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Marriage & Parenting

I have said it before and I will say it again; marriage is sanctifying, as is parenthood. Now combine marriage and parenthood, which makes for an extremely poignant tool of sanctification. Gabe and I have been married since July 2010. We have walked through many seasons of life together and Lord willingly we will journey through many more. Marriage in ministry could be a blog post in and of itself. But, for now I want to speak specifically about marriage and parenting.

I know that many of you could express the pains and joys of marriage and parenting more eloquently than myself. After all, even though we are no longer considered “newlyweds,” I think it’s safe to label ourselves as “parental newbies.” I am speaking from spending about three weeks on the battlefield; so, please forgive me if my perspective is not yet complete. Despite the freshness of our parenting roles, we have both learned so much about the way we interact simultaneously as spouses and parents.

The biggest lesson we have learned is that we must be on the same team. As parents, we all know how selfless and sacrificially we love our kids (often without even a nod of acknowledgement.) I believe with all the demands of parenting there are two perspectives we can choose to view our responsibility: a blessing or oppression. Of course, the former is the design that the Lord intended. In marriage, there is so much give and take. Parenting amplifies this “neediness” ten fold. If we are not on the same team, then who will be? If I am not actively encouraging my husband and affirming his gifts as a parent/spouse, then who else will do this? I learned very quickly that we must be 100% for and not against each other, because sometimes, due to adolescent ignorance, our children will not be for us (especially when we deny their earnest, heartfelt plea to watch “Frozen” for the fourteenth night in a row- true story).

It has also become apparent to me how much the comparison game can destroy a team. There is a temptation to compare my percentage of effort with his and vice versa. Arguments can begin to center around whose turn it is to change the dirty diaper or who gets to rock the crying baby at 3:30am based on who did more or less that day. I must admit that the Lord has blessed me enormously with a husband who possesses such a servant’s heart. If you know Gabe, then you know how much he pours himself into ministry, marriage, and parenting. I cannot praise him enough for striving to give 100% effort towards caring for us as a family. But, we are far from perfect. There are times when we allow our selfishness to win out. I am learning that if we both settle by giving only 50% and seek to hold a measuring stick to our spouse’s efforts frustrations will occur. We are most effective and joyful when we are both fully devoted to our calling as parents. When we invest 100% of our spiritual gifts into our family, our day flows much more smoothly. It requires much patience, trial and error, and devotion but I would not want to be on anyone else’s team. Encouragement and affirmation immensely impact our ability to work together as a unified force for the Gospel.

Parenting is a battle for the soul of your child. We pray we will steward well this beautiful blessing God has given us. If we are constantly fighting each other, we will lose influence in our children’s’ hearts. What better way to overcome marital arguments than by fighting for and with our spouse? Unified we embrace the battlefield each day, arm in arm, side by side, focused on the same mission and purpose: making much of Jesus in our lives. Jesus becomes our measuring stick and together we become a team that He will use to our fullest potential. Yes, marriage and parenting are sanctifying, but if the battle scars make us look more like our cross-scarred Savior, together we will boldly embrace the fight.