Dear Pastor’s Wife: You Don’t Have to Carry the Church

imgres-3After some serious grooming by my parents, sometime in the 8th grade, I discovered I am wired for order. I like systems. I like processes.

Fast forward to the present, that looks like a person who jumps in to help when something goes awry.  At least that is how it presents in me. However, I am sure 99.9% that that trait is brought on by the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside of me. So, when I attend a home party or any event of which I know the person(s) putting it on, if something goes wrong or help is needed to keep things moving, I volunteer.

My husband is taking a respite from the pulpit for a few weeks. This past Sunday was his second week of absence.  I too was absent last week but returned this week because Jazmine was praise dancing.  We arrived early as is custom when the girls are to dance. But everything was wrong! The deacons had not arrived yet.  The Music Minister was not there and I wasn’t even sure if he would be there. The guest preacher was early. The office he asked to use was locked and no one had a key. There were more non-members who were there to see the girls dance instead of regular church members.  Of course all the non-members were early and there were just a couple of our members there at that time.  I was so embarrassed.  As soon as the guest musician arrived, I asked her if she was ready.  She looked at me confused. She didn’t know she was to lead Praise and Worship. She thought she was only doing one song before the preacher preached. I had no idea what was going on! I was trying to put out what I perceived as fires because nothing looked like it did every other Sunday.

The Minister of Music arrived and, of course, I had blundered big time. The guest musician and the Minister of Music had already talked and things were fine. The deacons came and opened the office for the guest preacher to use. More members, although not nearly the normal amount, arrived. Everything was fine. I was the one who was a mess!

I was walking around hugging every member who showed, trying to chat them up. What I was really doing was non-verbally thanking them for attending. You would have thought I was hosting a party instead of coming in the House of God to hear His Word! It wasn’t until the very end of service that I realized my blunder.

God’s house doesn’t need me in order for it to run. I don’t have to carry the church in my husband’s absence. I could have come in and sat down. I didn’t have to go check on anything. I normally don’t check on anything because that isn’t my lane.  Why was I putting on a show? Why was I being the dog and pony act, facilitating and trying to make people feel welcome? Making people feel welcomed isn’t an act. It’s a state of being. I know that is my normal demeanor but this past Sunday, I carried it out as a way of saying thank you for bearing with us today, much like a hostess at a restaurant says to patrons after having to wait longer than normal for a table. It was wrong.  I was wrong.

Never again. My arms weren’t created to hold up a branch of Zion. My shoulders weren’t built for that weight, so I will not carry it anymore. Dear Pastor’s wife, free yourself.

Did I Mention I Hate Being A Pastor’s Wife?

Of course, the title of this post is rhetorical.  I’ve answered it SEVERAL times in this blog. Just search the archives and you will see. 

 

images

Let me clarify so assumptions are not made.

I love my husband who is a Pastor.  I love being his wife. I HATE being a Pastor’s wife.  How is that different? Let me explain.

I would remain married to my husband if he weren’t a Pastor. I don’t hate my husband. I’m not leaving my husband because he is a Pastor.  I love my husband. I enjoy being a wife.  I hate being a wife of a Pastor.

If you still don’t get it, that’s fine but please no comments on what you think I am feeling if you don’t understand my opening statement.

Our Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays are for preparing a sermon.  Not that my husband only starts on it on Thursdays but that is the day it usually becomes more solidified. When are birthday parties, adult outings, and other social gatherings usually held? Fridays and Saturdays.  How many times do I show up looking like a single Mom with two children to events where there are whole families (moms and dads)?  Much more often than not.  Case in point. I rejoined a local MOPS group. They were having a fun pool event that I knew my Jazmine would love.  I was excited to see how Baby Grace would do in the pool.  I took my girls and went.  I wasn’t expecting to see so many dads. I assumed MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) and thought it would be a large playdate instead of a family outing. My mistake.  The pool event was titled a family outing but it my mind, I envisioned women and children.  With the exception of one other mom, I was the only one there unaccompanied by my husband.  The other mom’s husband stayed home with the infant while she came with the toddler.

