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The Women Who Have Been Known As The Pastors Wife

14 Dec

I originally published this blog post on my old blog 20 months ago now. It’s been by far my most popular post and I’m still amazed that after all of this time I still receive comments on it, both on my blog and via email.  Most are encouraging, as there are many PW’s out there who feel like me, other comments have not been so positive. I’m thinking that I may update it in time, but for now, I just wanted to re-publish it again. Food for thought maybe?

I was hesitant about writing this post, as I know that a few have followed suit of Bill Kinnon. This post has really been on my mind though. I’m writing it in celebration of a group of posts which have come under The People Formerly Known As … banner. These are thoughts compiled by Bill Kinnon, Grace, Jamie Arpin-Ricci, John Frye, and a few others. I don’t know what anyone will make of this, or indeed if anyone will read it; but these thoughts I share from the heart, from my own experiences as the Pastors Wife, and of pastors wives I know. If anything, this post is for me, so I can get this off my chest. It’s also for those women out there who have been known as the pastors wife.

We are the women who have been known as the pastors wife. There are thousands of us all over the world. This was not a role we sought to have in life, we simply fell in love with a man who was called into ministry. Initially we were excited with our new “role”, and, along with our husband, we could see all of the potential there was in the Kingdom of God. We wanted to serve God well; we wanted to sow into the Kingdom; we wanted to live the adventure; we wanted to make God proud. Faithfully we went where God led us.

Silently, over the years, we were molded into our role through the expectations of the congregation. We were expected to serve willingly throughout the church, and be an added extra for free. What a bargain you got, in no other job can a man take his wife to work for free. We worked tiresomely teaching in sunday school classes, helping out in creche, serving tea and coffee, flower arranging, preparing bible studies, banner making, cake baking and helping out with countless other church programs, never to gain any thanks or recognition.

We were expected to look and act in a certain manner, and always had to put on a smile. None of you were really concerned if we were struggling, had questions about church or life in general. You told us countless times, through your actions and words, that we were not there to receive, but to serve. After all we were seen as a Godly lady, and you expected no less. We felt your rebuke.

We were expected to be a hostess, and have an immaculate home, just in case a parishoner should drop by. You didn’t care how late into the night or on what day of the week you telephoned or called by. It was almost as if we were not allowed to have any private time. We soon learnt, and got caller display, so that you could leave countless messages on the answer machine instead. Aren’t you lucky, that unlike most jobs, the pastor is not paid for unsocial hours.

We were expected to be the perfect mothers and never to raise our voice. We were not perceived to have any parenting struggles, and were expected to mentor parents around us. Really though, we were working it all out alone, and thinking that we were making a mess of it. We hoped the latest christian parenting handbook would give us some advice, which we could then pass on to you. Our children were expected to be seen and not heard, always following the ways of the Lord. When our children fell away, many of you just tut-tutted, and raised your eye brows.

We watched helplessly as our husbands confidence was destroyed, as you tore away at him week after week with your endless complaints about the sermon, the music and the length of the service. We watched you draw him further and further into the ground, until he reached depressive levels. What had started as a joy to be in ministry, was now turning into a misery. The demands on our husbands grew, which caused friction at home, as we wanted to try and have some quality family time together. For years we have supported and encouraged our husbands. We have cried so many tears – more tears than you will ever realize.

For years we’ve struggled on a pastors wage, trying to make ends meet. We watched as you all went on your luxury holidays, whilst you leant us your caravan by the sea for free. We know that your heart was in the right place, but it didn’t mean that we didn’t wish we were at some luxury resort instead.

We are humbled, and very grateful, to know that many of you have prayed for us over the years. Know too, that we have prayed for you. You shared your confidences in us, we were not able to share ours with you, having been burned by people too many times in the past.

Gradually we started to withdraw from church life. We realised that relationship wasn’t what you really wanted. We yearned for close Christian friends to share our hearts and dreams with. We wanted to be known for who we were, not as the pastors wife. We have a unique identity. Our conversations with you were impersonal, quite often just to ask us to give a quick message to our husbands.

