I am in a totally new stage of life right now.
When Aaron and I got married, we were already deeply immersed in ministry life. Besides attending a Bible school where we were active in leadership, we volunteered as leaders in the youth group at a local church. We both loved sharing life with students, so our tiny apartment was frequently full of vibrant teenagers, much to the irritation of our elderly neighbor below.
Then I got pregnant with Josiah. And we became full-time youth pastors. And I became a part-time worship pastor. And I got pregnant again. And again. (I’m the picture of a perfect Old Testament wife. I just thought about being pregnant and the test was positive.) So the first 10 years of our marriage were B-U-S-Y.
When I think of my “stay-at-home-mom” years, they’re a blur of diapers, meetings, late nights with students, sleepless nights with infants, pizza, migraines and nursing babies. We always seemed to pick up extra “volunteer” roles at church, and we found what we were doing meaningful. We loved taking our kids along for the ride, as they were part of everything we did. Ministry was a family affair. From setting up chairs to running Pro Presenter, my kids knew how to be little pastors as soon as they could walk.
Now, I know that opinions differ on this subject, and though I know we made mistakes, I’m thankful for those crazy, busy years. Aaron and I learned so much about parenting, marriage, friendship, pastoring and so much more. But all good things come to an end. Seasons change. However you want to say it, time passes and if we want to grow we must allow the changes to mold us and not just our roles.
So, here I am in 2013, almost 15 years of marriage and ministry under my belt, my oldest biological son almost 14 years old, 3 officially adopted kids and 1 “unofficially” adopted adult son, and my view from here sure looks different. My husband is a full-time pastor, but he has no congregation, doesn’t preach sermons weekly and it’s been years since we had to run a church service. I work for the same college I attended years ago, and though it’s a Christian environment, it is more business than ministry.
So, last night, when I was watching pastors, congregants and students filtering into the SAGU auditorium for the 7:14 Prayer Conference while I stood in the lobby at a booth and my husband put children to bed at home, I reminisced.
I remembered all of those weeks where we spent more evenings at the church than at home.
I remembered weekend services, worship rehearsals, songwriting sessions, leadership meetings, big events and service planning sessions.
I remembered what it felt like to be needed by so many people. To be recognized. To be applauded daily. To be an integral front-and-center part of so many important things.
And that little, needy people-pleasing section of my brain started to glitch. Like an addict realizing that her last hit just wore off, I scrambled through my thoughts searching for my last dose of affirmation. When was the last time I received praise from someone? What is the last publicly awesome task I completed that everyone raved about?
Ugh. This little room in my heart is painted in numerous shades of ME, and it is not pretty.
In this moment of self-realization, I had to almost force myself to thank Jesus for these hidden years. As my approval addiction began to rear its ugly head, I was overwhelmed by my obvious need to be out of the limelight.
Oh the blessing of being unknown. To have your potential buried beneath the earth, shooting roots deep into the foundation of who God is until it’s ready to bloom into who you’re supposed to be.
It’s not that I’m not doing anything important right now, but people don’t tend to hug your neck when you create that budget or get their admissions file complete. There’s a drastic difference between leading 1200 people in worship every Sunday and leading an admissions team of 5.
Thank. The. Lord.
I realize over and over again how desperately I need this time. Having my value tied up in the opinions of parishioners wasn’t a stable place to be. This winter season is allowing my soul to discover its value in who created me instead of what I create. It’s dry, and it looks unproductive at times, but when times get rough, I think about how Jesus felt during his twenties. The hope of the world made tables.
For more on this subject, check out Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole. It’ll change your life.