Sunday, July 31, 2011
(This was written to encourage the many wives out there who find themselves in this situation, who feel lost, or alone, misunderstood and misjudged. I am opening a "closet" in hopes of helping those on either side of the topic)
I have been giving a great deal of thought to my husband in particular, and how he must feel. Let me explain. For those who don't know, my husband is on permanent disability.
Before we got married, and for the first 2-4 yrs of our marriage, Bob worked 12-16 hrs. a day, not including the commute. When I say commute, I mean NYC subways and buses. At night fewer buses and trains are running, and you might have to wait as long as 20 min. if you miss the train (perhaps longer) and the bus is even slower, and doesn't/didn't have the same stops or routes. On a typical day, Bob was up and out the door by 5:30 am and would not return home until 11:30PM or later. This is how we lived for the first several years of marriage. He worked 2 jobs to keep us afloat. Rent was $650 plus utilities, and that was considered a low rent in 1986. Comparable apartments now rent for almost triple that. The summer we went to NYC to visit we were fully prepared for the LORD to lead us back, and we looked at rental prices.
One morning, David was only 3 months old, Bob woke up with a sore throat. A few days later, it was worse, he called off at work--both jobs. That week he saw the doctor who told him his throat wasn't even red, accused him of being "a goldbrick" and refused to write an excuse for him. But he was in agony. His throat hurt him so bad he was literally crying in bed for MONTHS, except for running to doctors appointments or tests. He spent almost 3 months in bed, in pain. I remember sitting in one doctor's office wondering how I was going to manage caring for my KING size husband and infant son in NYC without any family or help. I thought at that point he was going to be an invalid for the rest of his life.
He finally got well enough to return to work, but it didn't take long for his symptoms to return. During that time, he was began working 2 jobs (again), and all the while continuing with the ministry in NYC too. He never ceased to pass out tracts or talk to people about Jesus, even on his worst day. That is one thing that didn't change. (Never has) His zeal, though not enough for some folks, has not wavered. He got so ill again that he had to call in, and after a few more times of this they told him they would fire him if it happened again.
He lost his second job and finally had to quit his day job too. It was very hard on us. By this time we had 3 children, under 2 yrs. of age, and no real income. To get some help we moved to MD to be near my family, but things got worse for us. We moved to Jax. Fl, and that was even worse than MD. We knew leaving NYC was a mistake. We knew we had to return to NYC. Selling all but one small trailer full of our belongings, we returned to NYC.
After days of looking for work, and a place to live, the catch-22 of no job, no apartment-no apartment, no job,wasn't going to just go away. As a result, with 3 children under 3 yrs., we had to seek emergency housing. That's how we ended up living in a shelter for the homeless, for 3 months, before we got an apartment of our own. During this time Bob was sent to numerous doctors, took more tests, and was finally told to apply for disability. His problem wasn't/isn't an inability to work, but rather his inability to work, even a desk job, for 40 hours a week, week after week etc. Even now, he has good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, good months and bad months. Stress brings on the pain, and headaches.
Then a few years ago he broke his leg (a long story). He had to have 2 surgeries to repair it, was ordered to be "non-weight bearing" for 12-18 weeks, and never had any physical therapy afterwards. As a result of this accident, and other health problems, he can't walk as good as he used to and uses a wheelchair at the mall and large stores.
The reason I said all this is because I am trying to see this from his point of view. It must be difficult for a man who wants to work and take care of his family, to be unable to do it. Talk about male ego being knocked down. There was a while when, looking back, I think Bob was depressed. But, at the time I was so stressed and breaking in my own way I didn't even realize what was happening.
Your whole world, and life as a husband and wife is affected. Everything from the bank account to the marriage bed, to the ministry to family and relationships. People see a person who looks able-bodied and they just don't get it because they all know someone with serious, obvious illnesses who can't get disability. Any help is hard to get. People want to know alot of personal business, and they want to make sure that you don't have money hidden away that you could use, and if you do, they will force you to use it all up (by refusing to help until it's gone) before they will help you at all. You can't have money in the bank, or invest, they hold that against you too. Basically, you have to have nothing to get on disability.
Anyway, I wonder how my hubby dealt (deals) with this. I see the looks people give him, Pastors and bretheren included. More than once he's been assaulted with the verse about a man working and eating. Isn't it a shame that some Christians seem to enjoy kicking you when you're down. Maybe it makes them feel better about who or what they are.
A man, having to reliquish his role as provider, is a humbling, even humiliating, traumatic thing to come to terms with.
I read an article once about a woman who worked because her husband was unable to. In this article/testimony she explained how she would cash her paycheck and bring the money and all the bills to her husband, and left him to decide how to spend it. She felt that this really her keep her place as a submissive wife, and in turn it made it clear to him that even though he couldn't make the money, the responsibility for how it was spent was his. I don't know if I could do that without feeling bad. But this was an inspiration to me because I have a HUGE tendency to want to know how we are going to spend any bit of unspoken for money, and I want to spend it MY way first. (Bob says Hi to everyone) If we have $25 extra, I want to put in a bid for what we'll do or get with it. I want control. I want to be in charge of that money. I feel in a some way that it's owed to me, and I don't go out to work and earn it. Poor husband! So this lady's testimony really spoke volumes to me about my attitude about family finances. It's hard for me to just let my husband do what he thinks is necessary and trust the LORD.
The truth is that what it really comes down to...submission. That it is trusting the LORD to work it all out for your good, using your husband, and his successes and failures, to do it. It's a matter of believing that God is in control and that's ok.
Back to my point...what was it? Oh yes, when a God fearing man who wants to obey and provide for his family but can't do that, it is a transition for him, and it takes time for him to adjust.
Things I envisioned us doing together, will never be. Us being together, is what is important, not where we go or what we do. There are times when I am so frustrated that I can't just walk through the mall hand-in-hand with my honey, or stroll along arm-in-arm or with around his waist...I actually get jealous of the women who can. It's hard on him, and me. And the children...the typical afternoon of throwing a ball, or hiking, camping...none of that works for us...and I know that all 6 of our children, but the boys in particular have had to deal with their own disappointments about that. They love their father dearly, and deeply, but they have wishes that they too have had to let go of, and trust the LORD about.
Please keep praying for us.