Pastor Dad and I observed our 34th wedding anniversary this summer. What can I say about having been married to a pastor for that many years? Plenty! But I'll rein myself in and keep most of it to myself except where it deals with the topic. What I will say is that I was very naive about being the wife of a pastor before I actually was one. Very naive.
In my mind the wife of the pastor was just that: a woman married to a pastor. It seems that it goes beyond that. Oh,it goes far, far, far beyond that.
Living in the proverbial fishbowl is uncomfortable. I think this political season clearly illustrates this. It is true that any leader's family reflects on him, but sometimes that sense of "ownership" that a congregation or a nation feels for it's first family crosses over the lines into territory far beyond the bounds of propriety or decency.
You might be surprised - or you might not be - when I tell you that there are people in a church who feel they can make any comment at any time about anything concerning their pastor's wife. If she defends herself in any way she will be the one labeled "unchristian" and her husband will be judged accordingly. That was what I found out soon after returning from our honeymoon and it only got worse after I became afflicted with my autoimmune system disorder. Living in a fishbowl progressed to being viewed under a microscope.
- Having someone smugly say in a very LOUD whisper, "I LOVE your new wig. Oh, yes! I know your 'secret!'" And now so do the 50 people near you. And guess what? I guess there is no "secret" anymore so you can't pull that prank again, at least around the same people!
- Along a related theme, having someone ask, "Is that your real hair today or are you wearing a wig again?" Back in the day when I would go back and forth I often heard this and I always wondered why it mattered. Idle curiosity? Is that a good enough reason to embarrass someone?
- But the worst was having someone sneak up behind me to yank the wig off my head to prove to her friends that I was wearing one. Praise the Lord I wasn't! At least, not that day. I went home with a small headache and a big heartache but that was the extent of the damage.
When we first began this series I mentioned that this affliction has helped me to understand what real love is. Were the preceding individuals showing me the type of love found in I Corinthians chapter 13?
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; . . . (I Corinthians 13:4-5)No, I don't think so, but I cannot respond in kind or I will show that I neither love others nor believe in the scriptures.
But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luke 6:27-28)This is not an easy thing for me to do because - pastor's wife or not - I am a sinner who desires revenge on those who hurt me. But if people will know I am a Christian by my love I cannot be unloving, and therefore unchristian, in return no matter how badly I wish to retaliate.
FINALLY . . .
I have experienced great blessings, too. I have been the recipient of phenomenal love and compassion from caring friends and family members who have encouraged me when I really, truly needed it.
For instance, I've experienced such tenderness from all 4 of my children and have kept many things, including the following incidents, in my heart:
- Karen, who turned around, pulled my hoodie up, and tied it before I could do it myself as we boarded a roller coaster. I didn't scream on the coaster but I sure did weep!
- Lisa, yelling when she was a teenager having a bad hair day, "Arggh! I wish I was bald!!!" before catching my eyes in the bathroom mirror and following up her complaint with, "Sorry, mom! I forgot." Ah! The fact that you forgot in my presence is actually a compliment.
- The Princess's reaction when her exuberant toddler was climbing all over my head and neck while being a little too demonstrative with his love. That look she gave me that said "I'll protect you both from an embarrassing situation" meant volumes. Being able to breathe again was great, too. :)
- The Bear who told me recently, "I go years without remembering your problem. To me, you're just my mom." Aw! What a sweet talker you are! Those of you with teen aged sons know how unexpected it is to have them converse with you! To say something nice is an added bonus!
I told a friend of mine that my life as a pastor's wife is no harder for me to live by the grace of God than it is for anyone else to live their own life. I believe that. God brought Pastor Dad into my life and I had a choice as to whether to marry him or not. I made the choice without understanding what would lie ahead and would do so again, but everyone is blind when making major life decisions. Ours is a walk of faith, not sight.
It isn't for us to know what lies ahead but there is Someone who does and we are to keep our eyes on Him as He leads the way. He promises that His love will guide us and that He will be with us through the whole journey.