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I think there is more than one way to look at this tried and true marriage vow.  We all know the usual way, that we will continue to love and be faithful in spite of our spouse’s illness.  It’s commendable.  It’s decent.  It’s expected.

But what if I’m the one who’s sick?  I think I should be able to expect certain things of my spouse, if not practically everyone around me.  I’m sick, after all.  I deserve pity and pampering.  I should be able to be grouchy or feel sorry for myself and not have to think about anyone else.  My illness is about me, not them.

And here’s the point:  I – ME – I am to love, in sickness and in health, even if I’m the one who is sick!  This is revolutionary.  This changes everything.

I’m not advocating a life of pretending.  I’m not asking anyone to downplay their pain, or to hide their needs.  What I’m calling for is thoughtfulness of those around you.  Yes, I’m expanding this beyond marriage.  Why not extend this to our children, our parents, our friends and neighbors as well?

If I am sick (and I have been very sick), I can still bless others.  I can ask about their day, I can write notes of encouragement, I can pray for them, I can still be useful, and I can probably still be cheerful.

There’s something that happens when we do this:  we feel better.  There’s something about dwelling on our problems that makes them worse.  There’s something about focusing on others that helps us forget our woes for a bit.

Try it next time you find yourself “in sickness.”  After all, if you’re married, you promised!

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