A couple months ago, at the end of a beautiful farewell evening at our church for my husband, who was the Youth Pastor, a wonderfully insightful woman came up to me and said "You worked just as hard as he did all these years, because you were the one who had to give him up every night and take care of your family on your own!" Her comment blessed me so much!
If you find yourself in the unique role of being a ministry spouse (or as someone once called it, "ministry widow," because her husband was gone that much!), you will understand the need to be validated in this way. My prayer is that this blog can be that validation for you as you travel along this road filled with many ups and downs. For me, a lot of the journey felt like unchartered territory and I often wondered if anyone else out there was having the same thoughts and feelings I was having. And I'm going to be honest — some of what was going through my head wasn't always that positive, and I want that "stuff" to come up here too, because this blog is going to be a place where none of us have to "put on a face" like we often feel we need to in church ministry. While we may all be coming from very different situations and backgrounds, at different stages of life, I am sure that there will be LOTS that we can all relate to. And hopefully in relating, we will find a way to not only celebrate together in the positive things, but also encourage each other in the frustrating times.
Back to the encouraging comment I received above, it reminded me that I have often compared myself to someone sitting on the sidelines of a very important game (my husband would just absolutely GROAN to know I'm using sports as an analogy!), cheering on the players, washing the uniforms, talking about the game after they win or lose, etc. While that used to make me feel like I wasn't quite as important or that I wasn't doing quite as much as the "star players", I am slowly starting to see that in a really great game, there are many roles that are very necessary, that we have been called to and created for. We can't all be players in every game, just as we can't all be coaches or referees or cheering fans or bench-sitting-new-team-members.
I'm not sure exactly where a ministry spouse sits on the "sidelines" of youth ministry, and sometimes I'm quite sure the spouses are playing the game just as hard as their husbands or wives are. But regardless of where you see yourself, we all have an awesome honor and privilege to be called to the game at all, and I want to enjoy it to the fullest, the way I see some of my hockey-fan friends getting so geared up for every game they attend or watch on TV. I'm learning to embrace this spot on the sidelines, and to see that God is using me mightily right here in many ways, big and small, even in the times I don't want to be here, and I pray the same is happening for all of you.
I'd love to hear from you — your experiences and feelings about being in this role, practical tips for how to be encouraging to your spouse in his/her role, and anything else you feel like chatting about with other people who are in the same boat, or watching the same game. Grab something from the concession and meet me at the front-row seats!!