Read Part One of this Series:
As Luke and I sat in the hospital room waiting for the doctor, Luke looked to me to keep him calm. As we waited, his eyesight was becoming worse and worse. Several months earlier, Luke had begun a new tech job that required him to use the computer almost constantly. He had been training non-stop, and was just about to take on his first client.
How will Luke work without his eyesight? How will we survive? As a writer and minister, I don’t exactly make a sizable income. What if I have to take care of Luke? What if I have to provide? The questions were endless and my own fears were surfacing, but God was calling me to rise above my fears, for the sake of Luke’s peace.
“Everything is going to be OK,” I said to Luke. In my head though, I wondered, what if Luke dies before I do? How will I survive? Will I have to move back in with my parents? Who will take care of me? Will I remarry? How will my heart go on after I lose the love of my life?
As a feminist writer, I saw the answers clearly: If Luke dies before I do, I will survive on my own and I will take care of myself. I may remarry if I find love again, but not because I need someone to provide for me. My heart will be broken, but God will repair it and I will be OK. Everything will be OK, Jory.
But did I actually believe my clear feminist answers? Yes, I did, but not without serious doubts and fears.
“I will make sure we do not leave this hospital without the proper medication and education,” I told Luke. I was ready to dig my heels into the ground if need be, and give those doctors a piece of my mind if they did not do their job properly. We were not going anywhere without the tools we needed to get Luke back on track.
We saw a couple of different doctors who were not diabetes specialists, and only halfway knew what they were talking about. Thankfully, the doctors knew their expertise was limited, and asked that a diabetes educator come talk to Luke and me. She made her recommendations to the doctor:
Luke is to take insulin shots four times a day, and test his blood sugar levels at least four times a day. He is also to avoid large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. Luke will need to do this for the rest of his life, or he will begin to lose limbs, his eyesight, and eventually his life.
Luke was informed that the insulin would make his eyesight worse, before it would become better. I drove us home, and Luke began to panic over his job the moment we walked into our home. He was about to take on his very first client the following day, but he could barely see the computer. Further, he was still not thinking reasonably, and he was quite emotional. Yet, Luke being Luke, he was determined to do his job anyway.
I normally let Luke do what he wants to do when it comes to his work, but this time I had to protest. “Luke, you need to listen to me this time. You need to tell your boss what is going on and that you cannot take on this new client tomorrow.”
Luke was afraid to tell his boss the truth. What if his “big-time” boss didn’t understand diabetes? What if he didn’t care to understand? What if Luke loses his job? Luke had PANIC written all over his face, so, again, I needed to think like Luke’s co-executive.
I needed to rise up and be a leader. I am an ezer, I can do this, I told myself.
I said, “Luke, what is the worst thing that can happen? So what if you lose your job; we will be fine. We have been through job losses before, and we got through it. We will be fine. I will stay and love you even if you never can provide for me again.” He heard me and agreed that his boss should be informed, but asked that I call his boss for him. He was beyond nervous to hear his boss’s response, as his high blood sugar continued to affect both his mind and emotions.
“Yes, I will call your boss for you,” I said. I was slightly nervous myself, but I had to rise above my nerves. I had to be Luke’s voice, when he could not speak. As scripture teaches, we are one flesh. My voice is his voice and his voice is my voice.
“Hello,” Luke’s boss answered.
“Hi there. This is Luke Peterson’s wife. I am so sorry, but Luke cannot take on the new client tomorrow. He has just been diagnosed with diabetes type one, and is losing his eyesight as we speak. He is also not quite right in his mind and emotions, and it will take a few weeks to get his blood sugar under control.”
As I waited for a stern, “big-time-boss-answer,” he surprised me with a gentle and caring response. “You tell Luke to take as much time as he needs to recover. I will cancel his new client appointment. Tell him to let me know when he is ready to come back to work.”
Wow, that went much better than I expected. Look at me, calling a big-time boss and letting him know what’s up. No one can deny my “c0-executive” skills. Feeling proud, I told Luke, “All is well, babe. Your boss said to take all the time you need to recover.” Of course, Luke felt he would get over all this and be back to work in a week.
I told him that he was wrong, and it would take longer than a week to recover, but he didn’t listen.
Throughout the next several days, Luke began to go blind, as he began to take insulin. He could see shapes and silhouettes, but no details. “I cannot see” became the three most frightening words of our married life. I had to do everything – drive, cook, clean, and keep both of us calm. “You will get your eyes back, Luke; it’s just going to take some time.”
Luke lost his eyesight for about a month; the poor man could not even read or watch TV, so he simply listened to the TV. At one point, I had to enter in Luke’s sick day for work, as he directed me.
I continuously sensed God’s grace throughout the whole process. You will be Luke’s eyes when he cannot see. A “head” must listen to a “body,” or both the head and body will break down.
I began to think about my own health problems through the years. Has my mind been overpowering my body? Have I been ignoring my body’s signals? Have I been too inside my head to hear the cries of my body? The answer was a clear yes.
My mind has not listened to or submitted to my body, and in many cases, I have felt as if both my mind and body were breaking down. The body has much to say, but she often says it through signals or quietly. The body is longsuffering, and will often take abuse for a long time, until she cannot take it any longer.
No doubt, we are living in a man’s world. Men have been in charge of the home, the Church, and society in general, since Adam & Eve fell in the Garden. We have empowered men to lead, because they are big, strong, and make us feel safe and secure. But does it really make sense for the Church to continue to empower the already more powerful and to dis-empower the already more vulnerable?
Have we reached a point in the Church, home, and world, in which women have had enough of being ignored, silenced, and abused?
Are the majority of men really loving as Christ loved the Church? If men love women, why do so many refuse to share their pulpit and elder tables with women? Why do they interpret the Bible in such a way as to exclude women and to ignore women’s obvious leadership & teaching gifts? Are they using the Bible as a convenient excuse to never have to listen to women?
If men love women, why do they continue to shame female victims of abuse, while offering quick forgiveness to their male abusers? If men love women, why do they continuously overpower women’s voices and bodies? As I watched my husband lose control of his body, I could not help but think about my life work advocating for women to be considered equals to men.
A head does not get to be in charge of a body. A body has a will of its own, and will not submit to a head that does not mutually submit to it.
My husband and I were created by God to be partners, to work together. I am not his assistant. I am his ezer, and I was not put on this earth to serve men. I was put on this earth to serve God and partner with men. Yet, there are so few men willing to partner with women in the Church & home, which has caused, and continues to cause, the entire body of Christ to break down.
Men and women are meant to operate in unity, but a body cannot continue to cooperate with a head that refuses to listen to its cries for freedom and equality.
Luke eventually recovered his eyesight and went back to work. He now lives with diabetes, and so do I. I have realized that if he falls, I fall, and if he rises, I rise. The same goes for him. We fall and rise together.
Luke leads me and I lead him. My voice is just as valuable and authoritative as his voice, because we have just one voice. My directions are just as valuable and authoritative as his, because we have just one direction. My dreams and goals are just as valuable as his, because they are our dreams and goals. I am Luke’s complete equal, and he is learning to listen to me and never overpower me, even though he easily could. I am learning to rise up, and be the ezer God has called me to be.
“Woman’s cause is man’s. They rise or fall together”
Jory is writing her first book. This story will be included in much greater detail in her book.