On the Side: October 2021
By Their Side
by Shelly Wyrick
I recently found a love note from a young wife to her medical student spouse. I’ll warn you; it’s mushy with ignorant glee. See for yourself:
“I love you. I’d love you the same if you were a park ranger. I’d love you the same if we had nothing because even then, we would have each other and God’s blessing and love for our marriage. We are so richly blessed by agape love. Everything else is details—icing on the cake. The way you’ve used the intelligence God blessed you with over the past two years of medical school is astounding. Today you are crossing into unknown territory. I feel so privileged to be sharing the experience by your side….”
The kissy face girl goes on, but I’ll spare you—she’s over the top, naïve and has no idea of what their future will dish out. “The way you’ve used your intelligence… is astounding.” Astounding? Really? Who talks that way?!
In a journal entry from June 5, 2003, I wrote those smitten words to my medical man. And you know what? Mushy or not, he knew this girl was by his side.
Our Side By Side charter verse reads, “Standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side,” from Philippians 1:27. The verse has more than one application. First, it represents our group, a gathering of women standing side by side physically and emotionally. Secondly, it describes each one of us as we stand by our spouses. The full verse in the New American Standard Bible reads, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
In short: I will hear of you…standing firm in one spirit…striving side by side.
Paul wanted to hear how persevering unity played out in Philippi. He wanted to hear faith-in-action stories. And I wonder, what kind of stories emerge from united married couples striving through medicine? Imagine how we’d all grow if we shared our successes, our “hacks” for staying close in our marriages along our medical journey. I’ve shared a gooey love note, but what works for you? Tell a friend, share in your local Side By Side group or post it on our Facebook page. We want to hear of ways your marriages stand firm, now more than ever.
I will hear of you…standing firm in one spirit… striving side by side
Are we standing firm with our spouses bearing the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control (Galatians 5:22)? The love letter of old reeked of sweet affection and joy in my spouse. It was from a journal we shared that began when we were engaged back in the year of 2000. Off the suggestion of a friend, we started writing back and forth because we knew medical school and residency would be hard. That green spiral notebook passed back and forth between us and is now three journals spanning 21 years. Over time, the frequency of writing has decreased because we’ve learned this skill (involving decaf coffee and chocolate) we now practice most evenings after the kids go to bed. It’s called talking. But there was less of that back then, in the days when our daughter thought she and I lived in our house and dad lived at the hospital. These journals are now treasures. They hold mission trip memories, our children’s birth stories, the death of a parent, the hemorrhagic stroke of another. They are monuments of God’s provision. These tangible journals provided intangible unity when we were physically distant on a day-to-day basis.
I will hear of you…standing firm in one spirit… striving side by side.
Being side by side at the white coat ceremony, the residency match and the annual Christmas party is fun and easy. Underneath that, however, how am I striving by my man’s side when no one is looking? In the privacy of our home, exhausted, frazzled or utterly content with life, how can I strive with my spouse? How can I make his pursuits my pursuits? I still slip up when people ask about his medical school, replying, “WE did medical school…” Always with the “we” because honestly, that’s how it felt. Twenty-one years ago, I wrote, “Today you are crossing into the unknown territory. I feel so privileged to be sharing the experience by your side….” It’s still a privilege. And we still cross into unknown territory every day, especially with the tragedy and insanity of this pandemic. Let’s be in it together, striving side by side.
Help my sisters, and I pursue our spouses, feeling blessed for the opportunity. Maybe through journaling, talking or blatant cheerleading, inspire us to come alongside and strive.
Shelly Wyrick is a physical therapist turned stay-at-home mom and wife to her manly medical man. She enjoys adventuring with her family, running and pursuing her passions of painting and writing.