Once upon a time, I married a youth minister. We were young, in love, and passionate about ministry as a whole. We had been Pastor’s Kids, raised in ministry and still in love with the Church. We had experienced the pitfalls and the frustrations of ministry, so we thought we were covered.
And then life happened.
Church politics played against us in a very critical time for us. We were hurt by the people who were supposed to have our best interests at heart. Taking the metaphor of the sheep and shepherd, our shepherd saw that my leg was busted and then proceeded to make me walk several miles.
I wish I were joking.
And the other sheep in his care looked at me as if I were crazy for being upset that my leg was busted. I don’t blame them: they were responding based on the shepherd’s care. When we finally left that flock, I was bruised and battered. And still we held on.
We kept doing ministry. We kept serving others. Because isn’t that what good sheep do? No one told us that it was okay to lay low for a while. No one said that we could rethink this whole ordeal. So we kept going.
We didn’t immediately join another church or adopt another ministry, but the ministry mindset is hard to break. When you’re called to it, you can’t do anything but that. It’s almost like an addiction, and I can’t say for sure if it’s the helping people that’s addicting or the finding yourself in how others see you. Either way, it can be a dangerous game.
We did join another church, eventually. And then another. For two years, we poured ourselves into the second church, standing against opposing mindsets and, truth be told, spinning our wheels, trying to achieve our ideals in a congregation that, frankly, didn’t really want them.
We left that church just over a month ago.
And it’s been so freeing.
For once, we’re figuring out how we work as a couple, not as a ministry. For once, we’re looking at our lives wholeheartedly instead of compartmentalized. For once, we aren’t watching our words so carefully because someone may take a snippet of what we said and run with it. For once, we don’t have an agenda…and for once, we aren’t pawns in a political game.
This past month, we’ve been wrestling in the unknown. We don’t know where to go. We don’t know what serving God will look like for our family once we’ve wrestled with Him. We don’t see the end result.
What we do see is a subtle shift in our family life and in our life as a couple. What we do see is hope in each other’s eyes. What we do see is a resolve to stand firm, to let our roots grow deep, and to reclaim the life that we have together.
Last week, my husband totaled his car. On Monday. Before work. By Thursday, he had a new truck, one he’d always wanted. We are seeing God open doors that had been shut. We know that the doors that He shuts are ones that we don’t want to walk through. Despite frayed nerves, there’s an overwhelming peace in our lives that God is working, especially in the ways that we don’t see.
Right now, our prayer is for direction. It has been for over a year, yet the pieces still haven’t fallen into place. We trust God’s timing, though, and we believe that we’re seeing Him move in mighty ways. Each victory feels like a huge one, and each week brings about a hundred more challenges. And yet we stand, victorious. We are more than conquerors, friends. And that’s no fairy tale.