Participants: Shelley Quinn (Host), Linda Brawner
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000188
00:31 Hello, I'm Shelley Quinn, and welcome
00:32 to Issues and Answers. You know life is full
00:35 of issues and the Bible is full of answers.
00:39 We need to learn to look to God as the
00:42 one who is our problem solver.
00:44 And I think that we have a very
00:46 interesting program for you today because
00:48 we have a very interesting guest,
00:50 and I'd like to introduce her just now.
00:52 I like to welcome Linda Brawner.
00:54 Linda, thank you so much for driving in
00:57 from Mansfield, Ohio, that's correct. Yes.
01:00 Well, I'm so thrilled you are here with us today.
01:03 And Linda has written a precious book,
01:05 a book that actually I read last night when
01:08 I told her I was absolutely exhausted
01:11 having only two hours of sleep.
01:13 And I thought am I going able to stay
01:15 awake and read this book, and the moment
01:17 I opened it, I found it to be
01:20 humorous, moving, you're a delightful writer.
01:24 Thank you. I wanted to start this
01:27 program with a scripture, and I think
01:29 you're going to appreciate this
01:30 scripture, I'm sure you're familiar with it.
01:33 The scripture is Psalms 3:3 that says
01:36 "But you O Lord, are a shield for me,
01:39 my glory, and the lifter of my head."
01:42 And Linda, I know that for you God has
01:45 been the lifter of your head because you
01:47 went through a very difficult time with
01:50 your husband having a chronic illness,
01:52 and that's what we'd like to talk about today
01:55 is your passage way if you will through this
02:00 chronic illness, and in the grief
02:02 recovery after his death.
02:04 But first, let me ask you this.
02:06 You became a Seventh-day
02:08 Adventist when you were in college.
02:11 Right, just I was, actually several
02:14 months after I graduated college.
02:16 I have met a Seventh-day girl there and I had
02:20 already come to know Jesus Christ as my
02:22 Savior, as my best friend. And I was searching
02:25 for what is truth? How do we follow him?
02:30 And she invited me to Church, just invited
02:34 me to Church, and there I found answers.
02:36 And about a year later I joined the Seventh
02:38 day Adventist Church. That's wonderful now,
02:41 you though started off, you told me that
02:44 when for you, when you started turning to Jesus.
02:48 It really did start off with an intimate
02:51 relationship that developed quickly.
02:53 Yes, it did. During high school and
02:56 college, I have met Christians who came
02:59 across just thinking they were better than
03:01 me, not because they knew Jesus but
03:04 because they went to Church and they did
03:05 all the right things. And so when I started
03:10 you know asking what is the Bible about?
03:13 Is the Bible the source of truth?
03:16 Is there sin that we need to be saved from?
03:19 And then of course once you answer that
03:21 question, is Jesus Christ our Savior.
03:25 I had to take a hard look at what I was
03:27 getting into because I did not want to be
03:29 of those people who went around,
03:32 I'm better than you because I go to Church.
03:34 Right, amen. Well, I can tell from reading
03:37 your book which by the way is entitled
03:39 Stay Sweet. No, Keep Sweet.
03:41 Keep Sweet, excuse me Keep Sweet,
03:44 and I can tell from your book that you
03:48 have a very intimate relationship with the Lord.
03:51 And it's something that you really do
03:53 consider him a very close friend.
03:55 And one that you can reason with, you can
03:57 get upset with him, and he understands,
04:00 yes. And I love that about how you write,
04:02 and I love that about your relationship with God.
04:05 Now, let's talk about your husband.
04:09 You met a man and from the way you
04:12 started, I thought it was late in life,
04:13 but you were 20... No, I was, it was late,
04:17 I was 29, 29, 28 and I turned 29 a couple
04:21 months later, and I had asked the Lord
04:24 just the day before I met him.
04:27 Lord, it would be nice to be engaged by the
04:30 time I'm 30. I thought it was too much to ask
04:33 to be married by the time I was 30.
04:34 But we did meet the next day and we
04:37 married six weeks short of my 30th birthday.
04:39 Oh praise God. He answers prayers.
