|Photo credit: mikeg1968 Etsy Shop|
When you're building from scratch, you start with the foundation and build up. In a Christian marriage, the foundation is Jesus Christ. He is the cornerstone. He is the rock you build on.
Josiah and I had this part already, praise God. (If you don't, but you'd like to know how, get with us!)
Nevertheless, even when you've built on a strong foundation, and you sincerely love your home, there are times when you need to do renovations.
This is a hardhat area, folks. Strongholds are falling.
In marriage renovations, though, demo isn't really fun for anybody. It's messy and hard, and if you're not careful, you can wreck stuff you didn't mean to touch. Here, Josiah and I will tell the story of how the demo went down in our own marriage renovations from each of our perspectives.Demo day started for me before it did Josiah, I think. In the past year, Josiah and I have started a marriage ministry at our church, with me sort of at the helm, and Josiah as a support. But, as with any new project, there are a lot of lessons to be learned.
PHASE 1: Demolition - Alissa Style
Demo day is Chip Gaines favorite day on one of our favorite shows, Fixer Upper. I think most guys like to tear stuff up. It starts at a young age, when they build towers just to knock them down.
In marriage renovations, though, demo isn't really fun for anybody. It's messy and hard, and if you're not careful, you can wreck stuff you didn't mean to touch. Here, Josiah and I will tell the story of how the demo went down in our own marriage renovations from each of our perspectives.
We brought in new leadership to help us restructure and build, but as the process began and continued, I started to feel "beaten up." Over the last year I had done everything I could to build in every way I could, to communicate with as many people as possible, to really reach the marriages in our church.
I tried my best to take each criticism constructively, but more and more I just felt criticized...like everything I had worked so hard to do, everything I had prayerfully and painstakingly undertaken, had been for naught...because I'd done it all wrong.
This came to a climax at a leadership retreat we planned for the ministry. We went to a beautiful, old house in Cape Charles. I had hopes of the team bonding as we got to know one another and really solidifying our mission for the ministry, as well as our individual roles. My hopes didn't last long.
The male halves of the couples who came are already invested in other ministries within the church, so while they were willing to support their wives in the marriage ministry, they couldn't be on the front lines, so to speak.
I understood, of course. How many times have I talked to people about being overextended? I know what that's like and it's not something God wants of us. But it still sat heavy on my heart.
Our last morning there, after Josiah and I discussed things on a walk, we all discussed the need for more men's discipleship, and then...the misunderstanding occurred. I won't go into the details, but I felt attacked and demeaned...in front of my husband and the whole team I called together.
I was humiliated.
So, I did what any (girl) person might do when that happens: I cried all over my breakfast. I deflated and sobbed...and then made an impassioned speech. That's kind of how I roll.
If I wasn't doing it right, I begged a man at the table to rise up and take my place. I begged each of them to communicate with the men of our church for me because I, apparently, wasn't doing it right, and I'd gladly step aside to let one of their own do a better job.
I'm nothing if not awkward.
After gathering myself, the talk of men's discipleship continued, and I was grateful, but even after we left, I couldn't shake the feeling of humiliation. I just kept crying.
I cried at lunch on the way home. I cried when we got home. I cried the next day with my friend JoAnn (who went with us to Cape Charles). I cried later in the day, too. I cried just like Alice, until I just knew I'd eventually float away in a river of my own tears.
And then...then I attacked Josiah. I told him I couldn't do marriage ministry anymore. I was tired of leading the way. I was doing the best to climb the hill, but every challenge or attack that rolled down was hitting me square in the face.
Paul said he could do anything God wanted him to do through Christ who gave him strength. That's true, as long as you're in God's will. However, I had no strength left, with Christ or without, so I could only conclude I was out of His will.
I was ready to let it all go. I was broken and tired. I was demolished.
In the Christian life, demolition looks like “trials.” That's what we have a tendency to call them because that's what the Bible calls them.
Trials, persecution, testing...but it often feels like God is taking a sledgehammer to your heart and to your life. It feels like he's ripping your heart out of your chest, and you just can't see through the wreckage to something beautiful.
James 1:2-4 tells us to:
Consider it great joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Let perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
There are those words again: trials and testing. It's demo, ya'll, and God never does it in our lives for fun. He will never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). He has a purpose for your suffering, and if you'll trust Him, lean on Him, and seek Him, He will build something beautiful in your life.
But that's the next part of the story....