A question was recently posted to me by a friend. Was she still worthy to serve in church? Like really, was she?
Here’s her story; she recently separated with her husband after going through a rough patch in their marriage. Having been both regulars, she had chosen to serve in that particular church they attended. However, since the separation, she has been unable to bring herself and her children to attend church, and, subsequently, thus has not been able to give of her time and service to it.
It made me realize. There are a number of Christians, like my friend, struggling in their marriages who find themselves in a space where the only thing they can think of is laying low. Marital issues, separation or even divorce makes them stay away from the crowds. The burdens are too much to bear, coupled with only having but a few people around them to walk with.
Here’s the thing.
Church circles place high regard to marriages. It’s usually like there’s a big welcome party invite to get married, from the circles of association to the pulpit itself. That invitation, by the married to join their institution, comes hand in hand with such warmth and quite some enthusiasm.
The pressure to get in is, initially, subtle, but with time, it can cause great anxiety about one’s future. This pressure is real for many, especially for those at the forefront of ministry, those in service. You start thinking, could the person you’re meeting for the first time at a function be the one? Or could it be this other person that has been right under your nose? You get obsessed, very obsessed, with the idea of finding a spouse or being found. It even feels like a calling, like a purpose to be achieved.
And then, you get into a relationship. Now you fit in. Couples want to hang out with you and your spouse. Dinner offers at their homes, your eagerness and desire to learn something, anything, about long-term relationships are on full throttle. All is bliss. The associations, mentorships and help from the peers are really going on well. These are exciting moments.
All this time, as a lot of the focus is placed on beautiful relationships, only a few of the couples are willing to open up, to share about their hard and painful moments. And before you realize, your own bubble is about to burst. For when those around you see a beautiful glowing couple, when some even wish they could find someone who would make a perfect match for a couple like you, your struggles’ spark is about to burst into a mighty flame.
Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is a good thing. After all, it is initiated and ordained by God. And it should reflect the relationship between Christ and His bride.
The reality comes in a double dosage. As I have said before, marriage is a union between two sinners, both of whom are in need of a loving Savior. When life happens and the masks fall off, it can be quite an ordeal for some married folks.
There is the fact that marriage is for keeps and you feel so guilty at the thought of walking away because things have gotten so bad, so very different. And in that season of self doubt, confusion, shame, the lot, it is very easy for you to find yourself walking away from the One foundation, God, who is ever solid. You feel like a failure. You see yourself a failure.
You slide away from ministry, avoiding friends and, in some cases, even family. There’s just no strength to be in those circles. You don’t feel worthy. And it doesn’t help your case when society, when church, also looks at you as exactly that. Unworthy. Perhaps you’ve not left or even considered leaving your marriage, but those thoughts, those questions still linger.
Are you worthy to serve in church?
Will I ever get back to a normal space? Is it ever going to be okay? How will I ever deal with the fact that I’m a disappointment to the community around me? What do they think of me now? What exactly is my significance in life? I am such a failure. I need space.
Worthy to serve?
Should those among us, if divorced, separated or struggling, be given a chance to serve in different capacities in their local churches?
I am not a theologian, but here’s my take. There’s need for those who are broken in our midst to first find restoration and healing so that they are whole again. For during this period, there are different emotions that one could be dealing with, including bitterness, anger, shame, guilt, et al. And lack of dealing with such emotions could create a possibility of wounding those around them, those being served by them.
Let’s remember. Christ heals and restores. Believe it. “He heals the brokenhearted, and bandages their wounds. ~ Psalm 147.3″. And as for the church, it needs to play a key role in providing avenues to reach out to these wounded and the brokenhearted.
There is need for these people to feel loved, not only by those around them, but also to believe that God loves them so dearly. They need to know this: “Neither height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8.39″.
Nothing can stop you from experiencing God’s love, not even your circumstances. Nothing.
Worthy to serve?
There’s always an opportunity for those who are in these circumstances to come to the Lord in service with the purpose of building God’s kingdom, when they are in a better place emotionally and psychologically in their lives. He has a purpose for you. Even when you seem flawed and beat up, when your till-death-do-us-part relationship has failed, God still considers you a vessel. Picture the lives of the 12 disciples pre-apostolic phase, and know God can use anyone.
When people are faced with such difficult times in their lives, I pray and hope that we can offer our love and support. Instead of shunning them away, may we show that love through our actions and speech. And hopefully, the believers in our midst will have that expectation, that desire, to serve the Lord Almighty from a place of healing, restoration and love.
So, are you worthy to serve? God says, ‘Yes you are’.
May the Almighty grant us the necessary wisdom.