Originally published Wednesday, 07 March 2012.
Dear Pastor's Wives,
You are one of the few types of wives that assume more than just your husband's last name. Similar to the First Lady, you obtain an unspoken role of leadership in your church. Some of you thrive in this role and others of you fear it. Or maybe you do both, like me.
I have not been a pastor's wife for very long. A little less than 3 years to be exact, but I am the daughter of a pastor and watched my mother swim through the ebb and flow in the sea that is ministry. To us, she wasn't perfect, but she was close. I'm sure behind closed doors she had her moments of panic and fear, her bouts of depression and loneliness and her seasons of weariness. In fact, I know she had those moments because we could see them. Not out right, but we knew when life was hard. And, in my opinion, that made us better human beings.
It made us better human beings because while we grew up with expectations to be respectful, we were never expected to be perfect. We knew our parents weren't perfect and that emboldened us. It gave us the chance to see God's grace at work in their lives and as a result, to recognize it in our own.
Yet even with that background, I am still a woman and I still live in pressure, from myself and the world around me.
As women, we already struggle with daily pressure to be perfect inside and out, but then add on your husband being the pastor and attention is heightened, both intentionally and unintentionally, on the demeanor of you and your family. There is an expectation that if anyone in the church has it together, it's probably the pastor and his family. But rarely is this the case. Not because we don't have it together, though most times we don't, but because the entire human race doesn't have it together.
There is pressure to be THE Proverbs 31 woman of your church. And while that is an honorable goal of any and every woman who has submitted herself to Jesus, it is not a standard by which we are to live all at one time. If you read closely, the woman in Proverbs 31 (10-31) is on a journey of becoming "the Proverbs 31 woman" herself.
She didn't start out that way. She had to learn submission. She had to learn household management. She had to learn to be a good mother and a good wife. She had to learn how to bridle her tongue and she had to gain the respect and trust of her husband. She wasn't born that way. And neither are we.
It was once said that if you are looking for failure, you will find it. As a pastor's wife, that is true of us. If someone is looking for my failures, they will readily find a lot of them. If you are looking for your own failure, you will find a lot of them. That is why God sent Jesus. For people like us, who fail and need freedom to live.
Sweet friends, you are free. If your trust hope is in Jesus alone, you are free to fail and get up and do it again. You are free to learn and grow. You are free to become the Proverbs 31 woman that you so desire, because there is no judgement from God on how long it takes you to get there.
You are loved right where you are and your ministry to your husband, your family and your church will benefit significantly from you basking in that freedom. So it's okay, you don't have to be perfect for anyone, because God already declared you perfect and that's good enough.
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