Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pastors' Wives Uncensored - Week 3

Hi all! Instead of having a guest blogger today, you are going to be stuck with me for this week's edition of "Uncensored," whether you like it or not! I knew that I would add my post in at some point, and this week provided a perfect opportunity since I recently got some new found free time, and also because I was greatly reminded of why this role has more blessings than burdens. For those of you who don't know our full story, here's the condensed version... Josh and I met in South Florida while he served as a youth pastor at a church in Fort Lauderdale. After meeting and deciding that South Florida was not a fit for us (nor was being a youth pastor), we moved to northwest Illinois where he was the planting pastor of a satellite campus of a larger church. He had already told me at this point that he wanted to plant a church and since I didn't really know what that meant, it scared me to pieces. The campus pastor experience was what we like to call "church planting on training wheels" as we had the opportunity to start something with the safety net and backing of a larger church supporting us. It was about a year and a half later that we decided to start praying about the church that we would plant somewhere someday and only six months after that when we felt like it was time. Having only visited Lexington, KY a few times to visit my sister and her family, there was something that stirred in both of us that made us want to call the Bluegrass State home. In June 2011 we moved to Lexington to start meeting people and sharing the vision of our church and TurningPoint Church was born on February 12, 2012. We are currently seeing around 500 people come through our doors each weekend, lives being changed, and God move in big ways. It's been an adventure, and I know that the best is still yet to come.

So backing up a little, let me first say that I never thought that I would be a pastor's wife. I know I've shared this before, but I did try to say "no" to our first date because Josh was in ministry. When we met, I was a bit of a party girl and church was not exactly on my list of priorities. But he was persistent (as those of you who know him can attest to) and so I changed my mind and gave him a chance. It did not take long to realize that this was something special and after only 6 weeks (yes, 6!) he proposed and I said "yes." We got married 10 months later and immediately moved to Illinois to be campus pastors. Notice I say campus pastorS, plural. In his mind, this was something that we would do together, and in my mind, this was totally HIS thing and my role was to be a perfect little housewife, work my 9-5 job from home, and help out with the church here and there when needed. Every time he asked for my help I would inwardly complain that he never helped me with MY job, and the church was HIS job, so why should I have to help him?  I was constantly frustrated because he was working all the time and he was constantly frustrated because if I would've just offered to help and taken some easy (mostly administrative) things off of his plate, he could have spent more time at home. This frustration was alleviated a little when Jake was born as all of my time was spent caring for the sweetest face on the planet, but even with 12 weeks of maternity leave, I did not really "get in the game." You could find me at church on Sundays and I reluctantly went to small group once a week, but there was no real buy-in. Church was still something I "had to" do. 

It wasn't until we decided to move to Lexington that church became something that I "wanted" to do. I think in many ways it was less ministry to me and more planning and creating, which works well with my gift set. I was an event planner for a long time, so this role was more in my wheel house. We had Lilly during this time and I felt like a constant failure. Instead of Lilly being an excuse not to help, she was a new addition that was keeping me from helping out more. As a disclaimer, I never resented her and think I enjoyed her as a newborn than I even did with Jake, mainly because those "new mom" worries weren't there. With an 18-month old, a newborn, and a church in the planning phases, however, I did feel a bit run ragged. Instead of being frustrated that Josh worked all the time, I actually encouraged him to work more. We had decided that we wanted to do this while the kids were young so that they'd never remember dad missing dinner or working all the time because we wanted to build a place that they would always love and never feel like they were competing with. So when I went to my sister's house for dinner or ran to get groceries, I felt like one big, hot mess. Chances were, I hadn't showered that day, Jake was throwing a tantrum over something or another (he hit the "terrible two's" right around the time that Lilly came along) and I was lugging around the big bucket seat, probably slamming it into things while trying to calm down our son. They were probably imagined, and my sister has since assured me that I did not seem to be a complete disaster, but I felt like I just got those "pity-stares" from people wherever I went. I think I so desperately wanted to appear like I had it all together because I never wanted people to wonder why my husband was not helping more, especially since I was the one who continued to encourage him to have more meetings, meet more people, and get our church up and running. It was exhausting, yes, but I have no regrets about that. And when Josh was home, he would do double duty, trying to serve me well and spend as much time as he could playing on the floor with the kids, doing bath time and bed time duty, reading books, and just loving on them. I honestly don't know how he managed it all, but we had known that we would have this "busy" season when they were young, so that we could have more time to make memories with them when they would actually be old enough to make memories.

The church started around the same time that I went back to work. Managing two kids, my full-time job, and running the kids' ministry was a huge undertaking, but I feel like even though we were running around like crazy people, we figured out how to sustain that pace, at least for a short while. At this point we were running a sprint, and ministry is a marathon. Thankfully when I was about to burn out someone came along who was a good fit to take over the kids' ministry and things balanced out a little bit more. I took a break from serving all together, and a couple of months later I decided to just volunteer in the toddler room at one service and as a greeter at another in an effort to find my "sweet spot," which we're still figuring out (but honing in on by the way). 

