“This isn’t fair!”
I hate to admit it, but sometimes I feel like these words are running on repeat over and over again in my head every time I watch my husband walk out the door for another youth event. It doesn’t matter what it is, a devotion, lunch date, meeting, or even a week-long adventure in the mountains; I always get that pang of jealousy and then instant regret.
I mean I am not supposed to be feeling that way, right?
I could blame it on the fact that while he is off conquering the world, I get to deal with poopy diapers, messy rooms, spills, and boogers. But that would be a lie! I love being a mom, even when while going through the trenches of motherhood.
I think what it comes down to is I feel left out and left behind. This simply was not the way we started out.
As young 22-year old newlyweds, my husband and I were ready to tackle the world of hormones and odd smells together. As a teacher and youth pastor, we spent most of our time listening and trying to keep up with the newest lunch table news, cutest school crushes, and latest trends.
And we loved it! Well, at least most of it.
The youth group had quickly become our baby and our home was often filled with the laugher, tears, and dreams of our youth kids. Nick and I were a team and together we could tackle anything. He brought the flair, enthusiasm, and spontaneity, and I contributed the warmth and motherly touch. Not only did our relationships with our students grow, but we were also able to be living breathing examples of a husband wife team. We weren’t perfect and the students saw the ugly side of sharing life together, but they also saw how we worked through things as a couple too.
Fast-forward 5 years and our life looks different. We still live in the crazy worlds of mentoring young minds, however our roles have changed. The youth group is still our baby, but we have added 3 of our own little munchkins to the mix. With each new child, we took a step back, reevaluated, and made changes to our youth commitments. Naturally, because I wasn’t the one being paid, I stepped back and took on the supportive wife and mother role.
I quickly found I missed getting the 411 on all the happenings of our youth. I wasn’t getting to join in on the trips. Don’t get me wrong, my husband never forced me to stay home and he often would ask if I wanted to come, but I felt that was unfair to our children and I would decline. Hence, I was in this awful middle ground of feeling jealous and a pang of regret that our children weren’t enough.
Then it hit me one day – my commitment doesn’t have to be an all-in or all-out response. God had and was equipping me with exactly what I needed. Sure, I cannot be at every youth group night or each trip, but I could still team with him in different ways. This year, we brought youth group to me, to my home base: my living room and kitchen. I share life with my girls. Sometimes we bake together or blast music and sing. My favorite is teaching them about parenting as they interact with my three kids. They aren’t naive, while they see my husband leading the pack, they know I am there filling in the gaps the best I can till he returns.
It isn’t easy and it isn’t the same, but I wasn’t being left behind. I just had to find my new balance. I had to discover what the Lord had intended for my role, rather than try to pave a way myself. Little or big our contributions as youth pastors wives are meaningful and we don’t have to be in the thick of it to make a difference.
Brittany Olson is a wife, mother, graduate student, English teacher, and youth ministry volunteer at Our Redeemer’s Church in Minot, ND. Brittany is very passionate about her family and loves spending time with her husband, Nick, and her three kids – Teddy, Tommy, and Ellie. Brittany is also very passionate about Minnesota Wild hockey, young adult novels, and cheese curds.