Addicted To Ministry
The more unhappy I became with my marriage issues the busier I became with ministry issues. The admiration I received from all the people who came to my studies and various ministries satisfied my need for self worth and validity. Of course I pointed them all to Jesus but there was still a certain satisfaction I got from the recognition. I wasn’t getting what I needed at home or, in actuality, from the ministry either, but I persevered. The reality is what I really needed was Jesus alone. He is the only one who can meet our innermost needs. No one else is capable of fixing us. We all have a vacancy in the center of our being that was meant to be filled by our God. Addictions, people, work, children or anything else will not take His place in that empty part of our heart. That is why when we are addicted to something we have to continue to increase whatever we are doing to obtain the original high. It is never enough. He is our everything.
Those in the upper hierarchy of the church ranks encouraged me to keep going. They kept piling on more “ministries” instead of recognizing that my priorities were way out of alignment. How blinded we can become. It truly was the blind leading the blind. Well meaning church members will use a person until they wear out or their life falls apart as a result of a lack of balance. Then they will move on to the next person. They blindly prey upon people who can’t say no and then praise them for giving everything to the ministry while their families are starving for their attention. I have seen many marriages fail in the church because of the husband and wife’s over involvement in church activities and because well meaning pastors kept them so busy they had time for nothing else. I was one of the busy ones.
I did not realize that I had become as addicted to ministry over the years as an alcoholic becomes addicted to alcohol. Ministry was my anesthesia. It was my coping mechanism that provided a way of escape. The works that I performed never seemed to be enough to satisfy my inner needs as a woman. I felt despaired that ministry really wasn’t satisfying me. There was a gaping hole in my heart that was not being filled. But my focus remained more on ministry than on relationship with Him. If I would have been as busy in my relationship with Jesus and not so busy with trying to fill the gaping hole in my heart I think my life would have taken another route than it did. But I never would have seen that on my own. I was getting extremely tired and used up a lot of energy keeping myself together. And I could find no rest.
Another woman and I founded a Central Coast of California bible study, called Women of Victory. I later went on to incorporate this ministry. This was the start of a newsletter, tape ministry, and weekly study that drew women from all walks of life and had a far outreach. From there I started Day of Restoration Ministries, a monthly ministry to women. I know God ministered to these women because HE is faithful. I actually felt I was in over my head in some of these ministries but He trained me to listen to the Holy Spirit in how to handle each unique case. This training by the Lord in learning how to step back and allow Holy Spirit to minister through me was actually preparing me for where I am today, though I didn’t know it then. But there were more storms ahead that I would encounter before these truths would be revealed to me.
Unfortunately, with all the ministries going on my marriage took even more of a back seat. My husband was still unable to find and keep a job for any length of time. We were always suffering financially. I eventually had to work outside the home in, God forbid, the “world”. Good grief, I had to go out into the real world! How would I maintain my spirituality? I really thought that I was to remain sheltered from the world so I could focus exclusively on God, kind of like a Nun, only with more benefits. I thought that God didn’t venture outside the church walls either. I blamed my husband for me actually having to go to work and saw it as taking me away from the ministry. I managed to keep it all juggled anyway; work, ministry, and kids, and it left me even less time to deal with my home life issues. It took even more activity to keep me free of the guilt and that uneasy feeling that all was not well in my life.
All this time I honestly convinced myself that I was walking by faith. I thought if I acted like everything was okay, it was, by faith. This is a classic case of denial and presumption. It relieved me of correcting what I thought I had no power over and allowed me to remain in control. I didn’t know what was coming or how serious it was. Denial will always bottom out in some sort of destruction in our lives unless we face the truth and move on it. Faith always lines up with the Word of God and will produce fruit if in accordance with God’s will for our lives.
Faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1).
So often it is easier to blame God for our denial by declaring that our faith didn’t work. Instead of me facing the issues in my marriage I was escaping from them through my “ministries” and instead of seeking to correct them I just prayed for God to change them. When they didn’t change I blamed God. I became so frustrated because I was doing all the “works” to try to get God to make my problems go away. When they didn’t go away I thought there was something wrong with me that my faith didn’t work.
My marriage continued to spiral out of control behind the scenes. I prayed for my husband continually never even seeing that I had a problem too, and I had become very co-dependant in the relationship. One of the definitions of co-dependency is “a continued investment of self-esteem in the ability to control both oneself and others”. I kept trying to ‘fix’ everything and keep it all together. After all, no one else would. I actually took care of everything in our household and carried all the responsibility for my husband. I enabled him to stay in his passivity because I had to be in control. And then I would run to my fix of being in the midst of all the people who so needed me and made me feel important. Like the Samaritan woman who was seeking to fill her deep need with men and had an encounter with Jesus at the well while drawing water, I, too, had a huge hole in my heart that only Jesus was meant to fill. I was looking to people to fill it in the guise of spirituality. In my blindness I failed to see that only Jesus could fill that gaping hole in my heart that was widening by the day.