“THIS is what matters most.”
Crisis Mode. In 2005 we were diagnosed with our untreatable degenerative disease in both our boys. Crisis Mode hit and rears its ugly head without warning.
I’m remembering living in Benioff Children’s Hospital after Dave and Leanne had taken all the kids home. The doctors were working so hard to understand how critical Ian was and how to keep him alive. They were not warm and friendly. They were professionals solving a critical problem, asking hard questions about his medical history, and about heart failure. They were solemn and serious. Oh, we cried. We cried intensely. We cried quietly… but not with Ian, and not together. We never left Ian’s side. One of us always stayed with him. Which means, Randy and I did most of our crying all alone. Our child in crisis brought crisis to our marriage.
Our special category of degenerative crisis means we can be in a steady state of trauma, or have the steady threat of trauma. At first we went for counseling with our trusted friend, Dave Sasaki, to learn how to raise our kids. Micah was 2 and Ian was 4. How do we tell them? How much do we tell them? How do we prepare them? Our counselor didn’t answer any of our questions directly. He answered an even better one.
“THIS is what matters most.”
I know you can’t tell what the “THIS” is yet. Though, I’m no expert, we felt like he was. After 10 years of living this journey, taking care of “THIS” has been sage advice. If you’re uncomfortable talking about counseling, or believing in Christian counseling, that’s ok. Just come along for our ride.
After listening to our story Dave acknowledged how hard our journey was, affirmed us for being there, and then pointed at the two of us, gesturing his hand back and forth between us… “THIS. THIS is what matters most.”
NOT JUST THIS. This was a posed wedding day photo.
But THIS TOO. This is the Real Deal after degenerative disease, after heart failure, after transplant, after brain tumor, after surgery, in the midst of recovery…
THIS MARRIAGE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT tangible force and resource we have, second only to Jesus. It’s where we extend the comfort we are being comforted by Christ. Our marriage is where our relationship with Christ is lived out. Forgiveness is fleshed out. Mercy and unmerited love and respect are vital. Sacrifice and understanding are required. A child in crisis tests all these areas of marriage.
THIS MARRIAGE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT physical place of assurance that we are not alone, OR daily reminder that we are alone. No one else on earth knows and loves Ian, Micah, and Kaiya like we do. No one else on earth is as committed to them. No one else gets to see or hear them in their raw moments. No one else has laid their lives down for them as much as we have. No one else is in the middle of the crisis as we are. This could be the perfect storm for any marriage.
THIS MARRIAGE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT salient gift and support we can give to our kids. THIS Is the most tangible place they can find security when their lives are filled with uncertainty. It’s a foundation they can rely on when their physical foundation slowly weakens beneath them. When we are happy and secure, they are happy and secure. For sure they have Jesus, but we are the ones with skin on, the first, most daily Jesus they experience.
With so much riding on our marriage, working on THIS MARRIAGE is vital to our survival and theirs. I’m happy to report that someone once said,
“Every Day is Valentine’s Day for the Rogers.”
I think he was making fun of us. But the crisis has pruned us of some worldly fleeting distractions. Crisis has refined us like fire. There have been lots of tears together and alone. Valuing “THIS” in the midst of crisis, has made us more one than we were before.
I cannot say that we have been the Ken and Barbie of real intimate marriage. Ken and Barbie don’t even exist. I have failed Randy plenty. We’ve had painful Valentine’s Days too. We anticipate the losses differently. We process our losses differently. We are emotionally sensitive and complicated. He’s a grown man and I’m trying to be a grown woman. He’s Caucasian. I’m Japanese. He’s the primary provider. I’m the primary consumer. Our marriage has been tested often, not just this summer of heart failure, but anytime there’s a threat to our oneness: selfishness, busyness, in-laws, work, unrealistic expectations, finances, homeschooling, ministry, overcommitment, hurt feelings, immature coping skills, weariness…you know, a normal family anywhere.
We needed to hear Dave tell us to work on and invest in our marriage 10 years ago. We need to hear him tell us that today. Because Dave gave us permission to work on our marriage, we guarded date nights, annual getaways, marriage seminars, sharing hard feelings, and extending grace even when we didn’t understand. We went to counseling for ourselves, not just our kids. We were better equipped for the crisis of heart failure because our marriage was tended to.
We walk through this fire together. It hurts a lot, but melts us together into one masterpiece, kind of like Kaiya’s pizza.
I’m no expert, but I give everyone permission to honestly work on their marriage. Even if you’re not married, you can work on your own personal growth and oneness with Jesus. It’s not selfish. It prepares us for a lifetime of intimacy for the most important relationships in your life. Crisis and trauma will come and go, but THIS MARRIAGE can be built to last.
Make every day Valentine’s Day,
Our Favorite Resources:
Surrounding ourselves with authentic and admirable marriages. My pastor and his wife shared this message on Valentine’s Sunday. They are just one of many who have inspired and cared for us in the nitty gritty growth of marriage. They listen to our hard feelings, without judgement, without needing to fix, and with lots of grace and prayer.
Tapping into the teaching from Dr. Emmerson Eggerich was a turning point for our marriage. Mostly it was me learning the language of Respect for Randy. He’s an entertaining teacher and no story or joke is wasted! They taught us skills to dig our way out of the craziness of conflicts. We’ve read their books, been to several conferences, and highly recommend them! We even have the video series if you’d like to borrow them!
This is Dave Sasaki. He’s a wise and faithful friend. He also happens to be one of our trusted counselors. He’d be glad to help you or direct you to the place you can work on the most important THINGS in your life too.