Over the last ten or eleven years I have had to do all kinds of things that, to put it bluntly, have been way out of my normal zone of comfort! Starting in 2007 with the initial tests, scans and various doctor’s visits that we pursued as we sought to discover what was going on with my wife, I have found myself going places I would normally have avoided. I have had informational and sometimes heated conversations with doctors, nurses, receptionists and even with family members where my tenacity actually surprised me. I’ve also performed tasks that I never would have imagined in a million years since we were married back in 1975.
I remember the words of a good friend of Piper’s and mine back in our college days who loved to say: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” Have you ever heard that one? Well, Joe’s words have never wrung clearer to me than in this journey that Piper and I find ourselves battling in our lives. Sometimes I feel like a broken record when I continually tell the many medical specialists that we have seen over these years that “As a husband, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!” But to my amazement, I have, too often than I like to hear, heard the reply that “not everyone responds like you have…”
That reality always brings home the best bit of advice that I received through a friend who had talked about our situation to an older gentleman at the local senior center who had recently lost his wife due to Alzheimer’s. He simple stated to “tell your friend, that the most important thing he (ie; me!) needs to do is to lose all his pride.” Well… my pride kind of bristled at that word of wisdom… but I quickly came to find out how true his words were!
I believe that the Lord was trying to tell me a similar thought over the last few days as I studied 2 Timothy 1:7 from the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, which is a numerically coded Greek-English Interlinear Bible, with English-Greek Index, and Lexical Concordance. The translation of this verse is almost identical to the MKJV except for the word “FEAR.” It states “For God did not give to us a spirit of DREAD, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Dictionary.com gives one definition of DREAD that really rang a bell in my mind. It defines it as an action that causes one “to be reluctant to do, to meet, or to experience.” I believe it rang a bell in me because it was one of the first things that I had to face and then disarm as Piper and I began this faith experience back in 2007.
I’ve never been real fond of driving in busy metropolitan areas, especially when I haven’t been there before… and I usually tend to avoid them when I can! But once the results of Piper’s first three brain scans were available, I found myself literally driving all over Tulsa to the many doctors, psychiatrist and OSU Medical Center offices that seemed to be located throughout the metroplex.
Once we returned home to California we decided to continue to see the Brain Specialist that one local Neurologist had sent us to in San Francisco. So, we drove to and through San Francisco every couple of months for three or four years. After a while I actually started to enjoy driving around the City and would love to spend a few days walking around the streets there at a future date!
The thought of being reluctant to do something you’re not used to or are not comfortable doing is something that I think all of us face at some time in our lives. It is also one of the hardest realities that Piper and I have had to face in the way some people have responded to Piper’s dramatic health changes. To me it has been more difficult than to withstand the anger, misjudgment and criticism that was leveled toward us at one time. These reactions are usually sudden, vocal and more easily understood and dealt with.
The reluctance and resistance to being around Piper’s needs, in our situation, seems more insidious. With this response we’ve seen lots of smiles, lots of nice words, but little action to back the words… just like Dictionary.com describes insidious as “operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect.”
I was just speaking with one of the nurses from Piper’s Hospice team about how I am always surprised when I hear stories of other spouses or family members who feel that they cannot or will not step out of their zones of comfort in order to care for the needs of their loved one. My thoughts may seem a little harsh, but I just cannot fathom NOT being there for my wife.
I wasn’t sure whether to cry, get angry or laugh when some people close to us suggested to our kids and to a friend that they didn’t know if I would even stick with Piper at the beginning of this journey! It was quite easy to see that these folks were very out of touch with Piper and I, our relationship to each other and our kids.
I had a moment of epiphany yesterday during my morning Bible study when I sensed the Lord saying to me concerning one meaning for 2 Timothy 1:7 that “He hasn’t given us a spirit of DREAD, but instead the ability through our active trust in Him and His Word, to step out of our comfort zone in order to freely minister to an unlovely person or a hard-to-face and deal with situation AND be able to hold our tongue and not demean, criticize or offer our opinion on the situation without knowing all the details or without first asking for permission to share our thoughts with them.”
So, you see, FEAR doesn’t just rear its ugly, destructive head in outward expressions of anger or panic, but can be insidious in its approach in such a manner that it quietly undermines the love, peace and joy of the Lord that the people involved in the situation desperately seek… and need!
So, stay aware of what is happening all around you… whether it is obvious or not. For me, PEACE is always my guide. If I don’t sense or feel PEACE, then I know that something sinister is afoot! (See Philippians 4:7)
Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to keep a sensitive eye and an ear out for God’ PEACE today?”