I've contemplated writing a series of blog posts for sometime on the topic of "When Life in Ministry is Hard." The purpose would not be to complain - in fact, they are mostly lessons about my attitude in life, but I've felt that perhaps they were needed.
You see, I feel like in the blogosphere you basically get two sides to the coin when it comes to those of us in full-time ministry (and trust me, I KNOW ministry is so much more than full-time pastors - we can discuss this later)...you either get words from the uber-spiritual who seem to magically have it all together. Whose blogs encourage others to follow their prescribed 6-step formula to a perfect life. On the other end, we seem to have way too many nay-sayers out there who are quick to judge those of us in full-time ministry. Proclaiming how ministry should be done and focusing on the horror stories of those who have been hurt in the pathway of professional ministers.
The nay-sayers have some good points. I've been hurt too - LOTS - it comes with the territory of growing up as a preacher's kid and going to a well-known Christian college with so many problems that they recently grabbed the largest headlines in the nation. But sometimes as a preacher-girl who is trying her hardest to make a small dent in West Texas, you can't help but feel all the naysayers are pointing at you...and you can't help but cynically wonder if the perfect preachers have a hidden mistress somewhere (just being honest)...
And in the midst of the many Spiritual discussions...you just wonder if people really know what life is like for us...So, I thought I would give people a glimpse. I wanted to share a few of the hard things, and the first blog in my mind - the one that seems to be a constant pull is:
When Ministry & Mommyhood Collide
It hit me hardest last spring when a baptismal service in our college ministry was approaching. I was meeting with a college woman for almost a full-year at that time and was amazed at the transformation God was doing in her life. This young woman who had walked into my office with defenses high and questions abounding was on an amazing journey of discovering the beauty of God's love and His transforming work in her heart.
She didn't have life all figured out yet and was still making plenty of mistakes, but when the baptismal service was announced she approached me about it. I was ecstatic that she wanted to get baptized and encouraged her with all my heart. We signed her up and all was set until Satan, the great accuser, began to assault her with every doubt and condemnation in his arsenal.
She called the day of the baptismal to explain that she wasn't going to go through with it, and listed a long list of reasons why she wasn't worthy. Through texts and voicemails I was relentless that day. I prayed and pleaded with God...I just knew deep in my heart that she needed to identify with Christ in that water! I prayed and I prayed and I waited by my phone just hoping she would call to say her mind was changed.
And when I was prepared to give up hope - she called to say although she still felt like a wretch she knew she had to obey Him. How refreshing her honesty was in my life, and as I hung up the phone I did a little happy dance! It was less than one hour until our service so I hustled Selah through a quick dinner of macaroni and cheese and did my mom duties of getting the diaper bag ready at lightening speed.
We jumped into the car and I began to make my way towards the church. Selah was noticeably quiet in the car, her little cooing and babbling sounds were absent, but I was not really paying attention because my heart was excited for the college kids I have come to love - excited about what God was going to do in their hearts this night.
And then I heard it. The sound of my baby girl vomiting. I darted my eyes into the rear view mirror to find to my horror that my girl was truly sick. I will spare you the details of macaroni & milk in the hot sun (but those words alone should suffice for you to know it was a BAD scene in my car).
I pulled my car over and cradled my baby girl all the while yelling at God that this was not an appropriate time for my baby to be sick! I needed to get to the church! SHE needed me there. And yet, in front of my eyes was my sweet Selah - and she needed me too.
As I cleaned up a mess with paper towels from the gas station I began to cry. Was I to be one of those professional ministers who brought disappointment to a hurt girl who was desperate for truth? Was I to be one more person that she could say didn't show up when she was reaching out her hand towards faith? The fears ran rampant in my mind & I stood paralyzed on the side of Slide Road trying to decide who I was to be at this moment.
Because it was obvious that I could not be both Selah's mommy and her counselor.
And then I heard His voice. The actual counselor...the actual hand of faith...the actual truth...the actual One she needed to see that night. I heard Him simply say, "I am enough."
So I put Selah back into her car seat - my naked baby - pale and visibly shaken from what was attacking her body. And I drove back home - tears down my eyes - crying for my baby who hurt - crying for my misplaced desire to be all things to all people - crying at the truth that He is enough - crying that she would find His truth for herself.
Ministry is hard sometimes - especially when choices must be made, and explanations are not always clear. Have you experienced ministry to be hard as well? I would love for you to share - perhaps we can encourage one another.
I have a part 2 to when Ministry and Mommyhood Collide (It's a more positive spin on it and what the Lord is currently teaching me) - I will share it soon.