It sure feels weird to be away from our home church, even if it’s not on a Sunday. A little part of me makes me feel like I’m cheating any time I step through the doors of another church. I know that sounds ridiculous, but since we started volunteering more, we look at our roles completely different. This Christmas Eve our entire family attended Mountain Park Community Church, and upon walking into the Church I starting having the feeling that I need to be there to help in any way that I can. This is obviously unrealistic, because I am only here for this service, and if we decide to come next Sunday, that would be a total of only 2 services. There isn’t anything we could possibly volunteer for while we’re here, so what do I do?
To give you a little background, prior to attending North Point, our church attending mentality in the past used to be like “Ok, what is this church going to feed me today?” or “What does God have in store for me today, how is this message going to benefit me?” Selfish. I know. It wasn’t intentional, it was just how it was. Every Sunday became a disappointment because we were in it… I was in it, for all the wrong reasons.
Thinking about this old way of thinking presented some guilt of how I used to “go to church,”and my mind was consumed with these thoughts and feelings. I was completely missing an important message that Kim and I need to sometimes remember, especially with all of the activities our children are in.
So I breathed and relaxed for a second, and then heard the Pastor mention my sister’s name and tell us a story about how she made the difficult decision to choose to strengthen her marriage, over making their kids and their activities a priority. At this moment, I knew that I needed to be selfish and just appreciate that God really did have something just for me at that moment.
Instead of trying to summarize a paraphrased “interview” from my sister to her Pastor, I would rather just have her tell you herself:
It was right after school started and our pastor was in the middle of a series that focused on “the Unwritten” part of your life. There were a lot of large lights on the stage signifying the season of life you were in, as well as living in the present. Tyler and I were faced with a decision for our family. We knew he had one more deployment to knock out but weren’t sure when it would come. Inevitably, he was given orders in September and the turnaround to get him trained with the deploying unit was a lot faster than he or I had experienced. Further, the unit was based out of Germany and he had 60 days to get there with deployment following shortly after. As it would happen, the message we heard that week was about making the choice to strengthen your marriage over making your kids and their activities priority.
Just before we got orders, Tyler’s ex-wife decided to move to another state and take the children with her. My daughters were driving and becoming more independent at their high school. My employer reminded me that we were a global company and the thought persisted, “maybe I should go with him to Germany?”. I had also just finished reading Gary Chapman’s “Four Seasons of Marriage”. I was humbled at the thought of God using this ‘season’ of our marriage to strengthen each other and ultimately, our family. After much soul-seeking and prayer, my parents moved in to our home to watch my girls and we set off November 1st. We spent that month just…being married. We had no car, but a roof over our head and food to eat. He trained and I worked during the week and on weekends we traveled on trains and lived out of our backpack. We shared more conversation about life, our children and where we were going after this deployment. We made connections with families much like ours. We knew we loved each other, but we discovered just how much fun we can have together, and, we really REALLY LIKE being each other’s best friend. We came home for Thanksgiving and will be spending Christmas together as a family, but then he goes back to Germany. I will join him for a couple weeks for the official ceremonies and then we’ll start our year long journey of being a geographically-separated family.
Our pastor has often preached about building the walls around your marriage to PROTECT it, now more than ever does that apply to our family. The Gift of November was just what we needed carry us through this next year and make those protective walls stronger. While we go through the challenge of 2011, I have full confidence that this last year has not only prepared us, but transformed us into a stronger, more faithful family unit.
Does anybody else ever find it hard to prioritize your marriage over your kids activities? I know I do, especially with our 2 daughters playing competitive club soccer.
Hopefully this awesome story encourage you all too, to make that sometimes difficult choice and strengthen your marriage and ultimately strengthen your family.