Turns Out, My Husband Was Right All Along
This month, my husband and I will celebrate our four-year wedding anniversary. It has somehow gone by incredibly fast and incredibly slow, all at the same time.
If you’ve followed along for a while, then you know my work life has been a bit bumpy for the last few years. I took a job at our church in 2016 and had high hopes and big dreams for where that job would go. I built a whole life in my head about the type of creative ministry I was going to grow and how God would use it to reach adults and kids alike. When it became clear this church job wasn’t going to go the way I’d imagined, God told me it was time to let it all go and I was devastated.
I long for a life of significance and meaning, and I thought I’d finally found it. But God saw right through me and noticed that my identity was being placed in a job instead of in him, so he said, “It’s time we step away from that for a while.”
I am still grieving that season in some ways.
If you haven’t heard, yet, I recently took a new full time job with an organization called World Relief. The decision to take the job was actually quite taxing. I didn’t want a full time job. But I was also not loving the month-to-month life of living fully freelance. Thus commenced the back-and-forth, up-and-down arguments I had with myself daily.
The thing about being married is that you don’t walk these kinds of seasons alone. Your spouse has to walk right through them with you, giving advice and encouragement when they can, and sitting quietly in the armchair hoping you’ll figure it out eventually when they can’t.
Over the last few years, Dan has said a few things to me (over and over and over again) that, until recently, I just wasn’t ready to hear. I either didn’t believe him, or I just thought he didn’t get it. Nevertheless, he kept repeating them, and they finally stuck, so now I’m sharing them with you.
Things my husband was right about all along:
1. Ministry is everywhere. It doesn’t have to be the thing you get paid for.
This one was hard for me to accept. Over the years I’ve had a couple of meaningless desk jobs that literally felt like they were taking the life out of me. So when I got hired to work at a church, I was over the moon. Even on the worst of work days, I still found joy in the fact that I was getting to show people the life-giving love of Jesus.
Dan would often tell me the story about how he worked for a church for his first two years out of college. Similar to many church workers, it wasn’t a great experience. He was pushed to the max to perform and rarely had time off to rest and recharge.
“I am doing much more significant ministry now, as a volunteer,” he said, “than I ever was on a church staff.”
And he was right. For nearly 9 years, Dan has been teaching large group Bible stories to the elementary kids at our church, among many other things.
Not only that, but he has this incredible gift of making everyone who comes in contact with him feel safe and known. Even if he’s not saying the words “Jesus loves you,” he’s being the very love of God to so many people each day.
Ministry is everywhere. We just have to remember to look for it.
2. It’s okay if your next job isn’t “the” thing. It can be just the next thing.
I already told you — I’ve been known to put way too much significance in the job that I do and the title that I hold. God has been doing some real internal work in me to teach me to just be who I am no matter what I’m getting paid to do or who knows that I’m doing it.
For some reason, I have felt a lot of shame in not knowing what I want to do, even at the ripe old age of 32 (I know, I know. To some of you that is very young). I think a lot of it has to do with culture. We celebrate the early bloomers and forget about all the great things people do late into their lives. We pepper children’s sermons and youth Bible studies with phrases like “Seek God’s will for your life,” and all along God is really just wishing we’d all be present with him right now.
God is way more concerned with who we are than what we do. That’s probably the biggest thing our Western Christianity gets wrong about walking with God. Even from an evangelism standpoint, we often communicate that we’re not truly living out our faith unless we’re telling other people about him. But that’s another post for another time.
I’m grateful for a husband who shows me, again and again, that walking with God is just that — walking. We walk forward and talk to him at every step of the way. Which brings me to the third thing Dan has taught me…
3. You do not have to “figure out” what God wants you to do, nor can you mess up God’s will for your life.
Like I said in point number two, I wish we’d stop using language that encourages young people to “find God’s will for their lives.”
God’s will for our lives is that we know him, and knowing him deeply allows us to take the pressure off of making the right decision and simply allows us to walk with him through every decision.
Throughout this whole process of leaving a job, going freelance for a year, applying for jobs, not getting jobs, and finally being offered a job — I stressed out every step of the way.
“What if this isn’t the right thing?” I’d often ask.
“What if I never figure out what I was made to do?” I’d continue.
“What if I can’t really figure out what God wants me to do?”
“You’re putting too much pressure on yourself,” Dan would say. “I don't think life is a game and God is sitting somewhere laughing at you because you can’t figure out what he’s trying to tell you. If he wants you to do something, he’ll make it clear. And if it doesn’t matter, you just make a decision and trust him with it.”
Dan seems to get this way of being with God in a way that I’m only starting to understand. We get to just be, and trust God with each decision that we make. If we make a decision turns out the way we want it to, we get to praise him for his provision. And if it doesn’t, we get to walk alongside him in the process.
About a month ago, I received an Instagram message from a woman in South Dakota. She told me that she’d been working in ministry for six years and was sensing God might be calling her into a season of rest.
She told me my writing had been such an encouragement to her and she wondered if we might connect over the phone.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was honored that she had reached out, so we set a date and she gave me a call one night after work.
I listened as she told her story. I shared more details of my own. I answered her questions and offered advice, and all along I was struck by what I was saying. There was real growth there. I was telling her things that I did not know even mere months ago. I could testify to God’s goodness and provision. I could say, “yes!” If God is calling you to a season of rest, take him up on it! It’s countercultural, even for Christian culture. God is calling you to know him deeper and that’s a risk worth walking toward.
At several points in our conversation, I found myself wondering if Dan could hear me. I didn’t really want him to hear because, to be honest, I felt a little embarrassed. Nearly every good thing I was sharing with this woman had somehow come from Dan.
I walked out of our bedroom after the phone call had ended.
“How did your conversation go?” he asked.
“Well,” I said. “Turns out you really were right all along.”