In this together

My year as a pastor’s wife was but a taste of what life would be like on the mission field. I wrote about some of this new reality in a previous post on Marriage and Ministry. While finding ways to add margin in your marriage are hard, but can be found in normal circumstances, the lock-down scenarios faced in global pandemics bring a whole new set of challenges.

It might have been a fun pre-marriage fantasy to be locked in a small apartment with the love of your life, but it doesn’t quite have the same romantic feel when it’s you and your spouse and three small children for 85 days straight in a high-rise apartment building with no yard.

Talk about questioning your call or marriage commitment — or both!

Here’s a few suggestions from a fellow traveler:

  • Lighten up. Just get silly and laugh a little. Stress affects us all differently, and causes us to become overly sensitive. Jump up and stretch out your limbs. Dance around the house (yes, even you Baptist missionaries). Watch a comedy film with your spouse and kids. Do whatever it takes to laugh and offset the seriousness of your reality. It’s still fantasy — just a different kind. 🙂
  • Allow for alone time. Create space or allot a special room for each of you to get by yourself. Don’t hog up the entire day by separation, but determine some set times in the day when you can be alone, your spouse can be alone, and even each child (if possible) can be alone. A good book, quiet music, or a coloring book (even for you) helps to relieve the tension.
  • Do some couple/family aerobics. If you can’t get out, you’re not moving enough. Put on some fun music and do a workout routine. *Just make sure you don’t jump too much and disturb neighbors below.
  • Write a love letter to your spouse. Take some of your alone time to sit down and actually write a letter to your spouse, sharing sweet and loving thoughts about them. Reminding them of why you married them and how much you appreciate all they bring to your relationship and family. Don’t be afraid to use some of Solomon’s words from his love poem.
  • Be willing to share the kid duties. Stressful times lead to assumptions that can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Talk together about how you can arrange your days to share duties and give each other downtime with the kids. While one or both of you may be trying to stay virtually connected with colleagues and your focus group, make sure you’re not neglecting your family’s needs.
  • Pray as a family and as a couple. The only way the two of you are going to get through this is to make sure that bond of three cords is really tight. Bring God into your quiet time, not just as an individual, but as a couple. Pouring your hearts out to him together, will not only release the burdens you’re carrying, but help your spouse to see how you’re struggling.
  • Keep God’s Word before your eyes and those of your children. You all need God’s words of comfort right now. Read them and speak them to each other and to your children. “Perfect love casts out fear” is a good example of a verse that can remind you all that not only does God love you, but because you know that, you’re not afraid.
  • Do everything in love. Keep agape love as your goal in living with and serving your spouse and children. Times such as this take an extra amount of the sacrificial love that God knows so much about. Ask his Spirit to fill you and help you express yourself as Jesus would.

You may be feeling that you’ve already passed the forty-days-in-the-wilderness test, but just think of the great lessons God’s teaching you through this time. Though I think God missed an opportunity by not putting this in scripture, it’s always good to remember:

In love in Syria 1993

This too shall pass.

Thankfully, we know and serve a God who helps us walk the narrow path, whatever it may look like in your life. Stay true to him. Stay true to your marriage vows and your commitment to serve, and you will be blessed. You’ll see.

Grace and Peace

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