September 21, 2012

When I Realized I Was a Pastor's Wife

I'm pleased and privileged to welcome Annie Garman to the blog today as she shares about the moment all ministry wives experience: the moment we realize we are The Pastor's Wife. Annie is a church planting pastor's wife who lives in the D.C. area (and who, I might add, lives dangerously close to one of the only Tex-Mex restaurants we can get to by car) and the mom of four beautiful girls, one of whom was born just last week.
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I am a pastor’s wife. 

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, there were a lot of things on my list.  There was one thing, however, that I did NOT want to be and that was….(I’ll give you one guess)… a pastor’s wife. 

I’m not sure how it happened exactly, which (I know what you’re thinking) is completely na├»ve and foolish, but one minute I was a junior in college dating a tall, handsome Biblical Studies major, the next minute we were engaged, and he was looking for a job as a Bible teacher at a Christian school. 

I found a way to graduate early, he was offered a job (that he took) to work with youth at a church in Northern Virginia, and we were flying high.  It was all so fast and so magical; nothing appeared to be in our way.

I’ll never forget calling him one month before our wedding.  I was working at a summer camp while trying to finish one last college class and plan a wedding in my spare time.  I escaped for one precious moment to dial his new phone number.  He answered, “Stafford Baptist Church; Pastor Colby speaking.” 

Silence.

“What did you say?”  I could feel my face turning white.

“Stafford Baptist Church;  Pastor Colby speaking….Annie, is this you…?” 

“Why are you calling yourself a…a…a PASTOR?”  I needed to address this right away—before things got out of hand.

“Annie, you’re being ridiculous.  They hired me as an associate pastor…what is going on?  What’s the problem here?” 

I was beginning to connect the dots. If he was a pastor, then what did that make me? 
I could feel my control slipping as the epiphany grew larger and larger. 

I had been duped.  It had happened. 

I was a pastor’s wife. 

The truth was that I had always envisioned myself in ministry, traveling the world as a missionary, speaking at churches like a 21st century Lottie Moon, leading and influencing people to follow Christ…but never in the role of a Pastor’s wife.    Nonetheless, there I was.  Twenty one years old and an associate pastor’s wife. 

I could tell you that we lived happily ever after… 

…that I thrived in my new role and was the “rib,” the “help meet,” and the encourager I had been called to. 

…that I never looked to my husband to meet my God-sized needs and never got resentful of his inability to deliver. 

I could tell you that I never once called my husband’s cell phone during his Starbucks meetings so he could hear our one-month-old and our nineteen-month-old screaming bloody murder in the background as a subtle punishment for being there instead of at home. 

Ahem. 

I could. 

But…women who have it all together rarely encourage me.  They usually just send me into deep despair.  So, I won’t lie.  I will tell you, however,  that it is a fight.  It is a struggle.  Whether you dreamed of being a pastor’s wife your whole life or not, it will not be easy.  You will be tempted to be a discouragement to your husband, and you will most likely (at some point) fall prey.  Then you will feel awful and will have to scrape yourself off the floor with whatever putty knife is available so that the rest of your life is not spent loathing in self-pity. 

Or maybe it will be less subtle for you.  It might not blare like it did for me, but it might gnaw.  I could go on describing all the mountains I’ve had to climb, articulating all the pitfalls that I’ve managed to find, or just embarrassing myself as I expose all my character deficiencies.  But I want to simply say, don’t give up. 

Our husbands have an important job, a unique calling, and we are an essential part of that equation.  Reach out to someone if you feel that you are sinking.  Don’t make excuses for why you can’t, and then take him down with you.  God has called your husband for a time such as this, and that means He has called you too.  Walk worthy of your calling.  Even if you feel like you didn’t sign up for it. 

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When did it first hit you that you were The Pastor's Wife?

If you would like to guest post like Annie, I invite you to read my writer's guidelines and submission details.

8 comments:

Lindsay Powell said...

Thank you. I needed to hear what you had to say Annie. My husband recently became a pastor at a church in New Jersey. It's kind of a strange situation, but we are serving under a senior pastor that is in his 80s. The church is amazing and very accepting and honestly is the most loving church I've attended to date.



I think my first "I'm a Pastor's Wife" moment actually happened about a week or so ago when I had to sign our names on a get well card for a church member who had recently had surgery. I was standing next to a what I would call "grandma" at the church and I said "wow, that's the first time I've written Pastor Cliff and Lindsay" and said very sweetly said with a giggle "well I'm glad I was here to witness it!"



