Saturday, October 11, 2008

Downfalls of Being a Chaplain's Wife

Just this morning I received a question - what are some of the downfalls of being a chaplain's wife? So, I thought to myself, maybe I'm not eluding to the difficulties we face, or maybe this person hasn't read some of the "issues" I've faced in the journey as of yet. Either way, I thought this was a good topic for today.

For anyone who has ever been in a church ministry setting, the chaplaincy is much different (at least it has been for us). My husband and I walked "hand in hand" every step of the way for 13 years of church ministry. The ministries changed... We started out Sunday School teachers to four and five year old children in a church in Germany (might I add, it was like 25 four and five year olds who won our hearts but wore us out every Sunday...we'd have to go home and take a nap! :) oh, but we loved it!), then we were asked to teach a young married couple's class (which was wonderful...and for the first time I saw that God was truly molding and shaping my husband for something even more beautiful.)

All this took place while my husband was in the Air Force. Somewhere along the way, God really got a hold of our hearts and our lives began to really change. My husband began to really surrender his whole heart to the Lord. He was a new man. Totally sold out for Christ. It was there that one day he knew for certain God had called him to be a minister. He had no idea what that looked like, or what to do, but he knew God wanted more and he was willing to give it.

From Germany, we moved to Oklahoma, where we quickly became involved in a church in the small town of Duke. It was really 400 people small. Not long after joining, we were asked to work with the youth. We had a wonderful ministry there. Many times my husband would tell me he had this strange urge to preach. Now, coming from a man who doesn't speak much, you can believe me when I say it was even foreign to him to have these feelings. But, I had already began to see the preacher in him as he would teach the youth. There before them stood a preacher, called by God, to minister to their young hearts. We worked and taught alongside each other and I kind of always imagined we'd just stay there...but God had other plans.

Towards the end of our time there, a church down the road (in an even smaller town) asked my husband to be their interim pastor, and so we made the tough decision to leave the church in Duke (not completely though, as I would still go on Sunday night and Wednesdays to work with the children...something that began when God showed me the children were needing someone to minister to them as well). This was a very loving church, where God could grow my husband and allow him the opportunity to preach. I was so moved by his preaching that I never wanted to hear anyone else! The church was small, and the people were much, much older than us...and the only children there were ours, but we knew it was God's will. It wasn't easy sometimes because there weren't any other children, but I was quickly able to look back and see that God was preparing us for something that would prove to make that time in our lives useful for the years ahead.

I know this is getting long so I'll just say that we ended up in Texas, my husband worked a full time job, went to seminary full time and after a few months also preached every Sunday. After starting the church in Arlington, serving alongside each other like never before, and imagining that we would probably be there for the rest of our lives, God messed with our plans!

Today, we are here, serving in a totally different way. The first few months, when I was busy helping us to settle into our new life, were fairly easy. Once I finished setting up "home" I began to feel the sadness of not having that "hand in hand" feeling of ministry. I missed not being able to serve alongside my husband and experience what he was. He was seeing God at work. He was understanding why we were here. He was seeing the fruit of his labor. Not at first though. I want to add that it wasn't an easy transition for him either. It took time to learn the ropes of the Army and the chaplaincy. Much was demanded of him, with little know how on his part.

Isn't it in those times when we see that it's God, not us, doing the work?!

When you question why you're at a place in your life where you can't seem to get your mind or hands around something and it just seems too big...hold on and trust the Lord! If you are certain it is He who called you to something, just continue to walk with Him! He will get you to where you need to be, and He will help you learn the ropes. Let Him carry you on the days when you can't see why it is you are where you are and it's not as easy as you imagined it would be.

There are things that aren't easy about being a chaplain's wife, or Army wife. I wouldn't necessarily call them downfalls. It's just different. My husband always says, "Different is just different, not better or worse," and I've come to understand that. Our ministry IS very different here. It's more one on one. It's more about him being out among the soldiers and me supporting him and praying for him and encouraging him...and when the opportunity arises for me to actual be there with him ministering (like the retreats and other things) I jump on it! Just hearing how God is moving in even one soldier's life moves me. Knowing my husband is ministering to those who would give their life for another and sacrifice daily fills my heart with joy. God has taught me a lot about trusting Him in this ministry.

There are days when I really, really miss our church family and all that we had there, but I also am fully aware that whatever it is that God calls us to do He will be right there to help us to accomplish His will. He will bring comfort when we are lonely. He will bring strength when we are weary and worn out. He will bring new friendships. He will bring new ministries our way. And, ultimately, He will be glorified for the work that is being done to bring people into fellowship with him.

When trying to count the cost of what it will mean to take a step into a different direction, you only have to ask yourself one thing - did the Lord call me to this? If He did, there are no downfalls, only possible hardships. And, He will be right there with you. All throughout scripture people faced hardships to further the kingdom. Count the cost. We're told to do that. But then, follow at all cost. There's no other way to live. Glory to God!


Anonymous said...

I didn't know you lived in Oklahoma for awhile. I knew I liked you:) The post was good and accurate about changing from the local church ministry to army ministry. Andrea

Paulette said...

I find it so ironic that I am now at the church you left, I would have never thought that possible either!
What you are doing in the Army is amazing, I dont think it is cut out for everyone but ya'll fit it magnificently, Kevin has such a heart for people, and you are a huge encourager, like you do on your blog with the military wives, it so suits you. I think it would be an awesome life.

marie said...

Would you be willing to talk over the phone sometime about your life as a chaplian wife and family life. I found your blog while searching for information on this very topic. My husband is a grad of Trinity Evangelical seminary and we are thinking about serving together in a whole new direction. One of the options were looking into is the military chaplain role. We have two children and live in Columbus Ohio. I am wondering about long separations from my husband, in 23 years of marriage we have never been apart for longer than 2 weeks? Any thoughts would be helpful. Thanks a lot, Marie

Laura said...


I would love to chat with you on the phone sometime. Please leave a comment with your phone number or email so we can get into contact with one another. I won't post it.


Anonymous said...

Hi Laura, I just wanted to say thank you. I really believe God showed himself to me through this blog. My husband is finishing up his bachelors this semester. He is 24, I am 22. He has always felt like God has called him into the ministry, but he didnt know where. He just didnt think it was a call for a pastor of a church at this point. He has really felt like military chaplaincy has been laid on his heart for the last couple of years, and it has never gone away. I of course was very nervous about it, im not a fan of him being actually really scares me. I have wanted a wifes perspective and more information of what our life would be like. Your post has really given me a peace. When you said there are no down falls just heart ships, and God will be there through it all...that is the truth I needed to hear. I would like to talk more with you if that is possible. Can I get your email address?