04:41 Yes, he does. So this relationship,
04:45 your husband, I know you prayed before you married.
04:48 It was very important to you, that you and
04:50 your husband would spend eternity together.
04:53 Yes, it was. And with Jerry, I could sense
04:58 that he wasn't sure God loved him,
05:01 wasn't sure God was his friend.
05:05 He wasn't a bad man in anyway; it's just
05:07 that a lot of us underestimate our worth.
05:11 And so I said Lord, you know if my
05:14 marrying him will make a saving
05:16 difference in his life, I want this.
05:19 And if he is not going to be in the Kingdom
05:22 forever, do whatever it takes to keep this
05:24 marriage from happening. And I basically gave
05:27 God permission to hit between the eyes but
05:29 two by four if that's what it took.
05:32 Well, you married him and it wasn't too
05:35 long thereafter, as you said in the book.
05:37 As soon as you figured out what
05:39 actually causes babies to come along.
05:42 Yes, our daughter Kelly was born.
05:44 Okay, and she's been a great blessing.
05:46 From the time she was born, people
05:48 would stop me in the store and fuss over
05:51 what a pretty smile she had.
05:52 What a happy baby she was, and I just loved it.
05:56 You know sometimes people worry about
05:59 neglecting the mother, but I have people who
06:01 wouldn't give me the time of day paying
06:03 attention because of this baby in my cart.
06:06 Well, now about thirteen years into
06:08 your marriage, your husband started
06:11 changing and you at first
06:13 were not sure what was going on?
06:15 Actually it started sooner than, he
06:17 always seemed, from my perspective a little
06:21 lazy, not terribly motivated.
06:26 He was diabetic though all that time,
06:29 and I did not realize how much diabetes
06:31 was affecting his overall health.
06:35 Diabetes is a drain on all the systems of the
06:37 body and by the time we've been married
06:41 13 years, he went to the doctor.
06:44 They ordered heart test and discovered he
06:45 needed open heart surgery.
06:48 What was your reaction to that?
06:49 I was terrified. How about your husband?
06:54 Yeah, he was terrified too.
06:56 It was, I don't know how we, you know,
06:59 but this time we pulled together.
07:02 There have been other bumps in the road in
07:05 fairly recent history that kind of pulled us apart.
07:08 And this one we pulled together, and
07:10 we were frightened together.
07:12 And I think what pulled us together is
07:15 we both were turning to God.
07:17 Praise the Lord. So he gets this report,
07:21 that they're going to go in and cut through
07:23 his chest bones and really it was a graphic
07:28 description that you gave in the book of
07:30 the type of surgery that he was going to
07:31 have to have, yes. But they assumed that
07:35 he would be back on his feet within just a
07:37 few weeks, right. Right, they said he'd
07:40 be out of the hospital in six days,
07:44 and that because he had to do heavy
07:45 lifting as part of his job, it would be six
07:47 months before he went to work but
07:49 pretty much he'd be right as rain in a month.
07:52 And that's not the way it turned out, so why
07:54 don't you give us a short synopsis of what happened.
07:56 He spent a month in the hospital.
07:59 Normally you're on a breathing tube
08:00 between 24 to 30 hours. He was on five or six days.
08:06 When he was off of that, his mind wasn't
08:10 quite right because of all the trauma to the body.
08:13 So he didn't do what he could do in terms
08:15 of physical therapy. His kidneys had failed
08:19 from being under anesthetics for so
08:20 long, and he ended up on dialysis
08:23 most of his life. And it was quite a
08:27 different picture than what they painted.
08:29 So when he did come home from the
08:31 hospital, he came home, and he was a
08:33 fairly large man. Yes. And he came home as
08:37 someone who is requiring dialysis and
08:40 requiring a lot of care, yes.
08:42 Something you said that just touched me
08:45 in the book was you said that you loved
08:48 him enough not to do everything for him.
08:52 Explain what you mean? Yeah, that was hard,
08:54 one of the things that kept Jerry as alive as
08:57 long as he was and kept him enjoying life
08:59 for as long as he did was that he would try
09:02 to do for himself everything he could.