I felt horrible.  I wanted to shout, I HAVE A HUSBAND WHO LOVES ME AND IS A GREAT FATHER TO OUR CHILDREN! I equally wanted to tell anyone who said hi to me that my husband is writing a sermon so he couldn’t come.  I felt the need to quantify why I was alone.

Being a Pastor’s wife is so lonely. There are few you can share your feelings with.  Even in a group of Pastor’s wives, you can be told to put your big-girl panties on and suck it up.  Well guess what?  I suck it up all the time!  Can’t I vent? Am I not allowed to be upset? Angry? Hurt? Can I not desire to have an entire weekend to myself? Can’t I desire to have our family hang out late on a Saturday night with friends and go to late service on Sunday? Why is it only a Pastor’s wife that can’t want anything?  Why is it a Pastor’s wife that is supposed to suck-it up and (this is the part that is never said but ALWAYS implied) like it?

I love my husband but I hate this role. There aren’t enough Pastor’s wives appreciations on the planet to make this job worth the sacrifice! I’m not dealing with all of the facets of being a Pastor’s wife in this post. This post is specifically about showing up unaccompanied by my husband to family events. Oh but trust, there are many more gripes that I am sure will come out in posts to come.

If you are a Pastor’s wife, you are not alone in feeling alone.  You are not alone in hating the role.  You are not alone in wanting more. You are not alone. I give you permission to feel, to desire, and to want. Talk about it. Not sweep it under a rug.  That is how resentment grows and resentment never grows into anything pleasant.

 

He Leads, I Buck

My mom is in a Bible Study and sent me an excerpt from the study they are doing.  It said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall want my own way.  He will make me lie down in green pastures, but I will keep getting up and wondering off to eat dead grass. He’ll pull me to quiet waters, but I will refuse to drink.”  LOL! The author went through and wrote a parody of sorts to Psalm 23 of what we end up doing to our good Shepherd. It made me laugh.

Well today, I did just that.  I ate dead grass.

I was Thanksgiving wasted.  (If you’ve seen Grown Ups 2 you will know what I mean) I did absolutely nothing for a full 48 hours. It was LOVELY!  My kitchen didn’t much appreciate the neglect and by this morning, I was pretty sick of it myself. Baby Grace work up earlier then expected for her morning milk. I was slow-moving after that. I didn’t want to go to church.  I wanted to stay home.  I wasn’t ready to go back to regular life yet.  I got the baby ready.  Jazmine and my husband had already been up and out to Dunkin Donuts. All that was left was for me to shower and get in the car.  Then my husband said, “I didn’t think you were going to church this morning?” All I heard was permission to return to bed. I took it.

As I was shooing them out the door and preparing to put the baby down for her nap, we found out that some friends were coming to our church today. Well, by that time, it was too late for me to shower to be in the car with them. By the time I was ready, even if I drove, I would miss more than half of the service. It was a loss.  I felt terrible.  God had once again provided me with cool water in a thirsty land and I missed it to stay home and do me.

I stayed home a couple of months back feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.  That time I had my quiet time and prayer instead of going to worship only to find that not just one but two visitors came to see us that Sunday and I missed it.  God had provided still waters to drink from but I refused.

After today, I will push through on Sunday regardless of how I feel.  Barring sickness of me, my husband, or girls, or some other real need, I will be in the house of the Lord Sunday morning.  I am not going to miss another drink 😉

Beer Lahai Roi

images-4

Our Sunday service begins at 11:30AM.  Baby Grace’s nap usually starts around 11:30AM.  Because Baby Grace is so alert, getting from her from the car into church does not happen without her waking up.  She will then stay awake until after we get back in the car after service is over. It is COMPLETELY off of her schedule!  We usually have a pretty cranky baby girl on our hands until bedtime.

Being First Lady is hard. I want to serve side-by-side with my husband.  I want to be there with him.  The girls and I are his cheering squad, with me being the head cheerleader. I don’t like being late to church or causing us to run behind. I like to walk into church with him, as a family. After a few Sunday’s of having a cranky baby girl, I finally told my husband that I think it best if I stay in the car with her so she can sleep as long as she can. That usually results in me missing all but the sermon but the baby and the rest of our family has a much more enjoyable day.

