There is a season for everything…
Ecclesiastes 3 was one of my favorite Scriptures to completely blow out of proportion as I unintentionally put my marriage on the back burner to ministry.
Circumstances had resulted in a huge shift in personnel numbers within our ministry, and my husband and I felt the need to keep the work going. It seemed obvious to let our relationship and young family take a backseat for the sake of the Gospel—for a season.
For many months, we continued to make our work the priority, and we saw great success. Attendance numbers grew, there were fruits of the labor, and it all seemed to be worth it.
The short-staff situation did not improve, but we pushed forward anyway. Surely God needed us to accomplish His purposes — we convinced ourselves — and He was blessing our efforts…
About seven months into this way-too long season of neglect, I found myself pregnant with our second child. We decided that it was time for me to start staying at home and to focus on running our household, raising our toddler, and staying healthy.
But the work remained demanding, and I continued to add responsibility after responsibility to my load.
I will never forget the night when a representative from our sending organization sat across from us in our living room and informed us that we likely would not be able to return to our ministry next year. She pointed out how unhealthy this work structure was for our personal health and our family. We could potentially continue in the country, but not with the same program.
WHAT? How could this be? There were so many good fruits in our ministry! Plus, we have built a life here! How could we even consider uprooting now?
I broke into tears when she left.
One: I wasn’t ready to consider leaving my home.
Two: I was mourning the loss of all the hard work we had put into growing the outreach.
Three: I was seven and a half months pregnant and (of course) had raging hormones.
Four: She was right. We couldn’t continue on like this. And it was a hard pill to swallow.
The reality is that while our ministry was growing, our marriage was crumbling. Our relationship had been centered around tasks and work. We were teaching about patience and unconditional love all day, but were fighting and bickering regularly at home behind closed doors. We went to bed angry at each other. Our daughter had even started to experience anxiety from our unhealthy lifestyle. We rarely, if ever, made time or put forth effort to pursue one another, so our intimacy gradually decreased. Home was not a place to recharge spiritually and emotionally; rather, it became an intense environment. Romance and joy were no longer a part of our relationship, let alone prayer and mutual uplifting.
A root of bitterness had formed between us, and it was beginning to choke out our love for one another. We became selfish and demanding:
I’m the pregnant one! I need more rest. Can’t you stay up with our sick daughter tonight?
Seriously, I have to fend for myself for dinner again? Did you even get groceries?
Why won’t she stop crying? Didn’t you change her diaper?
How many times have I told you that Thursdays I have a meeting in the morning?
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith,” Hebrews 13:7.
As disciples and leaders of the church, we are called to live our lives as an example. Our ministry in our home is actually supposed to be a model to others. Honestly, I would be ashamed to let most people peek into my home during that season, let alone invite anyone in to see our marriage as an example.
So, we took the advice and stepped away from our ministry, and we are currently dedicating two months to prayer and healing as a couple and family.
Our baby boy will be here any day now. We still do not know what the next steps are or where we will end up, but one thing we have decided: it is time for a new season.
A season of serving one another before our children and others.
A season of ordering Uber Eats and binge watching Netflix together.
A season of letting go.
A season of praying together.
A season of investing in one another.
A season of working through hurt and forgiveness.
A lasting season that keeps our marriage as our first ministry.
Stepping away from the field for this season took humility, but the scariest part has been facing the pieces we now have to pick up in order to heal our marriage.
We are so grateful that it is never too late for grace, and no matter how long the winter season, spring always comes.
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance,” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
What season are you in currently? What steps have you taken or should you take to make your marriage your first ministry?