09:05 His strength levels varied from sometimes
09:08 day to day, week to week and sometimes
09:10 it was a real struggle for him to
09:12 get out of the chair. I would sit there and
09:15 every nerve is you know eager, ready to
09:19 help, that's my nature, I'm waitress, I'm used
09:22 to helping people. And I would sit there
09:24 and I would wait for him to ask because
09:27 sometimes it would take two or three
09:28 times, but he would get up and we both
09:31 knew that his body was stronger for
09:34 having made those three or four attempts
09:36 to get out of the chair all by himself.
09:38 I think there is such a great lesson in that
09:40 because so many of us try to do you know
09:45 for our loved ones, when we don't think
09:46 they can do for themselves.
09:48 But sometimes when someone is really
09:50 very ill, then it's a difficult.
09:53 You can actually overdo for someone,
09:55 and they become so dependent upon you
09:57 that they're no longer trying.
09:59 So you went through three years of people
10:02 in your Church, and people in the family
10:04 saying he belongs in a rest home.
10:07 This is too much for you, and actually you
10:10 went through an experience just prior
10:13 to this diagnosis and his chronic illness
10:18 that made people think it would
10:21 overwhelm you once again. So let's back up, okay.
10:24 And talk about what happened before your
10:27 husband was diagnosed. I have had a nervous
10:31 breakdown. I did not cope well with the
10:34 death of my father. It became a wedge
10:36 between me and God. I did not talk to God
10:39 about it. Probably the best thing I could
10:42 done was just gone ahead and got
10:44 really mad and given God a piece of my mind.
10:48 He's big, he loves us all the time, he doesn't
10:51 get petty or retaliate, and he already knows
10:55 what we feel, what he think.
10:57 So we might as well tell him. Amen.
11:03 And the breakdown, the breakdown was
11:05 the visible sign of what I'd been through
11:09 but the thing that my Christian brothers and
11:12 sisters had a hard time understand was
11:14 actually it was also a beginning of faith.
11:17 I finally admitted I can't do this alone.
11:21 I need God's help; I need the
11:23 help of trained physicians.
11:25 And when you started, when you had
11:29 this breakdown didn't this also become to
11:31 drive a wedge between you and your husband at first.
11:37 Actually no, when I actually had the
11:39 breakdown I actually sought help up until
11:41 then yes it was a wedge because my
11:43 husband knew something was
11:44 wrong, and he had no clue.
11:47 You had shut down emotionally during
11:48 the breathing process, yes, and you were
11:50 building a wall not only that was divider
11:53 between you and God, but between you and
11:55 your husband. Yes, okay, yes.
11:57 And when I actually had the breakdown,
12:00 he was out of town which was rare for him.
12:02 He was visiting a foster brother,
12:05 and when he came back he said Linda,
12:08 I will do anything to make you happy.
12:10 Praise the Lord. You know, but it
12:13 wasn't what I needed. I mean I'm glad he
12:15 was willing, but it's amazing what clarity
12:19 God will give us in the times when we are
12:21 just crushed. I looked at him and said Jerry,
12:25 you can't make me happy. You can only love me,
12:29 and I meant only in the sense of simply or
12:32 this is the one thing that will help me.
12:36 It was what I did, what I didn't do for
12:39 him when he was sick. He couldn't try to put
12:43 everything on a silver platter and hand it to me.
12:46 I had to mentally get up out of bed and
12:50 walk to the refrigerator or mentally walk to
12:53 the bathroom. I had to take care of
12:55 myself to a certain degree.
12:57 You know I think you said something that
12:58 was insightful in the book. She wrote that not
13:02 only can man not make us happy, but
13:04 God can make us happy. Happiness is a choice, yes.
13:08 Happiness is something that God is the giver
13:10 as James 1:17 says of every good and
13:13 perfect gift, but no matter what gifts God
13:17 bestows upon us. No matter how much
13:20 your husband could do to try to make you
13:22 happy if you choose not to be happy,
13:25 you're not going to be, right.
13:27 So you had, God gave you such great insight
13:30 during this time, and as you turned around
13:33 from that you hadn't been really recovered
13:36 from that depression too long before.
