Monday, November 24, 2008

Who To Listen To?

A few years ago, I got suddenly very sick while in a country whose medical care is questionable at best. I also did this feat while 99% of the missionary community (which was minuscule to start off with at that time) was out of the city. My husband rushed me to the hospital, where I fought to stay conscious enough to at least keep an eye on my medical care. Thankfully, the care was half-way decent, and I managed to stay halfway conscious. Two halves make a whole, don't they?

(If you are a nurse, and only if you are a nurse, I would tell you what made me sick... If you're not, trust me, you don't want to know!)

I found it exhausting, though. Trying to be alert and think when I was so weak. I wanted so badly to be able to close my eyes and drift off. Had either of the two missionary nurses or even the former lab tech been in town, I would have. But I could never rest.

I was given medication in my IV that caused a major allergic reaction... no one knew what it was or what to do about it, and no one was ever able to tell me what it was they put in that IV. Thankfully, my husband reacted without pausing to question when I said, "Stop that IV now!" A nurse tried to give me laxatives when I had the runs.... Several times, I had to send a nurse back to find out what a medication was. Simply saying, "Here swallow these pills. I don't know what they are, but the doctor would like you to take them." didn't cut it with me. (I know, nurses are horrible patients! - But when your nurse may have passed a test at school, or her uncle may have simply paid enough money for her to get a good mark, it is a little scary!

It was exhausting. I remember that.

I feel a little like that now. I feel like I can't close my eyes and rest.

My husband is pushing to come home right now. He arrives back in town tonight. He is learning good things and I am hearing good verbal progress. My thoughts on it are... sounds pretty good, but I'd like a day or two to meet face to face with him and see and hear directly from him. A few days to talk it over and talk about and agree with our next steps and actions.

He wasn't too happy with that answer, and kept pushing which was hard on me. But he said he was ok with it. I just want to talk first a few times. Make sure there are no red flags. Make sure we can handle a face to face conversation.

Then, my "here" pastor talked to me about it. He thinks differently. He does not even want to think about him coming back home. His comment was that "even if you both were wanting that, I would advise against it". He says he thinks we are looking at two months or so of slowly working on issues and all. "You have 13 years of pain behind you, so I don't want to go too fast."

Ok, true.... our marriage has created some pain, some of it pretty bad... But it has also been 13 years of "I love this guy, yeah we struggle often, but I love him, too".

I just don't know. I feel like I can't close my eyes and rest and know I am cared for. I have to keep watching.

It would be one thing if he had said, "well, when he gets home, we will evaluate and see how things are and discuss it then." But to say, "no, not thinking about it for two months."?! I am not a real big push-over anymore. Used to be, maybe. Not now. I don't think I am willing to give this decision over into someone else's hands, especially if I don't get the feeling that he is listening. I'd like advise, I'd like input, I'd like wisdom, but I am not giving over the decision to someone else. It is also my (or our)decision.

Another problem I can see coming up is what we believe. Hard to explain this one... I am a MK. My husband also grew up on the field, so we are both influenced by a wider spectrum of beliefs than one in one church in the US might be. I tend to be a good mix of conservative - partly because I am quiet and shy (well, maybe used to be?)and I like solid teaching - and not so conservative - because I find some life missing in straight conservative places... not the "life" like dancing and clapping, although I enjoy good worship times and miss that.... but life, like this is real life, this is God involved in our lives, like let's not put God in a box of what we think and only what we've seen...

We chose this church because it has some really good things in it, and are reasonably happy in it. I think, after being in a mixed group of believers on the field, it is hard to totally fit into one group and be totally happy. But, I know my husband has been learning about generational sins and praying for freedom for those - what I consider fairly solid teaching and no where near anything strange... but I've seen this "here" pastor react to things like that in horror. (Our home pastor would be fine with it, much more balanced.) "Here" Pastor is more on the line of "if you read your Bible and pray and try hard, you have strength and energy". It is almost like any discussion about the Spirit of God is not really allowed in the church. Oh, yeah, on paper, they believe the right things... but... in belief... I just don't know.

For example... talking one day about miracles and dreams and all in Sunday school... the general consensus was that God might do miracles (specifically healing), but they really hadn't heard of them and it would be hard to scientifically verify them. And pretty sure God doesn't often use dreams in today's world.... I sat there stunned... thinking... ya'll sure ain't been on the mission field! I believe firmly in dreams. God talked to me in a dream - way before I was old enough to "make it up". I don't believe that every dream that people say they have is from God..... but this is really a whole nother topic, isn't it? (would be interested in a conversation about how what we believe has changed on the field in contact with others and in seeing a bigger world than our little home church and town... ok, I never had one, but still.)

I just find myself, over the last few years, growing differently. A longing in me for more than dryness and right doctrine. Yet, I still highly value right doctrine, and I struggle with people who believe something only because they "feel" it. I don't know... perhaps I am a strictly conservative charismatic! :) I am just a mix, that is all... an MK, thoroughly happy to take from different cultures to be me and to realize that there is not one culture which "has it all". It is the same with churches, too.

I just worry how that is going to affect our working with our pastor.

