Ever Felt Discouraged?
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.
Thank you. I really needed to read this today. Feeling very down and discouraged and wanting to quit what I do at church. It isn’t leading a ministry but something I really enjoy doing and have been hurt lately by it. I feel like maybe we aren’t at the right church or something. Then when this happens I feel like nothing else in my life is right. I want to be brave like you!
Bravery is SERIOUSLY JUST DOING the thing that we are scared to do.
And we can’t do it on our own, it’s Him in us that does it. 🙂 Hang in there, beautiful. I’ve been wounded by things, too, so I get that, but I also know we can get through them. Don’t quit. Just do the next thing. Share your struggle with a few close friends and ask them to pray. Be on your face. Confront or overlook, based on what He leads you to do. But don’t ever quit when in the middle of oppression. That icky feeling? The heaviness? Calling cards. Residue of hell, the slime of satan. Don’t make big decisions when feeling it. Just keep working, keep reading, keep praying, and learn about yourself and those around you in the middle of it.
Love to you, beautiful.
Thank you for being transparent. I pray The Lord continue to strengthen you on this journey. You are a brave Person. I appreciate your openess.
Right now im battling the enemy in my dreams at night. I know its a spiritual attack. Im praying The Lord to purify my Heart And mind.
Once again your words are hitting so close to home. Thank you for being exactly who (and how) you are! There’s a kid’s church song that’s running through my head right now that’s so perfect – “God has a plan for my life (repeat x 2), I just can’t wait to see what’s in store for me, ’cause God has a plan for my life.” 🙂
Thank you for your transparency! I have found that the Lord has led me to healing by being transparent with my ministry as well! God will lead you through and make sense out of the chaos 🙂 God bless!
I’m glad you’re still writing, I consider you one of the best marriage bloggers out there.
Hi Nina, I totally get what you are saying about being overwhelmed and exhausted. I have 2 “tween” girls, and I can’t believe the amount of mental energy they require from me. Like you, I know this time is precious. I long to hold it close and dear, but it is so hard sometimes. I work part time (thankfully), but I bring a lot home with me and juggle trying to get home before the girls’ bus. My husband, like yours, has a very demanding job. He is sometimes 7pm or so getting home and then works more when he gets home! He occasionally travels as well. Last week I wanted to quit my job so badly, as I just felt like something had to give. I was so stressed and overwhelmed with everything. This week is a little better, but I could so relate to your story. It was like you were writing for me when you said that everything comes to a grinding halt. I know exactly what you mean! I lose the ability to function when I am feeling so out of balance.
Anyway, I just had to reach out to you and encourage you. You have an amazing gift. I am so glad that I was brought to your book and your blog. I turn to you, as others do, when I am feeling alone and discouraged. Thank you!
Nina if you only knew the chaos and insanity that has been mine lately – you would either join me in laughing or wonder at my grip on sanity! And after writing about forgiveness I end up being snaggled up by the dark guy in a situation where I normally would be an angry emotional wreck, and instead I saw the manipulation for what it was and I clearly stated my boundaries. Wow. Who knew? It’s still rough but God is there, and when we look for Him in the rough places and at the tough times we can see Him anywhere! Bless you girl.
I am a pastor’s wife and would just like to encourage you that maybe you are experiencing this right now because it is exactly what many pastor’s wives go through frequently. Walking with the Lord but discouraged and struggling to love others that hurt you in the ministry and always have to think that their way of doing everything is better. We are bombarded by constant criticism but expected to be perfect. We aren’t looked at as a volunteer as all others within a church; instead, we are held to everyone else’s expectation. Encourage these ladies and help them realize that though they must be considerate and loving of others, they must not be men pleasers and they have to let go of caring what other people think. Instead, they must do everything from the heart as unto the Lord. Keep it up. Haven’t read your book yet, but would like to. 🙂
Rebekah – as a fellow Pastor’s wife I could NOT agree more! And I would encourage you to read the Respect Dare! I’m taking the ecourse right now and I’m a part of the Army of Women she mentioned. It’s the perfect place to find encouragement, share frustrations, rejoice in victories and know that through it all those women want to see your marriage be an amazing, Godly relationship!
