No. I. Am. Not. Kidding.
This was their first youth pastorate. They were brand spankin' new in the ministry. At the time we had two kids and so did they. So there were eight of us living in the same home,
We were packed in like sardines but we had some wonderful times. Our families got along splendidly and things like dinner time were especially meaningful. We took turns cooking and we collaborated on other nights and enjoyed great conversations around the table. We played games with the kids. Laundry was interesting...oh my! But we made the best of what could have been an uncomfortable situation and we actually have great memories from that time.
The day it all came to an end....
It all came to an abrupt halt when the youth pastor came and knocked on our bedroom door very early one morning and said he needed to talk to us right away.
He tearfully said that he and his wife loved us as people and respected us as pastors, and couldn't thank us enough for opening our home while they were house hunting. But he went on to say, "My wife can't handle the ministry..." He said, "Living with your family up close and personal has shown us what life is like in a pastor's home. Quite frankly, we had no idea. The phone situation alone scares my wife out of her mind. She sees what will be required of her if we continue on this path of ministry, and she is afraid. She's begged me to resign and move back home and do something else with our lives. We love you all more than words can say, and as far as it depends on us, we'll always be friends. But this living situation, as good as it has been at times, has also shown my wife she is not cut out for the ministry. I am so sorry..."
Larry and I encouraged them and tried to get them to at least consider waiting a little while longer. We thought maybe their decision was a knee jerk reaction to a few days of stress where it seemed we had a lot of emergencies to deal with in the church. But it didn't work. They moved back to their hometown where he has worked in a factory ever since. And yes, we're still friends. :)
Hindsight is 100%
That situation is now almost two decades behind us. As the years unfolded I came to my own realization about it, and not always what people expect. When some people heard what happened they said, "how terrible that the youth pastor's wife asked her husband to leave. Does she realize she's responsible for her husband being out of God's will?" Well, actually that's not what I think, looking back.
I think about the fact that I wish I had a do-over with them, to be an example of proper boundaries.
I think about the fact that things might be different if Larry and I had known at the time what we know now.
We lived in a loving home, a fun home. We loved God and each other. We loved others. But we severely lacked in boundaries! We just didn't know.
I am so grateful I've had opportunity to learn, grow, and change.
The phone situation the youth pastor spoke of back then was before the days of cell phones and texting! Things went to a whole new level of stress once cell phones came on the scene.
Until the church sent us on our cruise for pastor appreciation a few years ago, there was hardly a conversation Larry and I had, or an intimate moment we were in the midst of, without one of our cell phones ringing or buzzing. Even at 2 am, they often go off. I use to tease him by saying, "if you want your phone to ring just take off your pants." :)
That cruise changed our lives forever. My husband saw how wonderful it was for the first time in 23 years to be able to focus on one another without interruption. It was literally the first time since our honeymoon that no one interrupted our time away. Until that getaway, people always managed to reach us with something they thought couldn't wait. We never really got the break or the time we needed together. Being on the boat changed all that. (This is why my husband has turned into a cruise-junkie.)
When we got back from that cruise, I also made some changes at home. It was time.
The day I put my phone in it's place...
My phone would totally boss me around if I let it.
I've blogged in the past about my love/hate and sometimes my hate/hate relationship with the phone.
I want Larry to know, wherever we are, I'm all there. And I want the same from him.
I wish we would have been at a healthy place to model that for the youth pastor and his wife years ago. We failed back then, but we live it and we can be a healthy example for others now.
I feel so strongly about it, I even wrote a chapter in my book on time management about this very thing. In JUGGLE, I explain that I let 99% of my calls go to voicemail, on purpose, to enable me to prioritize what to handle first.
It can work for you, too.
Wherever you are, be all there.
On a date with your spouse? Be all there.
In bed with them? Be all there?
At your child's soccer game? Be all there.
Eating dinner with your family dinner? Be all there.
Photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net, with the exception of personal family photo.