A wife’s perspective on seminary

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I knew before Eldon and I were married that our lives would be involved in ministry in some capacity, as he is a gifted worship leader (I may be biased…but the Lord works in great ways through his music!) and has always wanted to pursue ministry and leadership in the church. That being said, I never imagined I’d be in this season. Until recently I haven’t felt worthy or called to this life. But God is good and he has a purpose for all of us, planned an orchestrated from before we were formed in the womb. I can see now how God was using my circumstances to shape and mold me to be a strong, grounded, and supported wife and helper (who still needs a whole lot of grace) and to ultimately love others in a way that furthers the kingdom of God. God has been opening my eyes to the unique ways he can use both myself and Eldon and I as a married couple. I feel burdened to joyfully and wholly pursue ministry in whatever capacity he has for us, and I can say with no reservation that I am ready to come beside my husband in his ministry as well, no matter how “big or small” that may look.

I thought my ‘easy’ life growing up disqualified me from ministry. Instead, God gave me the most wonderful, supportive, encouraging family where I lived comfortably and learned practical and spiritual values. And now, in our 3 years of marriage God has walked us through some very difficult times. Paired with the years I spent learning and living what a healthy family and marriage looks like, I now have a passion for hurting families and marriages that I didn’t know ran so deep in my heart. And I can see how the years I spent in a healthy home have prepared me to face challenges and relate to others now and in the future.

What I thought was only my husbands story has allowed me to connect with and develop sweet relationships with other wives who have walked or are walking similar stories. Not just stories of hurt and pain, but stories of redemption. Stories of fulfilled callings. And stories that look similar – all in different ways – to my own. God has weaved our lives and stories together in such wonderful, mysterious ways. And I am learning the value of
community, discipleship, and friendship grounded in the Lord. What has now become “our story” gives me unique perspective and also keeps me coming back to Christ, empty and hurting, to be filled up again.

Now God has my husband and I in a season of preparation. And as lonely and busy as this season can be, I know there is purpose. I know God is working in my heart just as he is in my husbands. But it is so hard. And if you are a seminary wife reading this, you know exactly what I am talking about! The nights are long, weekends are short, pages to read never-ending, and the circumstances surrounding working full-time, being in school full-time, financially supporting an education, and juggling day-to-day life can become more of a burden than a blessing. I have had to evaluate the posture of my heart many times in the last two semesters. And I will have plenty more semesters to do the same..I don’t even want to count! For all my fellow seminary wives out there, you are not alone. This is a long, hard, trying, unique, and BLESSED season we are in. Whatever your circumstances may be – kids, no kids; full-time or part-time classes; 2 Full time jobs or an endless list of part-time jobs; on campus of online – I hope you can relate to and find encouragement from what God has put on my heart.

Sacrifice  
This season requires great sacrifice, from both myself and my husband.

Time – On top of the amount of hours it takes just to complete the assignments well, my husband’s mind is engaged in his studies even when he isn’t ‘studying’. Seminary is more than a full-time job, and includes work outside the classroom. This means there are times when my husband takes a break from ‘school’ to do ministry – to talk with others who are in the same boat, to be encouraged by those who have reached the next step, and to be held accountable by other men. This requires me to sacrifice time with my husband, even when I feel like I have sacrificed enough. It is not selfishness on his part – he is simply enhancing and encouraging his studies. And I need to allow him to take time away from school and away from me to pursue his own personal hobbies. Thankfully  we also have a few hobbies we enjoy together, but there are days when he just needs some room to breathe.

Finances – Seminary is also a sacrifice of resources. Not only do we give up our time, we also give up many comforts and wants. Personally, my husband and I have chosen to pay for seminary without loans. This means we both have continued to work full-time and part-time jobs. I am constantly taking my anxieties about our finances to the Lord. He has provided for us in abundant ways and I am not looking to live a life of luxury. But I still worry about the future – when we have kids, saving for retirement, paying down our mortgage…it’s hard for this type A girl not to worry! But God is so good – when I take my anxieties to him he is quick to increase my faith. If God has called us to ministry, in whatever capacity that may be, he will provide the resources we need to fulfill his purpose. This does not mean we will have an abundance or money or an excess of ‘stuff’ or activities. What is does mean is that he will provide for us if we are faithful and obedient to him.

