There is a special place in my heart for ministry families. What they do is not easy. They are often expected to give 110% of themselves to other people while running on empty. Not to mention feeling like their lives, all the good and the bad, are being scrutinized. They are special. They are strong. And they are completely human. I am privileged to call one such beautiful lady in ministry my friend, and today you get to hear from her. You are sure to be just as blessed by the sweet and thoughtful words of Emily Miller as I am.
How did you meet Nate and how long have you been married?
Nate and I casually and awkwardly met as middle school 7th graders! A friend of mine from school invited me to her church’s youth group, and Nate was a part of it. He was practicing his guitar for that night, and any guy who knew how to play guitar automatically had points in my book! We went to the same school, and we even went to our junior year prom together! But we never dated in middle school or high school even though I really liked him our junior year. We were both very different people in high school, and we’re both glad we ended up not dating then because it took our first semester of college to grow and change. We started officially dating during the spring semester that same freshman year! We’ve been married almost 14 years in December!
How do you successfully practice work/life/church balance?
During some seasons we experience more success in this area, and some seasons are just busier than normal. Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of the idea of balance. It puts so much pressure on an individual person to get things and life circumstances “just right.” Sometimes life brings hardships or responsibilities that can’t always be avoided, and it’s during those times of feeling as though I’m being stretched thinner than I want to be that I lean in closer to God, His truths, and His mercies that are new every morning. I am also a huge believer in saying “no” to good things in order to be able to focus on the best things. Knowing our physical and emotional limits, along with asking God for wisdom, can help with prioritizing what’s important to us. I recently read this about the idea of balance, and I loved how it was put:
“Balance is a myth. It is not possible to balance it all. Nor is it even advisable. The overfocus on balance assumes that things are not constantly changing, and that we are not constantly evolving with those changes and the people in our lives. Balance, an impossible ideal, whispers I am not doing it right or enough. Prioritization puts me in charge of my life and what is important to me. To grow, to chase a dream, or be faithful to a calling, we often have to throw things a bit out of balance. The same is true for when people or children in our life are growing. Flexibility and health in one season may look completely out of balance with a previous season. Freedom comes with prioritization. Prioritizing puts us in the driver’s seat of what is most important in our lives, in each season. When we prioritize we are in an empowered position to pick what is the most important in our lives, relationships, behaviors, and beliefs.” (Monica DiCristina of Still Becoming Podcast and Blog)
In what practical ways do you help Nate?
When I know Nate is having a busy season at work, I try to pick up as much of the workload at home as possible. I used to (and sometimes still do ;-)) get super frustrated when things don’t get done around the house that are “his jobs” (taking the garbage out, picking up dog poop in the yard, yard work, garage organization, house projects etc.). I’ve learned that in order to come alongside Nate during busy seasons, I may have to get over my “his role/my role” expectations in order to serve him. I could sit in my bitterness because he’s not doing something I’m expecting him to do, or I can choose to do it myself with no strings attached just because we’re in this thing called marriage together for the long haul.
Also, I know Nate appreciates when I actually ask if there is anything I can do for him that will help him. It gives him the permission and freedom to offload tasks he’s not particularly gifted in, but I love to do! Working at church there are certain administrative tasks that Nate sometimes struggles with (stuffing envelopes, inputting data, addressing mail, assembling new guest packs). Those are the kind of tasks that oddly relax me and give me a sense of accomplishment! So I will gladly offer to do those kinds of things in order to lighten his load. A simple ask opens the door for him to know that I’m here and available to help!
What does Nate value most in a wife and what do you do to be that for him?
This was a great question because Nate and I haven’t asked each other this lately, and it gave us the opportunity to open the floor for me to receive some valuable input from him. The three things Nate mentioned were: stability, support, and encouragement. For him, being able to come home each day knowing that kids’ schedules are taken care of, the house doesn’t look like a bomb blew up, there’s food in the fridge, and meals on the table allow him to come home to a stable and supportive environment. Knowing that Nate values those things, I try my best to make that happen from week to week…some weeks are more motivating to me than others! There are times when, despite knowing what Nate values, I struggle to serve him and encourage him. Those are the times that I have to push myself to make the conscious choice to prioritize those things in my marriage. Generally though, I enjoy providing stability, support, and encouragement to Nate because those are the things that build and grow our relationship with each other.
What words of advice or encouragement do you have for women who may be struggling in their marriage?
I think for me it’s learning to have a soft heart. Many times when Nate and I are struggling I can so easily only focus on what he is doing (or not doing) to cause the struggle, and I turn a prideful blind eye to the part that I’m playing in the struggle. Learning to walk through the struggles with a humble heart can give a greater perspective on our purpose in marriage. I have to remind myself that Nate and I are on the same team! Our marriage hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns and we’ve definitely had our fair share of lows in our marriage. It’s during the hard times that we often grow in our relationships with the Lord and seek the wise words of those whom we trust to give us the sometimes difficult advice to hear.
Also, recognizing the weight and importance of forgiveness in our marriage has been so eye opening and humbling. Recently, Nate and I hit a rough patch in our marriage which caused me to have to come to Nate completely broken and ask for his forgiveness. Just hearing him say “I forgive you” was heart-moving in itself, but after that he continued to love and serve me in ways I couldn’t understand. His forgiveness and actions that followed were so undeserved…truly a gift of grace…that I couldn’t help but reflect that onto the Gospel and what Christ did for me. It was the first time in our marriage that the verse in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” became so real to me that it brought me to tears. Our struggle led me to the cross of Christ and stirred my heart for His amazing grace.