It's no secret that church planting can be grueling, at least among church planters and their wives. Take a starry eyed, visionary couple with great dreams of reaching their city and look at them again one year into the church plant...you'll often find two people exhausted, disillusioned, disconnected from each other, and frustrated with the progress that's (not) been made. I've been to many church planting events and I hear the same emotions over and over again from wives who have carried a burden far too heavy and made enormous sacrifices for the sake of the church. Their husbands may be feeling the same way, but more often I find that their husbands are excited, motivated, and have no idea that their wife is dying on the inside and beginning to wonder if she is on the verge of losing her mind!
I have such compassion for these wives. One, because I've been there. Andy and I went through some indescribably difficult times with Breakthrough. (Starting the church 6 months into marriage at the age of 22 with no money were contributing factors to those hard times!) The other reason I have such compassion for these brave church planters' wives is because much of what they are going through is the result of decisions that their husbands have made and they feel helpless in their ability to change anything about their circumstances. They are just holding on for dear life to a rope connected to a car going 100 miles an hour. The drivers of these cars (their husbands) seem to have no rear-view mirror in which to see their poor wives flopping along behind them as they drive valiantly onward to change the world. The emotional damage that this can cause a wife (and, no doubt, a marriage) takes a long time and a lot of intentionality to repair.
Andy and I often talk about the fact that, in years to come, we will likely have the opportunity to share our story of church planting with other church planting families that are getting started. Andy sometimes asks me what I would want to say to the wives and I always reply, "To the wives, I will just listen compassionately. But to the husbands, I've got an ear-full to say to them!"
That brings me to my explanation of the title for this post: why I would follow my husband to the ends of the earth...and enjoy doing it! The process for starting South Bay Church has felt enormously different than our first church and quite different than most of the stories I'm hearing from other church planting wives. I attribute much of this to the diligent and wise planning on behalf of my husband. Most church planters, my husband included, are activists...meaning that they feel most connected to God when traveling at mock 10. Planning is not on their lists of "Most Fun Things I Like to Do". But, Andy took note of how difficult the launch of Breakthrough was on both of us, applied wisdom to his heart, and did the hard work of advanced planning to make things run much smoother.
During this 18 month preparation phase:
1- We sold our house in Texas. No moving to CA with a double mortgage.
2- Andy raised our full salary AND the full operating budget for South Bay Church for the first three years. I could stopped the list right here and that would be amazing.
3- Andy & I made two trips to CA so I could be familiar with the area. (Andy made an additional two trips without me.)
4- We have a South Bay Church post office box, bank account, and giving website.
5- We have a logo already designed and a website in process.
6- We've been able to spend extended time with family and say healthy goodbyes. We feel emotionally refreshed and energized to hit the field.
7- Andy has been watching Craig's List like a hawk all summer to find us somewhere to live. I haven't had to worry about it at all.
8- AND, this is incredible, right now my husband is somewhere in Arizona driving the largest Penske truck you can drive without having your CDL. He drove back to Texas, loaded all of our stuff into a truck, and is single-handedly driving to CA to set up our house. All the while, Caedmon and I have been on "vacation" with my mom & dad...going to the zoo, the lake, the park. Caedmon and I will fly to CA, be picked up by my husband and driven to a house where the furniture is already set up! AMAZING!!
Andy has done everything he can think of to eliminate as much stress as possible. Don't get me wrong, this church plant will have stressful times and there will be sacrifice that is required, but so much of that stress can be relieved with wise planning. God has been so good to us and I don't want to give any glory to Andy that is only due to the Lord, but I just want the world to know how thankful I am to have a husband that values my sanity and emotional well-being enough to do the hard work of strategic planning!