But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
If there was a test for pastor’s wives, I generally feel like I would fail. Well, maybe not fail, but pass just barely. I have some skills in ministry. I have a degree in ministry, two, after all, and a passion for God and loving His people, but that doesn’t mean I feel like I’d pass the pastor’s wives challenge. Can anyone relate?
There is no challenge, of course. No test. No rules. Just real life and real forgiveness.
So, here is my fail.
My husband’s grandma died last week. We came back early from vacation and he prepared to perform the funeral. We were sad, thankful that Grandma Gigi was 98, and had been a wonderful blessing in our lives, but sad and missing her smiling face already.
Funeral day came. I dressed my kids and prayed endlessly for my husband. Lord, give him the words. Lord, give him strength. Lord, give him peace.
The family walked in the church and I sat down with my beautiful kiddos in the pew right behind “reserved for family”, because there was no room in the inn evidentially. My three year old found the nifty wooden sign declaring “reserved for family” and promptly threw it to the floor. He loved the clattering noise and was ecstatic when some kind soul in front of us placed it back on the pew in reach. 3 more tries and I found a different home for that sign.
My 9 year old, nearly refused to go up and sing with the other children in a rendition of Jesus loves me. He pushed his Old Adam shoes into the bright red carpet and walked noticeably and painfully slowly to the front of the church.
Midway through the sermon my 11 year old began weeping in earnest. She loved her Gigi. She was heart broken and sad, and distraught at her first real reminder that on this earth there is death and sorrow. I put my arm around her and tried to gently comfort her, until my 3 year old simply could not be contained in the quiet anymore and began stomping his feet against the pew in defiance of experiencing one more minute of the service.
All of this was expanded by the sweet woman behind us who clearly had a hearing difficulty and whispered a loud play-by-play to her fellow worshipper – “He likes that sign!” “He doesn’t want to go up there and sing!” “She misses her Grandma!” “He’s ready for the service to be over!” She meant well, and in her defense was inadvertently supportive, but it was embarrassing to say the least.
I hauled my 3 year old out of church, down the middle aisle, burying my face in his neck, to camouflage the sobs welling up in my throat. This was a disaster with a capital D. I felt spent, sad, and still anxious for my husband preaching his heart out.
I stood in the hallway of the church, feeling lonelier than I’ve ever felt in 10 years of ministry. Someone quietly walked up behind me and gave me a hug, a member of our church, a friend. Her words were simple and sweet. Gospel in my dark moment…”I’m so sorry. I wish I could make it better.”
The message of the church. The embrace of love in the moment of despair. That’s all I needed. That turned what felt like an epic mom failure and pastor’s wife nightmare into a moment between friends. I am not alone. When I am weak, God gives me strength, often through His people, from someone who simply wanted to help make it better this side of heaven.
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19
It’s no secret to most people who know us that our life is a little messy right now. This year has been one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced.
I find myself like Job asking God to just take it all away. I want a rewind. I want it erased from my memory. I want my heart to feel fine again. Then I find myself thanking God I don’t have boils, I have all my beautiful children, and there’s no ash heap out my back door. A little perspective helps.
However, it’s in the mess I confront my fear and God’s truth. I stood by my husband’s hospital bed and literally got on my knees and cried out to God- “Please step in. Make it better. Make it all go away. I can’t live without him. I just can’t.”
The answer I got was unexpected…
In the quiet of my soul, I heard –
He is not your anchor.
See, I love my shepherd. I LOVE him. My husband is my husband, my pastor, my best friend. He is the macaroni to my cheese, the mustard to my hot dog, the red wine to my dark chocolate, and all that good stuff. He represents everything that God is to me- loving, kind, and patient. I have made him more in my heart and mind than he was ever intended to be. He is not my anchor. He is not what is meant to hold me steady. That is not his job. I can’t hold him to that standard.
I LOVE my shepherd. I love Jesus. He is that anchor that is holding me steady. Looking at that hospital bed, I found the truth. Dave is my gift from God. Dave is given to me for a time. He is a blessing, but he is not my god. He can’t be everything my heart needs.
Only Jesus can fill the cracks in my soul.
Only He can be everything I need.
He is my anchor.
He holds me steady in the storm.
The LORD your God has blessed you in the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.
16 years ago I started a journey. I was far from mature, but I knew God had a place for me in this life, things for me to do. I was sure this place was exotic and wonderful. I took classes to be a deaconess. I married my stand-up husband, I worked to get him through grad school, and followed him to the far reaches of the earth- well, at least to Northwest Ohio. 8 hours from home and 30 miles to the nearest Aldi and TJ Maxx.
Far from exotic, I lived in the corn fields. It was shocking to me that people lived without sidewalks, and finding a friend took a few years and is still one of my greatest struggles. Those early months were so hard. It was lonely, confusing, and consisted of me vacillating from embracing my new life to yelling at God for torturing me so. I took a deep breath. I joined a bible study full of wonderful women, real women, with real problems, who really loved the Lord.
In the next 9 years, I came to the conclusion that is the force behind this blog. My life will continuously be a struggle this side of heaven. All of our lives will. But it will also be filled with sweet, sweet joy, continuously finding that wonderfully exotic place God has for me, wherever he has so deemed to put me.
As a pastor’s wife, I find that I am not alone in this struggle. I have sat beside, chatted with, and prayed with many women, just trying to figure out how to best balance the eight thousand balls they juggle in the air that comes with the territory. Sisters, this blog is for you. I hear your heart. I see your struggle. I laugh with you when the joy comes.
I love my shepherd and I know you do too.
I love my Shepherd. I love Jesus and all that his grace has been and done and redeemed me from in my life. How do I make my life about Him? How do I seek Him in everything, everyday?
I love my shepherd. I love my husband and struggle to show him this each day, in the midst of everyday marital junk and joy. I watch him in his work and am so proud of God’s work through him, so devastated when he hurts, and so tired of spending Christmas and Easter lonely. How do I love him best? How do I build him up, instead of tear him down?
I love the people God has entrusted to me. I read in an article recently another pastor’s wife say, “Let’s face it. You’re part of the ministry too.” Truth spoken, like a balm to my heart. Thank you for recognizing this, random stranger in a magazine. And so far in this life my job has simply been Mom and student. Some of you are Moms like me, some of you are nurses, some are engineers. God has a path and a place for each of us, but on this journey, because he has given us our husbands to support, we are in ministry. This looks different for each of us. No necessary talents required, like playing the organ or teaching Sunday School. We follow the way God chooses to use us, but we are doing ministry, because we are the front line encourager for a man who is constantly under fire from Satan’s arrows. How do I love the people God has put in my path? How do I share Him, while sharing my husband, and balancing life and work and children, and a clean home, and friends, and attempting to get a devotion in?
So I have a new leg of my journey. It just got more exotic! I accepted a call as a Deaconess to Serve Pastor’s Wives with Grace Place Lutheran Wellness Ministries. I am looking forward to talking and laughing with precious women, finding resources to help pastor’s wives and families in the struggle, and offering opportunities for sharing our hearts with others who understand.
This blog is meant to be simply a piece of all that. It will be real. I firmly believe healing comes through realness, authenticity, and honesty in not just who God is, but what he’s brought me through. I will be blessed if you join me in this journey.