When Your Own Husband Is One of the Most Inspiring People You Know
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… Hebrews 10:24/ESV
When I first met my husband, I was 21, he was 23. I was about to graduate from college. He was a young father whose relationship had ended in dashed hopes and dreams. And his father died of alcohol abuse just a few months later.
Chris was in pain when I met him. He was sad and disappointed. Life had thrown some harsh blows.
But Chris was determined.
He had already applied and been accepted to a prestigious Poets in the School program. Now he had a new vision and a new hope. He would apply to Columbia University’s Master of Fine Arts program, one of the finest in the country. He wasn’t afraid of hard work—balancing a job, dedicating plenty of time to his two year old, and going to school full time.
So in addition to thinking he was absolutely adorable, sweet, kind, and bright, I was inspired by Chris’ willingness to forge ahead, his loyalty to and love for his daughter, his faithfulness, his unstoppable-ness at such a young age. Chris was very different, very mature compared to most of the guys I knew.
Just because Chris had dealt with a lot of difficulty already, didn’t mean we’d be spared from more challenges and even tragedies that lay ahead.
When I was five months pregnant with twins, we lost our babies. Oh this was as devastating a loss as we could imagine at the time. And it was definitely a “we” experience. Though Chris had not felt the kicks, the rumbles, the blossoming lives inside as only a mother can, he walked every step of grief with me. He didn’t push me along, ask me to get over it, expect me to shake this off. No…he cried with me, held me, drew nearer to me, and inspired me to try again.
Fear and anxiety gripped us both when we found out we were pregnant. Would we have a baby this time?
Chris worked hard all day, then came home and worked late into the night preparing our nest with a new kitchen and bathroom. Since my pregnancy was considered high-risk, I was no help at all. In the midst of mounting stress, it would’ve been easy to justify an occasional drink. Instead Chris gave up alcohol completely…never to have a drink again, before temptation set in, before a problem could arise. Chris’ proactivity was inspiring.
We had our first little girl…Chris’ daughter moved in at 12…and our second baby was born one-and-a-half months later. Feeling a little, actually a lot over my head with a tweenager, two babies, and a little two-bedroom city row house bursting at the seams, Chris remained steady, calm, hopeful, and faithful that we would be okay. In fact, he even managed to get a new job!
We moved to the burbs, put down new roots, and things seemed to be settling down…
Then on a brilliant blue-skied June morning, Chris, standing on the corner waiting for his commuter bus, was struck by a van. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, requiring open-head emergency surgery. For three days, his body was suspended between life and death. When we knew he would make it, there remained many unanswered questions.
Would he ever walk? Talk? Speak? Work? again?
Would he ever know us, his wife, family, friends? Would he make progress? Slow? Fast? Would he be wheelchair-bound? Need constant care and assistance or become independent again?
There were no concrete answers. Head injuries are a tricky and unpredictable thing.
But even before he could speak, dress himself, walk…Chris began the long road of recovery with his characteristic stubborn resolve. This, even this, could not stop him!
For months, Chris poured every ounce of energy into relearning all he had lost. He spent most of his days with physical, occupational, educational, and speech therapists (and yes, they too were inspiring). He poured over his journals, where he had recorded most of his life. There were endless and exhausting frustrations, frequent setbacks, the depressing end of his marketing career.
But here’s something inspiring…
Chris, now almost 20 years after being hit by that van, is on the brink of getting his Educational Doctorate. This has been no easy endeavor. Chris did not wake up one day and gain all he had lost. No he’s traveled this road of twists and turns, slippery patches and potholes, one step, sometimes one grueling step at a time. Oh he’s had an ardent companion, an undying advocate…God Himself has most certainly paved this road with miracles. But Chris has fully used the gifts he’s been given.
So when I wonder if, or how, or when, I am inspired by the example of hard work and hope, of a never-give-up kind of guy.
Thank you, Dr. Parker!