Last month as Ray and I were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, greenery, and exotic bird calls in the warm Kitale sun – a pleasant contrast to life in Nairobi – I opened my journal and came across some personal notes from our counseling sessions with Norm and Jen Jennings last year at At Stake Ministries.
Before I continue, let me just say that if you’re looking for biblical based marital counseling in the Salina area, they’re amazing. We did a three day, fifteen hour intensive course with them at a time when we were fighting all the live long day, and meeting with them brought that season of our marriage to a screeching halt. They really taught us how to understand one another, and to this day we still refer to a number of the resources they gave us. Great people. Great project.
Okay, so back across the pond to Kitale. We spent the afternoon going through our notes and reviewing how far we’ve come this past year of marriage when it dawned on us that we still haven’t posted our challenges and triumphs blog… not that anyone was waiting with bated breath for it or anything, but we still need to follow through with what we said we’d do, so here’s the first installment.
Triumph 1: Eliminating irrational fears
One of the exercises we were given during counseling was to write down all the fears we had about marriage, and good Lord did we have a lot to write! Most of what we wrote stemmed from insecurities, misconceptions about each other and marriage in general, and a lack of trust. It also didn’t hurt that the day the Jennings sent us off to lunch to complete this exercise we were already mad at each other. Neither of us held back.
Looking over those lists last month allowed us to really see how much trust and love has developed between us over this past year. Those fears that felt so overwhelmingly real in the first few weeks of marriage, now have either disappeared altogether or dwindled down to nearly nothing. We still have a few issues that we’re working through, but boy did it feel good to be able to cross the majority of those fears off the list.
When we got married we were given a lot of bad information about what marriage, specifically intercultural marriage, would look like for us. I’m not going to go into the details since we already did a blog on that a while ago, but I will touch on one area that was my worst to overcome.
I heard from other Kenyans that in the States couples divorce a lot, and most of the time they divorce over some things that we Africans would call petty. For a long time I was afraid that she would leave me for the smallest thing, but what I know for sure now is that my wife is not like that. Yes we argue, but having been married for more than a year and seeing how tight we have become through it all, the only thing I can say is MAZE NI GOD! From the beginning of our relationship we said Jesus would be the center of our marriage, and no matter what we encountered, we always looked to His example. That, my friends, kept me going.
Triumph 2: Staying out of ministry for the first year
To some this one may not seem like it should be in the triumph category, but if you know me you’ll understand why that is a triumph. Before we came to Kenya we were warned that ministry would be a strain on our marriage. This is a warning we took seriously. We’ve seen marriages crumble under the demands of ministry, and we knew that adapting to life in a third world country wouldn’t be easy for me, so we decided to remove certain stressors that could prove to make things more difficult than they needed to be.
I’ve been involved in ministry ever since the day my parents said yes to the call to be pastors, and I’ve gone nonstop until the day we got married. I honestly can’t think of a season in my life where I haven’t been in a leadership position in ministry. Ray and I both knew that we were called to ministry, but we also knew that we risked making the marriage about ministry, and that’s not a good foundation for any couple. I mean, if the ministry goes, what do you have left to stand on? For that reason we decided to take the first year of marriage off of ministry and focus on building our marriage, getting to know each other better, and learning how to walk with God as a couple before we do it as partners in ministry.
Though we weren’t directly involved in ministry we did take every Sunday to pray about what God would have us do the following year, so it wasn’t like we totally blew off our call for a year. We prayed, fasted, and planned. Now that the year is over and we’re in Kitale, we’re ready to hit the ground running.
“If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” Deut 24:5
This has become one the biggest foundational scriptures for our marriage. My wife had been in full time ministry for like the entirety of her adulthood. On the other hand I was in ministry but not full time like her, so I was really anxious to know how she would deal with it. The moment we stepped off the plane she started getting on my case about music, worship, orphanages… blah, blah, blah. Trust me, the list was endless.
I tried to help her make the transition in one way or the other, and gave her some leeway to sing specials at a few churches and volunteer at an orphanage, but as I did that I kept on reminding her about what the first year was all about. After some time it got to a point where I got worried that maybe she was backsliding, lol, she really struggled with this, but in the end we were able to abide by this for better part of the year.
We thank God because we recently got back to mission field, and I cant wait to see what this new year has in store for us.
Until next time …
I have a bad habit of saying “I’ll break this up into parts” and then I never follow through, but hopefully sometime soon we’ll get the challenges blog posted… right after I post the next interesting facts blog and the inner healing stuff and so on and so forth.
Oh, and pssst. Check out the sidebar —>
We’re raising money for a keyboard we need for The Joshua Blueprint. We’ve started working with the kids at Mattaw Children’s Village twice a week, and with vocal lessons and piano instruction coming up it would be a phenomenal help. Check it out and help us spread the word. We don’t have much time left!