Friday, November 1, 2013

The Life of A Seminary Wife: Part 3 - Solutions

After observing some of the struggles that seminary wives experience, I now want to suggest some possible solutions for dealing with these issues. 

At the outset, it must be noted that although difficulties are a part of life, there are both godly and ungodly ways to respond. I believe that God has given us His Word for the purpose (amongst many other reasons) of directing us to him when life gets tough. 2 Peter 1:3 says that we have been given everything we need for life and godliness. That's an all-encompassing promise. Through God's Word, we can be directed, helped, encouraged, exhorted, reproved, taught, enlightened, and changed to walk in obedience to God and his commands. That being said, I want to give some biblical wisdom addressing the unique struggles mentioned in Part 1 of this series. 

1. Redeem the time - Ephesians 5:15-16 says that Christians are to "look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." Our days are numbered. I am reminded of this every night when I go to sleep. It is sobering to think that if the Lord chooses, I could not wake up the next morning. James 4:14-17 concludes that we do not know when our lives will come to an end, therefore we should not assume that our plans will always go accordingly. In light of eternity, the four years (or perhaps more...) that you spend at seminary are really just a blip in time. 

However, we are called to "make the best use of the time", in whatever season or circumstance of life God has put us. In seminary, you have an abundance of resources at your disposal: the library, opportunities to audit classes, seminars, seminary wives' ministries, like-minded women living next door. The list goes on. There will not be another time in your life, as you eventually go out into the ministry, when you will have all of these resources so readily available. 

Likewise, seminary proves to be a fruitful time of learning for both student and spouse. I can attest to the fact that I have become more disciplined in reading books, studying the Scriptures, and listening to sermons while being at seminary. Why? My husband is always talking about this subject or that biblical text, which sparks my curiosity (and challenges me!) so that I go after answers to tough questions. I also realize that this is a time of ministry preparation for me, as well as for Chance. After we leave seminary, we will likely be in a church or other ministry context where I will not have the opportunities for training, mentorship, and theological growth, like I have right now. All that to say - don't waste this time!

2. Repent of bitterness; be thankful - Ephesians 4:31 says "You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk." (NET) This verse cuts to the heart. If we are mulling about with resentment and bitterness toward our husbands, we are sinning not only against our husbands, but against our God. 

Bitterness tends to grow most rapidly in those who only focus on the negative aspects of life. If a wife complains about the city she now lives in, the church she now attends, the people she is meeting (or not meeting), and the job she now works at, the seed of bitterness has already blossomed; the root of it is very deep.

However, if a wife has a mind set on thanksgiving, her attitude will be one of gratitude rather than bitterness. Paul explicitly says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Elsewhere Paul says to make your requests known to God with thanksgiving, and that we should give thanks "always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20). Lastly, Colossians 3:17 says "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Clearly, the Scriptures teach that our response to the circumstances that God has put us in, whether easy or difficult, should be thanksgiving. 

God has blessed you with a husband who desires to (1) learn the Bible, (2) serve the Lord, and (3) provide for his household. God has brought you to seminary for his sovereign purposes, and it would be a shame to waste the time by being bitter or resentful. God will bless the time if you obey his commands. When we are tempted to become bitter, remember God's will for you: give thanks in all circumstances. 

3. Remember, you aren't alone - The privilege of learning at an institution like seminary cannot be overstated. Moreover, the opportunity to learn and grow alongside like-minded believers is an enormous blessing. There have been many days, however, when that reality has not been on the forefront of my mind. 

Too many times I have forgotten that I am in the same boat as many other wives! My exhortation to wives who are experiencing loneliness, is to first remember that you aren't the only one going through this. Secondly, remember that you aren't meant to do this alone. Third, you will remain lonely if you are always alone, so join a community. 

On the last note, whether it is a women's bible study at your church or a ministry directed at seminary wives specifically, you will do well to intentionally surround yourself with other seminary wives. You need them and they need you. 

Lastly, "seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near" (Is. 55:6). God has a purpose for you in the midst of your loneliness. He wants you to draw near to him and find your comfort in him. 

I hope that this series has been helpful for those current and future seminary wives. It is my desire that as you go through seminary with your husband, you will never lose sight of the goodness of the Lord in putting right where you are.