ha! the other day, i saw your blog post with the poo in the title. i meant to read it but i had so much crazy (non marriage) drama going on that i didn’t get to read it. i guess God planned for me to read today’s post and the poo title post today because these two posts is a confirmation of what God has been speaking to me in the midst of the drama in my life right now. we can’t change people. this morning, in my quiet time, as i read His Word, read my BIble study and wrote in my prayer journal, I felt God remind me I can’t change people. I don’t remember the exact verse- I believe it is somewhere in Romans- that said if we have the fragrance of Christ, to some it will be pleasant and to others this fragrance will smell like death… i am completely paraphrasing but you know that verse don’t you? lol. so no matter what i do, i can’t make people see my side of the story if they refuse to see it. i can’t make people not judge me and nit pick at my every mistake if they are sitting there and waiting for to make a mistake… sometimes because i want to be a light and i want so desperately to be a good walking billboard for Christ, i get too hard on myself. and if people point out that i am acting ungodly- i beat myself up on it. funny things is, those are people who could give two cahooties about God. and suddenly because I am open and unashamed about my faith, they like to point out to me that i am a horrible person. maybe i am horrible. maybe i am unworthy of being God’s child- but that’s the beauty of my Savior Jesus Christ- He died for me in spite of my unworthiness…
“Because the truth is, no matter how hard you work, how much you obey God, you are still interacting with people you can’t change.
And I still don’t do the things I want to do…and do the wrong things instead.”
BINGO, Nina. You took what I had inside of me and put it into words. And as you said, even through all this HE IS WITH ME.
You are doing a great work for God. He is speaking to so many women and their families through you. So of course, you are under attack. In fact, even just for me to get this comment in, I had some technical issues.
Keep on looking to Him. Praying for you. Thank you for your transparency. It reminds me (and should remind all of us) that NOBODY is immune to feeling alone or inadequate. This actually just led me to reach out to women I know in ministry and just ask them how I can pray for them right now.
God bless you, Nina. I thank the Lord for your ministry!
Knew something was up when we saw you shopping. Saw it written on your face, so prayed for you. Thank you for being so transparent and honest. You are dearly loved sweet one. I will continue praying for you! Eph. 3:20
I’m treasuring the thought that I am not alone in this 🙂 Thanks!
Thank you for being so real about this. I especially relate to your talking about how God felt far away – but this time it wasn’t because you did something to put Him there. It was just a time of trial. LOVE this! YES!! So me right now! I love your honesty to share the struggle and then the getting back up. We SO need this in each other – if we all look like we are making it – we all think we are failing. We support each other when we are honest, IF we are with people who view this honesty as precious and will truly be there for us! This is so vital to any message – it keeps the message aimed at God rather than our own strength. Thank you so much!
Nina, I had to chuckle when you said you are not yet sure what the “Army of Women” group does. I don’t even wonder about that – they are sisters in Christ who hold one another accountable to striving to do what we’ve been called to do in Scripture, they pray and encourage one another, and allow each member to be completely transparent with one another. You may not have understood what the purpose was when you started the group, but I know EXACTLY what I find there!
