We’ve gone three rounds in my blog-series about marriage called, “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”. The bell has rung and it’s time for round number four.
One of the things I love about being married, is that I have someone to share my dreams and hopes with. I’m not only able to share mine with her, but she is able to share hers with me too. However, we’ve been married long enough to know that dreams sometimes have to be altered. After 28 years of being married, one son, four daughters and one son-in-law later, what I envisioned in the beginning, has had to be adjusted for the way things are now. We usually dream within our current surroundings. Even though we’re thinking about the future, it usually fits in with where we are. It’s hard to include the “What Ifs” when you dream. You don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, so when you start hoping about what you want to do and become, you are not going to think about potential pain and heartache. Who wants to dream about that?
Let’s be honest. When you and your spouse got together, you probably had a plan about how you wanted things to go. Now, how many unexpected events have transpired since then? Probably too many to count. Like us, you’ve probably lost a family member or friend way too soon. I promise you, we didn’t plan on that. Maybe a job change occurred that you didn’t know was coming and that could be good or bad. Either way, you had to adjust. Not to mention, as we get older, we become different people. The hope is that we become better, stronger and more mature. We think differently and we look at things much differently. With all of this change that has happened, we have to realize, some adjustments will have to be made to our own personal dreams and wishes.
Please understand, I’m not saying for you to give up on your dreams, I’m just suggesting that you alter them. If you believe what you envisioned was from God, then by all means, hold on to that dream. But understand that making proper adjustments doesn’t mean you’re letting go, it just means you understand how to adapt over time. I’m afraid that when some people experience unexpected things, it causes them to give up on what they had hoped for. Instead of modifying, they choose to walk away. Later on, they start to feel like a failure because nothing has happened the way they had hoped it would. Sadly, all they had to do was make some adjustments.
Another issue that I think couples deal with on this subject, is even though we realize change is inevitable, we don’t talk about it. Both the husband or wife knows it’s coming, but nothing is said. You have to remember that one of the reasons things were so good for you in the beginning, was you talked about it and were clear on what you wanted. Then life happened and you started to internalize and suppress things. You now spend more time thinking and less time talking. One of you may know that some adjustments need to be made and you may even have an idea on how to do it, but you have to communicate with clarity. Talk about the things that have happened and how you’ll have to make changes. Make it known that you haven’t given up on your dreams, then make it clear on what needs to happen next. Don’t keep drifting so far that you forget how to get back.
If you have a plan or if you don’t, make it clear. There is no shame in saying, “I don’t know what to do”. I know for us men, it isn’t in our nature to admit we can’t figure something out, but sometimes we just have to swallow our pride and admit it. The truth is, a great dream, most of the time is bigger than you. That means, there are going to be times when you won’t have all the answers and you may have to ask for outside help. This could be your pastor or a marriage councilor. The time will come when you will need help from someone outside and don’t be too prideful to ask for it. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety”.
I can honestly tell you, that I have not seen everything I envisioned for my life many years ago. As a young man I dreamed about being an evangelist, but I didn’t know that along with that dream came the unexpected. One day while my wife and I were traveling to a revival, we were pulling our travel trailer behind us, when all of a sudden, the clouds turned dark as night and a horrible storm hit us out of no where. When I tried to pull over to the side of the road, the tail end of a tornado hit our rig and turned us over on our left side in the middle of the interstate median. My wife was five months pregnant with our first child and it was truly the scariest moment of our lives. Thanks to the hand of God, we made it out alive and our baby was just fine. I just want you to know, we never dreamed that would happen.
I don’t have time to tell you about all the things that have interrupted our dreams and plans in the last 28 years, but I can tell you this…we never gave up on what God put in our hearts from the very beginning for us to do. Yes, we’ve had to make adjustments and to tell you the truth, we’re working on some now. We’re dealing with some things that will require clarity to get through. Don’t misunderstand me, we’re not having marital trouble, we’re just altering some things at our age. We have to be aware of where both of us are, so we can move forward. As you get older, you have to recognize times when you work together and times when one needs a break. There are also times when you both need a break and step away and rest. You’re not giving up on what you want, you just know it’s time to ease up and revamp.
For my family, we believe in a dream that involves full time ministry. We started out wanting to preach and sing to people everywhere, then a few years later, our vision shifted to becoming a pastor and pastor’s wife and leading people. This is what we have done for the last 22 years of our lives. Our dreams of building a church and leading people never included people hurting us and taking us for granted. When you begin to pour into someone’s life, you only see what you believe they can become. You’re not seeking any glory for it, but you do hope that they appreciate your investment in their lives. We thought everyone would feel that way. We never planned on lies being told on us or for some of the ones we helped the most, one day walking away from us and saying hurtful things. It’s moments like these that will make you question your dreams.
Recently, my wife and I talked about some of the hurts we’ve endured over the years. We were honest about how we felt as a pastor and pastor’s wife, but we were also honest about how we felt as humans. We still have the same dreams and hopes as we did when we first began in the ministry, but we’re making some adjustments. We’re not going to do things the way we’ve done it in the past, and that’s fine. We plan on enjoying the time with our kids while they are young and still being accessible to the people we lead. After communicating this, I am confident we have clarity and are able to hold on to our altered dreams.
So, what does that look like for you? Are you going to give up on your dreams or are you willing to adjust? All it would take for you to get back on the right path, is some communicating and clarifying. Be honest with one another. Talk about how you feel and even how you’ve changed. It’s ok to express burn out and stress. This is why we have each other. Somebody needs to step up and speak up. If you need an outside voice, then bring someone in. Don’t just leave things the way they are. If you do, after a while, the tension and awkwardness will become the new normal. You can’t get clarity going in opposite directions. With what all you’ve been through, you’ll have to make some adjustments, but I promise you that it will be worth it. You just have to believe that your marriage is, “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”!!!