One such Sunday, I was feeling pretty pitiful about being in the car, not going inside.  I didn’t have my quiet time before leaving home that morning so I sat in the car doing a devotional, feeling lonely. I watched other members enter the building and was helpless to explain why I, First Lady, the Pastor’s wife, was in the car with a sleeping baby while my husband and oldest daughter were inside.

Enter God.

The devotional I was reading referenced Isaiah 40:11 which says, He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.”

I could have jumped for joy! “And gently lead those who are with young”! That’s a Mommy!  That’s ME! ME!  I am pretty sure it didn’t look like I was being a model Christian that morning. I sure didn’t feel like it and if I had seen me in the car not going into service, I would have passed judgement on myself. But God! It didn’t look like it to me, but my Sunday morning car devotional was acceptable in His sight.  He is the God who sees (Beer Lahai Roi), knows, and understands. Hallelujah! Amen!

The Priesthood: Modern Day Levite

maxresdefault

Years ago, a friend of ours, stopped us on our way out of the church parking lot.  We were previously discussing my husband’s increasing role at our place of worship. I said something like “I am a slouch because I don’t do much of anything compared to him.” It was then, our friend said, “I believe in Levitical families.” She went on to explain that it’s usually never one person of the household who is called to serve.  Both husband, wife, and even children, are all called to serve God in one capacity or another. At the time, I heard her but now I really understand the weight of that statement.

My husband is a preacher.  He is the Pastor at the church we attend.  He is a bi-vocational Pastor at that, meaning he has a full-time job and he Pastor’s a church.  Pastoring is not limited to preaching on Sunday.  It is all-encompassing.

My husband works 40 hours a week in his profession plus a few hours every evening at home. He spends roughly 20 hours a week, and that is an observers estimate, on church business (paperwork, communication, etc) plus the time it takes to meditate and prepare a sermon. He is ALWAYS forward thinking and planning for months and years ahead. That is his calling. God called Him to pastor.

As his wife and as far as our family goes, we live a Levitical life.  We have a Levitical schedule.  Saturday and Sunday brunches are non-existent for us. Saturday evening time with friends? No way man. Sunday night dates? No. The get up and go lifestyle? Not here. I often look at other families and think how wonderful it is for them to be able to go grocery shopping together. I usually end up going after the girls are in the bed.

This is not a complaint.  It is a reflection. I see Facebook posts about the fantastic Sundays people have and the wonderful Saturday evenings they experience. I look longingly on those post but remember our calling is different. Corporate worship is not optional for us.  My family can’t live stream service while we relax on the couch eating pancakes. My husband can’t live stream from home.  Convenience is not the calling.

Our whole family is involved. We all have to be up and ready Sunday morning which means Saturday evening is treated like a school night.  Our home operates on a quieter level, which is no easy task, when my husband is working on his sermon. There are many other things that run differently in our Levitical home that are both common to other Levitical families and unique to our blended Levitical family.

The calling is high.

Not Everyone’s Cup Of Tea

images

It was the end of service.  I was making my round of greeting people and chit-chat. I purposefully went over to one woman first. We both had babies. We were both familiar to being married to church leadership.  I was thinking, ‘this is a match made in heaven’, a face I can look forward to seeing each week at our new church home.

I was wrong.

My genuine smile was met with polite acknowledgement. My universal mother-to-mother banter was met with lukewarm answers. My attempts for conversation was not returned.  I walked away.

I was a bit bewildered. I kept self checking to see if maybe my body language was too strong, my tone of voice to excitable, my general questions somehow deemed too personal. I got nothing.

Then it occurred to me. I am not everyone’s cup of tea.  I know that is very arrogant to admit.  I can see that now but at the time, I was really surprised.  I had put my best (and genuine) foot forward and got NOTHING in return.  I thought genuineness won all the time.  I was shocked!  I can’t recall that happening before!  Not in a church setting. Not with someone with whom, on paper, we had a lot in common right off the bat.