You have purpose and so does God
I believe God has a purpose for me in this season.

I have a unique opportunity to serve and encourage my husband in ways he may not ever need again. My importance to him is unique in this season, and will continue to be unique as we enter into ministry. God picked me to go with him and there is something beautiful about that. I have the ability to counsel, support, rebuke, and encourage my husband in ways no one else can. I try not to define myself by my role as wife, but I do believe God has called me to love and support my husband in these unique ways, both now and in the future.

I also have a unique set of circumstances for God to use to mold and shape and prepare me for where he is calling me now and next. I can use the ‘extra’ time I have to learn and prepare for ministry just like my husband is. There is no reason he should be the only one learning and growing deeper with God. I believe God is working in profound ways in my heart – in ways I would have missed had we not walked in to this season.

Prayer
Prayer changes things.

Prayer changes my heart. And I need a heart check often!  My love language is quality time, and in this season that just doesn’t happen as often as I need. This can leave me feeling unwanted, unimportant, and selfish! So I go to God. I go to him before I approach my husband, asking him to rebuke and encourage me and to show me where I am being selfish and where our marriage needs attention.

I try to first pray when my husband crosses my mind, whether it is a positive or negative thought! Prayer changes things – including the posture of my heart!

When I am lonely for my husband, I pray for him.
When I am burdened for my husband, I pray for him.
When I miss our ‘old’ season, I pray for the one we are in now.

I have felt for a while that God wants me to engage with Him in prayer more often. I think part of this is because I am in the position to directly fight the attacks that will come upon our family as we enter in to ministry. I believe any wife should be a prayer warrior for her husband – the burdens they bear are great no matter their job – but I think it is especially true for a wife who has been called into the spiritual battle that accompanies a life in ministry.

Community
If I had to pick the biggest lesson I’ve learned since my husband started seminary, it may be this one. It was opportune that we switched churches at about the same time, but I have never been so reliant on and so thankful for a community of believers. It is important for me to encourage my husband to maintain relationships in this busy season – which means it is important for me to seek and maintain relationships as well.  I am so blessed that God has placed several women in my life. We are all in different seasons but God has connected us in different ways and the encouragement I receive from them is invaluable. They ask the hard questions, hold me accountable, and are there for me whether I need a listening ear, a laugh, or someone to pray and process with me.

This will be hard
I have so much respect for wives with husbands in ministry. Seminary is hard. Being married while being in seminary is hard. Embrace the struggles and learn to see them as ways God is preparing you for ministry. Seminary has made my husband and I rely on God in new ways, and the grace,  forbearance, strength, and discipline it requires from us both will result in wisdom that will bless others as we minister to them. The hard stuff we deal with in our marriage, the times I must approach my husband and God broken and hurting – it is all for a greater purpose.


Above all else, I have to remind myself daily that we decided this was the right path we are in this together. Ultimately, the gospel isn’t about us – it’s about Christ. I am extremely grateful that my husband gets to spend these years pursuing Christ and learning how to make Him known. I am blessed that I married a man who models obedience to Christ and has chosen to devote his life to serving the Lord well. And I am honored that I have the privilege of being my husbands biggest supporter and encourager. What an opportunity I have to learn to love my husband unconditionally, to rely on the Lord to meet my needs, and to find my strength through prayer and in God’s word.  This season is only temporary. In the bigger picture, it is momentary. But this season – no matter how hard or how uncomfortable it gets – has eternal purpose. I have a deep gratitude for God leading us here.

Therefore, my beloved [sisters], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

{1 Corinthians 15:58}

 

 

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