I walked into my father’s hospital room and found him in a full-blown panic—my father, who always has been so capable, the epitome of the in-control, successful businessman. He stood frozen and overwhelmed with the reality of his cancer diagnosis. He craved comfort and something to numb the physical and emotional pain. He asked me to hold him. “I want to die with dignity and I want to be strong and courageous,” he said.
I had never seen my dad like this. In the days that followed, we had many sweet conversations about life and God, conversations that shed a whole new light on my dad. I got to see him so differently. But, he wasn’t the only one who surprised me.
The days turned into weeks and now my dad has been living with us for months. I haven’t spent time with him like this in decades. But even more than my dad, this new situation has caused me to see my husband, Mark, in a new light.
Mark has had an even greater impact on my dad since the day he left the hospital and came to live with us. Mark and my dad haven’t always been close, so their new bond surprised me. And my eyes have been opened for the first time to qualities about my husband that I am really thankful for.
Life can be hard. There are so many trials we experience within the family. But these hardships are also opportunities to see the ones we love in a new way, to suffer and grow together. From watching Mark interact with my father, I have learned that:
Mark is a strong leader and can lead in a way that I can’t.
My dad loves me, of course, but I can tell he reacts differently to Mark. Mark has been so much more successful than I have at coaching my dad to stay motivated to fight. Mark has this great instinct for knowing when to be firm and when to joke. And my dad responds.
Mark senses when I need him to help.
It has been years since our kids were at really physically demanding ages. With my dad living with us and full-time jobs, we are in a physically demanding stage again. I had forgotten what a great teammate Mark is, how good he is at the baton pass in this life relay. If I am making dinner, he takes my dad for a walk. If he sees I am tired, he takes the night shift.
Mark really cares for others.
It’s so touching to see Mark really care for my dad. Mark is very much the kind of man, like Jesus, who weeps with people in their time of need. To see him show that kind of compassion and empathy to my dad has made me realize, even more, what a good man Mark is.
The hardest part about seeing people we love in a new light is that we think we know them. Time tells us that we have them all summed up and in a box. But life shifts and opportunities arise for us to see more of the good in them. And we will, if our eyes are opened and our hearts are willing to receive what we see and appreciate it. But we must choose to see someone in a new light. And it’s harder the longer we have known someone.
I am praying we all make that choice—to see people in a new light every day.
The hardest part about seeing people we love in a new light is that we think we know them.
What life experience has helped you to see your husband or other loved one in a new light?