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  • Writer's pictureKyle Isabelli

When Maria didn't agree with me...

Updated: May 6

This post comes from my Sunday sermon at Avenue on Marriage in our "Love First" Series. The question we all wrestle with is...

How do we live out the mutual submission and unconditional love commands when a husband and wife disagree?

To answer it, I want to share about some times when Maria and I have disagreed on big, life-changing decisions.

Back in 2014, we were pregnant with Nora and sensing that our time in Bourbonnais was coming to an end. Maria wanted to stay at home with Nora, which meant she would be done working at Olivet Nazarene University, which also meant our housing through her job would end. We also knew we wanted to get back to the suburbs so we could be closer to both of our families. We were on the same page about leaving our life and ministries in Bourbonnais. However, as we began to look at churches in 2015, there was one church that I was really excited about, but Maria had some caution in her heart. After visiting that church together for a weekend, I was even more excited, but Maria still had some reservations. We prayed, we talked, we prayed, and even though I was a solid yes and she was not 100%, I took the lead, accepted the offer and we began to plan our lives as new parents within a new community, a new job and a new place to live.

It was a tough transition for us both...the hours were way longer, the job was more demanding, the time I was able to present at home seemed to be less while Maria was adjusting to being home with Nora and trying to establish new relationships as a new mom. Though we made strides to connect in our community, things didn't slow down. And as things kept going faster...we got pregnant and had Maxwell the next year! Many of you know this part of the story...

Maria had a serious injury 4 months after having Max, due to labor and pregnancy complications with both pregnancies, that caused her to be unable to lift more than 5-10 pounds for what ended up being 6 months. The job and church that was very appealing to me at first ended up being a very unhealthy and difficult season in which I ended up being fired unexpectedly from my job. The concerns Maria had in 2015 were coming to light, the things I "listened" to but didn't actually take to heart. Even more so, it revealed that I cared more about my career and calling as a Pastor over being a Husband and Father. I did not love my bride as Jesus loved the Church as much as I thought I did. Now, did God redeem my lack of love and listening? Absolutely, and I've detailed so much of that in my recent book.

Now, fast forward to the Spring of 2017, faced with another decision as to where the God was calling us to serve. This time there were three different churches in the suburbs who were ready to move forward in hiring me as their Student Pastor. And once again, Maria and I had a different top choice. For my Avenue church family (CCCH family), I had you as number 1, but Maria didn't...Maria disagreed with me ;-)

But here was the shift...we spent even more time talking and praying; I spent more time listening. And at the end of the day, we still disagreed, but, Maria trusted me to make the final decision because the reasons I was choosing my role at Avenue were not Kyle-focused, but Kyle/Maria-focused. What were they, you ask?

-More flexibility in my schedule so I could care for Maria and the kids.

-The focus on middle school vs high school meant not as many late nights. Times to invest in middle school students had to be scheduled and coordinated with parents and usually happened immediately after school vs waiting for high schoolers to finish their activities and homework.

-A larger staff which mean more specific work for me and less "you're the 'other' pastor, you have to do everything and be available at all times when the lead pastor can't."

To be honest, we loved both churches and their leaders; everyone was so kind and encouraging and understanding of our season of life. On top of that, I like working with high schoolers way more than middle schoolers ;-) But, Maria was (and is) the priority and I knew that my role at Avenue would be an environment that would allow me and encourage me to keep it that way (Thank you JK and Matthew for being such a blessing to me and to us in our first year!!!).

In all of this, I was still pursuing my calling, our calling, to church ministry. I was doing what we believed God had gifted me to do as a pastor. It was in this season that I realized that my title or role didn't need to be my main focus. I could do what I was called to do and find fulfillment in it as long as I made sure it didn't take over my main priorities as a child of God, a husband to Maria and a father to Nora and Max. And as we have witnessed over these past several years, God knew exactly what He was doing by moving us to Avenue and preparing me to step into the Senior Pastor role a few years after my firing.

Now, I wish I could say I was now "practically perfect in every way" at loving my bride like Jesus loves the Church...that I always put her needs above my own...but even this week, I can list a handful of small decisions where my desires were weighted the most in decisions that impacted us both (when to get the car oil changed, when to finish some yard work, when to schedule some appointments, when to discuss a topic, etc).

I am a work in progress, growing in this area of loving Maria as Jesus loves the Church. And she would be the first to say that she is growing in respecting and loving me as the Church does for Jesus. We're not perfect, we fight, we get on each other's nerves, but when we're both choosing to serve the other really is a beautiful and life-giving marriage relationship. And that's my prayer, our prayer for you, that you would not only pursue this type of love and sacrifice in your marriage, but that all of our hearts would be drawn to this type of love in all of our relationships so that more and more people can find the new life, the best life, in Jesus Christ.

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