We sat across the glass top table in the dining room at my grandmother’s house, which we were renting at the time. Sweet Gra’ma let us paint the whole house whatever color we wanted. And rip up the carpet to paint the slab. I honestly credit a great deal of my decorating sense to the freedom she granted me to make her little blue house my own for those few years we lived in Ruston. In some ways, that little blue house was my saving grace because Ruston was not an easy season for me or for our marriage. Don’t get me wrong, Ruston was lovely. Ruston is lovely. And the church we were a part of was full of wonderful people. And I had a bit of a dream job for the bulk of our time there, but my heart was not in a dreamy sort of place. I was young and selfish and gripping tightly to what I thought life was supposed to look like, as if there’s any such thing.
So, amidst mustard yellow walls (I didn’t say my decorating sense at the time was great) Josh told me that he thought God was calling him into vocational ministry – that several people had verbally affirmed him in that calling and that he wanted to go to seminary.
I can’t remember what my response was at the time. I’m pretty sure my initial response was to be supportive. If grown-ups (which we very clearly were not in my mind) were telling him to go into ministry, obviously he should. And my knee-jerk is always to give a grand, supportive, I’m-all-in, “Yes.” Later, after I’ve gleefully walked into a thing, I realize that I am just not up to the task. So, I appear to be changing my mind constantly when the reality is I said, “Yes,” before I even knew what my mind thought about it.
Within a month or so, Josh had quit his job at the bank, started part time as the Men’s Minister at our local church, and applied for seminary. I had been working at a local Collegiate Ministry – and I felt like I was the right amount of rough around the edges for that, but the more I thought about functioning as a pastor’s wife, the more I wanted to run for the hills.
I cuss a little. And I’m sassy. And I don’t play the piano. Josh is way nicer than me. And he likes to be at church all the time. And he grew up in ministry. I feel a lot more at home with people who wear their ugly on the outside.
So, I made a decision about me and about “the church” – and it was that we didn’t belong together forever. It took me so, so many years of frustration and bitterness and wrestling to realize that we absolutely do. We do because if we claim Jesus as our Savior, we belong with the church. Josh’s vocation didn’t change that fact.
We wound up in Orlando, FL within a year. I was sure this was going to be our grand adventure and then we would be back in Louisiana. God had other plans. We spent the next 7 years there. Josh grew and thrived in ministry. I could see that he was called to it, but I couldn’t see that I was.
Can I tell you something? I failed Josh for a great many years. I didn’t know how to support him – truly I didn’t. I wish someone had told me how or showed me how or made me snap the heck out of it – I know people probably tried, so I wish I had been tenderhearted enough to be changed. I wish I had embraced it and even been grateful for it. I wish I wasn’t so sure that I was all wrong for the job of pastor’s wife. I wish I had rested confidently in God’s sovereignty. I wish a lot of things about those 8 years.
The good news is, I got there eventually. The bad news is that although Josh bore my selfishness with a great deal of grace, we both learned to silo our hearts in the arena of passion and calling. We didn’t share the same passions or callings – we don’t still – but we never learned to let our passion for one another to spill over into our respective areas of calling. We are still struggling to do this well. Today.
What I hope you have heard over the course of this series is that life was (is) still happening, we were (are) still making memories and building our union. We have done (are doing) it imperfectly but we have done (are doing) it unequivocally together. So the life the we have built , the joy, the tears, the bed, the babies that we share – every day is another day we have done together, another day we have stayed. God honors this, y’all. It isn’t for nothin’!
Can I encourage you today? It’s usually not too late to fix it. All those missteps that add up to some pretty significant holes in our marriages, they can be mended. It just requires a great deal of very uncomfortable honesty – mostly with ourselves, and the grace that only our Father can extend to heal up and seal up all the cracks and broken spots – and day in and day out work – and commitment, always commitment. There is hope, friend. There is always hope in Jesus!
Writing this series has been such a joy for me! It has been a gift in my own marriage. I hope that it has encouraged you, too. Thank you for showing up and reading the words of our story week after week. It’s an honor the be able to share them!