An unexpected virus hit Kai this morning and has been running havoc all afternoon. Titus has slept small increments and not his usual “long nap.” Mike has been traveling the last two weeks – currently across the waters on a mission’s trip and it would be so easy to resent and blame what else? Ministry.
That’s the easy way out and too often in my three years as a pastor’s wife and even more serving in ministry I’ve watched marriages fail and even seen a wedge creep into my own when I’m not careful. Ministry is beautiful – yet the very qualities that attract you to it (community, family, comfort) feel like the things that you lack or sacrifice especially when your spouse volunteers or serves full time. I know I’ve felt those moments and even more so unfortunately expressed them in a heated moment when I feel like I’m doing this all on my own…because that’s the crux of it. A sense of being a pseudo single parent dealing with life while your other half gives to others what you feel and do need yourself…
These past two weeks I’ve had to counteract and resist the trap of ministry resentment and stay positive in what I know to be true as a mom, not just a wife – but a pastor’s wife. Resentment towards ministry isn’t something that many spouses talk about openly (but its effects can easily be spotted), because there is a sense of guilt attached to it. So the pastor’s wife will distance herself for the sake of her kids (because someone has to do it) or a spouse will refer to ministry as my husband’s/wife’s job. I’ve sat many a time and felt torn that my husband is doing what God has placed on his life and I said I would support him – but at a cost I want to set the conditions to! Then life hits and some nights I’ve cried along with my toddler who just wants daddy to put him to bed…and I can either blame ministry and sow that seed for my son – or remember this:
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
The notion that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle unfortunately isn’t biblical (that was a shot to me). However, God is present in all things, especially when I’m cleaning up vomit and can’t tend to my screaming 3 week old until I sanitize my DNA! And when I do my best to stop or even am reminded by someone else, I redirect my potential resentment to the current blessings unfolding for me.
It’s not an easy task (it’s a conscious decision), but my potential resentment has looked like these blessings the last two weeks:
1. Staying with my parents (though I felt I was imposing with two littles) for two weeks. I’ve taken naps, been able to read and set goals for myself, and enjoy watching my kids enjoy them.
2. Being able to take Kai with me as we brought a meal to friends of ours who lost a loved on – and share with him how it’s great to bless and stay connected with others.
3. Rest. Honestly mentally and physically I’ve been able to be the focus and then focus on my family. I’m better for it.
4. Having friends check on me several times during the week and being my tangible community.
I know there are more, but as I hold my now calm toddler I realize the best antidote to ministry resentment is embracing your community and acknowledging the present help in front of you. Not falling into staying isolated and figuring it out on my own or disconnecting from others because they are tied to ministry (or pride keeps me at bay). And remembering I’m not doing this on my own at all. My dad held the screaming three week old as I tended to Kai and my mom switched out with me and made dinner for all of us…the story could end with complaints, but it wouldn’t be fair to not share the grace that keeps me focusing on grace and resisting resentment.