Thursday, July 3, 2008

what i'd like for you to know...

this post has been spurred by several events as of late. first, my experience as a pastor's (well, youth pastor's) wife over the past five years. this chapter is coming to an end and has caused reflection. the second, many wonderful conversations with two other pastor's wives whom i love and have had the privilege of knowing on a deeper level. third, an amazing woman from our church actually asking me how she and the church could care better for pastors families. fourth, reading posts from a pastor's wife i've never even met, but can identify with. and finally, i stumbled upon a new series at the "rocks in my dryer" blog called "what i'd like for you to know." the author is inviting one woman every week to share what they would like the world to know about their situation (being a mother of an autistic child, the wife of a soldier deployed, etc) what a fabulous idea! rarely do we ask each other this question, but it is so powerful. so, a woman from willamette asked me, and i thought i'd share a bit of what i shared with her with all of you.
being a pastor's wife is something almost impossible to imagine unless you've been there. (isn't that true of many things?) you are "on stage" all the time, yet you rarely get to speak. the closest anaology i've ever come up with is a wife of a politician. she is expected to be at her husband's side, smiling and waving, looking beautiful, and being likeable all without opening her mouth. her husband speaks a lot and is in a position that people like to critique. and they do. to her. the pastor's wife hears complaints about the man she loves. she wants so badly for him to be sucessful and have a high "approval rating", but she can't control what he does and how it effects people. if she is a mother things intensify ten-fold. she also has to make sure her children are loveable showpieces as well. have you ever tried to make a toddler conform?
sundays are incredibly difficult. it is the only few hours each week that she gets to communicate an image to the congregation and everyone is looking at her. and her children. she has just spent the morning running around doing all the sunday morning stuff by herself as her husband is spread so thin on those days. it seems everyone wants a piece of her in that small little window of time.
being a pastoral family is like being a celebrity. everyone feels they know you because you are in the public eye, yet they feel distant enough to make judgements. everyone wants to talk to you, but few want to really know you.
i realize this post has sounded very cynical. i am truly thankful for both of the congregations sonny served and have so many wonderful memories of the precious people there. i also have some wounds from my time as a pastor's wife. i know those are rarely shared and so i wanted to give you a glimpse so that you might know. if you don't know you can't help. i know the vast majority of people do want to be an encouragment to their pastor's family, they just don't know exactly what that might look like because they've never experienced it. i am hoping this will help in a small way.
tomorrow will be the fun post. what then shall we do? read the results of my conversations with pastor's wives as to what would minister and encourage them the most...should be fun!

4 comments:

joel said...

Thank you for your combination of candor & grace, Kristal. I know there are many pastor's wives who can really resonate with you. Miss you guys!

kristal said...

thank you, joel. i think you know who one of those "wonderful pastor's wives" pretty well:) joy has been such an encouragement and teacher in my life. she also is one of the few people i've met who ask others what they would like her to know about their life. that question makes me feel so honored and loved and i'm sure the answers she gets make her a better wife, mother, and instrument of God. good job marrying her!

C & G said...

Oh man, I'm not a pastor's wife but I worked as a director of women's youth ministry for three years and felt a lot of the same pressures - and it stinks! it is not fair or right that we put these unrealistic expectations on our shepherds . . .

Micah and Christa Forsythe said...

Kristal... I too have been reading your blogs every once and a while and so enjoy your thoughts! I just discovered that you guys moved and would love to get your current address (I mean if you guys still want to be on our mailing list ;o) ) I need to get an update out soon!

What are you guys doing in OK?

I miss you! Would so love to hear more about adoption... we are trying to start the process! I just have to get the paperwork!