I was raised in a pull yourself up by the bootstraps kind of environment. Work hard; figure things out; take care of yourself. It’s not that no one showed kindness, or provided help and support where needed. It’s just that unspoken mentality that if there’s nothing wrong with you, you should be able to take care of yourself.
So after I got married, my husband and I moved into our own little place and started figuring things out. I finished school on a student loan and Anthony went to work that summer, roofing with his dad’s company. Then I got sick. Instead of heading back to school to finish his degree, Anthony kept working. But between the time spent at the hospital and the extra medical costs, it sometimes still wasn’t enough.
We received some financial and logistical support, but Anthony’s work was mostly able to keep us afloat. Then he tore his ACL and needed knee surgery. Although we had insurance, it was more than 6 months before we saw any money. So we gratefully accepted the financial assistance that came our way.
But I struggled with it. I knew that realistically we didn’t have much of a choice, but I still felt like we should have been able to take care of ourselves. When we spent a lot on medicine, or budgeted poorly with groceries I felt guilty. Every time we accepted a cheque from our church, family or friends, I felt like somehow we had gone wrong.
After a few years we finally managed to get back on our feet. I started full-time work for the first time in our marriage, and Anthony was able to continue with some of his schooling. Then he fell in love with sports ministry.
When Anthony first started communicating with Athletes in Action I was so happy for him. They’re an arm of a nonprofit that works with sport to minister to local communities. It was such a tangible way he could use his lifelong love of all things athletic to serve God and the community.
Then there was the minor fact that in order to work with them he would need to raise his own support. I was not a fan. Hadn’t we just spent the last 5 years of our marriage depending upon others? Couldn’t he get a real job where they just paid you a salary?
But Anthony was determined; he wanted to try this out. So he started raising support for an 8-month internship. If you know my husband at all, you might realize that this definitely isn’t his forte. He’s passionate, but not overly outspoken and definitely not a salesman.
After a few months he organized an information evening for family and friends. This is a common approach that’s used to get supporters involved and give people some insight on what their money would actually be used for.
I was busy with work and not hugely involved in the process, but I came home that evening to find Anthony making a giant mess of the kitchen. He had prepared special appetizers and scheduled time with both of his supervisors at work to be there.
When we arrived at the event, the turnout was a little sad. I was disheartened once again. I thought to myself, “People are probably wondering why he doesn’t just get a real job.”
Then we sat down and the two men he’d been working closely with started to speak. They talked about how God called them to this ministry, and the unusual path that led Anthony there. They spoke of Anthony’s passion and dedication, and how even though he was a bit of a weird fit for the program (a volleyball alum in a soccer ministry), they were convinced that God would do great things through him.
I was being such a stubborn brat. Had I still not learned that God would provide? That pulling myself up by the bootstraps wasn’t what He was looking for? Maybe God was telling Anthony once again to lay it all down. He had set down his wife at God’s feet and God had carried us both through. Now it was time to lay down his love of sports and let God work through that as well.
Anthony was willing, but I wasn’t. I didn’t want to depend on others—to depend on God. I wanted to work hard and support myself. I wanted to store up in barns in case of another bad harvest.
This September, we decided that Anthony would try to get onto full-time staff with AIA. That means another round of support-raising. A season of gathering a group of people who are willing to commit monthly to this ministry for the foreseeable future. And I stumbled again. This didn’t align with my hopes and dreams. God’s plan was once again conflicting with mine.
Now maybe God will open the doors for Anthony to continue in this ministry. And maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll gently tell us that our path is somewhere else. All I know is that we’ll work hard. We’ll do our best and give what we have. But in the end, God will provide.
Katy is the Editor of Elsie Road magazine. She loves sharing stories, Netflix and dancing like no one’s watching. Connect with her on social.