Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Myths, Fears and Following God

“ . . . society's accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.” (William J. Brennan Jr.)

I had the opportunity to sit and talk with a young woman who works with my husband on the sales floor at Target.  We enjoyed a supremely candid discussion.

It all began when Bruce called to let me know that a female co-worker was driving him home.  He calls me every time he accepts a ride from a woman.  He says it is the “proper” thing to do.  Either he knows that I greatly appreciate this sign of respect or he fears a jealousy he has never seen in me.  In either case, I appreciate his honesty. 

After a meet and greet at the door with our happy-friendly Basset hound, I enjoyed a two-hour conversation with this young lady (she’s under 30 years old and married). 

I always enjoy hearing other people describe their affinity for my husband.  As with most people, she was at first put off by his gruff voice, his biting sarcasm and his obvious physical limitations.  She admitted that she had originally thought that he was not only mean because of his physical disability, but she thought he could possibly be mentally challenged as well.

Interaction and time have shown her otherwise.  She admitted that getting to know my husband has given her patience.  I laughed and shared my own personal experience with that phenomenon.  To be actively compassionate with a disabled person requires patience, deliberate self-control and intentional listening.  These are not prevalent skills in 21st Century America.  The by-product of acquiring those skills is increased patience.

She learned, as I once did, that behind his language deficit was an intelligent man eager, anxious and brusquely trying to progress.  It translates to “mean”, “gruff” or “angry” to the casual observer. 

As we all interacted she began to notice a difference in the way that I communicate with Bruce.  Being an incredibly astute young lady, she noticed that there was distinct tone of respect and consideration in my language with him.   She was so taken that she actually remarked, “I love the way you said that.  That is so much more respectful that what I would have said.”

I then took the opportunity to explain the premise behind my cards, “The Respect Dare” and the challenge for wives to model their marriages after the pattern established in God’s word.   She remarked that she isn’t “religious”.

But, undaunted, I told her that a wife does not need to be “religious” to follow God’s word about respecting her husband.

My Husband's Love 
I have been pondering that little piece of our conversation for hours.  Was it inspiration or folly - that tidbit that "just popped out" of my mouth?  

Bruce was raised Jewish.  He turned his back on that religion after his mother died when he was fifteen.  I don’t even know if he knew how to pray when he woke from his stroke.   

But, I do know that my husband did not have to be “religious” to follow God’s word and receive a miracle in his life. 

Some time after his stroke, when the world was still fuzzy and voices sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown’s classroom, Bruce was feeling very alone.  Without language and without voice Bruce cried out for someone to understand him.  

A loving God heard him.  In his heart, Bruce “heard” a voice of encouragement.  The voice firmly and repeatedly told him what to do.  Bruce began to stand.  Six months later, he banished fear along with his wheelchair and walked again.  He continued to listen to the still, small voice that warmed his heart and he soon discarded the cane.  

My husband ignored the myths that stroke survivors have a limited window for recovery.  When I met him in 2001 he could use about 100 words in conversation.  He now has thousands of words at his disposal and his vocabulary increases every day. 

After talking to his friend from work, I puzzled about her fear of following God's word when she was not "religious".  I likened my his experience to that of hers and of other marriages in need of strengthening – marriages in need of healing – or marriages simply in need of growth.

I wanted to call the young lady and tell her that following God's word should not be limited by society's myths and fears about religion.

It led me to reword the quote that I used in opening this post, just a bit.
“ . . . society's accumulated myths and fears about religion and God's word are as handicapping as are the eternal limitations that flow from spiritual deprivation.”

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Shayne Packer said...

I enjoy reading your stories that teach eternal truths. God wants us to know him and communicate with him through prayer. People can learn to do this.

Penny said...

I always enjoy reading more and more of your testimony! Thanks for sharing your heart and teaching us all at the same time!

Can I get an Amen?