We're continuing the above series, and it's time to turn our attention to this difficult aspect of serving: How our spouses feel.
Because we are one flesh in marriage, like conjoined twins, our choice to serve often costs our spouse something.
It's mostly our time that we give; but sometimes it's part of our heart too. And from our spouse's point of view, our time and heart could be spent on other things.
It's very difficult, and for me this continues to be a tightrope balance. My husband does miss out on certain things because of time I spend on God. That said, marriage is about two people's needs, so there's give and take here.
Several years ago, my pastor took a few of us through some conversations as a leadership team. He wanted to encourage personal integrity and so he covered a different topic with us each week. One of those topics was 'balancing ministry with your marriage.'
He shared with us that while he felt an intense call to ministry, his wife did not have the same sense of calling. While she supported him 100%, because they had that slight difference he always made sure he asked her about every single evening he was to be away from her -- "Is it ok?" he would keep on asking.
He suggested we all do the same, and I liked that. However, I did reflect that if I had asked my husband "Is it ok?" in those early days I would not be a believer or attending church by now! As a SUMite, part of our lifestyle unfortunately involves standing up to our spouse in certain areas and not always being in agreement. So, how do we strike the balance?
When we want to serve in a particular area, we can first ask this:
Lord, do you definitely want me to serve in this area? I've got a desire to do it, but is this from you? Please confirm it.
We can wait a little while to mull this one over, but if we are pretty sure it's God's will for us to serve in a particular way, we will then find one of two things happens:
(a) Our spouse says 'yes', and sometimes it's a miraculous 'yes' that leaves us floored at God's goodness (woohoo!)
(b) Our spouse resists us. If that happens we then have to test whether we've heard God correctly. God doesn't mind testing us either: "Are you going to follow Me, or follow man?" It's not easy, but occasionally serving becomes a matter of obedience to God.
I've been in both of the above scenarios and I know that others in this community have too. Discerning God's voice becomes critical. And, consideration for our spouse's feelings remains important.
Amazingly, all the spouses of the writers here at Spiritually Unequal Marriage have given their blessing for us to write. They said a miraculous yes. It's truly amazing. That said, their permission is necessary given the personal nature of the writing, so God had to help us with that.
The same was true when Dineen and Lynn wrote the book Winning Him Without Words. Their husbands never read the book; yet they cheered their wives on. God has hidden us all in a very unique way there. That there is scenario (a) in big, bold miraculous form!
However, when I stepped into speaking at church, I had the opposite happen. Bryce felt I was going too far with the whole Christian thing and he resisted me strongly. We had a particularly difficult conversation one night about it. Later that night God gave me a vision of a fly aiming at my voice-box. Flies in visions often represent Satan. Through this vision God said to me, "Ann, this is an attack from the enemy; he is trying to discourage you from speaking, and you need to push through and speak anyway." After that, I kept going.
It didn't take long for Bryce to have a change of heart and within a few weeks he was even supportive. I guess every scenario is different.
I suppose the moral is that sometimes our spouse will support us, sometimes they won't, but the most important thing is to listen as best we can to God's voice. Stay considerate to our spouse, and stay obedient.
Do you have any thoughts or experiences you'd like to share about the above?
Love to you all,