As newlyweds, my husband and I settled into a comfortable rhythm: work, chores, exploring the city and enjoying outings with friends. Our conversations were fairly predictable and ministry became something we did a few hours a week at Church.
Despite having been passionate about spreading Jesus’ message while students in campus ministry, we found ourselves struggling to engage with those outside of our church bubble.
Rather than being salt and light, we were cocooning ourselves in married life, work, and the pursuit of comfort.
Around the same time, my husband and I went to a fund-raising dinner and a wedding that changed our lives; there we encountered MoveIn and were challenged to take seriously Christ’s commands to “love your neighbour”. Within 3 months, we moved into a downtown neighbourhood to join a team of like-minded Christians in praying for and loving our neighbours, many of whom are refugees or immigrants from the unreached world.
Our marriage as we knew it was thrown for a loop: gone was the comfortable equilibrium of “us” and “ours”.
Instead, our marriage is evolving to accommodate risk-taking and sacrifice as we love our neighbours and strive to operate as a team. Slowly and painfully, we are learning to cling to God and one another as we figure out how to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Here are 4 ways that moving in keeps our marriage infused with much-needed purpose, unity and joy:
1. New-ness: As we began to be “on mission together”, I started to see qualities, skills and passions in my husband highlighted. He is the man I gather courage from as we knock on doors to give out muffins and meet our neighbours. He has become a friend to our teammates, offering wisdom and entertainment. I gain new admiration for him as I see how his familiarity with South Asian culture and fluency in Hindi enable him to befriend immigrants and refugees: tutoring, celebrating, and eating together.
Our everyday conversations have been transformed as we discover new things about each other while serving and living intentionally in our community.
2. Opportunities for Generosity: We used to lend God a few hours a week for Bible study, church and ministry; the rest was ours. In our teammates and in the Bible we see a different approach: our life’s purpose is God’s glory. At work, at home, at play—we are invited to live for God and give every moment to Him in praise.
Sometimes, this means that after returning home from a long day at work, we close FaceBook and visit a neighbour in hospital. Sometimes it means we pray for patience when the elevator is down or the water is off. Sometimes it means we miss a Church party in order to sit Afghani-style on our neighbour’s floor and share a meal.
When a fire struck the apartment building we were challenged with the verse that commands us to share our food and clothing with those who have none (Luke 3:11). When our neighbour’s pension cheque doesn’t cover groceries to the end of the month, we wrestle with how to help and love in sustainable and dignifying ways. When our neighbours ask us to sponsor their cousin or sister who’s a refugee, we hear the words of Lord to Moses encouraging the people to welcome refugees (Lev. 19:33-34, 24:22).
The truth is, we struggle. We have not responded with grace and generosity every time. But God is good and He is refining our desires and our marriage as we wade through the mire.
3. Prayer: As a newly married couple, we struggled to pray. Despite heartfelt pledges to pray together regularly, our follow-through on family prayer was poor.
As MoveIners, we are committed to weekly prayer meetings with our team. In the first few months, my husband and I prayed more together than we had in our entire marriage previously. As we pray, God is growing us in our desire to pray individually, as a couple and corporately.
4. Community: As we serve alongside our teammates, laboring in prayer, sharing tears and meals, celebrating birthdays and organizing neighbourhood events, my husband and I have found ourselves in the midst of a community unlike any we have ever known.
Like a healthy marriage, our friendships with our team and our neighbours aren’t built on them spending time with us, but on all of us walking together in a common purpose: our desire to see our neighbourhood transformed by the love of Jesus.
Moving in as a married couple is not easy. It’s a daily struggle to lay aside our own ambitions to love and serve others. But it is fruitful. The time we spend together loving our neighbours and persevering in prayer bonds us as a couple. We often leave prayer meetings and neighbour visits with new ideas, conquered fears, broken hearts and a renewed desire for God.
Being married and moved in has meant walking together as we’re stretched spiritually, and finding in one another support as we learn to love our neighbours, our team, God, and each other.