"Is your husband away?” a friend asks sympathetically.
“Yes, he’ll be back on Friday,” I reply with a radiant smile. I send up a silent prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the journey on which You’ve brought me, so that I’m okay with my husband being gone in the line of duty—to You.
My husband travels a fair amount for his job in literature ministries at our conference. As a young wife it took me a while to realize that ministry is not the 8-to-5 job with supper together and quiet evenings at home that I had envisioned. The devil tempted me to think, “This isn’t what I signed up for.”
But was that true? Absolutely not. This unusual, God-ordained, incredible life is exactly what I signed up for. After all, what did I think I was choosing when I moved permanently across the ocean and married someone whose life was devoted to ministry? Wasn’t it to minister together and support him, for better or for worse?
In our four married years B.C. (before children), we rarely spent a night apart. I became familiar with all the ins and outs of the ministry and loved the adventure of going to new areas and churches together and helping make things happen for God. If I ever felt “put upon” in all of this, I would meditate on quotes such as this: “When the wife of the minister accompanies her husband in his mission to save souls, it is a great sin for her to hinder him in his work by manifesting unhappy discontent. . . . If things around them are not as agreeable as she could wish (as they will not always be), she should not indulge homesick feelings, or by lack of cheerfulness and by spoken complaints harass the husband and make his task harder. . . ” (Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p. 210). As ministry spouses, we are half the team! We have the ability to make or break our husband’s ministry by our attitudes. What an opportunity!
After our first daughter arrived, I could still get around quite a bit without throwing her schedule off too much, but I had to pull back from our ministry a little. However, when daughter #2 arrived, it was a whole different story. Now I had two little ones’ schedules to coordinate, and suddenly I found myself at home much more while my husband was out ministering and evangelizing.
Despite the steep learning curve, God is gracious, and step-by-step I began to embrace my changed role. I was thankful for my husband’s active enthusiasm and support of my ministry at home. Also, quotes such as this encouraged me: “If married men go into the work, leaving their wives to care for the children at home, the wife and mother is doing fully as great and important a work as the husband and father” (White, Adventist Home, p. 235). “The Lord is served as much, yes, more, by the faithful home worker than by the one who preaches the Word” (White, Review and Herald, Dec. 5, 1899).
I became thankful I could focus my ministry on my husband and children—challenging as parenting is to every new parent. I kept busy with my girls and still went on as many trips with my husband as I could possibly manage. Although my husband travels throughout the year, the ten weeks of the summer are the most intensive because of his student literature evangelism (Magabook) program. During this time my husband is responsible for 60-80 student literature evangelists and is usually away 4-5 days of the week. As someone who loves to make plans and orchestrate them, I thought the best way to combat loneliness would be to schedule every moment of my summer—trips to the zoo, play dates with friends, and of course day trips to visit the summer program groups.
Strangely, after a summer or two like that, I realized I didn’t necessarily need all that activity. I could live one day at a time and God would carry me. He wanted me to wait on Him, and He would plan my summer for me—I didn’t need bells and whistles. I needed to adjust and trust. As our girls moved past the toddler stage, being “alone” at home has somehow become easier.
I have found it helpful to praise God for what I do have: a husband, who does love God supremely and is in full-time ministry supporting the family. Many women would love to have such a husband! Also, I found I can have a special closeness with God when my husband is away because I must then hold onto Him. I am grateful for a chance to still be involved with my husband’s young workers when possible—I love this ministry. I thank God for the opportunity to get on my knees and surrender when the going gets rough.
A quote from Ruth Graham, the late wife of her traveling husband, Billy Graham, has helped me keep a thankful attitude. She remarked one day, “I’d rather have a little of Bill than a lot of any other man.” I feel the same about my husband (whose name also happens to be Bill!).
At times I think of the Adventist pioneer women whose husbands would be away for long periods preaching—and there were no cellphones back then, or any phones at all!—or the wives whose husbands are gone for many months in the military. They remind me that I have nothing to complain about.
So, with children ages seven and nine—and 14 or more summers being married to the literature ministries director to reflect on—I no longer dread summer’s coming or try to overfill it with action. I actually look forward to the next summer and to seeing how God will beautifully sustain us as a family this time. He always does.
Heather Krick, originally from South Africa, lives in California, USA, where she is wife to her husband in ministry and homeschool mom to their girls, Savannah and Heidi. She enjoys traveling, teaching, music, and home arts.