I still don’t know why she didn’t cotton to me but I do know this.  It wasn’t anything I did or did not do.  It wasn’t anything I said, did not say, or should have said. She just wasn’t a Xara fan and that is okay.  MANY times in my life, I have not been fans of folk before word one was exchanged but this is my first time being on the receiving end of things. (See! You do reap what you sow!)

So, now, when I see her, I don’t make a beeline for her. I give a warm hello from a socially acceptable distance, and keep it moving.  No hard feelings.  No bitterness. No nothing.  Just an acknowledgment and acceptance of her desire to be distant and I am fine with that.  If there is ever and opportunity to serve her or her family, I will gladly do it but not to see if a friendship develops. If it does WONDERFUL but my purpose is to serve the Lord with gladness regardless of the outcome with people.

Deacon’s Kid, Pastor’s Wife

My father has been a deacon in church since I was four years old (I think. I know he was installed as a deacon when I was little).  After church meetings that went on way longer than originally planned was a part of life.  People compare being a deacon’s kid as growing up in a bubble or a glass house.  I never felt that way when it came to living life. My mother made sure we just grew up and had fun.  I did feel that bubble thing during my teenage years when I wanted to talk with another adult about how I felt misunderstood but never did because I was afraid my venting would harm my parents in ways I never intended.  Other than that, I had no complaints about being a deacon’s kid…until I became a Pastor’s wife.

I have been at the same church since I was 13 years old.  I met my husband through a member there, I was married there, my husband was called to preach there, and we serve there now. My father has been a deacon there all that time as well.  Now, that I am a Pastor’s wife, I hear a lot of deacon complaints.  My husband never speaks ill of my father.  In fact, I think my father is the one deacon my husband has no push-back from (and that has nothing to do with family relation but has everything with them being men of God who want to see His kingdom grow). However, being a Pastor’s wife has allowed for me to hear little birdies complain of the deacons and my father is named specifically in their chirping.

PISSES ME OFF TO NO END!!!!!!!!!!!!!

His tenure there has made him common to the masses.  I have to endure (only as much as I have to be present for the chirping, off kilter comments made about my father, and seeing him and my mother excluded from gatherings at the homes of others while we are (sometimes) invited.

I have come to this conclusion.

My daddy is a FANTASTIC daddy and will always be seen that way in my eyes even if he is not the favorite deacon of others. I could care less about what those birds chirp because when it comes down to it, those same chirping birds call Deacon Lee FIRST when they need something and Deacon Lee, my daddy, responds with genuine love and concern even when he knows those same birds will crap on him the first chance they get.

The goodness of God is that this Pastor’s wife responds with the same genuine love and kindness and won’t remember the chirping that very same bird did just a week ago when I am asked for help.  I don’t remember a thing until after the love was poured on.  Then I look up at the sky with a questioned expression asking God why didn’t He allow me to remember all this before I did what I did.  (smh)   I know the answer even before I get the words out.

What Not To Say

I’ve been a Pastor’s wife for all of eight months and I am done with it.  This job is the most thankless job I could ever have. I never know what to do or say.  Even with my spouse I have to be careful because I am also talking to a the Pastor. My heart is to help and be his helpmate and sometimes I get it right!  By the magnificent grace of God I get it right. But when I get it wrong, there is no safe place for me to go.

For the first time as a Pastor’s wife I taught a Bible Study.  This study was different from anything else ever offered at our church before.  It was a very good class and recently ended. My husband instituted something new this year for the classes and I, thinking I am being helpful to him, and trying to shield him from what may be said of this, said I, due to the nature of the class I taught, didn’t think it was a good idea for it to be applied to that class.

That was the wrong thing to do.

I am sure I could feel worse, but right now, I feel pretty bad.

I tried to discuss it.  I tried to maintain the mystery of the class (it was a class for wives only) while still explaining why I said what I said. It didn’t work. I feel like a child that got scolded and, even though they had a valid point, was sent to bed without dinner anyway.

