February 17, 2011

Pastor's Wife, Conversation Killer

It happened again yesterday.

I met a woman, a friend of a friend and as nice as can be. We instantly found common ground so the conversation picked up, moving at lightning speed through the usual questions: How do you know so-and-so? How old are your kids? What do you do? Where are you from originally?

And then I asked it. I know I shouldn't have, but I did. I knew she would turn it around on me and then the elephant would walk in the room. But there it came. What does your husband do? 

She answered and oh-so-politely volleyed back, but slightly off script. What brought you to Charlottesville? 

Eeeeeeeek. What a question from a person I just met. It's not that I'm ashamed at all about why we came to Charlottesville. It's just that the answer always makes the conversation either really awesome or really awkward in a hurry. I just never know which way it's going to go until I put it out there. And as soon as I answer it, her face will tell which way.

We moved here to start a church. My husband is a pastor.

Cue thoughts of bald people drinking kool-aid, wearing funny clothes, protesting at Disney.
Blank stare.
Forced smile as she replays our conversation, trying to remember if she said any cuss words.
Conversation. Over.

This is how it mostly goes. But it's OK. I've gotten used to it. After all, I am the Pastor's Wife, Conversation Killer. The one that causes all conversations that I enter to come to a screeching halt as everyone stares at me with their most angelic smiles. The one that couldn't possibly find a joke funny or know the pop-culture reference because, it's assumed, I read my Bible and pray all day.

I am not just The Conversation Killer Extraordinaire. No sir. I have many more titles in my Pastor's Wife credentials. I am also the:
  • Sermon Illustration: I seem to be the Sermon Illustration most often when it's my day to work in the children's ministry. When parents come to pick up their kids and each one offers me a pecan pie recipe or talks to me about bear hunting, it's a little confusing at first. Am I giving off some weird vibe or something? After the tenth person, it hits me. Kyle preached on presenting every man mature in Christ. Naturally, pecan pie ties in with that. Duh. Just doing my part as the Sermon Illustration.
  • Goody Two Shoes: I am the person who has no problems, who struggles with nothing, who has an answer for everything, and who should pray at the meal if the Pastor is not available because my prayers are better (although second best to the Pastor). 
  • Extension Cord: If you need to get a message to the pastor, especially if you want to criticize something but are afraid to go straight to the top, I'm your gal!
  • Nameless Person: There have only been a few times that I've been physically shoved aside or ignored by a person wanting to get to my husband. Most of the time, I'm Nameless Person when I am introduced by church members to their friends not by my name but as Pastor's Wife, as in "This is my Pastor's Wife." See Conversation Killer above.
  • Church Encyclopedia: What time does this event start? Does Kyle have any time to meet with me this week? How many people were at church on Sunday? Who pays your salary? Could you find me a roommate? When does the worship team practice? Do you know anybody who could babysit for me? Does Kyle wear boxers or briefs? OK, so no one has asked me about worship team practice.
  • People Rolodex: See babysitter question above.
  • Catch All (a.k.a 2-for-1): Don't worry, the Pastor's Wife can do it!
  • Zoo Animal: This is my favorite credential. I am the Zoo Animal to stare at when I'm dragging my kids, along with 17 bags and a 5 lb Bible, through church while the oldest is having a meltdown. Or when my husband and I are out on a date and a person I don't know is staring at us with a knowing look. (Do I have something hanging out of my nose or do they know Kyle from somewhere?) 
Maybe Paul was talking about being a pastor's wife when he said, "I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."

So I'll be the Conversation Killer and the People Rolodex and the Nameless Person if it also means I get to be Disciple Maker and Counselor and Lover of People.

Paul said it best: "Now this I do for the gospel's sake."

It's a pretty good gig.