My Family As My First Ministry
When reviewing my goals for 2016, I decide to read the first goal out loud to myself:
“To keep my family as my first ministry.”
I read it again and it literally feels like a SLAP in the face. We “talk the talk” ladies, but do we really “walk the walk?” For me, this goal feels easier said than done because I live with daily consequences of breaking up my original family.
I've found in my own experiences that putting family "first" can often feel yucky or unsatisfying - which is precisely why I've chosen to blow it off at times. Sometimes I feel like the goal of putting my family first isn't even achievable because it's so dang miserable to execute.
So who wants to even get MORE real with me right now?
I don't know about you, but I don't particularly enjoy watching sports with the hubby. In fact, there are about a MILLION other things I'd rather be doing instead. And maybe you, too, know how it feels when your teenager is instantly annoyed anytime you are in the general vicinity. There comes a time when it feels like your child would rather be doing ANYTHING other than talk to you, and it's heartbreaking. A heightened focus on friends, popularity, and independence is perfectly normal in teenage development, and so are different interests between spouses.
But these kinds of issues can cause us fall into the self-pity trap when evaluating our lives and goals.
I then find myself thinking, “Why am I even trying to do this? No one in my house even cares what I am doing.” I start convincing myself that this goal is a huge waste of effort. At least, that is what the devil wants me to believe. As a result, I decided to spend time with God in order to discover the truth about how I was feeling.
First, I admitted to God that spending time with my husband or daughter feels exhausting and unsatisfying to me. I confessed that I would rather meet up with my girlfriends for coffee (who lift me up and make me feel so good about myself) than go clothes shopping with my daughter.
Then I reflect on my past. My choice to divorce ten years ago produced a permanent consequence: being a part-time mom. My choice to remarry added yet another dynamic: a blended family.
Fast-forward to today: Geno and I work opposite schedules on most days. Morgan is constantly bouncing back and forth from dad’s house to mine. I recognize these are major challenges related to putting my family first. I start to feel overwhelmed and frustrated by my feelings and circumstances and then I hear the Holy Spirit say:
"YOU ARE ALLOWING YOUR CHALLENGES
TO BECOME YOUR EXCUSES."
Ok. Wow. But HOW do I make my family my first priority? It feels so unrewarding and pointless at times. But then I consider the consequences of NOT putting them first.
So from there, I realize it all starts with a decision. A decision to honor and obey God over my own selfish desires. A decision that often forces me to ignore my feelings completely and to simply do what God suggests instead: to make my family my first ministry.
In my feeble attempts to model this goal, I often find myself asking, "But someday they will notice everything I have done for them, right God?” I become discouraged for a split second knowing His truthful answer - that they MAY NEVER NOTICE what I sacrifice for them. I decide to come into agreement with God on this goal and then realize something else: God notices! He notices big-time and there WILL be a reward. There WILL be fruit. He promises us all these things in His Word.
So how can I execute His goal for my life? I had to ask God for help (because I had no idea how to accomplish this on my own.) Then the Holy Spirit started showing me how to rearrange my schedule. A new family law was written: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays will become our family days. On these 3 days, everything else will become secondary for me.
As a result, I focused on planning one special, beautifully prepared, home-cooked dinner EVERY Tuesday night. I made sure that Geno and Morgan entered into a clean smelling home. And without receiving ONE compliment for my increased efforts, I just kept doing it - week after week - wondering if any of it mattered - for almost an entire year.
But then came last Tuesday and something was different. I could tell by their expressions that our dinner hour was starting to mean something more. That this expectation was becoming a meal that they actually looked forward to. And afterward, horseplay commenced and a full-on wrestling match ensued between Morgan and Geno in the family room. In this brief moment, I smiled to myself (as I continued clearing the table) feeling a small sense of reward. Then I felt God's comfort and overwhelming peace. What I am doing IS making a difference. God IS here with us. HE IS MOVING!
Despite this small victory, I know the battle is not won. It's why I am preparing myself for many more days where I will feel as though nothing got accomplished that I wanted to. But in God’s eyes, I am getting EVERYTHING ACCOMPLISHED and am starting to recognize that these sacrifices are indeed helping our household run more efficiently, peacefully and in sync with God's master plan.