13:38 You know I actually had not recovered
13:41 because part of what caused my breakdown
13:45 was I had not slept right for fifteen
13:47 months, and it took my body about two
13:50 years to recover from that. And so yeah, I was
13:53 still struggling with my own load
13:55 when Jerry got sick. So now he gets sick,
13:58 and the interesting thing is that during
14:02 this time you're already drawing near
14:05 to the Lord, and he's drawing more near to
14:07 you, and he really did teach you how to
14:10 resist the feelings of depression.
14:13 He thought you how, yes. And he started
14:15 drawing Jerry closer to him, closer than
14:19 he'd ever been before. Yes. But I think Jerry
14:21 was a remarkable patient because you
14:23 wrote that never once did he complain or
14:27 whine or get bad at God during these
14:30 three years of chronic pain, severe
14:34 pain and chronic illness. Yeah. Yeah, it was so
14:39 wonderful. I felt so blessed that if he had
14:44 worked through I think at some point
14:46 in time he had work through the fact that
14:48 he had diabetes and any blaming of God
14:53 he had already processed that.
14:55 And he was a great strength to me, a great
14:57 help because since he hadn't resolved that
15:01 this pain and suffering he went through was
15:04 ultimately for his good. He was able to focus
15:09 on being a husband and a father.
15:11 And he was an excellent father to Kelly.
15:13 Yes. He must have been. Alright, when
15:16 he did die, did you grieve in the same
15:22 way that you could grieve the loss of your
15:24 father and other family members prior
15:27 or did you, was your pattern of grief totally
15:30 different this time around.
15:31 It was considerably different.
15:35 A few years before that my father died.
15:38 It was the first time I lost somebody really
15:41 close to me, and I noticed that I blocked
15:45 out his memory. I could tell you about
15:47 my dad, but I couldn't remember his face
15:51 you know clearly or the sound of his voice.
15:55 And when Jerry passed away the same
15:57 thing happened. Only this time I knew
16:01 that God would bring those memories back
16:03 to me at the right time. And that this was how
16:05 I had to deal with the horrible pain.
16:07 There was another factor although my
16:11 dad had been sick; it was my mom who
16:13 took care of him. So, I didn't have that
16:14 end of it, because I had that end of it
16:17 with Jerry there was an immense relief
16:20 when he died. His funeral was very
16:25 much a praise service. About six weeks later
16:30 then the pain hit, and. I thought the eulogy
16:35 that you gave, I can see why the pastor
16:37 thought maybe you wouldn't be strong
16:39 enough to get through this.
16:40 But the eulogy was so precious, and I know
16:43 that it was a time of great closure, but it
16:45 was a celebration of his life, yes,
16:47 as how he made it. Yes, yes, and I wanted
16:49 to because Jerry didn't, he wasn't a by
16:54 the book Christian. He did a lot of things
16:57 that weren't just quite right, and I felt a need
17:00 to tell our Church family, Jerry loved God.
17:04 Jerry understood that Jesus Christ saved him.
17:08 I felt that no one else could do that.
17:12 With all of these deaths that you've
17:14 been through and I think with the insight God
17:18 has given you, would you say that there
17:20 is a set pattern to grief? No, in fact the one
17:25 thing I've learned is there is no pattern.
17:28 The five stages of grief that is actually
17:30 study based on people who are dying.
17:34 That's different from losing someone else,
17:36 because there's the factor, your life is
17:38 going to continue, and so we grieve
17:43 differently, and the most important thing
17:45 to know is that it's okay, whatever your
17:50 experiencing, no matter how out of
17:52 control you feel, it's normal and healthy
17:56 to acknowledge those things.
17:59 And go ahead, beat up God if you have to,
18:01 he's strong enough to take it and as we slug
18:06 it out with him, we're less likely to hurt
18:08 those around us, who still need our
18:11 love and affection. And you know I've
18:14 seen people that I'll even have to confess
18:17 there was a time in my life that my grief
18:19 was so overwhelming that I shook my fist in
18:23 God's face and said you promised, you
18:26 promised, but I was taking his promises
18:30 out of context, wanting healing for
18:32 someone and this was before I really
18:35 understood that I had faith in faith Linda.
