Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sacrificial Love


"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..."

Ephesians 5:25

What does this look like? How does it translate into every day life? And how many wives are blessed enough to actually have a husband who loves in this manner? I didn't know that I had that kind of husband until my long battle with depression culminated in a near suicide attempt this past January. That's when I found out exactly what sacrificial love looks like. That's when my eyes were opened to the depth and strength of not only my husband's love for me, but Christ's love for me as well.

When my husband arrived home from work early to find me preparing to swallow a lethal dose of pills, he had to make a hard decision. He had to choose to love me enough to take me to the emergency room and have me committed to the psychiatric section of a local hospital. And that's exactly what he did. He knew that I needed help, and he made sure that I went to a place where I could receive that help. I was there for a week, and each day he came to see me during the one hour in which we were allowed to have visitors. While I was hospitalized, he took care of everything at home. This meant homeschooling duties, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and caring for our children - one of which has special needs. Thankfully, there were friends and family to help him, but the bulk of the responsibility still fell on my husband. This also meant that he had to take time off work, which is quite a sacrifice for him due to his position and vast amount of required work-related duties. Yet, in spite of all this, he loved me enough to put my needs ahead of his own and make the adjustments to his schedule that were necessary to accommodate my hospital stay.

This sacrificial love that he shows me is not just a one-time event, either. Each day I continue to see that love as my depression is an ongoing battle that my mind wages against me; I'm not the only victim, though, because my husband is pulled into this fight, too. As the "two become one flesh," a fiery dart thrown at me is also thrown at him. He knows this, and yet he chooses to stay in the war with me. Often I'm left feeling guilty because my husband has this "broken" wife, but he never says anything like that to me. I thank God that, because of Him, my husband and I are stronger together; I know that we meant what we said when we made the vows "for better or worse...in sickness and in health..."

My husband patiently listens as I try to explain what I'm feeling on particularly hard days. I tell him that I didn't want to get out of bed that day. I tell him that I feel numb or sad or tired for no apparent reason. I describe how difficult it was for me to just make a phone call or go to the grocery store that day. He is understanding when I call him to say that we are just going to have a really simple dinner as opposed to what's posted on our weekly menu because I just can't muster up the energy to cook. Depression has also affected my appearance. I've gained some weight due to the antidepressants I currently take. My husband doesn't even say anything about this, except to reassure me when I mention it that he would rather have me a little heavier and still alive than to be without me. On my worst days, when thoughts of suicide rage within me, of course my husband gets upset. Sometimes we yell at one another. He wants me to call my psychiatrist or my therapist, or he wants me to call my friends. Of course I don't want to do anything when I get like that. I say horrible things. I know what I say hurts my husband deeply. Sometimes I feel like he should just find a "nice, normal" wife. But he loves me and stays with me. He is faithful. 

Through my husband's love, I am beginning to understand Christ's unfailing love for me. My husband loves me unconditionally and sacrificially, and I see it in his actions. I no longer question my husband's love, and I no longer question Jesus's love for me, either. In the midst of the darkness that is depression, I am grateful for this shining example of the light of true love. I'm thankful that God opened my eyes so that I could see it, and I am thankful that my husband is willing to be the vessel through which it flows.

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