Galatians 1:10 (NLT) – Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Although Paul wrote this in direct reference to preaching the Gospel and exactly what the Gospel is, and relating to the falling away of the church at Galatia, application can still be made to any what which Christ has called me to serve.
We lost any expressed approval/respect we may have had with at least two people dear to me the day we left for Thailand as full-time missionaries.
Then, when Dana’s as-of-yet-undiagnosed dementia took a turn for the worse this past spring, summer, and fall I also lost the expressed approval/respect of three additional people dear to me when I wouldn’t abandon and divorce Dana and pursue my own personal financial well-being.
At this time, I serve God mostly by honoring my marriage vows and serving Dana.
It strikes me odd that, when it was generally believed that Dana was mentally ill, it would have been OK to have thoughts about divorcing or abandoning my spouse, even in Christian circles. Even one person who expressed the opinion that I was acting in a crazy matter stated, “God forbid, if there really is something wrong with his (physical) brain (i.e., tumor or dementia), I’ll eat my words!” Now there’s been a diagnosis of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, a dementia that first affects a person’s ability to logically reason. But I’ve not heard one word or read one text, email, or message to that effect. I don’t even need to hear words of apology; I’d just like to see a change in attitude.
It also strikes me odd that the church cries out against divorce and for honoring marriage vows, yet many in the church approve of and may even encourage abandonment and even divorce in the case of severe illness and in the case of nearly all mental illnesses.
Here’s what I have learned over the past forty-two years of marriage: Love, marriage, and commitment is not always kittens, sunshine, and skipping through the meadow. Often it can be quite the opposite: The roaring lion – the enemy – seeking to devour, to tear apart Christian marriages, which are to represent God’s eternal covenant with the church; The valley of the shadow of death, walking through difficult, sometimes even dangerous, passages of our pilgrimages here on Earth, yet fearing no evil because God is with us; Trudging knee-deep through the mud and mire that this life sometimes is, through no fault of our own.
It is in those dark times when we are knee-deep in the messiness of this life, being attacked from every side, that true love can shine forth like a diamond: walking the path together, encouraging and strengthening and wrapping our arms around the other without condemning them in their struggle; Working out in real-time that love, that commitment, to serve the other’s need; Taking upon ourselves a portion of the heavy burden the other is carrying, the burden that is crushing them to the point of annihilation; Holding the other up when they are weary so together we can take one more step forward. It’s in these times that an example of God’s love for us can be seen and He can be glorified in our lives.
As I walk this journey of dementia with the one I love, my husband of forty-two years, I know I won’t win the approval of many people. I cannot expect that. In fact, I expect the disapproval of most, if not everyone. But that is not the calling of God on my life. The calling of God on my life right now is to honor Him, to “do” my “I do’s.”