Growing up I didn't dream of being a pastor's wife by title, but I did strive to be like my mentor in high school, who ironically was a youth pastor's wife. So I am not quite sure what I thought I was going to be. I, like you, dated a handsome hunk in college who was studying to be a pastor and didn't connect the dots really until I was serving in the position already.



I just love to serve and love people, so I guess it came naturally, but I can totally see myself wanting to call him just to let him hear our future children screaming bloody murder as you say, but I also know that isn't the right thing. Thank you for your insight, it helped to heal my already struggling heart.

Kelly said...

Thanks for writing this. I am 30 weeks pregnant, have an 18 month old, am working part time, my husband works a full time non-ministry job plus is one of the pastors of our church plant (not preaching every week, thank goodness!) and I am struggling, to say the least. I agree - it's more encouraging to me to hear from other women in similar situations who struggle, too. But I also appreciate so much about your post and this entire blog that you don't stop at sharing your struggles, but are bold enough to remind me that it's not okay to excuse my sin. I am called to a role, just as my husband is, and it's not okay to abandon that role of encourager and helper and support to instead throw myself a pity party just because it's hard sometimes. Thank you for the reminder that only God can fill my "God-sized needs," and I must be dependent on Him to help me serve my husband and family and church well!

Melody said...

Oh I laughed out loud at this in places....what a great post! In some ways, I hate to admit this and yes I am a blond, I still have these aha moments of "omgosh, I'm the pastor's wife" and it's been 18 years! I know. Long enough to realize I'm a pastor's wife and for those "aha" moments to vanish. In fact my hubs and I just had a conversation about this tonight. I said something like "I was just having a conversation with so and so in our church.....not expecting her to feel like she had to DO what I was saying this week....I was thinking out loud with her and suggesting some things." He said, "But Melody, you're the pastor's wife and it's different when you say it." I guess in many ways I just still see myself as just another church member who loves Jesus and desires to point others to Christ. My hubs is our pastor and that of course requires unique challenges and priviledges both at church and on the homefront. I recognize those and pray often for the grace to glorify Him in that calling. But at the end of the day I truly feel more like "Randy's wife" than I do "The Pastor's Wife".

Sharon Lee Sharon.m.lee@live.com said...

Boy could I relate to this. Mine was a harder reality and I unfortunately pulled my husband away from his ailing for several years in fear of being the people "at the top" as senior pastors. I'd be happy as associate pastors because when it came down to it the "buck didn't stop at us." Little did I know, or choose not to see, the destruction of my blocking my husbands calling actually made. When I allowed God to finally breakthrough and I released my control and let God have it all, even my fears, amazing things began to happen. I finally realized that as senior pastors of a church plant we were anything but "at the top." more accurately, we're at the bottom... Lifting our volunteer leaders, and church family to support them in who God has called them to be. I am an important person to my husband. I am his helpmate. No one else can help him the way I can. I now treasure that role, and our church plant is going on 2 years! : )

Sharon said...

Boy could I relate to this. Mine was a harder reality and I unfortunately pulled my husband away from his ailing for several years in fear of being the people "at the top" as senior pastors. I'd be happy as associate pastors because when it came down to it the "buck didn't stop at us." Little did I know, or choose not to see, the destruction of my blocking my husbands calling actually made. When I allowed God to finally breakthrough and I released my control and let God have it all, even my fears, amazing things began to happen. I finally realized that as senior pastors of a church plant we were anything but "at the top." more accurately, we're at the bottom... Lifting our volunteer leaders, and church family to support them in who God has called them to be. I am an important person to my husband. I am his helpmate. No one else can help him the way I can. I now treasure that role, and our church plant is going on 2 years! : )

Tracy said...

I attended a conference this past weekend and went to a breakout session for Pastor's wives by Karen Waddles. She quoted the statistic that 80% of pastor's wives wish their husband was not a pastor, leaving only 20% who support and encourage their husbands with joy. No wonder pastors are leaving their calling at alarming rates. I have had seasons of bitterness, too. By God's grace, I want to be the helper, encourager, supporter that my husband needs to finish well. Being a pastor's wife is a high calling--we need to walk worthy (Ephesians 4:1-3).

Christine Hoover said...

Yes, yes, and yes!

Sharon said...

Such an encouraging and real post-thank you!

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