I’m not exactly sure where this thought came from. I know no one actually said this to me but somewhere along the line growing up I thought that the only “real” way to make an impact for Christ was to be in full-time vocational ministry. You know, a missionary, pastor or pastor’s wife, author or speaker. Those people change our world. Desiring to do just that I went to Bible college for a year before marrying a man I had witnessed speaking up for the Lord. I was sure we were destined to a life of “public” ministry. We prayed, “Lord use us where-ever, however you want to. We are willing to be on the “front lines.” Originally that prayer took us back to my husband’s home town. Really? That was not what I pictured.
There were not many young women in our church but 4 women, all several years older than me, took me in. We had Bible study together, celebrated our birthdays, and we laughed ALOT. They shared their marriage and parenting experience with me since they were a step ahead of me. When we moved away they threw me the craziest going-away party you can imagine. 30 years later I still remember it. Those 4 ladies shared their lives with me. They didn’t formally sit me down and site all the Bible references that explain why I am to love my husband and that our marriage is to last our lifetime. They didn’t preach at me that my husband and children need to be my first priority after my own relationship with God. They just took me into their world, their everyday life. They included me. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time.
After 3 years of married life around those fun, loving women we moved to a community where I knew no one. We looked for a church and I immediately joined a women’s Bible study. 30 years and 3 moves later I have a long resume’ of Bible studies, couple’s small groups, quilting classes, scrapbooking sessions, lots and lots of phone calls, coffee times and prayer times about marriage and parenting. I’ve heard people refer to this as having “Jesus with skin on” in your life. All I know is my relationship with God is deeper and more solid because of those who have shared their life with me and my family. As a result, when the storms of life have hit my family I have been better prepared to handle them and I’ve had people to weather the storm with me. For that I will be forever grateful.
I’m sad that so many of us think only the things we do in or for church or a Christian organization really count as ministry. As a result, on top of caring for my family and the normal work/school activities I have sometimes filled my time with multiple good activities; teaching Sunday school, going to women’s Bible study, helping in the nursery or singing in the choir and doing a couples small group. Don’t get me wrong, these are great things and we should participate as the Lord leads us, but He rarely leads us to do all of these things at the same time or at the expense of our marriage and family. God doesn’t ask us to exhaust ourselves doing Christian things. He asks us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind and to “love our neighbor as ourself.” (Matthew 22:38-39) I now understand that loving on my husband and kids privately and publicly speaks volumes for the Lord. Why? Because in this world of broken families, a marriage and family who enjoy each other, who actually talk and laugh together are not as common as they should be. When others witness that, they become curious. They want what you have. I know because recently a single gal I work with asked me if it was really possible to marry a man and stay married for life. I know because 4 women shared their lives with me. That changed my world. Who can you or are you sharing your life with? Our world changes one relationship at a time starting with your own marriage and family.