“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13
For the past month, Tony and I have been at a standstill with some major decisions. Tony has been waiting on foot surgery now for 14 months. He’s been in pain since February, 2014, knew he needed surgery in May, 2014 and it’s now July, 2015 and he has continued to persevere through pain whenever he walks, carries suitcases, chases and scoops up small and unruly children, walks and rides a bus to language school, helps out a friend with moving… So when we learned that my cancer had spread to the lymph nodes placing me in stage 3 with Medullary Thyroid Cancer, we weren’t sure what our next steps were. We now know that we need to follow-up with an expert team of specialists to get all the remaining blood works, scans, and work-up done to know a small amount of what we are facing as we walk forward in faith.
And yet, our greatest struggle as a couple has been in this area of laying down our lives for one another. In each of our physical places of brokenness, we are struggling to stay in a place of pain and waiting and while we deeply desire ‘the other’ to heal and get the care that each of us needs, it’s been hard to find a balance in setting the schedule so we can both move forward in areas of ministry, healing, and rest.
How do you plan a foot surgery with 6 weeks recovery when we don’t know what my ongoing healing/recovery will look like from my surgery? How do we take Tony out of commission, in some ways, with kid duty when we don’t know what the demands will be on me for follow-up care? How does Tony bear an even longer time of waiting with pain in his body when his very strength and wholeness will be that which helps our family through whatever lies ahead? How do we do all of this in the context of being away from our routine, our home, and our normal work life? I’m not really sure… to be honest. But what I do want to do is be full of love that will lay down my life for Tony — fully trusting and knowing that Tony has done and will do the same thing for me.
Tony cancelled and postponed his July 14 surgery last week. This was a very heavy decision for us- but especially for Tony. We are so anxious for Tony to begin healing and yet, we don’t know when I will feel 100%, if ever, to be 6 weeks ‘on’ with the kids. I already feel so much better after just 2 1/2 weeks of recovery time. I’ve been actively playing with the kids, going for walks, running errands, etc… but in small doses. After each spurt of energy and activity over several hours, I need to lay down and rest for a few minutes. It’s the hand off of the kids to Tony that has been my saving grace as I can lay down a rest when I need to. I’m not quite sure what that looks like when Tony becomes unable to carry on with the physical strength, foot pain and kidney pain and all, for our family.
Tony had his kidney stone “removed” last Friday and has been bearing the pain of having a stint inside his body to keep everything from getting blocked up in his kidney. It has been tough to see him in so much pain — even post surgery and knowing that the pain will continue for another 4 days. He’s had a difficult time accepting my care for him while I am still recovering from surgery.
We are between a rock (or stone?) and a hard place, but the saving grace in all of this has been the gracious ways that others have laid down their lives for us: giving up free time, work time, and family time to help care for our needs. We feel so needy these days, and it’s not an easy thing to receive the generous help of others, but we need our community now more than ever. Pride is not a great option in moving towards healing and wholeness so we say, ‘sure, that’d be great’ and ‘thank you’ as meals show up warm and ready to eat, friends offer to play with our kids, and parents drive several hours to spend the day helping us simply get through it with a bit more joy, laughter, and hope.
Others are laying down their lives for us… and we truly see the greatness of God’s love in each of these ways that our friends, family, and sometimes, complete strangers are coming alongside us.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13