When I was growing up my pastor was larger than life in my eyes.

He wore these special outfits, could fill a whole church with his voice, and just knew so much information!

Once confirmation hit, he patiently listened to every argument I had about women in the church, and he never once made me feel like I was a heathen. I questioned everything, and he seemed to enjoy answering my questions. He never once acted like he had all the answers, but I remember him opening his Bible and declaring we could find them together.

All of this left a huge impact on my life. I understood forgiveness and mercy and grace because it was extended to me, not just through the booming voice from the pulpit on Sundays, but through the man I knew as Pastor.

There is a piece of this story that could easily go unnoticed…

When I was 17 and trying to pick a college, it was a major ordeal. I was at a crossroads. I visited no less than 20 different schools – state schools, private schools, all girls schools, huge schools, and tiny schools. I knew somewhere deep down that whatever I chose had the power to change the course of my life, and I hated that knowledge. I was frustrated and scared and too immature to know that God would work in my life no matter what path I took.

One Sunday, after returning from a particularly daunting round of college visits in Chicago-land, my pastor’s wife found me in the flow of the post-service crowd.

“How did it go?” she asked.

“Ok. I don’t know. Not great,” I replied in full-on teenage angst.

“Have you ever thought about Concordia?” she offered.

Freeze frame…at this point I had never heard of Concordia, and I didn’t know that there were 10 of them. I’m kind of thankful I didn’t know, because it wasn’t Concordia in that moment that mattered.

It was my beautiful pastor’s wife, reaching in.

I was struggling. My teen years were rocky at best. My parents were awesome, but we all need other people invested in our lives – caring, loving, and encouraging us to stay the course.

I’m 100% positive that life would have looked a whole lot different for me without this conversation. In her Concordia question, Mrs. Sharon Fraker wasn’t just asking me if I wanted to go to a Christian school… she was telling me I had value enough that I was worthy of contemplating life with, that whatever path I walked, she’d help me search it out. And she did.

That question opened my eyes to the reality that I mattered to the Church and to the people that make up that Church. It told me that God had a plan for me and there were people who would help me discern that plan. It breathed into me the truth that I was not in this life alone.

My pastor’s family did other things. They came to the plays I was in, they showed up without judgement when they were invited to our big, loud family celebrations, and they invited me into their home to babysit for their growing children. All of these things made the concept of life together real for me, it helped me to understand that the Church isn’t four walls and a steeple, but people invested in one another, in and outside of trials.

I did go to Concordia. I found out you could major in theology (really it was like someone told me that you could major in the Bible!). I found out that God was concerned for women and their needs through the deaconess program. I met friends for a lifetime and married my hilarious husband, who happened to be pre-seminary. I turned out just fine and I am forever grateful to one pastor’s wife who took a little time to invest in me.

How many of us have been impacted by the woman who happens to be married to the pastor? I want these women to know that they make a difference. Whether in quiet conversation or overt leadership, these women have an impact, and I, for one, am grateful. 

Orientation week exploring with my roommate from Concordia Chicago, in my Birkenstocks, of course. 😉

Let’s share our stories! Tell me about a pastor’s wife that had an impact on your life. Share in the comments or on social media with the hashtag #lovemypastorswife #ilovemyshepherd

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