Put others before yourself. It is not enough to avoid doing injury to another; you must actively promote their welfare above your own. Yes, this means giving up what you would like to do. Pam has worked in psychiatry for most of her career. There is an interesting phenomenon among psychiatric patients: they all have irregular sleep patterns. There is a correlation here, and perhaps it runs in both directions. At the very least it points to the need for regularity as a component of health. We decided early that we were going to get our children to bed at a decent time every night. This meant giving up lots of things that we would rather have done in the evening. But we put our children’s need for rest and health above our need for recreation and an evening out with friends.


Pam went back to work when Liz was approaching two to avoid losing her nursing license. We got a reprieve when we went to Bangladesh, but when we got back it meant a lot of evening, night, and weekend hours for her. She made the commitment that she would only work when I was home so the kids would not have to be raised by sitters. Not everyone can do that, I understand, but nursing gave her that option, even if it meant working all night and staying up until the kids went to school. It also meant a huge load of responsibility for me as well; with long stretches of looking after kids alone while trying to renovate houses, mark papers and meet commitments at church, but that is the commitment we made to our kids, and we paid the price to make it work.


This present step in our marriage is no different. Pam’s missionary work means that I get to spend a lot of time alone. She is away this week in northern Malaysia. Last week it was Cambodia, the week before that was Singapore. When she gets back we get a week together preparing for her conference, then she’ll be in Singapore for another week and after that Nepal for a week. It makes for a lonely time for both of us, as my job doesn’t allow me that much time off. But this is the ministry the Lord has called us to, and in our lives, we put others before ourselves.