Two weeks ago I went to the ARC Conference with Josh where we heard some of the greatest speakers in ministry teach on church planting, leadership, and ministry. On our long drive home we talked about what role I would have in our church in the future and how we can start preparing for that now. It was decided that I was going to take some time to learn all areas of ministry, so that I could see the nuts and bolts of the entire organization so that I would have a great base knowledge when that time came. The conference really had an impact on me, where I moved well past the "have to" do church, and the "want to" did not just turn into "get to" but "need to." I saw our city in a whole new light, watched the news and saw the darkness of our world and clung to the knowledge that Jesus and His love is the hope for this world. I left there needing to dive in, needing to help, needing to serve alongside my husband, maybe not as a lead pastor, but in a capacity that fits what I was made to do. We always teach "you were created on purpose and for a purpose," but until that ride home, they were just words that we say and they didn't apply for me. It was on that drive home that I realized that God has a mission for me, a purpose that He has set me apart to do, and I need to seek Him and listen so that I can fulfill that calling. I will be honest and say that I'm not entirely sure what it is yet, but I do know that it's time to "get in the game." I need to be a bigger part of His church.

If anything, me losing my job this week was confirmation of that. I don't feel like I was "let go" from my job, but rather "released." Whenever anything is released, the animal, person, or whatever generally charges out of there, ready to conquer whatever is next. It's only been three days and I'm still not sure what this all means for me or for our family, but I do know that God has closed that door so that I can shift my focus to some things that He's been calling me to do. I still may work, we just don't know, but this in-between time is being used to restore my spirit, quiet my mind, and prepare my heart for whatever is to come next. I've never been more excited, which seems like an odd reaction to a lay-off.

So here is what I will say about being married to ministry... it's hard sometimes, really hard. In fact, there are days that my husband comes home feeling like he was the community garbage dump as people pour out their problems to him. Don't get me wrong, that is his heart and what he's there for, truly to be a pastor to those who need him, but it can be draining at times. Then he comes home weary to a wife and kids who need him, and on some days he's just spent. When frustration wells up in me, my biggest struggle is with guilt. My husband is tired from doing ministry, from building the kingdom, and who am I to get frustrated with that when I see how important this mission is? I should be honored to be a part of this and yet, sometimes I just want him all to myself! And then I remember that God values our marriage, too, and that guilt goes away, and I know it's okay to want him all to myself sometimes. It took awhile, but we've found our rhythm and hit our stride, and do more together than we do apart. I say this now knowing that in a month we will have to readjust to find the rhythm again as it is ever-changing as our church grows, and hopefully always will be. 

The question I get the most is, "isn't it hard having everyone in your business?" and to that I say, "absolutely not." As much as Facebook sometimes annoys me, it's a great way for us to connect to our church family and let them into ours. This blog is another place for me to do that, to share our hearts and our happenings. If we truly are a family, then we have to put ourselves out there sometimes. Granted, we have our boundaries and family rules such as when we will and will not take phone calls, visitors, etc., but it's only by letting people in that you let love in. Yes, it can be hard and yes, we have been burned by this before. There are people (although it's few and far between) that try to use our friendship for their own agenda or have some misguided intentions, but the blessings FAR outweigh the hurts. I think back to Jake's baby shower in that small town in Illinois. I kid you not, over fifty people showed up! It was crazy! And all of them just wanted to celebrate our joy with us! And then when I was hospitalized with a blood clot, which was a super scary and uncertain time for our family, they came in droves to support us. We have been given gift cards and free babysitting by families who want to see our marriage remain healthy and do that as a token of their appreciation. When we have happy news, everyone shares the joy with us, and when times are tough, we divide the hurt. I was compelled to throw my "Uncensored" post in this week because I am in awe of the love that our church family has shown us this past week, and not just our TurningPoint family, but those from our previous church and several friends from other ARC churches. God loves us so much that He doesn't want us to do this alone, and the supportive texts, calls, and emails have healed a broken heart. How can I sit here and have a pity party when God has used this to bring people closer together? I will take my chances on opening up on others and take the occasional hurt from that in order to have this abundance of love, support, and friendship in my life. If you don't have that, I encourage you to go out and find that church family... and don't stop looking until you find the right fit. And don't just stop there... after that step outside of your comfort zone and join a small group, which is where I feel like real relationships and deeper friendships truly happen. And even though that seems like a lot, roll up your sleeves and really get in the game, serving in an area that helps build the kingdom. God loves to grow His family, and His family is such a wonderful thing to be a part of, so don't miss out on being a part of that. Get in the game, let yourself open up, and I promise you, putting yourself out there can be the start of some wonderful changes in your life.

Thanks for letting me open up to you... especially when my posts get this lengthy (which is rare). And thank you for loving our family they way you do. Being married to ministry is truly one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me, and I can't wait to see how He uses us next!

PS - Can you tell that writing is therapeutic for me?!?!?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing all this. I'm glad to see you have had times when church was more of a "have to." You always seem so enthusiastic! I'm glad you're entering such a cool new phase of your journey in finding your niche in ministry.

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  2. I love this story and I love your honesty.

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  3. Thanks very much for your large information .And knowledge full description . I think it is Sus a topic that many kinds of people face many problems. thanks for this.
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