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Married in Ministry? Keep Your Sense of Humor

Laughing together makes your marriage sustainable

I married a solemn man. He is an intense person who takes ministry very seriously. That intensity gave him the courage and impetus to plant a church, which he pastored for 27 years. When he resigned, it was to train pastors in third-world countries, so as I said, he takes ministry seriously.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, however you choose to look at it, he married a goofball of a wife. I find humor everywhere, even in the most unlikely places. For example, when my husband went to seminary, we were impoverished and exhausted. Having two kids, working part-time, and my husband’s constant studying left us on the edge. To cope, I began finding humor everywhere.

At one point, my husband left the house at 7:00 in the morning and returned at 11:00 at night. I worked part-time and kept the kiddos mostly in line. However, when I got sick enough with the stomach flu to take to my bed for the day, the children had the time of their lives. They lived on cereal, which the 6-year-old got for the 4-year-old. But even better than that, they decided to eat it while watching TV. So he would happily pour the milk on the cereal and hand the bowl to his sister. They cheerfully marched downstairs to the TV, slopping the gooey stuff all over the carpet on the way.

When they finished eating, my son realized that someone usually did the dishes. Since I was out of commission, he decided they would do it. I heard water run and run, so I finally dragged myself out of bed to see what was happening. They had done the dishes and then decided to wash the floors and all the windows with the dirty dishwater.

I was too sick to care much, so I told them that was enough washing and they should go back to watching TV. Wasn’t I a wonderful mom?

Anyway, my husband came home to the absolute shambles of our house and came in to ask me what happened. By then I was feeling a bit better and began to tell him the story. It got funnier the more I embellished it and we began to laugh hysterically. We were both rolling on the bed, holding our stomachs for a far different reason than the one I had been doing it for all day. In a weird way, it got us through that difficult time.

When he graduated from seminary, we started a church plant because we had become so used to exhaustion during seminary that we wanted to extend the glorious feeling. Suffice it to say that it was way harder than we thought it was going to be. Often my husband would come home and say that he just wanted to be a ditch digger, which would make us laugh and remember why in the world we were doing this in the first place.

The lowest point was three years in when a founding member of the church came into his office and told him that he was a total failure as a pastor. He came home and for the first time seriously considered a job in manual labor.

All the fight came out in me, but after I worked through my anger at this church member, I began to tease my husband about digging ditches. It was amazing the parallels we found between digging ditches and being a pastor. They are remarkably similar in so many ways! Just finding those similarities was enough to get us laughing again and letting out steam so that we could regroup and begin again. I’m happy to say that this member is still in our church and that he and my husband made peace. I can’t help but think that perhaps the humor we found in the situation made this possible.

Now when I tell people that my husband trains pastors in third-world countries, they always ask me if I go with him. I just give a snorty kind of laugh and tell them absolutely not. I can barely keep my physical and emotional self together in the good ol’ US of A. I get air sick, car sick, and sometimes dizzy and nauseated just walking down the sidewalk. I went on one mission trip and God gloriously got me through it, but it took me about a month to recover. So I stay here and wait for his phone calls and soak in the glorious things he sees happen in Africa and beyond. My role, you see, is to make him laugh.

JoHannah Reardon is involved in a serious mission that is implemented through a lot of laughter. She also is a prolific writer. Find her many novels that almost always include comical things happening in church at www.johannahreardon.com.

June11, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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