"Church planting is so revealing. It flings wide open the heavy curtains we shade those aspects of selfishness and pride with. Sanctification on steroids!"
Those words were shared by Ginger Vassar, wife of JR, the lead pastor of Apostles Church in New York City, when interviewed about her experience as a church planter’s wife.
Goodness, did I highlight, star, underline and box that part of my current read when I came across it. A good friend from the university Calvin and I attended gave me this book just a few days before our big move down here to Katy, TX. The book is about being a church planter's wife. I’m indebted to him.
I could write a book in response of how much it has helped me. We're almost 3 months into this new adventure and oh my, have I seen A LOT about myself I can work on. No worries, I'm not turning into a legalistic, 'works, works, works', attempting/faking perfection (that truly isn't even obtainable on this side of Heaven) type of minister's wife. I'm simply listening and observing and ...ouch. I'm a mess. Let's start this blog off by admitting that, if I haven't already. You won't read perfect stories or fairy tale endings on here. However, you will hear of the hope I so tightly hold on to each day and the grace that is so freely showered on us. Daily.So what exactly has church planting revealed?
1. I am a people person.
There may be some of you reading this who know me and think.. "well, DUH!" And if you don't know me, I am pretty out-going. But when you go from being surround by people from 8-5 for most of your week to simply doing your best to entertain your 4 month old puppy in your apartment, alone, everyday, you truly thirst for the company of people. Anybody. Somebody. In the first month I struggled with loneliness. I felt so alone. But slowly, I've developed friendships and they're growing. God is reminding me to keep my eyes on Him, to remain in Him and enjoy my times with Him and quickly dismiss the lies of the enemy. I'm truly never alone. We began a house church in our home each Monday night. We welcome believers to join us in fellowship, worship, prayer, bible study and laughter. Don't even get me started on how much this is an answered prayer because i. love. hosting! (And people!) But at first, despite being in a huge city, I felt alone and in need of some people. And here's where the next thing so far revealed comes to play.
2. I lack boldness.
I pray and pray for God to grant me the boldness to meet someone new. Is that strange? Maybe to you 'extra-people persons'. Not to me. I get shy. I get quiet. It's hard. Battling loneliness, for me, comes hand in hand with my lack of boldness at times. Matter of fact, this book I'm reading ensured me, I'm NOT alone in this struggle.
Time for some stats (from my book):
- 65% of church planting wives say their husbands provide their primary emotional support.
- 56%of pastors' wives report having no close friends
- 80% report having struggled with depression
Now, please, don't think this is my online version of a pity party and I'm forcing you to attend it. Like I said, I'm praying and God is answering! I've made a few new friends. I know and trust God has amazing, beautiful and rich friendships already growing for me. But, just like anything else, it takes T I M E. Which I might as well admit now, patience, at times, is also something I lack.
3. Transparency is hard for me.
Calvin has this brilliant idea of challenging church members to be honest and transparent about their story. Their story, meaning their testimony, with the rest of our church body. Think about it. How many of us attended churches in the past and never knew the story/testimony of the person sitting next to us? How about your Sunday school teacher? A deacon's? Yea.. same here. Not many share due to shame, guilt, embarrassment or even, simply, fear. Fear of being judged, condemned or looked at differently. Well, a few Sundays ago, I shared... all of it... with everyone in the church! It was terrifying, yet so freeing. I've realized, it's not only with sharing my testimony that I feared transparency, but also with simply sharing my feelings or emotions with someone instead of keeping things inside. (Shocker.. a girl that doesn't share her feelings, I know.) But it's true. I'll allow things to grow into bitterness, resentment, anger, and who knows what else, inside of me. All due to my lack of boldness (as said above) and transparency. I've noticed this as a church planting wife. And really, simply as a wife. But God is at work and I'm growing! In Him I've found boldness, He's removing fear and in sharing my testimony and being honest daily, I'm learning to enjoy the sweet freedom that comes from my openness.
4. Marriage is the real deal.
Ask anyone who's married. Marriage is revealing. I'm learning my role every single day. I'm learning what I need to be for him and not be. I'm his wife. I'm his helper. I'm his encourager. I'm called to minister to him as he ministers to others. Not pick fights, not complain, not discourage, not weigh down. I'm as equally called to protect this marriage as he is. My husband has really hit the ground running since we've gotten here. I'm blown away at all he's accomplished. And as I shared in my last post, the enemy comes to kill, steal and destroy our unity, our peace, or any momentum we have going, if we allow him to. Any little foothold we give him, wives, he will use. In our marriages, in our ministries, in our churches. I'm learning that marriage is powerful. Unity is powerful. And wives (and husbands) have got the responsibility to step back and realize who the real enemy is and remain united and in peace. Marriage is absolutely beautiful.
Listen, it’s not just church planting that is so revealing.
Marriage is revealing. Parenting is revealing. Living with roommates for the first time is revealing. Friendships can be revealing.
Our relationship with CHRIST is r e v e a l i n g!
Why? Well, because we have the Holy Spirit. He convicts and compels us.
I know there's something you're learning about your self at the moment. Maybe just today you've seen a part of you that's not so good or sometime this week you did.
Don’t ignore it.
Embrace it, even if it hurts.
And golly, does it hurt sometimes. But it’s for our good.
John 15 puts it this way:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruits by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (emphasis added)
I don't want to be apart from Him. I honestly don't want for His Spirit to depart from me so that I no longer feel those convictions and see those things I still need to work on. The Word of God is like a mirror (right, James?) revealing who we truly are. Let's not walk away from that mirror forgetting what we see. Let us embrace the good and work on the not so good, understanding the Lord's mercies are new every morning. Won't you allow Him to refine you? Allow Him to sanctify you.
It's worth it.
I started this thing where I whisper to myself 'how revealing!' any moment I get a glimpse of my pride, my selfishness, or my fearful heart. In that moment, through that whisper, I realize what I'm doing, how I'm acting, and I pray for change.
Join me in that.
Recognize it (whatever your 'it' may be that you need to work on) as it is being revealed.
Pray for the strength to change for the glory of God and for more fruit to be beard.
I like that one quote.. you know, the one that says...
"God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus." - Max Lucado
Thanks for reading. I am grateful.
Ps. I like sharing songs. Here is a song about this exactly. May this song be your prayer.
"I open up my heart, please search me through. Does anything displease you?"