Another Unexpected Lesson: Emotional Withdrawal

The Lord continues to teach both Linda and I lessons on this journey through cancer.  We are thankful for the many lessons we’ve learned in how to better care for people in the midst of trials.  While I think we’ve always been sensitive to others in the midst of trials, we’ve learned of some emotional and mental battles that could have only been learned in the midst of trial.

One of these realities (lessons) has come as a bit of a shock to me . . . that being the emotional self preservation you may face in the midst of trial.  After having experienced a couple unusual mental trips, I figured I better talk with Linda about where my mind was going when I had too much time to think.  I came to realize that when I had lengthy periods of time to think (ie. a car trip, etc.) my mind would wander to the worst case scenarios for her cancer.  I would begin to imagine what steps I would need to take if she died.  How would I care for the kids?  Would we move?  Could I still be a pastor?  She’s always taken care of the finances. How do I learn that before losing our home?  Am I going to raise these kids by myself?  Am I going to be alone when the kids grow up?

I didn’t like any of the answers I came up with . . . and then I realized that I shouldn’t be coming up with answers at all.  These were not questions that I should be entertaining.  This is not a reality (at least it’s not right now).  And the verse, “think on those things which are true” rushed into my head and stopped this mental trip from consuming my thoughts.

It struck me, motivated by self-preservation and fear, I could actually emotionally withdraw from the wife I so adore by preparing myself for a scenario that very well may not be true.  As I attempted to share this battle with Linda, she acknowledged a similar struggle.  Some of those scenarios had entered her mind as well.  We decided then, while there may be a day when we need to discuss some of those topics, that time was not yet upon us.  Until then we would not discuss it, and we would battle our own thoughts when tempted to think about it.

Matthew 6:34 (ESV) Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

So as an exhortation to any who may read this . . . pray specifically for the mental battles that people face in the midst of trials . . . that they will not only trust in God’s Sovereignty but as well only think on those things which are in fact reality.

4 thoughts on “Another Unexpected Lesson: Emotional Withdrawal

  1. We love you and continue to pray for you both. God will always provide for those situations, just look to him. Continue to love those around you as though it were your last day with them for only He knows what tomorrow holds.

  2. Pastor and Linda,
    Do not feel that you are the only two who have had those thoughts concerning a spouse who is watching the other spouse physical or mental condition slowly ebb away becaus of illness. Brigitte and I went through the same thing when she was on so many strong pain meds and here health deteriated slowly more and more year after year and then when I deployed for two tours to Afghanistan. We did discuss the what if and made sure the other knew all the important information in case of the inevitable. So we feel your emotions as we havae been there .

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