As the sun peered through the window of the chapel on our wedding day, my wife, Christi, vowed at the altar, “You are my teammate.” I remember it like it was yesterday. She lives it.
Apparently, she remembered my vow too: “I will fight hard for you, not with you.” I think she remembered mine for not living it.
In the first few years of our marriage as teammates we faced some opponents, though nothing out of the ordinary. We managed to get through it by living out our wedding vows and fighting for one another. Until August 31st, 2012.
Enter baby. And I’m not talking just any baby; I’m talking high-needs baby. A baby who didn't sleep. Always wanted to eat. Needed to be held. And bounced. And rocked while being bounced —while listening to the dryer. The first months of raising our newborn son were beyond difficult.
Christi and I weren’t sleeping or eating. She was having nursing issues, infections, illnesses and exhaustion. Me? I was trying to survive.
Then it hit me. With no immediate family nearby to help, and exhaustion, frustration and apathy setting in, the moment came when I was confronted by the vow I was not keeping. It’s not that I was fighting with Christi, as much as I was not fighting for her. Nearly a month after Landon was born, Christi came to me, threw herself into my arms, and looked at me with tears streaming down her face, “Josh, I don’t feel like we’re connecting anymore. I miss us.”
That moment was a game changer for me. I realized in the midst of the fog we were living in I was somehow hoping the sun would magically appear, dissipate all of the exhaustion, and I would fight for my wife again.
But Christi knew better.
And she had the courage to stand up and be faithful to me, our marriage and herself by bringing the sun in on the fog. Not only did she feel the loneliness of me not fighting for her heart, she also saw the hopeless reality that I was just spinning my wheels and that I had lost the energy and intention to pursue her. I was hoping against hope. She was hopeless. It wasn't a good combination. Yet she had the courage to call it out.
My wife, in her faithfulness, had the courage to let hopelessness move her to a new place. As a leader, no matter your age or stage of life, it’s essential to develop this often difficult and rarely practiced trait. Hopelessness seems like an odd leadership trait, but it’s critical for growth.
In Galatians 5:22 Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit evident in us as we grow in Christ. In the middle of the passage is the word faithfulness, a word used here to describe commitment to our faith. Practically speaking, faithfulness is being true to others and doing what’s right, even if it’s not easy. When was the last time you had a hard conversation with somebody you love? What holds you back from having the courage to bring about the difficult conversation by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)?
To have true joy and peace in life, Paul writes that our hope needs to be in the true source of life, Jesus Christ (Romans 15:13). Yet too often we put hope in ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our jobs, our friends, our money, our looks or what others think of us. Are you placing hope in a false reality waiting for the sun to shine in the fog? What steps can you take today to allow the hope of the Holy Spirit, to trust him and to remain faithful to him and those you love? Most importantly, how can you harness hopelessness to take you to a new place in your ministry?