Devotions in Disguise
We'd only been married a few years and our life was incredibly busy. We had two active boys, our first teensy home with a mammoth mortgage, a budget stretched to the point of snapping, and so many things to do that we wondered if we might snap.
Craig was pastoring a church and studying full-time for his master's degree. Carolyn was busy mothering and ministering at church. And our boys spent their time being … boys. As in racing cars everywhere, bouncing balls off the ceiling, and drenching our elderly volunteer baby-sitter with the backyard hose.
As for our communication during a typical week, we'd have perfunctory conversations on the phone to catch up on the events of the day, attempts to communicate as best we could in the car or during dinner while cleaning up spills—all the while arbitrating disagreements such as, "You gave me more green beans to eat than you gave him!"
The weekends brought no rest, either. Saturdays were a whirlwind of activities that shoved us right into Sunday, which included several church services, teaching (for both of us), and scheduled and impromptu meetings. By the end of the day, we were tired and cranky. By the time Monday kicked in, we needed relief from the weekend!
On top of all that, we tried to make our devotional life a priority. We each had personal devotions, and we attempted nightly family worship. Before the boys went to bed, we read Bible stories, sang, prayed together, and sometimes—depending on how much energy was left—we acted out those Bible stories. By the time our guys were in bed, we were both exhausted. So now we were supposed to sit down together for a meaningful time of spiritual growth as a couple? Not on your life.
Finally, we discussed the crisis. We needed time to catch our breath, to look each other in the eyes when we were talking, to actually concentrate on a conversation. We recognized that through the craziness of life, we were losing each other. And that was entirely too much to lose.
Seeking a solution
We had a brainstorming session. How could we fix this? After listing several ideas, we decided to do something deceptively simple. We committed to talk. On Saturday mornings, for most of the morning.
We tentatively began this tradition with no pious motivations on our part. In no way did we commit those Saturday mornings together with the intention that "this would become our marriage devotional time"—but in the end, that's just what happened.