Monday, September 7, 2015

Not If, But When

Conversations about death are not uncommon between Chris and I. I don't know if we are unusual or not but it's a subject we often discuss.

As humans living in a fallen world, we all carry the knowledge somewhere in our subconcious that those we love will possibly one day be taken from us. Some of us keep the knowledge well hidden. Most of the time we refuse to acknowledge it's presence at all; as if pretending it isn't there will dispell the truth of it somehow.

As a wife, the idea of my husband being taken away is something I particularly struggle with. Most of the time the knowledge of it lies well hidden beneath the daily activities of life but at times the truth of it stares me hard in the face. One such time comes to mind. We had been living in Ohio less than a year when we received news of the death of Chris' cousin's husband. They were a young couple and the news was especially shocking. Fear washed over me in waves. Having just come through a year of more loss than I had ever dealt with before - leaving my family, my church, my house, my home state, and with no house to call our own... suddenly anything seemed, not only possible, but likely!

Fear can nearly drive one wild if you let it: What would I do without my husband to support us? Where would I go? How would I pay the bills? How could I possibly live without his wisdom and love in my life? What would become of my children? And on and on. Time and again I have had to open my fearfully clutching fists, and give my loved ones back to my Father to do with as He sees best.

I nearly deleted this post after starting it. While I'm not superstitous, it feels rather scary to write about death and fear. Just suppose my writing this is like all those story books with the lines, "Little did she know what the future held....."? There's this little part of me that doesn't want to say these things for fear the Lord might decide to see if I really mean what I say.

But I think it needs to be said. It bothers me when I read/hear about people who have cancer or other life-threatening situations and all you seem to hear is them doggedly holding onto hope; trying every possible treatment to stay alive and seeming to completely deny the fact that quite possibly the time is coming to say good-bye. Let me quickly say, I often don't know all the details AND, I realize that I do.not. know what I would do were I actually in those shoes.

In one of our recent conversations about death, Chris said to me, "The fact is, as a married couple, one of us is going to die first. The majority of us most likely won't see our children die but for you and I, it's not IF one of us is going to be left without the other, it's WHEN."

Of course I told him in no uncertain terms that it had better be me first, not him! In all seriousness though, I think I've lived my life just a bit differently ever since he said that. There is something freeing about looking that fear in the face and acknowledging that it is not IF, but WHEN, and setting out to make every minute count before that 'when' comes. Because it is coming, like it or not.

By God's grace, instead of the reality of death driving me wild with fear, I want it to cause me to look at my loved ones with new eyes. May it spur me to say the I love yous and write the notes and make the good memories and say the kind words in the short time I have with these people. Because, while I am in this fallen world, it is not IF I will need to say good-bye, but WHEN.


Gina said...

This is so good. Since Ed's brother-in-law's death, we've talked more (not a lot) about death. I do think they are important discussions to have.

This past week I heard a powerful message where the minister shared the journey with cancer that took his wife's life last year. He said that every single one of us in the audience will face death, if not now, then in the future. If not ourselves, then someone we love. Because that is life on this earth until Jesus comes back. I think it is good and right to talk about the end of life so that we can see it as not something to be feared (of course it is normal to avoid death, if possible) but to rejoice in Christ's ultimate victory of death.

Thanks for sharing on an important topic.

Shannon said...

Oh I think things like this too but I don't often tell people because I always wonder if I'm a bit strange to be thinking it. :) You have some good thoughts here.

Betsy said...

My husband and I have been married 37 years this past week and we have had this conversation numerous times in the years gone by. My response has always been the same as yours, I better go first. And this this summer, my heart stopped. I was in the doctors office when it happened, and I'm now the recipient of a brand new pacemaker at the age of 55, (which doesn't sound old to me at all.) It has caused us to talk about the fact that we're getting older, not old quite yet, but older. None of our children live close to us. We're in Washington state, we have a daughter in Washington D.C., a son in Japan and a son in Montana. What will we do if we can't care for ourselves? Questions that will need answered at some point but we try not to dwell on them. Jesus knows our needs and the Father knows the number of our days. He will provided. Thank you for this post, it was quite timely in my life.

Bethany Eicher said...

I do think there is something about having honest conversations about death that takes some of the fear out of the subject. I always have to remind myself that God doesn't give grace for the things that might happen. He gives grace for the moment. And it's always enough!

Bethany Eicher said...

I guess we can be strange together ;)

Bethany Eicher said...

It is hard to know how to answer some of those questions andd make those decisions sometimes! I am so thankful that God gives grace moment by moment. Your trust in His abilitly to provide is a blessing to me!