18:38 Yeah. You know what I am saying. Yes.
18:39 Instead of having let God be the object of my faith.
18:43 Yeah. And then afterward I felt so
18:46 guilty, I thought how could he ever love me
18:48 again. But then I remembered Romans
18:50 5:8 that says that God demonstrated his love
18:54 for us in this that while we were yet
18:56 sinners he sent Jesus to die for us.
18:59 And now that I was his child even though
19:02 I have thrown my tantrum, I found that
19:05 when I remember that scripture God drew
19:07 me right back in with loving arms.
19:09 I confess and he forgave me.
19:12 Yes, and he will, that's the beauty of
19:16 losing your temper with God.
19:18 He never holds a grudge. Yes, amen.
19:22 And I can't remember,
19:30 he will carry us, and when we admit to
19:34 God how we feel, we can get through it
19:37 more quickly than if we try to pretend
19:39 everything is okay. Amen, Amen.
19:42 Well now, can you enjoy life at the same
19:48 time that you're grieving? Yes, it's amazing
19:52 what you can do when you surrender to God.
19:54 I could see clearly that these experiences
19:58 were not just for Jerry's benefit, his
20:00 salvation and my salvation. But that I had work to
20:05 do, I had a testimony that no one else could
20:09 give because of what we had been through.
20:12 I went to a women's retreat last fall, and
20:15 I'm not real good at mingling.
20:17 It takes me while to warm out, and so
20:19 before the retreat actually began, I ate
20:23 in this fancy restaurant in the lodge, I ate alone.
20:27 Everybody else is gathered up in fives or
20:29 sixes and because I ate alone, I got a
20:32 really nice table right on the water front,
20:36 and the view was excellent.
20:38 And I sat there and they had on the dinner
20:41 menu something that I really like and it
20:43 actually fit my budget, so my delight
20:45 was unexpressible. And at the same time
20:51 I'm delighted at all that God has provided
20:53 me right then, I am delighted with God's
20:56 presence, and I am remembering other
20:59 dinners, the rare times Jerry and I got to such
21:03 a nice restaurants, and enjoyed
21:05 each others company. here is delight in my
21:09 heart and tears in my eyes, and I know that
21:14 that whole blend of emotions was what
21:17 God made us for. You know I've heard
21:19 people say that sometimes when
21:22 you're going through the grieving process,
21:24 that they almost felt like they were
21:26 schizophrenic, because a moment of
21:28 joy would be followed by a
21:30 moment of sorrow, would be followed by
21:32 a moment of joy, and sometimes Christians
21:34 will say I feel so guilty in grieving
21:38 when I know I have the blessed hope that
21:40 I am going to spent the rest of my life,
21:43 my eternal life with my husband.
21:45 We were never meant to be separated by death.
21:48 God's original plan included all of us in
21:52 the Garden of Eden never having tasted death.
21:56 So yes, it hurts; it hurts very badly when
22:00 we lose a loved one. And it's okay that it hurts.
22:03 It's not a denial of faith. It's exactly what God
22:07 feels when he lays our loved ones to rest.
22:10 You know and I think about the times that
22:13 and I bet if you're watching this program,
22:17 if you're honest and you think about,
22:18 there are times when you have been angry
22:20 at God, and when you think you know why
22:23 me or why did this happen, here I have a
22:25 young daughter that still needs to be raised?
22:28 Why did my husband have to go through this?
22:31 But what I loved about your book is
22:33 you said its okay, and its okay to express
22:35 that, as a matter of fact that's where you
22:37 got in trouble the first time around
22:39 because you didn't express it. Right,
22:41 right, I let it become a wedge between me
22:43 and God, and nothing, nothing is meant
22:46 to separate us. Truly, it's only our own
22:49 choices that can put a distance
22:51 between us and God. So if Kelly were to
22:54 come to you and now Kelly is now seventeen.
22:58 Seventeen, almost eighteen.
23:00 And a beautiful girl, and I know the delight
23:02 of your life, but if she were to come to you
23:05 and she was terribly disappointed and she
23:07 said about something and she didn't really
23:11 seem like she wanted to go to Church, and
23:12 you said what's wrong Kelly, and she's quiet
23:15 about it, and you said are you mad at God
23:17 about something? If she said yes, what
23:19 advice would you give her?
