It's been interesting talking about serving God when spiritually single, and I've found your comments wonderfully insightful. I have especially loved hearing your stories. Our lives certainly are different to other Christians, aren't they?
For the final post in this series, I want to finish with a story --
You might remember I'm going through the book The Love Dare, and one of the dares I had to do was ask Bryce a question, listen to his answer, and not argue back. The question was a hard one. It was this: "What three areas of my behavior do you wish I would change?"
"Do you really want me to answer this?" He said. "Are you sure you want to go there?"
"Hit me with it!" I said. Go on, just do it.
"Wellll..... I'm sorry but your driving is terrible," he said. "It really, really bothers me, your driving." That one made me laugh, even though he was being serious.
But then he told me this, and this one didn't make me laugh. It sort of made me want to cry, but I listened: He said, he works hard bringing in the money. He works long hours and he's often tired. He comes home to see me at my computer 'blogging', and yet parts of the house-cleaning haven't been done, the laundry hasn't been folded, and sometimes important administrative things have been forgotten. He then has to spend time on those things at the weekend.
So the thing is, I've been serving God, but kind of neglecting other things. And that's hard because serving God sometimes takes up a chunky part of our lives.
"What do I do?" I asked God. "I can't not work on the SUM ministry, because You have called me to it and I know it's where I'm meant to be. But, I'm stumped, and I'm quite distressed now."
I reflected further and decided not to get excessively discouraged but instead work out a solution. Bryce did have a point. As the one who 'doesn't work' in his eyes, I should do my part for the family. That is, at least keep the house clean, make it a nice environment, stay on top of the dishes and do family jobs during the week so that we can both relax at the weekend.
My friends, that is the conundrum about service. And, I think the lesson is this: Even if God is calling us to serve outside our homes, we should still try to be considerate to our spouse.
Ok, here's what I did next --
I changed my daily routine. I realized my priorities are, in order: (1) My relationship with God, (2) My family, and (3) Service to others. With that in mind, I set up my daily routine to reflect that order.
I decided to:
(1) Spend the first chunk of the day with God, which I was doing anyway.
(2) Immediately after that, do a little bit of cleaning, and make sure the kitchen is tidy and laundry done.
(3) Only then, work on ministry and other service things.
(4) Each day, try to fit in some kind of task for our family, whether it's inviting some neighbors for dinner, or doing some school paperwork -- The aim being to keep our family life vibrant and running smoothly.
It's working so far. Already the home feels more orderly, and I kind of like it. I'm not a naturally neat person when it comes to my home but I'm finding this new discipline is good for me.
Ultimately, in the SUM ministry our goal is to thrive in our faith and our marriage. A big part of our marriage succeeding lies in us being considerate and kind to our spouse. In the area of service, that truth remains: It is our thoughtfulness and love that will win them over. And while God has many fabulous things for us to do, his heart is always brooding over our marriages.
Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1, NKJV)
So, that completes our series on Serving God when Spiritually Single. I hope you've enjoyed it like I have. My friends, I would love to hear any final thoughts you have in the comments!
Sending you all love,