Discouraged, Lonely – WOW I have too felt the same way. I came across your blog just last week when you posted about these struggles. Let me say it was refreshing to read something so transparent. For the past year I have struggled with many different feelings and until this week I really did not know how to “fix” things. Well, God in His perfect timing gave me words I needed to hear from none other than my husband. Please allow me to explain. I also have a husband that works for a very large, well known Corporation in Cincinnati and his current assignment is extremely demanding. We recently relocated back to Cincy after being away for a year. That year away was extremely hard for me! I was away from friends I loved and a home I had grown to love (10 years is the longest we have lived anywhere), and I was farther away from my family. I felt lonely. I was homeschooling for the first time, we lived in a small, quiet neighborhood that did not have any children that were the same ages as mine and although I had met my neighbors we did not really do things together. I wanted to come back to OH. During this time I decided that I would try my hand at a Direct Sales business as a way to make new friends and contribute to our family’s finances. I felt like I needed to contribute in that way since I had always worked and I was feeling like I was useless. My husband supported the idea and I jumped in. Well let me just say it did not go so well. I put myself out there and was excited about the product and did all the things I heard I should do but nothing. Man I felt like a failure. Then we got good news that we could move back to Cincy and I was walking on air. I just know everything would be perfect again. I would be near my friends, back at our old church, and I could get to my family in 8 hours instead of 2-3 days by car. I also just knew that my business would pick up and I would be really moving in no time. Well 5 months later and here I am. Yes things are good, I love being back here and around everything and everyone I know and love. But guess what? My business is still at a stand still. I have tried everything, I have been to training sessions and participated in an event etc. Here is where the right words from God came in. On Monday I reminded my husband that I had a party scheduled for Thursday evening and wanted to know if he could make it home on time. This was the first party I had scheduled since moving back. I was excited and wanted to do everything right. He told me he would do his best but he had a huge presentation to give this week and a lot was riding on it. I said okay and continued with the week. Well on Wednesday everything crashed and burned so to speak. No one was coming to the party, the hostess did not want to clean her house since no one had responded other than 4 “No’s” and she wanted to cancel. I felt so deflated. My husband called and when I mentioned the party he told me he probably would not be home in time before I could even tell him it was canceled. Well I eventually got the words out and he asked me, “what do you plan to do?” I asked him what he meant and he explained that he wanted to know when I was going to “call it a day” with the business. I told him I did not know because I loved the product and did not want to look like a quitter to my girls or let others down that I worked with. Here is where God kicks in. My husband asked me why I was really doing this. I explained that I wanted to socialize with other women, I wanted to do something my family would be proud of, and I wanted to contribute money to our family. My husband then told me what I had longed to hear. He said that first off, if you need to spend time with other women I understand and maybe there are ways to do that without being gone in the evening. Second, we don’t need the money. We are doing just fine. Third, you are doing an important job. You are raising our children and you handle the house and all that entails by yourself. You do the cleaning, laundry, shopping, cooking, decorating, getting kids here and there, scheduling appointments and so much more. He went on to say that he appreciates all I do and that what he really needs is peace. Not that our house is in turmoil but when he leaves his stressful job he likes to come home and feel and see the peace inside. He likes to sit down and eat as a family and then play with the kids or take a walk. He likes to know that he can relax and feel confidant that all is handled and under control. That is the best thing I can give him. He said that makes what he has to endure worth it. I immediately felt a burden lift from my shoulders and I have felt so much better these past 2 days. It is freeing to know that you are loved and appreciated and that even if you aren’t “successful” by the worlds standards you are successful by God’s. Thank you for sharing your story and being so transparent and thank you for letting me share mine although it is long. I look forward to reading more of your blog.
Thank you for sharing this. I’m in the midst of prayer/struggle/mind games on whether I should give up my part-time work-from-home job to focus soley on my family, my home, my marriage and my own health and spiritual life. I wonder if it’s worth the time away from my family, the distractions, the inability to do the things I thought I’d be doing with my children/family. I wonder if I truly make a difference by being something “other than a wife and mom”. I wonder if the small income is worth the big sacrifices. I wonder if I would be someone different. I wonder what God wants me to do. You give me inspiration to wrestle through this and not make a decision based on emotion alone. Bless you. And my God continue to give you strength and direction!
<> Warriors are often lonely and afraid. Thank you for being willing to hear Him – through others – to stay in the fight!
