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A Spiritual Crisis Impacts a Relationship


My husband just had his first book published – Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night: What to Do When God Won’t Answer. He’s done lots of writing through the years and has contributed to numerous books. However, this is his first full-fledged-photo-on-the-cover book. I’m very proud of him!

The book is a spiritual memoir. Which totally makes sense. If Greg’s going to write a memoir, it is going to have a strong spiritual thread running throughout. The book tells of a two-year period in which he was seeking vocational direction – and God seemed to fall completely silent.

Would we continue in the ministry, our vocation and calling for 30+ years, or would we make a clean break and plunge headfirst into the nonprofit we had created eight years previously? Would we take a step of faith into a largely unknown future? (For me, this translated will we give up a perfectly fine salary with benefits in order to pursue a dream that may or may not pan out – much less put food on the table?).

Now, don’t think this didn’t impact things at home!

Greg was senior pastor of a large, influential, wealthy church in the South. He was on television every week. He was actively involved and recognized in the community. As a minister, he was on call 24/7. He was constantly putting out fires in the church (a church, after all, is a complex institutional machine) and counseling/supporting individuals, couples and families who were putting out various personal fires of their own.

AND he was experiencing his own spiritual crisis.

While he was waging a spiritual battle, I was focused on day-in-day-out activities to keep the home and family running somewhat smoothly. My motto is, “when there’s something I need to do, tell me. Until then, I’ve got life to live.”

It’s not that I’m not supportive. I believe Greg would say that I am very supportive. It’s just that after 35 years together, I understand that we often experience life on two different planes. Greg would admit that he largely lives life between his ears and in his heart. He’s a big picture kind of guy, optimistic and given to dreams. I live life with both feet firmly planted in the here and now and facing life head-on. He calls me “earthy”.

Our saving grace through that 2-year experience was that we were consistently finding ways to have fun and to affirm life. As has been true in our marriage, we’ve lived life and faced problems with a collaborative attitude. Even though it was Greg’s vocational crisis, it was our life and our future. . . and in some ways our crisis.

I learned a few things on this roller coaster two-year journey:
•    Advice, unless it is asked for, is not helpful (I think I’ve learned this lesson multiple times)
•    When a person is in crisis, emotions can change from day to day and moment to moment – it’s helpful to be a “non-anxious presence” just to walk alongside
•    We are unable to fix another person’s problems
•    Gentleness and tenderness are preferred over harshness and task-focus (isn’t this always the case?!)
•    Affection and physical touch can be reassuring and comforting
•    Every day life has moments – no matter how small – that can be and should be celebrated
•    Living with gratitude and grace keeps everything in perspective
•    We all need meaning, purpose and direction in our lives – and sometimes it’s hard to find.

Finally, after two years, Greg gained vocational clarity, we gained clarity on our future and we transitioned out of pastoral ministry. We now have a new calling – to serve people through Directions, Inc. as they lead their organizations, relationships and lives. We continue to share a passion for helping couples enrich their relationships through Better Marriages.

Last night I was on a flight home after a long weekend. For the third time I was reading Blackbird Singing in the Dead of Night: What to Do When God Won’t Answer. My row mate asked me about what I was reading. I handed her the book and told her how much I was enjoying it. I looked away and felt a smile playing on the corners of my lips. She asked if I knew the author. With a twinkle in my eye I replied, “I’m sleeping with him.”

Life is interesting. Sometimes, it turns out, the journey is the destination in disguise.


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