Over the years, lots of people have asked Tim and I about working together, pastoring together, being landlords together…we have a lot of together going on! I’m a little sensitive when this topic comes up because it touches on all sorts of insecurities for me. First off, we were told in our early years of marriage that spouses could not pastor together because that was nepotism and it would never work. I’m sensitive also because I know that a lot of couples should not and could not work together, and so I never want to send the impression that this model is for everyone. Third, I am sensitive because although we work together in a lot of domains right now, it might not always be what we want to do, and so I want to protect the choice for either or both of us to bow out or change vocational focus someday. But for now, Tim and I work together and we really like working together. I get to see a side of Tim in our small business that I never knew he had until we started that venture – who knew that Tim could paint?!? We have both changed so much in the 5 years we have co-pastored and it is thrilling to be growth partners with each other in ministry everyday.
But co-leading and co-pastoring is not what makes us married. Marriage is so much more than running a business together or running a household together. Marriage is about writing a love story together. It is about walking hand in hand down the street for breakfast on a Monday morning (a pastors Saturday!). It is about surrendering my self-imposed need to cook everyday and ordering carry out to eat on the front porch instead sometimes. It is about choosing to talk to each other and finding the space to really listen. It is about realizing that getting the dishwasher loaded can always happen later, but some sort of daily investment in each other needs to happen every day. It is about giving up the urgent in favor of the important. Marriage is about making time for each other every day – small little investments that add up over a lifetime. It is not about just talking business (although we do plenty of that!). It is about talking and listening from your heart – hearing about the small details, the hopes, the fears, the dreams and the mundane. Tim and I have a lot of time together, but we have to fight for the time that really builds the sort of marriage we want to have. I think that is true for every couple, whether you work together or not. It is easy for us to just slip into all business – Who is speaking? Who is watching Russell? When are we having those people over? Can I book that private event at the studio next month? Can I buy a new truck? (No! The answer to that last question is no.) There is a never-ending list of schedule-coordination, to-do-lists, and logistics to discuss.
Prioritizing is never easy. It means saying no to the good stuff in order to build the great stuff. Important relationships are worth prioritizing but it will mean the laundry sometimes goes undone. It will mean eating leftovers so we don’t give each other the leftovers of our attention and energy for another day.
Gary Aronhalt recently spoke in our worship service and made a passing comment that everyone ought to have an “I used to think” list. I have ruminated on his idea ever since hearing it. We don’t usually like to admit that we used to think or believe one way but have since changed our opinion because that means admitting we may have been wrong. However, the alternative to changing perspectives is staying stuck and not progressing or growing as people. Do I really want to be proud of thinking the same things today that I thought when I was a pre-teen, teen, or young adult? Do I really imagine I have it all figured out today and will perceive myself, the world, and God the same when I am 70? Most likely, many of my present suppositions will change over time, which is a healthy mark of personal and spiritual development.
So I’ve been thinking… and here is my first draft of a list of Things I Used to Think:
I used to think that whenever people changed churches, they were flaky and just church hopping. Now I think that we have friends and faith communities for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. I used to think that because I’m an ENTJ and logically minded that I would not be a very sentimental mom. Now I think that parenting has opened up a part of my heart that I did not think existed. I used to think that if a woman made more money than her husband, they had a bad marriage and probably would not make it. Now I think that people of quality are not threatened by equality. I used to think that people could not be friends with their parents. Now I know that I can. I used to think that what a person believed was about all that mattered. Now I think who we are, what we think, and how we behave are interconnected. I used to think that God was stationary, like a rock. Now I think that God is on the move and active, like a world traveler. I used to think that if I was publically humiliated or rejected by others, I would not survive. Now I know I can.
Perhaps for me there is a theme of growing a bit in the grace and freedom of my life in Christ. I’m curious, what would you put on your list? I would love to hear!
When Tim and I were planning our wedding, which happened 11 years ago this week, we had our list of priorities. #1. We would invite as many people as we wanted to invite, without any excruciating guest list cuts. #2. Stuart Briscoe (my pastor) had to perform our ceremony. #3. We would host a really great dance. Dancing was more important to me than my dress, and I think I dreamed about it more than walking down the aisle.
Last month we went to Mark & Kimmie’s wedding, and they too knew how to prioritize dancing. So, Tim, I, Bill, Kate, Cherstin, Travis, and a host of other people whose names I want to list but won’t, all got out there and shook our stuff.
Dancing is such a leveling experience. Everyone moving, acting goofy, and throwing their hands in the air and their heads back in laughter. It’s about celebrating and moving and acting ridiculous, and even when you don’t know what you’re doing, you find yourself yelling out, “Go Mark, go Kimmie, go-go-go, Kimmie!”
I’ve decided Russell is going to grow up in a bilingual home. He will come from a family that taught him both English and Dance. Grandma gave him this annoying little karaoke machine with the song “Shake, shake, shake your body,” and we play it multiple times daily. It’s fun, it’s silly, and it reminds me of the importance of joy.
There are many disciplines I want in my life, and practicing joy is one of them. Life is hard, really hard. Yet God has built us with a need to celebrate, and sometimes the best way to do that is to dance.
Happy Anniversary, Tim! I love being married to you – and I’m glad we are still prioritizing people and dancing together today. To the rest of you, take a little time for joy today!