My husband and I are students in our church’s School of Transformation: a yearlong program that focuses on character development, missions preparation and outreach, serving, and studying the Bible. The end of the year will be completed by an overseas missions trip!
SOT is a huge commitment. Class is on Tuesdays from 6-10pm, and one Saturday/month from 9-5pm. We also serve every Sunday from 7am-1pm, go to every church event, attend a Life Group, disciple someone and be discipled weekly, and have Facetime (devotions) first thing every morning. There is also homework. We will read through the whole Bible, read 13 books and 5 articles, memorize Scripture every week, and take a midterm and final. It is basically like adding a part-time job to our already full lives. Most nights look like this:
I always thought I would get married when I was 20, have six children by 30, be a stay at home mom, live in a nice house with a picket fence, take great care of my children, love my husband, and lead a Bible study. That was all I wanted. I did not believe I was capable of more, nor I did not want God to make me uncomfortable.
Then I gave my life to Him, and He had a different plan in mind. About a year before I met Brian, God began speaking to me about my calling, and revealed that He had more for me than a white picket fence in suburbia. While “something more” sounded nice, I was completely blind-sided by not having a plan. I did my best to trust God with the new unknowns of my life, but I must say, it rocked my world.
Then enters Brian, tall, blue-eyed, and charming, telling me on our third date that he believes he has a nations calling, and asking me where I saw my life going. I shared that God had been speaking to me about “something more,” and I hadn’t the slightest idea what that meant, but for the first time in my life I was open to anything He wanted. We weren’t sure where our lives would go, how they would mesh, or what God’s plan was. What we did know was that we were both fully surrendered to His will for our lives, and we wanted to follow Jesus, hopefully together.
We had been married just four months when we started considering doing SOT together. Brian had already done a similar school through Vineyard, but he began to consider doing it with me so that we could build a strong foundation for our marriage. Right about that time, another company approached him with a potential management position (something he had always wanted) that would include a large pay increase. This job commitment would consume his time and leave no availability for any interests outside of work. I was going to do SOT regardless, but we both knew this decision between the new job or doing SOT together would set a course for our lives.
Initially, when Brian told me about the job, I felt nervous and hesitant. The job sounded like a huge commitment, and I was unsure how that would affect our marriage and future family. Brian, however, felt excited and optimistic about the opportunity, sure that we would figure out a balance. We had different perspectives and opposing opinions, and were basically thinking of ourselves. How was God going to bring unity?
It went something like this:
- I wanted what I thought was best. Brian wanted what he thought was best.
- Then we submitted to each other. I became fully surrendered to either path, and was prepared to make any adjustments necessary to support whatever my husband wanted to do. Likewise, Brian became equally submitted to what I desired, and willing to put aside his desires in order for us to be in agreement.
- I wanted what he wanted. He wanted what I wanted. Still wanting opposite things.
- We laughed about that. But then didn’t know what to do.
We talked about it a lot, prayed about it profusely, sought counsel and waited. Through that process God worked in both of our hearts. We did not sense Him leading us either way, but we felt the guidance of the Spirit leading us to covenantal unity.
We went from being on opposite sides, standing for what we wanted individually, to completely dying to ourselves so that the other person would be honored. God was less concerned about what choice we made than He was with the process of making the choice. The position of preferring ourselves was transformed into a posture of preferring each other.
Obviously, we decided to do SOT together, and Brian did not take the job. Now that the decision has been made and school has started, I have discovered some interesting things.
If Brian had taken that job, I would have had the life I always wanted. It would have provided stability and I probably would not have had to work. It would have meant we could buy a house. But it would come at a cost. He would work limitless hours, have little free time to do the things he loves, and severely limit our time together as a family.
With his current job, although it is full-time, it offers some flexibility and work/life balance, enabling him to do ministry, spend time with people he cares about, and allow us to do SOT together. We make enough, although I will probably work a few days a week when we have kids, and we aren’t sure if we will ever be able to buy a house. I had a lifelong dream of going to Paris with my husband. We even made a pinky promise when we were dating that we would go to Paris before we had kids. I do not know the future, but it seems like the Paris Dream Trip will now be an SOT missions trip.
Doing the School of Transformation is definitely a sacrifice. We are giving our time, money, sleep, and even turned down a great job opportunity to be a part of this transformative journey. It has set us down a path in which the ending cannot be seen. However, the reward is so much greater than the sacrifice. Already, SOT has been a very rich blessing and bonding experience for us as newlyweds. The Lord is taking us deeper into intimacy with Himself, and with one another. We are learning lessons about forgiveness, stewardship, and continually dying to self. I realized deep down, I long for more of God than I do for material comforts. What we are gaining has greater value than money and a mapped out life.