Waves of Change

Lately there have been some changes here on the home front. Not big changes, but good changes. It started when a friend of ours asked Strokeman if he would be willing to share his knowledge of creation science with her nephew who would be taking a class called, “Evolution” at a nearby university. It is amazing how this ask for help inspired Strokeman in so many ways. The wheels in his brain started turning, and he decided he needed to be putting his scientific knowledge down on paper, perhaps in the form of a book, and maybe even a blog. It is encouraging to see my man motivated to do anything, but I have to admit that I have proceeded with very few expectations. I wasn’t sure he would be able to follow through with any consistency, I wasn’t sure if he would be able to come up with a coherent thought. My bargain with him has been this: He will write out what he wants to say by hand. I will convert that to computer files that we can continue to edit and add to. If we manage to put something together worth reading, I will help him start and maintain a blog. So far, he is doing fairly well at putting thoughts together in some kind of orderly fashion. I am presently behind in typing that up, but will catch up soon. This project has him wanting to be up at the table writing at least once a day, apart from his usual time up for meals. He wants to work towards being up at least an hour, but so far we have not managed half of that. These are all good signs.

In the past when I have seen this kind of effort put forth, I have gotten so excited! I start thinking how things are changing and I am going to get my husband back and won’t this all be wonderful? But then I went through the necessary adjustment of facing up to what I have, accepting that it might never get any better than this, and deciding how to have a life within the confines of my present situation. And as Strokeman began to make less and less effort to leave the house or to exercise at home if we can’t make it to the pool, I began to realize things might actually take a downward turn.

Now the tide has changed, and we seem to be on an upward swing. And I have found myself wondering where this will take us. Will this be the catalyst for him to take life by the horns and decide to work at being better? Or is it a passing fancy that will end abruptly tomorrow?

The other thing about all this change is that it is primarily on a cognitive level. This is good, in that it means that Strokeman has clearer thinking, is able to communicate more accurately, and is improved in his problem solving skills. When these areas were clearly impaired, I started making decisions about our household and our lives independently from him. As they return, I am having to give up some of that control, but the lines are not really very clear as to what areas I need to continue to control, and what areas I need to seek his input. And it is hard for me to not wonder where this all is going to lead. On top of that, because he is still physically impaired, this requires more of my time to be taken up with his goals instead of mine (which is why I am so behind on blog posts).

While my goal has always been to see Strokeman regain as much of his previous life as possible, I am finding the improvements to be a bit of an upheaval in my life. In a way it’s like the wife whose husband does a lot of traveling with his job. While he is gone you have to make all the decisions and take care of all the needs, but when he returns he understandably wants to be a part of those decisions. The returning husband doesn’t always approach things the way the wife does, and this can cause some frustration on the part of the wife. Her system may not have been the best or the most efficient, but it is the way that has worked for her. It is hard to give up that control. The added complication is that the “trip” my husband has been on was one where he really didn’t know the best way to do things. So now it is hard to know when to trust his judgement and when to hold on to the reins. The stronger his brain gets, the more irritating it is to him for me to disagree with his decisions. Meanwhile, not all aspects of thinking are returning at the same rate. Sometimes it seems that I am dealing with a very intelligent adolescent. What I mean by that is that while he can successfully help me troubleshoot a toilet problem, he seems incapable of responding properly to my emotional or spiritual needs. So we can be having an adult conversation, but then I will mention something that has made me very sad or disappointed, and he will make a joke about pies.

I have often had to remind myself that while Strokeman is the man I married, he is not the same man that I married. The stroke changed him drastically. As a matter of fact, I am not the same woman he married either. The stroke has changed me drastically as well. So in a sense this is another dimension to the ever changing landscape. We are trying to navigate through very choppy water.

If I allow myself, I can get in quite a tizzy trying to divine the future. Will he regain all of his thinking and reasoning skills? Will this include his emotional maturity? Will he decide to work harder on his physical deficits? Will it be too late? I have had to do my best not to allow myself to speculate. There is really only one thing I can do, and that is to tend to the worries of this day. Whatever comes later is out of the realm of my responsibility.

