Sunday, March 21, 2010

Healing Hearts

This post may be a surprise to many... I have not shared this with any other person besides my heavenly Father. However it may not be a surprise to those who know us well. They may have seen our struggle and wondered, although we tried to hide it from the world.

Over the last couple of years my husband and I went through a rough patch in our marriage. I mean, we fought...a lot. And if we weren't fighting, one or the other of us was in a bad mood. I knew our marriage wasn't thriving, but I couldn't figure out why, or what to do to heal it. I was too engrossed in what I was feeling to look at our situation objectively. All I saw was my day in and day out exhaustion, which I chalked up to being a full-time mom with two high energy kids plus pregnant and miserable, after the pregnancy it was the sleeplessness with a new baby.  I was trying (I thought) to be a good wife.  On top of that I worked part time in the evenings when most stay at home moms take time to rest with their family. I began to feel like my husband didn't care about me or what I was going through and he wasn't about to lift a finger to help me. I knew that I was in some kind of melancholic slump, but I didn't understand why, or what to do about that either.

I'm sure Tom probably felt like I complained non-stop, I was always in a bad mood, and I was miserable to live with. Honestly, I think I was perpetually grouchy, and as I look back over the last couple of years I realize that I really wasn't easy to live with and my husband was having to put up with a lot.  Tom said to me on more than one occasion that I wasn't the same person he'd married.  My angry response was that I was different.  People don't just stay exactly as they were when they were 20,  and I accused him of not taking the time to really know me as I learned and changed and grew as an individual.  But I really wasn't the same person that he had married.  I was no longer cheerful and optimistic.  I no longer smiled easily or chatted and laughed about fun little things.  I no longer had the energy to do anything fun. period.

We kept rehearsing the same arguments over and over.  I know we still loved each other, but neither of us were happy and we certainly didn't like each other.  Tom and I were both committed to the marriage vows we had made before God, but I began to feel like it was going to be a marriage of misery instead of joy. I got to the point that, even though I loved my family, I hated my life.  I disliked the person I  saw myself becoming. I disliked my relationship with my husband. I disliked feeling overworked and exhausted all of the time. 

Then came along the end of March 2009.  I came home from work one night, put my tired feet up, and realized my ankles were swollen.  I knew at that point that my feeling run-down was something much bigger.  Then next day I went to the a local walk-in clinic.  They found bilirubin in my urine, and there began my journey that led to my liver transplant on May 9th. There was the reason I wasn't myself.  My blood was no longer clean and life-giving.  It was toxic. My body had no energy because it couldn't get the oxygen it needed.  My brain was in a melancholic fog because my liver was failing.  It wasn't my husband's fault, even though he had taken the brunt of my exhaustion and I'd blamed so much on him.  It wasn't my children, or my part time job.  Yet, the damage was already done.  Both my husband and I had hurt and been hurt by each others cruel words, and lack of lovingkindess.

Although I recovered very quickly from my transplant, the deeper emotional hurts were not so easily fixed.  The first few months after my transplant I really struggled with the loss of 'control' over my life.  I couldn't really be left alone.  I couldn't keep up with my kids.  I couldn't lift my baby.  I didn't have the energy to clean my home or cook.  I felt like I was crying all the time.  I had all this medication that I had to take which had it's own 'fun' side affects.  I was trying to heal from a major MAJOR life-changing surgery.   My wonderful mom was here most of the time.  She was a great help, and a life-saver, but that left very little privacy for my husband and I to begin working through the pieces of our relationship and my life... Tom's job loss added  more turmoil to our already crazy summer.  Yet, God used all of that to change me, and is still using it to change me.  He is using it to chip away at my hard heart, making me more sensitive to Him, but also more sensitive to the people in my life.  

In the late summer things started to calm down.  My energy came back above and beyond what I had experienced in years.  I was able to take over the care of my home and family, and my mom's sweet visits became fewer and farther in between.  I was no longer depressed and dull.  God had taken the experience to transform my heart.  I was happy and truly joyful for the first time in years.  I had experienced the amazing love and faithfulness of my heavenly Father, and the sweet care and encouragement from fellow believers. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.  And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:2-4)

As things returned to normal, Tom and I began putting the pieces of our lives back together.  Oh, it wasn't easy.  In fact, at first I'd say we were pretty much at each others throats...each of us so consumed with working through all that had happened--my sickness affected Tom's life just as much as it affected mine.   But over time God has brought healing to our hearts, and to our marriage.  I think much of it has to do with the transformation that God did in my heart.  And I'm not saying that pridefully.... I believe that I was much of the cause to our struggling marriage. Though I had a legitimate reason to feel ill, it was no excuse for me to respond by being mean and miserable.  Anyway, Tom and I began getting to know each other again.  We began enjoying the time we spent together.  We remembered the reason we had 'fallen in love', and the things that we liked about each other.   In the end, I think the experience has softened our hearts to each other more than ever, and brought us closer than we have ever been.

Things aren't perfect, they never will be.  We still have our days when we just can't seem to get along.  But I know that I love my husband and he loves me.  The things we went through last summer have changed him as well.  I can't speak for what is in his heart (and he is still very quiet about the hardest times...) but I can tell you that he is changed.  He helps out around the house more than he has ever done.  He makes bed, and does dishes.  He is more patient with the kids, and he spends so much more time with us (now that I'm not making him miserable).  He has put up with a lot, but he stuck by me, and I am so grateful!

Recently I read in my devotions Proverbs 5:18-19  May your fountain be blessed , and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.  A loving doe, and graceful deer--may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.   God has brought rejoicing back into our marriage.  Who would have thought that it would take something as drastic as a liver transplant to do so?!  In the past my love has been anything but 'captivating', but I pray God continues to change me, to soften my heart, to love my husband more and more and to be CAPTIVATING!  God used the challenges we faced to break our pride, to change our hearts, to bring us closer to him, and to bring healing to our marriage.  It's not over yet though!  I feel like this is a new beginning and the best is yet to come!


Sylvia said...

And the husband that stuck with you glorified Christ probably more than he realizes, because he pictured His faithfulness and unfailing love in doing that.
Thank you for this story. God bless you both, and your little ones, too.

Hazel said...

There was a lot of healing that was going on in your body, in your family and in your hearts! Praise the Lord!

Karen said...

Wonderful testimony! Thanks so much for sharing this....

Sacred Ruminations said...

What an amazing journey you've shared and I've added you and your family to my prayer list. May the healing continue for you all!
Hugs and blessings,

Tiffany said...

Oh, Melissa, this was so beautifully written. While I have not experienced big problems (sure we all have "bumps") in my marriage this was such a great reminder for me to cherish the relationship Jim and I do have and to safe-guard it. This is the second reminder God has given me in a very short time. Thank you. And I will be praying that restoration continues for your family. God is so very good. He truly does work in mysterious ways!
I really love reading these transparent posts from you. I think God is really using you via your blog! Jim has encouraged me to get writing again. I need to.

Crystal said...

Melissa! This has touched my heart more than you can know. I've followed your journey from a great distance and have been inspired by it. This blog is a gift. Thank you for keeping it and sharing what you do.