“So what does your husband do?”
” He’s a youth pastor”
“Oh! So you’re a pastor’s wife?”
Reluctantly I’ve answered that question or subconsciously shown on my face what I felt in my heart when my husband initially began full time ministry over two years ago. There was a slight twinge in my core I couldn’t explain or maybe it was the change in the tone of the questioner to my husband’s profession… maybe a mixture of both. Sometimes the conversation would end awkwardly there or a few minutes later, but the automatic feeling that I had to become on guard was a blow to the chest every time (and still can be…). Before that moment I was normal or at least I could be myself without any apparent judgments, but now I knew and they knew there was an invisible expectation…because with different roles and titles there is always an expectation. I’m not just Carmen… oh you’re a pastor’s wife.
Stepping into ministry was completely by God’s calling that I had pushed aside and with much bitterness in my heart refused to fulfill. I had served under many ministries since I was in middle school, always wanting to live at church and found it as my safe place. I loved helping and have always enjoyed encouraging others to greatness – it’s just in my DNA. However, during my early 20’s I had been greatly hurt by ministry (I don’t wish upon anyone) and had seen how it affected and torn a part others in a way I didn’t want to see touch my family…especially my new growing family. But sometimes our greatest fears are the fuel to our greatest impact in life. After a tugging on Mike’s heart we returned to ministry, but not just in an inconspicuous way where I wouldn’t have to get my hands dirty and could detach when I felt the need. But the front line.
[Insert angry emojis along with a few fire ones]
It took many nights of prayer and literally crying out to God angrily as to why He would place me in such a position. Pregnant I would sit in our room or in the living room on the floor and journal my anger; freely questioning if God even cared. My broken spirit didn’t know if I could handle another tear or wound, not with a precious life in my hands. I reminded myself nothing would be different and we would end up like a statistic. I reasoned with Mike, because I know how to be extremely logical – but there was nothing logical about this…and when God is in the center it rarely is.
There are a lot of assumptions when it comes to pastors and their wives. Many times it is romanticized or even pitied, because pastor’s wives can become lonely or neglected…I’ve had them and now in filling my own shoes, I experience them. As with any title or expectation you set the bar then watch to see how close one measures to it. Even for myself I felt that now I wear this badge I must be pretty much the opposite of myself: quiet, timid, soft spoken, not questioning much, and especially following the rules.
What if I don’t measure up?
What if that sounded too harsh?
What if I don’t fit in?
And truthfully I didn’t.
When Mike and I stepped into this roll all I could think of was how I didn’t fit the mold…and it made me feel even less than when people would just prod and pick into our lives as if we were that awkward pimple on your nose…only to distance themselves and collect our responses to be shared or told in another setting. However, in those moments of transition I really had to learn to ground myself and rely on who I know God has created me to be.
Stepping into ministry Mike and I knew what we would face especially with the titles we carry. Titles are so tricky and easily trap you, especially if you believe their hype. This was no longer an “I” or about “me” but rather a partnership that had to be so tightly knit we could hold each other no matter the circumstance. We are a team and in that I found myself starting to fit these shoes of a pastor’s wife. Accepting the sacrifices I knew I would have to make and embracing the opportunities God has opened for me have gone hand in hand lighting each stone I step down this path… From writing letters to our young ladies and hosting girls only nights at our home – to listening to a broken young girl on the end of the phone and praying with her because I know how it feels… I’ve been able to redeem my own negative view of who I thought I had to be.
Yes I am a pastor’s wife…but more importantly I don’t shy away from it now. It can be taxing and discouraging when a title is placed on your forehead that you don’t even believe is right for you. Often times I don’t announce who I am until we have to stand on a stage, because it doesn’t define who I am or the person I should reflect when there are no accolades.
Are you a wife in ministry? I want to virtually hug you and high five you as I continue to become encouraged to follow this path and run this race that is only for me. God calls us to roles that enhance who we are and challenge us to growth in areas we need most, I feel like I live this daily in these shoes. I wasn’t sure if I would open up and write about this, but I felt it on my heart – because I’m there with you. Daily I have to communicate and make intentional time with my husband and our family so that I don’t blame ministry or confuse my lack of initiative with it being “ministry’s fault.” I’ve learned wisdom in reserving what I say and praying more to whom I become vulnerable with…but I refuse to be a porcelain shell fearing who may break me a part.
There is beauty in this challenge some days I see easier than others..but nonetheless beauty. I am still me, growing and learning just as any one else. I pray that this is an encouragement to someone starting in ministry and unsure of what to think or how to act. God called you – it’s okay to be you.