I’m a mere two years into the whole pastor’s wife thing. I have spent the majority of my adult life as a church member, serving where I could, being served and ministered to by the church, and making wonderful relationships within the congregations we’ve been a part of.
Then, one day I woke up, and it was Sunday, and my husband was the one standing behind the pulpit.
I felt no different. I had no miraculous transformation into a more dynamic or Christ-like person. Yet, here I was, sitting on the front row while the man I sleep next to preached God’s word to me. It was a strange day, that first Sunday. I had inadvertently earned a sort of round-about title due to my husband’s profession, yet I was still just myself, struggling in the same areas, being too quiet when I should talk, saying too much when I should listen, snapping at the kids on a day when I should be extra patient, forgetting everyone’s names during the greeting time. I was as ordinary as ever. As imperfect as ever. I felt exactly the same as I always had.
I still do.
That’s not to say that I haven’t grown in my faith in these years. I think I have. I have changed, as time changes all of us. But, I have not become more like a pastor’s wife. Whatever that gleaming, golden image is that people tend to hold up as the ultimate pastor’s wife, I am not her. And, the truth is that almost no pastors’ wives are her. Everyone has her own personality, own set of strengths and weaknesses, own unique circumstances, own ideas and ways of doing things.
The truth is that becoming a pastor’s wife is not a sudden cure for our less desirable personality traits. And, it isn’t an instant sanitizer to get rid of all of our sin issues. Yet, I have realized that this is what I always expected of my pastors’ wives. I criticized them (behind closed doors) for what I saw as personality flaws. I held them to a standard that I didn’t feel that I was called to maintain. And, I was unfair in my expectations that they should do things the way I thought best.
God, forgive me. Sweet sisters, forgive me.
Because now I know. Two years into this gig, I finally get it. There is no instant holiness or friendliness or greatness or charm that comes with stepping into the role of pastor’s wife. The truth is that pastors’ wives struggle with many of the same inferiority complexes, stresses, worries, weaknesses, and emotions as anyone else. And, I don’t know why I expected my pastors’ wives to be above all of that. I was attached to that golden idol that I had built in my head that said that my pastor’s wife should be doing this or that for me. I wish instead that I had thought of ways to minister to her, like the wonderful women at our church do.
I have learned so much by watching their stunning example–they have loved me from the start, for exactly who I am. There were no golden images to tear down. They see me as an imperfect human being in a unique position who needs friendship, support, and love. I only wish I had been so Christ-like toward my own pastors’ wives through the years.
Please remember this about that woman who is sitting on the front row on Sunday, the one who sleeps next to your pastor. She has a strange calling that is difficult to define. Allow her to fulfill her role in a way that suits her personality. Reach out to her. Be a loyal friend to her. And, don’t put her up on some lonely pedestal to waste away under critical eyes. Thank you to my church family for showing me how happy and fun and exciting being a pastor’s wife can be, if only she has sisters who walk with her. And, thank you to my former pastors’ wives for loving me despite my unrealistic expectations and selfish notions of who you should be. I still have so much to learn.
Be patient with me, church. God is working everywhere–even on the front row.