On April 28, 2019 I went away on a 24-hr prayer retreat. All by myself. No husband, no kid, no friend. Just me. I had never done anything like it. But I had also never been in a place like I was. It was nothing tragic. Just a losing battle. One that had been going on for a couple years. In fact I was reminded of the length of the struggle from a Facebook memory. My husband and I on a seemingly blissful trip to Costa Rica. In between moments of adventure and occasional laughter were long walks on the beach where I was quitting. Not marriage, not him, not life, but our work. The work we had begun together in the planting of a church. And now flash forward to April 2019, and I was ready to quit much more than that.
I don’t like to lose. I win. I make it happen. But what comes on the road to personal growth is self-awareness, spiritual maturity, guardrails and good friends that say, “Jen, put down your sword.” That’s what happened on April 28. Even the most noble of knights sometimes had to surrender to the battle. Even with their best intentions they just couldn’t win that battle. It doesn’t mean they will never fight again, it doesn’t mean they lost the war. It means this particular fight is not yours to win. Even though it feels like you can’t lose.
It was hard for me to admit life was even hard on April 28, 2019. I had the time, freedom, the finances and the family that enabled me to get away for something like this. But I could have lost it all if I hadn’t showed up. My marriage had been at war, and it was time for me to fight different. This time on my knees surrendered.
Working together had taken its toll on my marriage. We had always operated together. But we had roles. And we played our parts. It worked like a well oiled machine when both parties were running on full cylinders and finding success in their field. But the moment we began to feel failure and the lights went out, the wrestle to make sense of what was happening out there invaded “in here,” and our marriage began to feel the defeat. We blamed, we hollered, we denied and we were so discouraged. What we had done to succeed in the past was not working for us in this new paradigm and different set of circumstances. The reality, in hindsight, was God inviting us to grow--to become better. As individuals and in our union. But surrender is where it started on April 28.
I want to share the questions I asked myself in my journal to exercise my yielding to the Lord and a path back to healthy partnership again with Marcus.
1. Do I adjust my expectations?
2. What is required of me in this moment?
3. How do I “be” without losing heart?
4. What do I really want from my husband?
5. What does leading look like to me right now?
6. What would bring me joy?
And then I grieved. I lamented over what I had hoped and what wasn’t and may never be. I shed tears over what was lost and how I hurt. Direction often comes after depression. God used these dark moments for people of the Bible to show His love. He used this moment for me. Grief found gratitude. I began to appreciate my husband and focus on all the good God had done in us, through us and for us over the years.
It’s been exactly two years since the night I desperately went away to find what I thought was lost. And it’s now that we launch a new way of working together. Our shift from church ministry into life ministry in the form of The Significant Life Podcast. We’re going to be honest. We’re going to get practical. We’re going to wrestle it all out together. And I hope you will come along and let Jesus do a little re-writing in your life too. We would love you to join us for the zoom launch party this Thursday night, April 29. A new beginning just two years after I thought it might end.