Many years ago I sat before our computer and attempted to register for a pastor’s wives support group. On that particular day, in the midst of homeschooling our four, tossing dinner into the crockpot, and heading to the boys’ football practice, I wept.
Quietly, and in the privacy of our bathroom.
The fishbowl existence was tearing my spirit to pieces, little by little.
My husband’s paycheck was slender, and I was working to pare down grocery expenses by cooking up pasta with scant traces of ground beef. In the high heat of Florida, our summertime electric bills had skyrocketed within our poorly insulated parsonage. This prompted me to purchase a clothesline in order to diminish our electric bill.
One morning as I stretched and hung damp clothing on the back line, clothespin in my mouth, a parishioner ambled across the church parking lot toward our backyard.
She made small talk for a moment, and then Are you sure it is a good idea to hang laundry behind the church?
It was Tuesday, which meant that there were zero church events that day. To be clear, I wasn’t hanging unmentionables, but tidy rows of shorts, t-shirts, and the boys’ football jerseys.
Just trying to give our dryer a rest, I told her with a laugh.
Her eyebrows rose as her lips tightened in a perfect line of disdain. She walked away.
Her point had been made clear, and I took our clothesline down.
This, plus a myriad of other small situations prompted my desperate search for an online support group. I was consumed by a drive for someone to understand my heartache.
This group, as it turned out, led me into a deeper state of despair.
There were passwords and secret names, women hiding, cloaked with good intentions of not discrediting their husband’s pulpit. Yet there seemed a gazillion rules of what could and could not be posted. It felt more like a place to simmer and rage rather than a space to grow and to heal.
This moment served as my wake-up call.
A round, sharp, thumbtack in my soul. This, this is the place I began to see my spiritual poverty; my own lack. The problem? My deep, consuming longing for a fellow human to bind up my wounds, to fully understand the weightiness of ministry life, to support and carry me in ways that only Jesus Christ could.
Our Savior, the Man of Sorrows, knows well the full heartache of ministry. He knows what it is like to be betrayed, cursed, taken for granted, used. He hears the cry of my heart as I beg for this cup of suffering to pass. He collects my tears in his bottle.
He is the Suffering Savior of the World who humbly said to God the night before his crucifixion: Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine.
And: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
According to Scripture, in these last days the fire will flame hotter as the world continues in its depravity. Ladies, we must choose to abide and rest in the finished work of Christ while standing firm, loving, and serving our husbands and children and grandchildren well. We must Hold fast to God through Bible reading, prayer, and obedience to the Word. God will uphold and strengthen us to serve in love and truth. We must press into God, and God alone.
Do not despair!
He is forming, molding each of his children into the likeness of his Son. He has chosen to create you to be the wife of your husband, a man who is currently your pastor. Trust him. He knows exactly what he is doing.
A great spiritual sifting is taking place as our husbands are performing soul-work; pleading for people to be reconciled to God. It is a hard and holy calling. God is at work.
Remember this: God does not make mistakes. He loves you, as he loves those sheep of his who are tucked in the pews of your church. I implore you not to make the same mistake I did—searching for empathy from those who are unable to understand the complexities of your precise situation. Take those pains directly to God through prayer.
He is faithful and will sustain you.