The question caught me off guard. I’m pretty sure I scoffed and choked a little. There may have been an eye-roll, a shoulder-shrug, and some quip to blow her off.
“So, your husband is going to be a Pastor. Do you need to take a class for that?”
She said it without saying it. She put to words all of the fear that had been internally mounting. Whether she meant to or not.
She might as well have said, “Look here little lady, I’ve known your family for a long time, I’ve been told things about you, and there is no way in H.E.Double Hockey sticks that you are remotely qualified to be married to a Pastor.” Or better yet, “You are not (never-ever-going to be) good enough…”
AND DIDN’T I KNOW IT.
I didn’t look, talk, or act like a Pastor’s wife. Although my husband accepted me as I was, as I am, would the church?
Still do this day, almost a decade into our ministry, I continue to struggle with fitting in. I say the wrong things. I offend people. I joke that I live my life with my foot in my mouth. I’m not as quiet about some subjects as some people would like me to be, and likewise not loud enough about others. I don’t see the world in black and white, and sometimes this is off-setting to some, and other times this makes people within our ministry feel at ease and comfortable in their own skin.
The point is that we cannot, and should not change ourselves to become more pleasing to people. That’s actually not our job, not within ministry, leadership, or really any other aspect of our lives. Really, our job is to stand firm in our Christ assignment, even if this means sometimes feeling uncomfortable in our own skin, or worse yet feeling uncomfortable within that assignment. We were not necessarily called to a life of comfort. In fact, I’d argue the opposite, we’re called to be uncomfortable, to stand in this discomfort and continue the good work.
We’d been married for just over a week. Our things were packed into a truck and somewhere between the California coast and the Rocky Mountains. We were moving to a state I had never even visited, leaving behind friends, family, familiarity for my husband to enter into his first ministry position.
I was excited. I was terrified. I felt like fraud.
A voice in my head whispered, “He doesn’t really want you. He wants one of those picket-white-fence-wives. He wants the quiet, the docile, the girl that will do his laundry and keep her mouth shut.”
The seed was planted.
We rose early in the morning. My mom choked back tears as our caravan got on its way. Through the desert, over rivers, canyons and mountains we drove. At some point we got lost in a seedy north Denver neighborhood in search of a bathroom, then north we drove, plains to our right and the Twin Peaks to our left. We pulled off at what seemed a truck stop and cut into our new town.
“Where am I!?!” I exclaimed out loud. There was that good old first reaction. Negative. Critical. The eye-rolling, shoulder shrugging, scoffing girl was back. I tried to hide her behind smiles and pleasantries.
Our hosts were excited to meet us. They had chosen my new husband, hand-picked him, prayed over bringing him onboard, sought wisdom and guidance before giving him that offer letter. They had made a great choice, but then there was the other half. The wife in conflict, support and resistance all at the same time.
I began to worry that I was the wrong woman for this man. I began to question God, “was this your plan? Did I force this relationship? Have I married someone I shouldn’t have and now, somewhere in the world, the woman who is supposed to be his wife, the perfect Pastor’s wife with a voice of an angel, the gift of baking and hospitality, a woman with patience abundant, she’s displaced. Did I marry someone else’s husband?”
I questioned myself so much in those early days. I began to believe that I had nothing to bring to the table. So, I did what I do best. I compartmentalized. Ministry became his thing. Pursuit of a career that would actually pay the bills became my thing. I threw myself in the pursuit of career, career development, professional growth. I landed myself a great job, put my head down and got back to work. I woke early and came home from work late. I was all about my numbers, my growth, my my my. I left very little room to assist in my husband’s ministry, it was his after all.
I had every excuse in the book. “I don’t get paid for that.” Kile was a middle school Pastor, and well, middle school years were the worst years of my life, so I used that as an excuse to opt out of involvement.
There was a little seed within me sprouting, and what was growing wasn’t something lovely. No, it was a big ugly weed. I was sprouting weeds.
***Excerpt from Bloom, expected to be released Spring 2017