By Beth Guckenberger
We were walking in a Nigerian village and I was fifteen feet behind Todd. I was happily holding the sweaty hands of several children from the village, when I glance up and see Todd. I later wrote a caption to this picture, “Oh yes, this is how I like this man… with a Bible in his back pocket and an orphan in each hand.”
This fall, we will celebrate twenty years of marriage. With that comes a wealth of shared history – wonderful vacations, terrible fights, seasons of health and seasons of sickness. We have had months on end of what-wonderful-kids-we-are-raising and difficult days in-between when we want to manage them rather than parent them, just to make it all easier.
We’ve had regular date nights and habits we have formed and broken a dozen times over. On our best days, it’s our common practice to stop wearing any hat other than ‘spouse’ after 9:30 p.m. If the homework isn’t done, or the laundry isn’t folded, or the email isn’t answered, that’s okay. We are co-missioning a marriage, which is a priority over all tasks.
Sharing a mission of any kind, whether it’s a desire to reach our neighbors, or grow up our children, or work for the vulnerable means listening more than speaking, and respecting our sometimes vast personality differences. It often means not ‘dying on every hill’ with each other and respecting when judging comes more naturally. We find co-missioning means rejoicing over relationships instead of closed deals and as a result have shared thousands of meals with people we aren’t related to.
It’s a constant fight to see the battle is against an unseen enemy and to stand back to back with each other in our daily war for God’s storyline.
So when I find myself in a sweet moment, and the battle stills and we are exactly where we want to be, my heart catches. On an African dirt path behind him, I take advantage of the moment, grab my phone and capture it.
Beth Guckenberger is the mother of a bunch of biological, a bunch of adopted and a slew of foster children. She and her husband, Todd, direct Back2Back Ministries. Beth is the author of several books on the journey of their life abroad.