My family left church early on a recent Sunday morning.
After the Lord’s Supper, we just got up and walked out.
It wasn’t that we were hoping to avoid the sermon. Our friend Randy Roper, who was preaching that day, always blesses us with his practical, biblical messages.
Nor was it that we needed to be somewhere more important. Seriously, where
would that be?
Rather, my wife, Tamie, was hurting. She had a little, plastic bag of ice pressed against her left wrist, and I could tell how uncomfortable she was.
“Do you want to go?” I asked.
Our family has experienced an interesting — for lack of a better description — year and a half as Tamie has dealt with anemia, fatigue, swelling, inflammation and joint problems related to rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome and lupus.
The medical professionals have tried a number of pills and shots — and now infusions — to get Tamie’s illness into remission and control the pain and inflammations so that there’s no permanent damage to joints and organs. (I’m not a doctor, but that’s my rudimentary understanding.)
Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.
We’re still praying, still hoping for the best and still putting our faith in God.
We’re so blessed with caring Christian brothers and sisters and Christian Chronicle
colleagues who offer constant support and understanding — even as, in some cases, they deal with much more trying diseases and circumstances in their own lives and families.
Before writing this, I had to promise Tamie not to portray her as “too perfect” or “too pitiful.”
The fact is, nobody’s perfect.
But my wife of 21 years amazes me with her resiliency and resolve.
I don’t know if it has something to do with her medication, but we’ve never had fewer dirty dishes in the kitchen or less unfolded laundry in the clothes basket than the last few months. We need to figure out which pill is causing this and order a permanent supply! (Just joking, babe.)
Tamie’s illness also has disrupted her sleeping patterns.
For a while, she was going to bed at 9 p.m. and waking up by midnight. Come to think of it, maybe that’s when she found time to keep working a full-time job and clean up after her messy husband and three children (the oldest is away at Oklahoma Christian University but manages to make the 10-mile drive home for Mom’s cooking quite frequently).
Perhaps one small blessing of this recent turn in my wife’s life has been the opportunity to slow down, just a little.
Before now, she — like many of us — ran all the time, be it sponsoring field trips at our kids’ schools or driving a van full of college students to Mexico on our church’s annual spring break mission trip.
Now, she has figured out, she can’t run anymore.
At the same time, Tamie’s experience has made her — and her husband — much more aware of people for whom illness seems interminable.
Of course, my wife always has been an exceptionally caring person. Her husband drives with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the horn. She, on the other hand, seems to keep her right foot close to the brakes — just in case she sees an opportunity to provide an opening for another driver to enter the roadway.
Tamie’s recent experience has served only to heighten her concern and compassion for others.
“The slower pace has forced me to focus on other ways to encourage people,” she told me. “I find myself searching out people who are hurting or need a personal message, to send them notes, texts, Facebook messages. I knew they needed those words before, I’m sure, but I was moving too quickly to stop and share them.”
Finally, Tamie shared with me, those who pray so faithfully on her behalf humble and inspire her.
“I’m not a mushy person,” my wife said, “but I get teary when I think of the friend who sets a reminder on her phone so that she remembers to lift me up to our Father every morning at 9.”
I, too, pray for my wife. Often, I plead for God to return our lives to the way they used to be. In my less selfish moments, I simply ask the Lord to reveal his plan in Tamie’s present sufferings.
Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].