that they are walking on this journey right along with you. They have the fear of loosing their loved one. They have the same fears as you do of going to each and every doctor appointment, of awaiting the dreaded tests and scan results, and waiting to see which type of treatment will happen next.
A very important thing I’ve learned about going through trials, which can be applied to any difficult situation that you and your husband face, is to put others first. Instead of focusing on how horrible my problem is, I try to focus on the needs of others around me, especially my husband’s. For me, doing this helps to take the sting out of the hurt to my soul, caused by the problems around me.
When your in a similar situation, think about what you can do to ease your husband’s pain and suffering. Whether it be making his favorite meal, to texting him encouraging words throughout the day. Do things to make him feel better, remember that he is hurting just like you. Most importantly, ask him how you can pray for him throughout the day. Prayer can turn any situation around, there is power in prayer that can breath new life into every fiber of a persons being.
“A prayerless Christian is a powerless Christian. ” – Billy Graham
The second lesson I learned about respecting my husband is to accept him for who he is.
Cancer, chronic illness, or many other types of problems can bring about various challenges. When your destination of life gets changed and you and your husband have some bumpy roads to travel on, accept all your husband’s qualities, both good and some not so good. No one is perfect, he is only human, he is trying the best he can through these difficulties.
Accept his decisions during these times. Support him, be his biggest cheerleader. A wife that tears her husband down, or belittles her husband’s decisions will be doing more harm than good. She will be bringing more turmoil to the situation and hurt her husband’s pride in doing so. For a man, hurting your husband’s pride is one of the worst things that you can do.
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.'” 1 Peter 3:1-2
Wives, we each have unique roles to fill in our marriages. No matter what were going through, let us live out those roles to the best of our abilities with the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, pushing us forward to greater things in Christ’s name. Let’s take our eyes off of self and onto our husbands, encouraging, respecting, and loving them to be the men of God called them to be, no matter what the cost.