Struggling here today. My husband comes home tonight, and I don't know what I want to say... knowing that what he wants is one thing, what I do is another, and what our "here" pastor wants is totally another. I want to ask for input, for guidance here.... yet who do I even ask? It is not a majority opinion poll, but how do I get godly guidance on this?

I might phone up my "home" pastor. There are two women who will also likely get a phone call today. Those of you who have been through this with me, feel free to tell me your opinion, too.

I feel like I am having a hard time focusing on the issues since I have to keep focusing on the how to get to the issues.

Perhaps there is good advice out there, but it requires digging for, not sitting and hoping to have it served to me on a platter....?

Ah, but I'd like it served up. One order of solid advice to go.

You have to read the signs in the window. I worked hard on them!

I've been doing some reading, and learning some things. I'll write more about that later on.


Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

Listen to your heart. Listen to God. Listen to the words of the bible. Seriously though - you know what is best for you and your family. I LOVE your nurse analogy and would love to hear the whole story!

Becky Aguirre said...

Love the signs in the window! That's cool. :) Gave me a good it's God's drive-through window...

Seriously, I wish it were that simple! Why does life have to be so complicated?! I don't know as how I feel qualified to give much advice here...I do know that God is the source of all wisdom and He gives when we ask. And I think He will put in your heart what you should do and when.

If it helps any, it sounds like you have a pretty good plan doesn't sound unreasonable or impulsive and would give you a little time to continue evaluating the situation.

junglewife said...

Good job on the signs! Ha ha =)

I don't think you need to agree with your pastor on everything. You can go to a church and not be 100% with everything. With that said, however, when you are going through rough times, and needing solid counsel, you really need someone who is on the same page that you are. Especially when you and your husband are both not agreeing with the pastor's take on things. You don't want to rush your husband home prematurely, but at the same time he IS your husband, and I can tell that you love and miss him! You need a counselor/pastor who will realistically assess the situation, both the good and bad things, and come up with a good game plan. It is something that needs to be constantly evaluated, not "when hubby achieves this point, he will be 100% ready to come home." I am sure that there will be change/growth on so many levels, so it's hard to make one benchmark like it seems your pastor is doing - "we'll discuss it in 2 months..." Sorry, I feel like I'm rambling, I hope some of this makes sense!!!

YOU need to be able to rest in the reassurance that you are being taken care of, NOT the one having to assess and monitor and take care of everything, especially since you are the "patient" - good job with the illustration! I don't know if you are in a position where you can actively seek out another counselor, but that might be the best for you...

Ellie said...

I am in a place where I can seek other counselors... but it is a balancing act... how to do it without disrespect, without being accused of not being submissive, without hurting feelings... this church is also one of our supporting churches and we love people in it... the delicate balancing act. My husband says, "Give the guy a decent chance first", but he also says, "I feel like I can't open my mouth or I will be judged." Hmmm... not wanting to waste time, either, just to "see if we can work with him, either".

Keep praying. I just feel like I've lost my one security - my husband, even though he has been painful to me recently - and haven't gained any other security, and feel tired. Just tired.

Cindy said...

Thanks Ellie...

Remember your security in God your Father. He is your Rock to stand on firmly. He is not a God of confusion. That helped me so much last year. He will make the way clear to both you and your husband. It may take more time then you would like. It was a year ago this week that we were dealing with our family 'situation', and God is just now beginning to reveal things to us.

Praying for you my friend...

Maridee said...

Dear Ellie,

I count it a privilege to join you in prayer for this situation. I love it when we can see God place His gentle molding Hands on the impossible and make it new and whole again. Thanks for your candidness.

I agree with Cindy that God will show you. If you do not see the next step, I agree with our sister in the jungle, maybe you need to pause until it is clear. It took you 13 years to get you to this point. If it takes a pause or two until you are sure or a retreat or two if you have moved ahead too fast, then go for it. This is too huge to rush and there are 6 lives at stake. What ever you invest in your marriage now will pay multitudinous dividends in the future in your lives and all you touch.

Look at all God has done in both your heart and your husband's heart in this short time. I am new to your blog and I am blown away by some of the heart changes you have recorded in just the past weeks. Not long ago you were suffering alone, timid to let the "cat out of the bag". Now so many things are coming into the light and healing can begin to take place. As with the terrible pain of your abuse, you well know, healing comes in layers and waves... over time. This is God's way of cleaning way down deep. May God give you clarity in the backward look... to see how far you have come. May it give you courage for what is yet to come. God is at work and in Him there is no darkness at all. This is another aspect of His work of redemption.

Also, you never know who is watching to see if God can really heal a marriage in pain. You just might give them the courage to pursue healing as well. Hallelujah!!

Do not let the doctrinal issues presented reflected in your "here" pastor distract you. You may never find anyone but God who truly understands, but God can use him. If you feel condemned, gently tell him so. If it continues, graciously ask to find another. Just do not get distracted by peripheral issues. We missionaries are often ruined theologically to ever really fit into the neat mold of our home churches. That is OK, we will fit in heaven... all of us... hallelujah!!!

Great future topic... how the field explodes your theology. Another one would be a discussion on all the ways we "grin and stuff it" in the face of fearing what our supporters might say or do. Meet you here for that one.

Love and prayers, Maridee

Ellie said...

Maridee - when are you going to start posting at your own blog? Or is there some technical glitch not letting me see it?