23:21 I say tell me, and don't be afraid to tell
23:24 me if it helps you get there.
23:26 That's good, because as you said over and
23:30 over in the book, God's big enough to
23:32 handle it, and it's kind of like what he says to
23:35 Isaiah, come let us reason together.
23:38 And I found out six weeks later, I started
23:41 becoming so angry and I would take it on
23:43 store clerks, and cashiers and things,
23:46 and I mean I wasn't proud of my behavior,
23:49 but the anger was so great it would just pop out.
23:52 And finally I confessed to a friend,
23:54 I figured it out, I'm angry at God.
23:57 I understand why all these things came to
24:00 pass, and I understand how much God loves
24:04 me, but I am so angry that it hurts so much.
24:08 I thought somehow he would
24:10 shield me from this pain. And did you find that
24:14 it was difficult for your church friends
24:17 to understand this. I know here they were
24:20 a little bit concerned because you had been
24:22 through a depression and now people, and
24:25 people are so inept in comforting the
24:31 grieving, would you agree?
24:32 Yes, yes they are, in fact I was really glad
24:35 that I was up, because I was able to encourage
24:39 what they did that was right, and not get
24:42 upset about what they did that was wrong,
24:44 but actually the Church was more able to
24:49 comfort me as a widow. This was a problem
24:52 that socially people know what to do with.
24:56 When somebody has a nervous breakdown,
24:57 you don't go to a Hallmark store and
25:00 find a section called nervous breakdowns.
25:03 There is no book of etiquette for people
25:07 who lose their marbles, and so it was actually
25:10 a relief that they knew what to do, nor they
25:14 didn't do it perfectly. But this time they had
25:19 a better idea of what to do.
25:20 And I would encourage people,
25:22 when you know somebody is grieving,
25:25 overcome your discomfort, go to the calling hours,
25:29 even if they give only them a hug and say
25:32 I'm sorry, every person makes a
25:35 difference, every person says you are
25:38 not alone, God is looking after you.
25:41 Amen, amen. And you can more than
25:45 endure the pain, you can overcome the
25:46 pain when as we said in the beginning.
25:50 We let God become the lifter of our heads.
25:52 Yes. And so what would you, if you
25:55 could just take a moment and look
25:57 into the camera. Okay. What would
25:59 you say you to someone who is going
26:04 through the grieving process right now?
26:07 There is no wrong way to grieve.
26:10 Your emotions will be wild, they will shift.
26:15 This is normal and God can carry your
26:18 through it. Find somebody safe to
26:21 talk to and above all, talk to the Lord.
26:25 Amen, I agree with that one, hundred percent.
26:28 You know this is reminding me of a
26:30 reminding me of a scripture because
26:32 the Bible says, in Isaiah chapter 43,
26:37 and I know you're familiar with this scripture.
26:39 You know sometimes when we're going
26:41 through this grieving process we feel so
26:43 alone, but God is always with us.
26:45 He never leave us nor forsakes us.
26:47 And he says in Isaiah 43, Fear not, for
26:51 I have redeemed you; I have called you by
26:54 your name, you are mine. And when you pass
26:58 through the rivers, I will be with you,
27:00 they will not overwhelm you;
27:02 when you walk through the fire,
27:04 when you walk through this fiery trail
27:06 of grief, you will not be burned or scourged
27:10 nor will the flame kindle upon you.
27:13 For I am the Lord your God, the holy
27:15 one, your savior. And I know that you
27:19 found out he was with you every step of the
27:22 way and it was something that he
27:25 actually brought you into a closer
27:27 relationship with him during your time of grief.
27:30 Yes. Praise the Lord. And he has done
27:32 such a glorious things. Amen. Linda, I thank
27:35 you so much for joining us today.
27:37 And I'm so thankful that you are going to
27:38 be coming back for another program or
27:40 two, and we are going to get a chance to talk
27:43 to Linda some more. But now for those of
27:45 you at home, may the grace of our Lord
27:48 Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the
27:51 fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.