I heard him plainly say that when he does anything, I of all people need to be on board with it especially if it has already been discussed and I made no previous objections.  In my defense, I never considered that the class I taught would be included in this new direction. I was thinking based on what I knew about what I would be teaching and he did not have that foreknowledge.

Apparently, it is too late to bring it up any concerns now.  Apparently, I have taken the wind out of his sails and all things related to Xara have been nixed from his new plans.  I never meant for this to happen.  I can’t fix it because his thoughts are now cemented and I am found wanting.

I now know in quite a glaring way, that I must be careful in all things I say and in all non-verbal cues. That is a lot of pressure.

I know I can’t recover from this blunder of all blunders but I hope to remember what not to say next time.

 

(Some) RAW Feelings From A Pastor’s Wife and A Stepmom

Just last week, I read that the schedule of a Pastor’s family is constantly abnormal.  I rated my life at that moment and realized that that particular aspect of being a Pastor’s wife was not my reality.  Boy! What a difference a few days makes!

Y’all know I love Zumba.  I like to exercise in general but I really REALLY enjoy my Zumba classes. My instructor teaches three days a week and two of the days are lost to me because I put God first.  That was a rough lesson.  I remind you that I wrote another post about attending a Bible Study I have NO wish to attend which will meet on one of my normal gym nights.  Saturdays have been the only day available during the week that I can go shake something.  This Saturday will be the first Saturday in a bit over a month that I have been able to make a class. (I am SO looking forward to it!) I started to allow my brain to go back to our normal schedule of Zumba on Saturday’s only to peek at the church calendar and see that (blast it all to hades) there is crap scheduled for the next month (almost) that I am expected to attend!  Screw this mess! Why does everything start or end early afternoon Saturday?  If my class was scheduled earlier, none of this would be a problem but it is not! I already don’t go one evening because it is too late for my Jazmine to be out because we have Bible study early the next morning and I can’t go another evening because we have Jazmine in AWANA.  This blows!!!!

Oh and did I mention that on top of the March activities on “my” schedule, these mofo’s want to add stuff to my April Saturday’s also? I am so done!

On top of that, I have had it with Tanya, Bella, and Scott. All three of them use ANYTHING to focus the attention back on their microcosm world. We had a family celebration this weekend and Scott left something at home that he could have used while here.  Mind you, what he left would have been necessary if we could have retrieved it the same day he arrived but since it wasn’t going to arrive until Saturday, we could have done without it.  He could have roughed it because he made the mistake of leaving it but Tanya made the trip to get it to him.  No problem there.  Where I do have a problem is how they used something that innocent to attempt to refocus a day dedicated to our family to be specific to them!  (By “our” family I mean it was a Lee family production that they happened to be here for.  Not because they are not welcome or expected to attend but because so often they miss ALL Lee family productions by their choice) I was so disgusted!  Something that should have taken a few minutes turned into 20 plus minutes!  They could have gotten an Oscar or at the very least a Day Time Emmy for their performance especially Tanya. Praise God that I did not dwell on it and was able to get me and mine (Jazmine and my husband) in the car to get started with our day.  There were times during that family celebration that Bella and Scott wanted attention diverted to them.  I set Scott right and there wasn’t another refocus attempt from him…at least not towards me. With Bella, it’s different.  I KNOW and operation on the fact that if I set little hips straight, her and her grudge holding Momma will use me to hang all their own personal hangup’s on. Hers will come when she is 18.  No, I am not planning it and I don’t look forward to it but I know the day is coming and it will be safest for me to continue to practice restraint until Bella reaches legal age.

I had never EVER been so ready for Bella and Scott to go back to their Momma. I offered to take them back myself just to get them home sooner. I hope they don’t come over this weekend.  If they do, I may have to look up a bread and breakfast to go to because I am not fully recovered yet from this last visit to deal with it all again. My nerve endings are still raw and tingling.  The tone of speech used with my husband, the tone of entitlement that comes from both children, and the meanness comes from them is toxic to my environment.

There you have it.  Xara in the raw.  Pray me through because right now, I could rip each and every person involved our ministry and in my stepmom life a new one! Believe that!