by Jeff Barkhouse, FNP
Often hearing a patient’s story encourages and even inspires me. Our patients are often dealing with significant financial struggles as well as physical and emotional challenges that are, in many cases, far removed from my life experiences and I am amazed at their resilience, perseverance, and faith. There are also those patients whose backgrounds are much more similar to mine: same church background, same educational trajectory, same ministry career path. Such was the case with Ms. Lisa.
She came in for a check-up and renewal of her meds and we chatted briefly when we discovered our common church background and ministry career path. She had worked to put her husband through seminary and then was a pastor’s wife for a number of years as well as a mother of two girls. But as she and her husband’s life and ministry progressed the normal strain of family and ministry began to expose the underlying mental health struggles in her husband that he had managed, until now, to keep in check.
First there was a change in churches to correct the problem but his manic behavior became untenable and he lost that ministry position as well. Ms. Lisa went from being a pastor’s wife and mother to being a wife and mother working to provide for her family while battling a mental illness that threatened to destroy her family’s stability. When the ravages of the mental illness became too great she was forced to separate from her husband in order to provide stability for her daughters. The couple re-united after a few years in an effort to reconcile and try again, only to find that her husband was unable to consistently live with his mental health issues in check. To her great disappointment and after twenty plus years of trying, Ms. Lisa was forced to separate permanently from her husband to try to establish a stable life for her and her daughters.
Once her daughters married and left home Ms. Lisa realized she had to forge a new life for herself. So in her forties Ms. Lisa, who had never been able to develop long-term marketable job skills because she was always working whatever jobs she could find while caring for her family, determined to go back to school to train for a job that would allow her to earn an income as well as visit her daughters regularly. The girls had married soldiers, were following the Lord, and were spread around the country so what more practical profession for a woman in her upper forties to master than that of a long-haul, big-rig, truck driver? She was actually squeezing this visit to MercyMed in between runs before she headed out west to do a job and visit one of her daughters the next day.
I was thrilled to hear the stories of this new Grandmother and truck-driver navigating unfamiliar city streets behind the wheel of a big rig as she obediently and joyfully pursued this next phase of her life. I am amazed at her resilience and at her determination despite significant setbacks. I am encouraged to follow the Lord more closely after having the privilege of hearing her story. This wonderful Christian woman is continuing to fight the good fight in spite of significant disappointments in her life.
Lord allow me to do likewise.