Thank you for your transparency and openness about your struggles, Nina. It must have been a light bulb kinda week because I had several. One light bulb came via a friend. I had ranted to her about my husband’s this, that, and the other that “just makes me so mad!” The next day, in passing, she called it a tirade. And folks, that’s what it was. And it made my heart sad. I have a good man. A man prone to mistakes (just like me) but he’s still a good man. I saw my behavior and it didn’t please me… don’t think it pleased my Father either. This realization ties to another realization… I’ve been doing this (tirades) since childhood. Yikes. Time to seriously grow up. It worked then to get the attention of my parents because they ignored me otherwise but it doesn’t work so well now. Yep, time to grow up and put my big girl panties on. Another light bulb was in the area of submission. God has been dealing with me about this for a while and that’s probably the reason for the temper tantrum earlier. I was emailing back and forth to another dear friend/accountability partner describing my struggle to even say the word “submission”, much less actually submitting to my husband who is such a “screw up”. (Obviously, I was still in temper tantrum/tirade mode.) My friend told me straight up that if I treat my husband with kindness (duh!), that will lead to respecting him, that will lead to honoring him, that will lead to trusting him, and that will lead to submitting/following him. After all, somebody’s got to lead. And though society tells me I can lead… I really don’t wanna. I’m an analytical type girl so I can totally see the formula here and see it actually working! What I gleaned from this “formula” is that I am very unkind to my husband… in many ways. And he sees this as disrespectful and he responds in like kind… by rebelling against my disrespect. Whew! Kinda got a power struggle goin’ on. I’ll share one more light bulb moment I had this week. A couple weeks ago, God showed me that I struggle with perfectionism and that it gets in the way of receiving grace, not only from Him but from anyone. In prayer time this week, God brought John 3:16 and Ephesians 1:6 to mind. God loves me! And I am ALREADY accepted into the Beloved! Guess what that means, folks? I don’t have to be perfect. Duh! you say? There is a reason I try to have it all together all the time but I’ll share that another day. Suffice it to say… I’ve been let off the hook. Guess what else? My husband loves and accepts me, too. That releases me to be kind to him… to respect him. You see, I felt like I didn’t measure up and in the pain of that belief I lashed out… constantly. Well, I have to share one more thing… I read on this blog this week about “intentionally being my husband’s best friend”. Wow. Be his friend. Who’d a thunk it! He’s not my enemy. The Enemy is my enemy. And he’s not my husband. My husband is a good man. I started a list of all the things that I CAN respect about my husband. And I’m asking God to show me more. God is good. Thanks again, Nina and my others sisters that were willing vessels of the Holy Spirit this week.
I LOVE your quote “My friend told me straight up that if I treat my husband with kindness (duh!), that will lead to respecting him, that will lead to honoring him, that will lead to trusting him, and that will lead to submitting/following him. ” Can I use it in a blog or a future publication?
My life was so crazy lately – I hadn’t even had time to read your post. But I knew that there was a spiritual battle going on somehow for you and have been praying for you often.
I’m so glad I was able to read today.
I praise God for what He is doing in your life and marriage and ministry. Thank you for allowing Him to use you.
Much love to you, my precious sister!
I am so excited for you. I knew you would make it through but Jesus dealt with our eye infections and did some heart surgery on us.
Nothing ever happens in the life of a believer without purpose. Why do I forget that? God uses us not just in spite of our weakness, but because of our weakness. Why do I forget that? We are not alone. God puts us together with people who are walking through the same things. Why do I forget that?
What you were going through, as I was going through something so similar in my heart and mind, was not without purpose. As always, the enemy meant it for our defeat but God means it for His glory. He was teaching me at the same time He was preparing your heart to transparently talk with those precious women you will be talking to this next week. Pastor’s wives sometimes feel like they have to have it all together. They don’t, we don’t! We simply have to reflect Jesus at work in our lives. He is our sufficiency–our strength in our natural weakness.
By the way the Army of Women is a group of women with a heart for the Lord who lovingly support and pray for one another (notably you) but definitely each other–women we may never meet on this earth but who have a heart for Jesus and a desire to serve other women by transparently modeling God’s work in their lives.
Love and Hugs,
Thank you for your transparency, humility and your willingness to lead! You continue to amaze me with your words that not only inspire but comfort as well! Yes, God is in control of all! Lifting you all up in prayer! Blessings!
Struggles – WOW – I’ll just start with the fact that you led a Daughters of Sarah class that I was invited to preview and at that moment I knew that all would be well with my marriage in the long run. You and Debbie probably remember me bawling my eyes out during your preview class. I had just moved out the day before. I was leaving behind over 30 years of yuckiness in my marriage and life. I had know idea what life was going to look like for me. Fast Forward 2 years (short in some respects and very long in others) and I will say that my marriage is at the best spot it has ever been. We even took a short trip to see our daughter and her family – a trip that I believed would never happen. Praise God!! I am now leading my 2nd Respect Dare Bible Study and going thru the book for the 4th time myself. So – thanks for your transparency, and your love, and your truthfulness (even when it hurts – OK ESPECIALLY when it hurts). I love you and respect you for all the hard things you do.
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