January 10, 2013

I Am Not Different (and Neither Are You)

Kyle and I went away for a while, something we haven't done for an extended period since our tenth wedding anniversary three long years ago. Leading up to it, we told ourselves we were doing okay, that we weren't that weary, but in reality we were stumbling along with little perspective and little joy. We intended for this trip to be a mind-clearing vacation and a time to relax, but God meant it to be so much more: a marriage retreat, a re-anchoring to Him, a rekindling of the joy of togetherness and of ministry. Coming back into real life, I feel quite like my blurred vision has become clear again.
We hiked and snorkeled and also just sat a lot, talking through Dangerous Calling, a book we chose to read together on our trip. I have so much to say in the coming days about what we read, what we discussed, and the realizations I've arrived at about myself. Could I have been so far off course? God's love and grace, thankfully, poured out. This is what the trip was mainly: getting back on course in our hearts, in our marriage, in our priorities, in our perspective, in our motivations. Getting back to grace, to the gospel and the joy it brings. The joy He brings.

I prayed He would do this: Break me open, arrange and move around whatever you choose. And He did, over and over, zeroing in on one specific thing above all others: my need. My need for Him but also my need for others. It is true that often, in our current church culture, the pastor and his wife are not pastored themselves by the body of Christ. They stand apart, perhaps because those they serve don't believe that the pastor and his wife are still sinners in need of grace, sanctification, and ministry, perhaps because those they serve don't know how to encourage or sharpen the leaders. But--and here is where God set His sights-- how often do I stand apart because I do not express my needs to others, or because I feel uncomfortable letting others minister to me? Do I even know my own need for the sanctification that comes through the body of Christ? Am I playing into the very prideful notion that works against me?

I realized with great clarity that, though I want to be a member of the body of Christ, nourishing and being nourished, I don't often give others opportunity to know my needs. I have believed that I am somehow different, that I must be uber-careful in what I share. And then I get unnecessarily resentful that I am considered different.

I'm frankly tired of this and I plan to do things drastically different. Not reckless, just different. Because I can't be everything to everyone. And I need to grow. And I'm not always in the best place. And I'm pretty sure I have blind spots but don't know what they are. I need the body of Christ.

I'm telling you this for a reason. I'm speaking to pastor's wives, missionary wives, women in ministry, and the few pastors who come across this blog. I'm asking: Do you know how needy you are? And do you vocalize those needs? Do you allow the body of Christ to minister to you? You absolutely must or you will wither up and die.

I'm also speaking (loudly) to those who are served by pastors and their wives. Your pastor and his wife are exactly like you. They need the spiritual nourishment, sanctification, and encouragement that you need. How are you pastoring your pastor and his wife?

Here I am back home, thankful to be once again among the sweet faces and hands that show Christ to us, thankful to be once again juggling our family's routine and ministry demands. 

Not much has changed, except just about everything in my heart.