There has been something that has been on my heart SO MUCH lately...and something Tony was speaking about at church this morning (it has taken me 2 weeks to write this, so really this sermon was 2 weeks ago!! haha!) just hit me...I had to write about what God had clearly been telling me over and over in the last couple of weeks.
Tony reminded the congregation of how you hear things as a new parent, "Oh just wait...whether it is about how you won't get any sleep when they are a newborn, or how your child will soon be a rebellious teen some day...just wait."
In marriage, "Oh you just wait...you might be happy now, but some day you will be annoyed at everything your spouse does..just wait."
"Oh just wait...that new job you have, you won't like it anymore some day...just wait."
"Oh just wait...that skinny body you have, when you get my age, you won't have it anymore..just wait."
"Oh just wait, you are excited to share your faith right now? You are excited to be a new pastor? Well just wait till the people are so hurtful and needy and you won't want to be in ministry anymore...just wait."
Ok, I might have added to Tony's words, but isn't it the truth? People are constantly warning you of how whatever is good will some day be bad.
WHO CAN LIVE THEIR LIFE LIKE THIS??
It hit me in a weird way because I have been feeling like the reason that most people complain is because they (and me sometimes!) have become complacent. For example--your first child you are SO EXCITED for. You take maternity pictures, newborn pictures, fill out the baby book, don't let them watch tv, or whatever it is that you think is important. Baby number two, you get a little relaxed, and by baby number 3 or 4, you are proud if you can just find two of the same shoe to fit on your kids to get them out of the door 30 minutes after you were supposed to leave.
As a new pastor (or pastor's wife) you start off SO EXCITED! You are working way toooo many hours trying to get the sermon just right, the music perfect, new website, or whatever it is that you think is important. Slowly but surely after years of blood, sweat and tears--you get a little relaxed. You start writing your Sunday School lesson an hour before you are supposed to be at the church, you stop practicing worship before you lead that morning, and you are proud of yourself to just make it through a Sunday.
As a new wife/husband, you start off SO EXCITED! You love making his favorite dinner, or mowing the lawn so she doesn't have to. You bring her flowers for no reason, kiss before you leave for work, and make sure your "love" life is on point. You say yes even when you are tired because you want to make each other happy. But after a few years, you would rather order pizza between soccer practice and ballet, he mows the lawn only when he gets a letter from the city because who has time between working overtime to pay the bills to buy your kids the fancy shoes they want for their birthday? And you are lucky if you have sex more than every other month.
There are a few things that I see happening over and over in my life and in other's lives. 1. We get tired. As parents, we are needed 24/7 by our children. You are never off duty (especially if you are a breast feeding mom!!) We are constantly loving on our kids, kissing their boo boos, wiping their tears, teaching them their ABC's and dangit--sometimes you just want to go to the bathroom by yourself without having someone walk in.
Its the same in ministry. You can't find volunteers, so you are in 23048234 different ministries, so much so sometimes you can't even keep them straight. You are a member of the Mother's group, women's group, children's group, sisters group, crocheting group, and you aren't sure you want to be in ANY group anymore. You are tired.
Marriage isn't any different. You are giving to so many other people and things, that of course spending time with your spouse is the first thing to go. You give your heart to your kids all day--do you have anything left to give to your husband or wife?
So what can we do about it? How can we stay away from the "Oh you just wait" zone??? Is it inevitable? Are we all doomed to be too tired and feel drained for loving on everyone in our lives?
1. Put your relationship with Jesus first, and your marriage second. Yes I am saying that your relationship with your spouse is more important than your children and your church. Before you hang me, let me explain. Your children know when your marriage is struggling, it causes your relationship with them to struggle. Don't believe me, ask someone who is divorced.
It is the same for your church. A husband and wife are a team, as a pastor's wife, I can tell you that Tony and I NEED each other to be able to constantly follow His will for OUR ministry. It is easy to see when a pastor and his wife are not getting along. Ways to keep your marriage where it needs to be:
1. Do devotions together (I know--SO HARD to do, but make it a priority!)
2. Spend time alone together (So hard, especially if you have children, but designate at least one night a month to just you time--even if it has to be staying up late while the kiddos go to bed!)
3. Communicate (also seems so hard in marriage, but make sure you are taking the time to really communicate with each other. So many times fights are caused by lack of communication. Its ok to be honest about your needs--wouldn't you rather your spouse tell you what they need to instead of having to guess?)
2. Take time by yourself. With all the hustle and bustles of life, it is so hard to find a few minutes to spend alone--and spend with God. We let ourselves get stressed, tired, and sometimes the cure is to go on a run alone, drink a cup of coffee alone, or cuddle under our blankets reading our Bible. It is so hard as a mom to do anything alone, but its ok to have Grandma or Grandpa or Daddy watch the kids for even just a half an hr a week to de-stress. Sometimes as moms and dads we need to not be needed for just a few minutes
3. When it comes to occupation, or really anything work oriented-- don't become complacent. It sounds so hard, but constantly remember that if you do you best, whether it is noticed or not--you are doing your best for the Lord. A way to not become complacent or too comfortable is to set goals. For my beachbody business, I set the goals of encouraging 5 team members every day, to make sure my workout is completed, my posts are "on point" etc.
For my photography business, I try and edit a certain amount of pictures every day so that I don't get too far behind (the number varies depending on what I have photographed recently)
4. Play with your children. With all the diapers, potty training, teaching, and rushing around--sometimes we forget that kids grow up SO FAST. Take time to play with them. Let them use their imagination, let them explore, let them go on adventures--even if it is just in your living room. You can't get this time back, and you don't want them to just remember you reprimanding them.
5. Most important of all is that you cannot let your relationship with your Savior fall by the way side. Take the time to read God's love letter to us, take the time to spend time in prayer, communicating with the creator of the universe. When our lives are not in line with God's will, it is easy to lose sight of who we are as mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, daughters, sisters, etc. If you need to "spice" up your relationship with Jesus, read the Bible in a different way, maybe a different version, maybe a devotional, maybe dance and praise Jesus with your children--whatever it is that you need to do so that you keep Jesus Number 1 in your life.
I don't have it all together--and complacency is something that I struggle with a ton, but I want to be better. I don't want to be the person always going on a diet on Monday,and forgetting by Wednesday, or the mother who works with the first kid on their ABCs and doesn't by child 2 or 3, I don't want to wake up one day and realize I don't know my husband anymore, and I don't want to be a pastor's wife that just avoids people because she has been hurt so much. Lets live life to the fullest--lets continue to do our best, make goals, complete them, and LOVE with all of our hearts. Who is with me??