What Makes a Strong Man?

I see these “relationship goals” all over the Internet. Pictures of men carrying their women or even bench-pressing them. Pictures of “the perfect date” when you come walking in to a room filled with roses and your man is some high-paid financial wonder. Well, nothing against your relationship goals, but after 15 1/2 years together with the love of my life, I can tell you my true prayer for your relationship.

I pray you find a man who loves God first and you second. I pray you find a man who loves you and his purpose so much that he will fight every single day just to be here with you on this earth. That’s it. That’s all. Relationship goals.

I sit here next to my husband in the hospital today; we’ve been here a lot. To be honest, it never gets any easier. But the reality is that we understand God is good, even when circumstances are not. We are so unbelievably blessed; we found our mission in life and we get to fight for our purpose every single day. We are Christian co-authors and motivational speakers, and our mission is to provide hope for mental health anchored in Jesus’ promise of eternal life. Why? Because we know what it feels like to not have any hope and to not understand why God allowed so much hurt.

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“Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” was just a first step toward our mission. We began by sharing our story, our reality, struggles, fears, triumphs…truth.

Finding our mission has been far from easy. But to truly understand the truth that by sharing our reality with the world, we are helping many find hope in Christ…does it get any better than that? We don’t think so.

So here we are. Jeremy is stuck in the hospital with an NG (nasogastric) tube shoved up his nose, through his esophagus, and down into his stomach. The tube intermittently empties the contents of the stomach to allow the intestines and stomach to rest and heal. Truth be told, the tube sucks (pun intended). Jeremy’s nose and throat hurt horribly, but his stomach pain has decreased from a pain level 7 down to a 1. So the NG tube is doing its job. And this hospital stay is a direct result of a previous month hospital stay. Like I said, we’ve been here a lot.

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Jeremy’s truck after the accident in 2012.

In 2012, Jeremy was in a near-fatal car accident when his truck went head-on into a semi truck at highway speeds. Throughout the healing process, my husband underwent two flight for life helicopter rides on to larger hospitals equipped to handle his injuries, a leg severely broken in four places and repaired with metal rods, a punctured lung, brain bleed, and fractured pancreas. But the surgery causing the issues now was the complete colon reconstruction he endured. Doctors had to take his intestines apart, cut out all the bad, and piece them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. There was a lot of surgical intervention needed there. I never met anyone during that time of our lives who understood how on earth Jeremy could survive that accident…surgeons included.

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Jeremy in ICU, February 17, 2012.

We get it now.

Because you know what? This wasn’t the first of our struggles. Jeremy was diagnosed with severe depression in 2009. He has survived five suicide attempts, the near-death car accident, multiple medication failures, and a heart attack the day before he turned 33. Most importantly, Jeremy has survived to understand there is hope even when it feels all is lost, even when you are fighting your hardest against your own body just to stay alive, even when life just seems to keep beating you down to the ground.

You get the freak back up. You fight back. Because this life is worth living. Helping others who suffer to understand there is hope is an enormous push for us to keep sharing, keep healing, keep fighting. Every day.

So this is my husband right now…

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The scar tissue from his previous surgeries has built up and caused a bowel obstruction. He is in a tremendous amount of pain. His NG tube is doing its job (allowing the stomach and intestines to rest), but having a tube shoved up your nose, down your esophagus, and into your stomach is anything but pleasant. It’s especially lovely because the tube is clear and Jeremy can see the junk going out from the suction. Yummy. Perhaps you can’t see our invention in the picture? Jeremy’s tube right by his nose where his eyes can see the crud moving is now covered with a handy-dandy gum wrapper and tape. Problem solved. But no, he’s not enjoying it. No, he’s not super pumped to be going through yet another trial. Yes, he knows it’s temporary. But sometimes life just plain sucks.

The reality is we are likely not done with this fight. We are likely not done with hospital stays and surgeries to remove scar tissue and build-up. Jeremy heals; and he does it really well. He is currently over-healing. The scar tissue in his intestines has created a belt and is not allowing anything through. Over time, it will get to the point where he will need surgery again to remove that portion of his bowel. It may be now…we don’t know yet. Surgeons referred to him as the “patchwork colon man” because of how much surgery was needed to repair the damage from the accident. It’s a part of our life, and it’s not easy. Depression is a part of our life, and it’s not easy. Suicidal thoughts and attempts are a part of our life, and it’s not easy. Knee and ankle surgeries (those are me) are a part of our life, and it’s not easy. Possible complications from previous surgeries (like now) are a part of our life, and it’s not easy. Heart attacks are a part of our life, and it’s not easy.

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Yep. On July 4, 2015, Jeremy had a heart attack at age 32 and 364 days. That challenge revealed a heart spasm now controlled with daily heart medication.

Life is not easy…for anyone. We all have different challenges, different battles we are fighting. The key is to understand it is a heck of a lot easier to get through them when you accept help, accept support and prayers from those who love you, and accept the reality that God is good all the time. He will take what was meant to harm and He will make it work for His good.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

This, too, shall pass. Jeremy will heal. We are so blessed to understand this is just another bump in the road. We can help so many, ourselves included. God has entrusted us with an incredible gift, with an incredible mission. We know Jesus. We have a relationship with God. We will spend eternity with our King, and we want to help as many as possible understand what we know to be true.

God is real. There is hope. You have a purpose. Life is not easy, but it is worth the fight. Healing happens. While we are here, though, we have to fight. We have to choose to see Him when surrounded by darkness. We have to fight to see the light.

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This is a strong man, ladies. This is a man who loves God so much that he fights every day to continue his mission on this earth before eternity begins. This is a man who works his butt off to provide for his family. This is a man who is allowed to struggle, allowed to need help, allowed to be angry that life isn’t easy all the time. Why? Because this is also a man who is man enough to understand he needs help. He needs God. He needs support and prayers. He needs hope…and hope he has found in Christ. THIS is strong. My relationship goals consist of this and only this. I would not change a thing.

Our struggles are what brought us to the true understanding that we are never alone. Pain and frustration are eased with trials when we learn to give everything to God, ask for prayers, and accept help.

I’ll leave you with this…

I want you to imagine a rope. You are holding one end of this rope with your fist. You are hanging on for dear life and you cannot see the end of this rope. There is no end. It goes on forever. You look toward where you believe the end of the rope should be and all you can see is that the rope continues far off into an orange and yellow sunset. It continues far beyond our human potential allows us to see…eternity. Now slowly loosen your grip and look at this tiny part of the rope you hold in your hand. This part of the rope is your time on earth. It is such a tiny, insignificant piece of the rope, yet it consumes us. Loosen your grip and allow Him to control this part of your life, too.

Choose to consume yourself with the rest of the rope. Choose to understand this is our time to fight, but the fight is more than worth the reward…eternity.

Purchase our book either in eBook format on Amazon or directly from us in paperback at www.jeremyandbailey.com. Follow our daily journey by liking Jeremy & Bailey Koch on Facebook. As always, thank you so much for your never-ending support. God bless.

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