The plea of the pastors wife

I wrote this last fall, in the middle of a situation in Oklahoma that was too charged to handle this important post, these words of truth that must be said.  So I’ve let it simmer for months until enough time had passed to spare Kel any additional criticism at work… something we didn’t need any more of in that season. 

It does not speak to where our family is today per say, but it certainly speaks into the lives of ministry families everywhere.  

I reach back for Noelle’s hand as we drive home from church, just the three of us, another Sunday with me and the kids at our home church and Kel off preaching somewhere else.

I know deep down that this right here, this palm to palm family love is the sustaining work of our lives.  It will endure long after this job, this year, this season.

Yet I wonder in my heart: what are we putting them through with this church-world lifestyle?  I pray the good will far outweigh the bad.

As I make the straight drive down Arlington my head is a mess of confusion and pain.  I pause at a red light and remember my high school oath, the one where I swore up and down that I would never be a pastor’s wife.

The one I always joke that God challenged me on, laughed at.

I didn’t want to endure all the criticism and ugliness that comes with a life called to serve full time.  Or whatever you formally call people and families that draw a paycheck from church or para-church ministry.  

I’ve spent another week in utter confusion, trying to sort through the jabs and comments.  How the man I love is not ______ enough or how my family is too ______.

We spent a broken Saturday realizing that yes, in fact it is coming between us, getting into our skin.  Another night passing out, hardly talking, because truly the whole thing is just. that. exhausting.

pastorswife

This is a sad part of the rhythm of most ministry families, healing at home when the people of God tear you apart.  

I’ve spent Sunday mornings in church and dozens of trips to the grocery store wondering which smiles were genuine and which could not be trusted.

There are certainly moments of “screw them all!” where I find my steely resolve and declare that flaws or not … our ministry was genuine.

Moments of clinging to the truth that God is good and here and woven throughout our flawed human attempts at loving and living like Christ.

I recite impassioned monologues about how God never calls us to gossipy, private bashing but to genuine face to face counsel and relationship.  

These usually stay in the bathroom or are seen only my the mini van’s rear view mirror.  I’m never bold enough to burst into the board room and yell… what the hell people of God?  Why are you tearing us apart in hate?  Have you read the bible lately… all the parts about correcting privately, in love?

I’ve been angry, I’m still angry, but I’ve humbled my heart to realize that out of ignorance and pride I have sat in the critics seat.  Foolish enough to pick apart something genuine and spirit filled because I felt some consumer right to.

Out of ignorance I’ve sat picking at something I’m too lazy to get involved in or bring a change to.

I want to make a flow chart of church commentary.  Something that helps people realize how much better things would be if they would use their hands to help more than they use their mouths to criticize.

If you’re think this then perhaps you should get off your ass and do A) B) or even C).

Oh church: we are just as human now as we’ve ever been.  We stumble, we fall, we wound the hearts of those who serve us and scar the hands of those who sit washing our feet.

You’ve done it, so have I.

But those of us who have found ourselves startled and bruised after offering hands of love, sweat and tears, we’re … slower to speak.  We have scarred hands of grace which we are quicker to offer as hugs over fists.

So much quicker to look for the heart of God, the genuine spirit led love behind it and when we see it to consider the viewing of it, a gift, a grace.