Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Passion in Marriage...and it's not what you think...
Imagine with me for just one minute what your idea of the "perfect" Christian couple is. If you grew up in the church like me, your idea probably looks something like this...the husband and wife missionary team who travels to foreign lands teaching together, standing strong together, being amazing together, and bringing their children along for the journey. Or maybe it's the husband and wife team who lead a Bible study together each providing the perfect balance for everyone in attendance making them the perfect teaching duo. Or maybe it's the husband who preaches every Sunday with his beautiful, faithful wife sitting on the front row smiling up in pride at him knowing that she is his supporter. In every single scenario I always imagined of the "perfect" couple there was a theme...togetherness. I always imagined that the perfect Christian couple ministered together. That God brings two people together, instills in them a united passion, and grants them the opportunity to live out their calling side-by-side.
What happens when, like most of the Christian world, you marry someone who has a different idea of ministry than you do? What are you supposed to do when after you are married God instills in your spouse a passion for international missions and instills in you a call to your home city? Do you need to fall on your knees and pray because obviously something has gone very, very wrong and one of you is not hearing the Lord speaking clearly? Despite how it may feel, it does not make us any less of an amazingly godly couple just because we are called to different passions, because we feel like God has not granted us a "united" ministry front. Yes, God does call some couples to service together, and He calls all of us to support eachother, but for most of us our ministry is still a very personal and separate calling even after we are married.
It does not seem as glamorous to have your husband traveling to foreign lands while you stay home with the children. It doesn't seem as "important" to lead a woman's Bible study while your husband is running a homeless ministry that you feel no call to. What does it say about us, our lives together, our love for eachother, when we don't even share the same passions? If we don't even feel passionate about the same ministry then surely we cannot be as "great" of a couple as we had previously thought. Surely we are not one of these Christian power-couples we desperately desire to be. Oh, sweet wives, the devil is so alive in that thought. It is a thought that has taken me so long to break through, and the freedom that has come from breaking free from this ideal image is truly amazing.
How I wish more churches would teach us the truth about God's calling, the truth about passion. Husbands and wives although bonded together by the Lord, are still very different people with very different backgrounds and very different interests. Even if on the surface you seem to have a lot in common, the direction that our passion can take us can seem to be a million miles apart. After my husband and I were married I noticed one very large difference. Ok, well I knew we had this difference, but I always thought that when we got married God would magically give us the same passion and we would work together in it. That this difference would come together for our "ministry".
My husband is very, very quiet. He is shy, laid back, not serious at all, and does not feel comfortable carrying on a long conversation. And here I am...Miss Exclamation Point!!! My entire life is like this !!!!!!!!!!!!! I am excited all the time, love to talk about anything and everything, the complete opposite of laid back and I take everything very, very seriously. It works out so perfectly for us as a couple and our marriage has benefited greatly from these differences in more ways than I ever could have imagined. But what hasn't benefited is this imaginary ministry life that I had planned for us.
I have always felt a call to ministry. Always. When I was in seventh grade, I went before my church and announced that I would be going into missions. I had no idea what that meant at the time, and it took a long time for me to get past the idea of this "mission calling" and start just living. Living my life as if every single moment is a calling. Living my life as if every single person put before me was someone to wittness to (although I still struggle with that...which is surprising given how outspoken I truly am). When presented with any ministry opportunity I am all in, in fact I seek out these opportunities. It is just my heart, it always has been. I am a teacher and an encourager. I may not have the gifts of helps or hospitality or healing, but I can lead in a way that has always been an undeniable gift from the Lord. Even as a middle schooler I had already begun leading and teaching others. Well, my husband has such a teacher spirit, so I automatically assumed this meant God would be calling us to like-minded ministry. Given these "power-couples" I had grown up around I always pictured that was what it looked like when God had placed a call on your life, and I knew that as Christians we both had a call.
The funny thing is, I have begun to meet the most amazing godly couples that have completely changed my view of how passion in ministry can look in a marriage. Having passion for different areas is not a weakness, it does not say anything about your life together or your spiritual life. You see, I always felt that if a couple was on the same page spiritually then God would bring them to the same place. And by same place, I felt that meant the same ministry. Some of the most amazing foreign missionaries I know go alone, while their spouse stays behind. Some of the most amazing teachers have husbands or wives who would never get up in front of a crowd to save their life. I know women who have passion for issues that their husbands have no desire to be involved in. These spouses don't stay home from mission trips or steer clear of these opportunities because they don't care about them, or even because they are "not in the same place spiritually" as their spouse, they just have different calls of passion.
So if you are like me, and many, many other Christian couples who have different passions in ministry don't let it make you feel like you are any less of a couple, or that your passion is any less important. I am called to women's ministry, to moms, to teaching. Oh, how much easier it would be if my husband felt called to men's ministry, to fathers, to teaching. We could do it together, side-by-side, and look so cute while we do it of course. But the fact of the matter is my husband, no matter how much I could try to "convince" him, just doesn't have this passion. His passion does not go hand-in-hand with mine. In fact, he's not yet felt called to ministry at all. But you know what we are called to as a couple? We each are called to the passions that God has placed in us and to support those calls in eachother. Not everyone is called to ministry, and those of us who are should support those who aren't. He is called as my husband to support me where God is leading me and he does, oh, yes, he absolutely does. I am called as his wife to support where God is leading him and I absolutely do.
In times when our passions seem to be in conflict with eachother we need to take a step back and try to see the way in which they can work together. We need to be able to each follow our own passions in marriage without our relationship feeling threatened. We need to be able to answer the ministry calls God has placed on us without any fear. We need to maybe reevaluate the idea of what passion looks like in a marriage. Different passions towards ministry does not represent weakness in us as a couple, and it certainly doesn't represent weakness in us spiritually. Instead it represents our strengths in the way God can use us best, and as spouses we should be able to see and encourage those differences as well.