Last week, I nearly quit my ministry. I felt like quitting my marriage. I wrote about it here, because I didn’t know what else to do – and felt led.
And for the first time ever, I shared the raw reality of my struggles – shared them with my husband, and my operations director, and some others on our team.
The truth is that I often feel alone in my marriage and in running a ministry. I have a hard working man who is an executive at a large company with a seriously demanding job. But we now live with teenagers, (okay, one is 12, but she’s female, so it totally counts) and they are as time-consuming from a parenting standpoint as toddlers… but with bigger problems than, “I dropped my sippy cup!!!” And I wouldn’t trade any of it, but there’s lots of conflict – often healthy, mind you, sometimes even instigated by me, but I frequently feel like I’m doing it alone.
And then we got a new puppy.
Because I might be certifiably insane. I forgot the chaos that comes with baby dogs. We already have a 2 year old golden retriever – and they are puppies til they are about 4. Good grief, what were we thinking? Okay, we were thinking about our daughter – the new pup is actually hers. But yeah. Chaos.
And we had a weekend a few weeks back that literally put me over the edge. The baby dog was sick (diarrhea – NICE-not), there was unhealthy conflict going on between literally ALL of the people I lived with, kids were sick, and the enemy was pulling me down into the pit in a full-on assault via my thoughts.
I felt ineffective, alone, unprotected, unloved, and exhausted. And I couldn’t lead our ministry. Everything came to a grinding halt. And it is not the first time. You see, I’m female…like really really female… my brain is probably drowning in estrogen… and I see connections between events and conversations that others don’t – even other chicks…and when my family life is a mess, I literally can’t do a single other thing with any kind of focus. I can’t write, I can’t lead. I can’t put a talk together for a group of denominational leaders at a conference that is Monday and Tuesday next week – and so I decided I probably wasn’t going.
I mean seriously, had my brain wrapping around the idea of publicly “flaming out.” I seriously couldn’t see my way past the feelings of inadequacy. I wondered if I was in discipline, was getting fired from ministry, or was supposed to be learning something.
And yet, during all of this, God was with me.
Which confused me.
Because in the past when I’ve felt like this (sorry, yes, I do have a pattern here… been about 7 times probably), I’ve been far from Him.
But I wasn’t this time.
So I didn’t get it.
And I had originally felt led to deliver a message on “Being Transparent” with these folks next week…but I forgot that.
So when God led me to share with our Army of Women on Facebook (it’s a private support group that He had me start – I’m still figuring out what we do) the reality of where I was and how my husband and I had been painfully disconnected (understatement), I felt like I was taking a huge risk.
How could I lead when I didn’t have it together? How could I speak when I had no message and I couldn’t even remember why I had accepted the engagement in the first place? I had nothing to say… How could I lead when there was this much conflict in my home over the course of two days? Have I really had this little influence? Have I really not been able to help this group of people I love most? How could I help others I don’t even know? Good grief.
And then God revealed to me through a series of “coincidences” His Truth: I was living the message I was supposed to deliver.
When I later spoke with one of the organizers of the event, she shared with me, “What they really need is encouragement themselves, and encouragement to be transparent.”
Oh yeah. Transparency. Encouragement. This is a desert place…OH.
And as God would have it, I learned some of the “why’s” of this mess myself over the last three days… and it’s still coming. He has literally flooded my inbox with encouragement to be brave. The same Scriptures keep coming…
Psalm 4:5 Do what is right as a sacrifice to the Lord and trust the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18 We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 15:2 The Lord is with you, while ye be with Him; and if ye seek Him, He will be found of you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.
1 Peter 1:6-7 Although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
The bottom line? The Truth sets us free. Once I realized that I was actually living the message, the oppression lifted, I saw clearly, and had the courage, the strength to keep my commitment.
And I was actually excited, when before I was afraid.
Some of the good that has come from this? My husband said, “We have a really good marriage! I don’t know what you are talking about.” I responded, “I understand that is what you think. And if you are you, it probably IS great. But if you are me, it’s really lonely.” He heard me. Light-bulb-style.
And I realized that we probably need a man in our organization who can keep things going, someone that oversees it all. Someone not derailed by emotion like I am. Our operations direction needs freedom to do what she’s supposed to do, as do I, and we can’t when we’re bogged down in emotional mess. Ministry is different than business. Seriously. We’re at a point where we just can’t grow unless we fix that part, too. So yeah, pray for us. I have no idea what this looks like, nor do we pay anyone right now, so not sure how we’re going to pull that off. Good grief.
I understand why few women lead in ministry or churches!
Something funny? Literally ALL of my speaking engagements this fall, save a radio show with Focus on the Family, are with pastor’s wives groups – I had no idea. I literally only speak 4-6 times a year (okay, travel to speak 4-6 times a year – as I don’t feel led to spend time speaking such that I miss tons of time with my kids or husband), so it is so weird that most groups this year are pastor’s wives - even the group I am speaking to next week, and I didn’t even know that until two days ago!
Crazy. He’s cracking me up.
And I was actually able to laugh last night as the vehicle I planned to drive to Chicago randomly wouldn’t start, and I discovered that somehow, my phone started sexting people I didn’t even know. I have been receiving gobs of texts back, and even phone calls – have literally been apologizing to people I don’t know for things I don’t even know the details of that I didn’t do…
I should have been a bit frazzled over those two things, but nada – Him in me-style nada.
So I’m also seriously motivated once again to finish the video work for Daughters of Sarah. We don’t know how to pull that off, either, but God’s obviously in charge here, and we’re just going to keep doing the next thing. We’re breaking it into 6 week sessions – I’m so fired up I can hardly see straight. I KNOW what we are supposed to do – I can’t wait to work more on it. We’re shooting to release early 2014. Please pray!
One more thing… super important… I want to thank You.
Your many words of encouragement in last week’s post helped me.
So thanks for being a safe place to fall. And thank you for the words of encouragement.
We are not alone. Thank you for taking a moment to bless me.
Love to you,
What about you? Where are you in the journey? What struggles have YOU overcome? How did He pull you through? Dare you to share… double-dog dare you to be brave with us in what He has YOU doing! And let us know what that is – we’d love to pray for you as you run, walk, or crawl during this leg of your journey.