And so, I have had to revert to waking up each morning praying that God will give me the strength to do what needs to be done in this day, and the wisdom to know what that needs to be. Ultimately, this is the same thing that every believer is required to do: take the day God has given me and do what I can to live it in a way that glorifies Him and conforms me to the image of His Son. I think we would all like to be at a place where it doesn’t take so much thinking to live our lives. But that place doesn’t exist in this world. Here, we will always need to work at holding every thought captive, working diligently to live this day while not worrying about the next one. Ultimately, it still comes down to what I always told my children. You can’t control what other people do, you can only control what you do. And so I am learning to let go of the life I had carved out for myself to make room for what changes may come. Change is good, right?

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10 Responses to Waves of Change

  1. Deb says:

    Wow, this was so very honest and real and true. I think most of us don’t understand all the aspects that living with a spouse who has had a stroke implies. Its a life that requires such sacrifice! You have chosen to follow God and stay. You have lost a friend that once could connect with you emotionally and spiritually. You have lost a husband that supported you financially and in decision making. You have lost much of your own personal freedom. The bit of freedom that you have gained, simply in being able to make all the decisions is now being threatened. Once again that sense of “normalcy” is slipping away . How do you plan? What choices do you make? It would be so much easier to just go ahead and do your thing, but you know that’s not honoring your husband. Yet you have come down to the truth, that in reality you are simply facing life the way everyone should face life, seeking God daily for his guidance, his grace, his mercy. You are learning how to be willing to sacrifice for another to honor God. You have been “forced” into relying on God for everything. That’s where we all should be, but we meander through our lives believing we can depend on our own strength. We miss the glory, we miss the grace! I pray that you sense the grace of the Lord on your life in overwhelming ways. That his mercy keeps you going strong and your heart is lifted up by his love and that his strength is always sufficient to face every new problem. I pray that you will live a life so full of his spirit that you will lack nothing, miss nothing, desire nothing more. You are a living testimony of what it means to live under great duress honestly, yet always returning to the Lord for your meaning!

    • Oh Deb, you have made me cry! Thank you for this. Please continue to pray these things for me. It is my desire to live a life of glory to God, and one in which I enjoy Him now, not just in the bye and bye.

  2. Thank you for this reminder today. I needed it. It has helped me “feel” a little more peaceful. It makes my heart happy to know Sherman is working on the evolution stuff – maybe because this was the only real subject I think we both shared an interest in. Thank you for always being real, we need that reminder that life is hard but amazing at the same time. Love you and pray for you often!

  3. christina says:

    Change is…change. All of it has at least some discomfort, and all has some good and works for good for the Christian. (How painful that good may turn out to be is another question, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis.)

    This particular development really sounds positive to me over all, but I see how costly the potential growth is to both of you. I’ve been thinking about a saying I heard from Elisabeth Elliot, “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Creator calls a butterfly.” That could sound trite, but I don’t mean it that way. It’s been on my mind as a reminder that it’s entirely possible that circumstances which cause me much weeping and gnashing of teeth (and really do feel like the end of the world, even when I know cognitively they aren’t) might just be the ripping open of a cocoon into a new season of life which is too grand even to imagine. And even if the wings don’t come with this particular “end of the world,” God assures me they will come someday, and all the tears and pain will be worth it.

    I really am sorry your equilibrium has been upset again. May the Lord work in both of you for good and give joy in glimpsing His work in the midst of the new sorts of challenges. Praise to His name for pressing the right buttons to motivate Strokeman to work towards healing when nothing else did the job.

  4. Cynthia Cooley says:

    Such a difficult place to be, and I know how I would be responding inside, not nearly as graciously as you. I pray for you to be aware of God’s mercies, which are new EVERY morning, that He will sustain you through each day, enabling you to keep your mind set on Him, that He will meet each and every need you have, including the companionship you don’t currently received from your Man. I pray that you will always know His Presence, and His Wisdom, that He will live each moment through you, and give you rest in Him. Love you.

  5. Cindy V says:

    We sometimes live in an illusion of control & management & even entitlement that your last paragraph contradicts. Your conclusion is our only place of safety no matter how buffeted we feel. How delightful that our strong, wise, good Father orchestrates & moderates each storm of life to continually bring us to humble childlike trust & warriorlike striving (once more into the battle). And that Christ’s righteousness covers all my sinful failures.

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