God Knows About Sacrifice

Lynne Scott - Alger, Ohio
Entered on July 14, 2005
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: love
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At age twenty-five, I said, “I do” to the vow of “in sickness and in health.” I remember looking at my soon-to-be-husband, Darren, and thinking, “no problem.” He had been a national champion wrestler in college and still was in prime athletic form. When he carried me over the threshold on our honeymoon, I had no idea that in twelve years, I’d be carrying him on my back up the stairs of our home.

One year after our wedding, Darren experienced massive leg cramps. Two years later, the ailment had a name: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig’s disease. There is no cure and no treatment. By the time Darren was diagnosed, he had already lived the average time that most people with ALS survive before they die. He lived ten years more before the disease literally took his breath away.

Unlike most ALS cases, Darren’s was genetic, so we decided to not have children. At one point, a close family member suggested I leave him and find a healthy husband with whom to make a family.

How could I have left this man who charmed me with his corny jokes, great storytelling, and incomprehensibly bad taste in music? He took to heart the advice of an older friend, “There are two steps in marriage: step one, find out what Lynne wants, and step two, go get it for her.” He gave me something no friend or family member can, and what I miss the most: cherishing.

I admit there were times I wanted to run away. Sometimes I felt trapped fixing his meals, keeping the house to his cleaner-than-my standards, and providing the majority of our income. I remember the day I wanted to drive headlong into an oncoming truck.

My husband couldn’t run away from his body. He couldn’t drive to find a truck’s path. I stayed with Darren. We had made vows to each other before God. And we loved each other until death parted us one night as I was reading him to sleep.

During Darren’s slow decline, we both questioned why, why us? At one point, I mentally grabbed God by the lapels and demanded an answer. I did not get an explanation. However, I got something more important. I realized that God had kept his vow to us: “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Before Darren’s illness, I knew a lot of words about God. After my questioning, I finally understood the words and believed them. God is love, and love keeps promises. Love endures even the worst pains of life. It’s too easy to abandon those in need. Deep sacrifices of unconditional love are the bedrock of human life. I’ve come to believe that through such love we can sacrifice everything, even life itself. And when I see the cross, it reminds me that God knows about sacrifice.

Keeping my vows to Darren was not heroic. Even as the disease ate away his physical body, his inner strength, faith, and humor shone brighter. Our years together, even the final painful days, weren’t so much a sacrifice as much as they were the very proof of love’s persistence. If I had abandoned Darren, I would have missed out on what death could not take from us. After all, love endures forever.

Lynne Scott is a writer and operates a dog-boarding kennel in Alger, Ohio. She is the author of Dingo Devotionals: Learning to Heel, as well as two screenplays. Ms. Scott is currently at work on a novel.