The singer shares how her husband’s brain tumor challenged—and ultimately strengthened—her faith.
- Posted on Jul 25, 2019
For singer Laura Story, life looks completely different now than she imagined it would on her wedding day fifteen years ago.
After marrying her high school sweetheart, Martin, the couple moved to Atlanta, where she worked as a worship minister at a church, while Martin attended graduate school. When he graduated, she assumed they would move back to South Carolina to be close to family and that one day she would be a stay-at-home mother.
Then, within the first two years of their marriage, a diagnosis changed everything. Doctors told Martin he had a brain tumor.
“That’s heavy news to hear any time in a marriage,” Story told Guideposts.org. “But, I think especially within those first couple years of marriage, it was very clear early on that the plans that we had, they just kind of went off the tracks.”
There were complications with the surgery to remove Martin’s tumor and he ended up staying in the hospital for three months. The surgeries left him with vision and memory deficits, disabilities that impacted every area of the couple’s life. Not only was Martin not able to complete his graduate program, but Story’s dream of being a stay-at-home mom was no longer an option.
Story was no longer just a newlywed. She was a caregiver, too. In her latest book, I Give Up: The Secret Joy of a Surrendered Life, she writes about this new experience.
“It definitely started our marriage off showing us that we're really not in control of this,” Story said. “We did not have a choice. Like many caregivers, this is something that happened to us. This is something that God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, allowed in our lives.”
For the first few years after the surgery, keeping Martin alive was the only concern. It wasn’t until he stabilized five years later that Story began to struggle.
The long-term caregiving forced Story to reckon with her faith in a new way. She realized that the permanent nature of Martin’s disability, and the couple not having “an amazing ending,” didn’t align with the narrative she often heard about God’s intervention.
“We live with disability,” Story said. “We don’t have this nice, tidy bow on our story. How do I celebrate God in that?”
It was then she realized she had been looking to her husband and the dreams she had for her life to bring fulfillment.
“I would say for a long time, if I had Jesus plus healing for my husband, then I'll have everything,” Story said. “But, the Bible teaches, if you have Jesus, you have everything.”
Instead of relying on a change in her caregiving situation to bring her joy, Story decided to look for joy and fulfillment in her current situation.
Story’s song “Blessings” was inspired by her faith journey. The chorus, “Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops/What if Your healing comes through tears,” was a reminder to her that just because God hadn’t healed her husband, didn’t mean God hadn’t heard their prayers. The song won a Grammy and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Coming to terms with the permanence of their situation also helped Story open up to a few close friends about her struggles, allowing her to ask for what she really needed.
“What we needed was not the meals or the rides at that point,” Story said, adding that for a while the couple was doing terrible spiritually.
The couple needed help finding people who could help Martin develop job skills. They needed to find people who were patient enough to have the same conversations many times, because of his memory deficit. The things, she added, that are harder to ask for help for and can be harder for long-term caregivers to know how to handle.
Most importantly, Story learned to embrace surrender. Becoming a caregiver was not Story’s choice, but her response to her situation is.
“[I] believe that we can have joy, and we can have peace, even in the midst of hard circumstances,” Story said, “because of the fact that those things are found in Jesus, not in our circumstances.”