in sickness and in health

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Joseph was sick this week. Like, really sick. (If you’re new here, Joseph has Sickle Cell — you can read more about what that chronic disease means for him here.) Usually, he’s pretty healthy, but his week meant: Stays in two different hospitals, his first blood transfusion, lots of pricks and pokes, IVs, shots, antibiotics — the works. To say my heart felt ripped into a million pieces as I watched my little boy hurt would be an understatement.

When you’re the parent of a little one with a chronic illness, something bubbles below the surface of exhaustion and fear and frustration. It’s your family. It’s your marriage. We’re learning that you have to make an effort to grab hands and face life’s hurdles together, especially when your world feels like it’s spinning out of control.

The hospital Joseph was admitted to is more than an hour from home, and I’m incredibly thankful that our nurse offered me and Asher (our 9-month-old) a room at the Ronald McDonald house so we could be close to Joseph while Jonny (my husband) stayed in Joseph’s room. Last night, Jonny hammered out some honest thoughts on marriage vows and what it means to commit to partnering with each other in sickness and in health.

in sickness and in health marriage graphic

Here are his words: “In sickness and in health.” These are standard lines in most wedding vows, words that are meant to convey the unending and caveat-free nature of two people’s love for each other. Generally, we understand these words as relating to the sickness or health of the two people making the vows. Generally, we don’t think much about these words at all.

I’m typing this in a hospital room. My third night in a hospital room in five days. Kayla wishes that she could be in this room, too. Two years ago when Joseph got sick, she was. A mother’s heart is always with her sick child, and her body wants to be with him, too.

Yesterday was a tough day. No parent wants to see their child sick, and with sickle cell magnifying every ache, every fever and every concern, the tension was high. I thank God for hospitals, but they’re no place for a family of four. Eventually, I boiled over. I snapped and yelled and said the type of things that are always immediately regretted. I bent and bent and eventually broke. I’m not writing this as penance. I apologized, she forgave, all is well. I’m not writing this to win points for being “real.” Anyone who knows me can tell you that, if anything, I could stand to dial the “real” back a bit. I’m writing this because I realized something and I think it’s important: the vows we take mean somethingThey are not just words of good intent. They are guideposts for our future.

Our family has been put together by God. There are too many variables, too many obstacles, too many pieces that have been put into place for me to come to any other conclusions. And even though I didn’t know it when I said the words, I committed to love and stand by Kayla in the sickness or health, not just of each other, but of our entire family that God would build.

It is one of the hardest things to watch your child suffer. Unfortunately, that difficulty sometimes manifests itself in tension with one another. That’s when I need my reminder, that God knew more than I did when this whole thing got started, and that I’m so blessed to be committed to her, in sickness and in health.

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About Kayla

I'm a full-time journalist turned work-at-home writer. I'm hitched to a shaggy-haired pastor and we're smitten with two wild + crazy boys: Joseph (3), who joined our family via international adoption, and Asher (1), who came the old-fashioned way. I drink strong coffee, I like pretty things, and I believe there's beauty in the broken. I hope Many Sparrows will encourage you to find worth and live a story worth sharing. When I’m not changing diapers and sweeping Cheerios, I’m tickling the ivory keys of my old school MacBook as a freelance writer and editor. And when I’m not doing that, I’m sneaking into the living room in the wee hours of the night to blog about all of the things. (Primarily faith, family, style, adoption, design, and happy thoughts.)
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4 Responses to in sickness and in health

  1. Typhanie M. says:

    Thank you, Johnny and Kayla. True feelings faced with His Truth must submit to His power. The trials and challenge reveal the things/thoughts/feelings in us that must submit. Control. Anger. Fear. They fall below His name. His power in us to keep our covenants to our spouse. I have been blessed by your honesty; not “realness”…darkness brought to the Light. Grace and Peace.

  2. Madison says:

    Thank you both for sharing such great wisdom and perspective on marriage. It’s refreshing to hear people talk about marriage and life this way because it’s real. I’m so encouraged by both of you and am thinking of and praying for Joseph!

  3. Meg says:

    Man. That’s awesome. It’s so hard in tough times, and I think our sinful selves tend to take out our frustrations on our spouses, when we forget that God placed us together to get us THROUGH the tough times. Thanks for sharing this reminder! And praying that you guys feel some healing, peace, and rest!

  4. Pingback: Kristyl J. L. Smith's moving poem about sickle cell | Many Sparrows

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