Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What it is Like to be a Pastor's Wife

I have come to know that pastors can be kind of an interesting mystery to some people. Because of that I sometimes like to use my blog to let you in on what it is like to be married to one.  With that in mind, I decided to share a few memories with you.

You know how there are some days in your life that stick in your memory? One of those for me was my first official day of being seen as the pastor's wife. Mike's first parish was in Harlowton, MT. Mike was interviewed over the phone and we moved there sight unseen.  We moved into the church parsonage about a block from the house and we were able to easily walk to church.

Mike's first Sunday was an exciting day. He left for church first and so I followed later with Maria and Ben. Maria had just finished 2nd grade and Ben was about to turn 4.  It was a big day for us and I felt happy as we set off for church. I was wearing a pretty red dress. That probably isn't significant but I felt good in it.

As we approached the church and started up the stairs, I began feeling kind of odd. I looked around and noticed everyone was looking at us. What an weird feeling!  I suddenly didn't feel quite so confident in my pretty red dress! I remember wishing Mike was with us because then they'd be looking mostly at him, the new pastor. I am not saying that I felt like I was going to panic, but I sure was nervous! I think I can say with certainty that I wouldn't feel too comfortable if I were a famous person.

The people at our new parish were kind to me, though. Most just accepted me as another member of the congregation, at least that is how I felt. We did have a few who kept pretty close track of us but we came to love them and didn't really mind...eventually.  One lady, who could see the parsonage from her living room window, kept an especially close watch on us. She would call me if she thought I needed to tend to Ben. I got a call when she saw him climbing on the fire hydrant on our corner and again when she saw him using sticks as guns. Ben was oblivious to her concerns, though. I suppose it upset me a bit at first but eventually we saw the humor of it.

One week my brother and his family were visiting us. It was a hot summer night and we had all the windows open. The watchful neighbor lady and her family, as well as another family, were sitting outside with chairs pointed toward our home. That happened many Summer evenings.  Anyway... my brother got up and went into the bathroom and through the open window heard someone say, "Yes, he's gone into the bathroom now."

You know what, though? Those people became precious to us and we missed them when we left that place.

We lived in Harlowton for 6 years and I cried buckets of tears when we left. There you have it.

OK, now go forward another year after we'd moved away.  We returned to that congregation for a visit. Mike was talking with someone outside and I and the kids went up those same stairs into the church and once again, I felt like everyone was looking at us. This time, though, the faces were familiar. This time they were people I knew and loved. This time I felt safe as I was with people who'd allowed me to just be myself.  Do you know what happened then? They started clapping! And then they stood up!? We got a standing ovation!?  That was a remarkable experience. Maybe I could be comfortable as a famous person.  NO, not really, but it did feel kind of warm and cozy to receive such an astonishing reception.

When Mike was in seminary I attended a couple of sessions of advice-giving from pastor's wives for those of us who were about to become pastor's wives. I heard a lot of stories about how hard it would be and how criticized we would feel. I remember one telling us how we'd have to endure so many, many of those horrible potluck dinners. I couldn't believe what they were telling me. For one thing, I LOVE potluck dinners!

There were some things they forgot to tell us. They forgot to tell us that when we moved to a congregation, we'd be met by a lot of people just ready and willing to be friends. They didn't tell us that we'd be given plates and plates of cookies for Christmas. They didn't tell us about the folks who would invite us into their homes and their lives. They didn't tell me that people would trust us with their secrets, their fears and their joys. They forgot to mention the gifts of money collected as a surprise for Mike. They didn't ever say that when one of us was sick, we'd always have others praying for us and offering their help.  We were not aware that people would spend hours redecorating his office in time to surprise him one day. They didn't tell me that even I would receive gifts during Pastor Appreciation Month. They certainly didn't tell me that it would be heartbreaking whenever it was time for us to leave a congregation, how we'd miss parishioners who were also then our friends.

Are there hard things about being married to a pastor? Sure. We've had a lot of family times interrupted when someone else needed Mike's care.  We've planned many vacations to fit around the needs of others. We don't go out of town for Christmas or Easter. We don't get two day week-ends like most people. Really, though, any profession has its drawbacks. In the end, I have to say being married to a pastor is mostly a rewarding experience.


Anonymous said...

U & Mike R a wonderful couple; think God planned it that way; as 4 being a Pastor, well in my books, he is the greatest, & I know you will agree. Love and miss U both....

Sue said...

I do agree! I am not sure who you are but I thank you for your kind works about my guy.

Cindy said...

Good post. We have 13 pastors at our church and being on staff, I've heard some pretty remarkable stories of things they've been through. Thank you for all that you do!

Maria Rose said...

What a fantastic post! So interesting to read your take on those times as I, as a child, was solely focused on my own experience. Thank you for sharing!

Susan said...

Cindy, thank you. For every difficult thing we go through, there are a zillion wonderful things that happen.

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