Saturday, February 19, 2005

Honest Struggles

I received an email last night from a reader I haven't communicated with before, she was curious about what exactly was wrong medically with Amy and mentioned her husband had a chronic illness. I gave her a brief overview of Amy's struggles (short recap- Amy had gastric bypass surgery 4 years ago to relieve a multitude of medical ills- she has had a seemingly endless string of complications/surgeries since then) and then I started to write about the loneliness of being the caregiver sometimes and offering some words of encouragement.

I really don't know if this woman feels those strains but I felt compelled to tell her about how I coped at the lowest points and how Amy and I discovered many blessings throughout this journey. I also mentioned a book I gave Amy for Christmas of old hymns and the stories behind them. It is startling to read how many of those songs which are so spiritually uplifting were written by people in the throes of the worst miseries imaginable.

Regular readers of this blog see almost daily comments from my friend Matt - who goes by Mr. J - and I have Matt on my blogroll listed cleverly as "Matt's blog" although technically the title is: "To have found God and still pursue's paradox."

Every comment "Mr. J" leaves here and around the blogosphere is upbeat, encouraging and spirit-filled, so some of you may think his life is a bed of roses.

I would encourage you to read his blog (side note to Amy, my buddy Harlan and anyone else who is blessed with the vision to have grammatical or spelling errors glare at them - put down your blue pencils when you read Matt and simply open your hearts).

His is an amazing tale of great love, great loss, great fear and abundant faith. If you think Amy and I have struggled...if you think you have struggled...I will tell you right now, Matt's story will make you feel like a least it does me.

Although I didn't seek his permission to publicize him or his story I know I'm not revealing anything here that Matt doesn't spell out in great detail on his blog. I also know he will forgive me if I've overstepped my bounds, forgiveness is simply part of his character.

Matt lost his wife more than a decade ago to AIDS. He also acquired HIV and is struggling with the disease while simultaneously trying and succeeding in being a father to 3 sons, one of whom has severe problems, to the point he has endangered Matt and the other kids.

Yet almost every day I get a comment from this man, whom I've never met, being playful, encouraging, honest and humble. It really doesn't matter what he says in those remarks because each one I read with the knowledge of what he has been through and is dealing with every day.

Matt is in the process of writing the entire story...I think he's planning four parts...part one starts here.

I can not emphasize enough how uplifting he has been to me, even in his heaviest sorrows, because his words, his actions, his life exude one thing: grace.

Thank you strengthen me...may God continue to strengthen you.