Along with our husbands we saw so much potential in the church. Over the years we came to realize that we were being turned into people pleasers, not necessarily God pleasers. Church had become a corporate business, which was gradually becoming corrupted from within. The adventurers in us started to die. We realized over time that the potential in the Kingdom of God is outside of the four walls, in the community. We are still trying to work out exactly how that will look, but we are on a journey again, at the beginning of another adventure with God. Sadly, we have realized, that many of you will not be coming on this journey with us. But we have to shake the dust off our feet.

We are the women who have been known as the pastors wife. We are hurting, and bruised. We desperately need building up again. We don’t really know where we fit into all of this anymore. We really want to serve still, but don’t know what we have left within us. There are many of us around, when you meet one of us, get to know us, show an interest in us, after all, we are people too. We are the women who have been known as the pastors wife.

If you have any thoughts or comments to add feel free to, thanks for reading and sharing my thoughts.

Advent reflections

28 Dec

I really enjoyed putting together the daily advent Jesse tree devotion this year. I got a lot out of it, and I think my family did too. We had a special time together each evening after dinner, where we listened to the devotion and prayed together, waited on God etc. There were some days when I wondered why I decided to do them, as I sat in front of the computer for an hour or so trying to find something meaningful to write! I had the verses and symbols for each day, but the rest I put together … with the help of my bible commentary!

On a personal level it was great to see how Jesus’ genealogy and prophecies all fitted together. I also appreciated for the first time how many bible stories are interconnected with other ones throughout the bible. I think the most powerful message that came through for me was that throughout God was saying to his people “trust me” “I’m your protector and provider” “Lean on me” “Let me guide you”.

I’ve been considering carrying on with some form of devotion or meditation – maybe once a week initially – on my blog. I’d love to know what you thought about the Jesse tree devotions. Did they help you at all this Advent? Did you enjoy reading them and meet God within them? Would you like me to continue to put a devotion or meditation on my blog?

Chi-Rho – Jesse Tree Devotion Day Twenty Eight

25 Dec

“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” John 1:14 (The Message)

Merry Christmas to all of my wonderful cyber friends!

We have reached the end of our Jesse tree devotions. Our final symbol is of  the Chi-Rho monogram, which is a combination of the first two letters for the Greek word of Christos, Christ. In the symbol above you will see the alpha and omega signs at the sides.
Today I would just like to leave you to reflect on what is one of my favourite passages in the bible John 1:1-18, taken from The Message.

“The Word was first,  the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one. Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.

There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light. The Life-Light was the real thing:  Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.”

To read more from other advent bloggers please click here.

Manger – Jesse Tree devotion Day Twenty Seven

24 Dec

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11 (NIV)

Our symbol today is of a manger, which Jesus is laid into following his birth. We read about the three wise men visiting Jesus yesterday. Angel Gabriel appeared to some shepherds in a nearby field, they also witnessed the birth of Jesus and paid homage to him. Shepherds were isolated individuals. They spent most of their lives in fields watching their sheep. They were often looked down upon by society. Again, we see the event of Jesus’ birth being witnessed by “unlikely” individuals. Jesus was born in the humblest of places, there was no royal announcement of his birth. However, there is the heavenly host present, and what an event that must have been. This was no ordinary birth.

When sin first came into the world, God made a promise. Even when the people forgot about God and the promise, God didn’t forget about the people. He guided them, protected them, and loved them, even when they were sinful. God was faithful, and today the promise is fulfilled.

This Christmastime, in amongst all of the busyness and celebration, reflect on Jesus, his birth and what he has done for mankind. Worship him and give him praise. Jesus’ birth sparks joy, surprise and wonder. God bless you and your family this Christmas.

Read the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:1-15.

To read more from other advent bloggers please click here.

White Candle – Jesse Tree Devotion Day Twenty Six

23 Dec

‘”Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”‘ Matthew 2:2 (NIV)

Today’s symbol is of a white candle, which symbolizes Jesus, the light of the world, his divinity and power. In today’s passage three magi look for Jesus, guided by the light of a star, shining brightly above his birthplace. The magi are astrologers, probably from Persia. They spend their time looking at stars, which is why they noticed the star to begin with. In this period astrologers were well respected. They were pagans, yet God chose to reveal the most precious gift of all to them. The magi went to Herod, expecting to find the baby there. Herod called in religious leaders (Matthew 2:4-6) and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They told Herod what was written in Micah 5:2. Interestingly though, none of the religious leaders went to Bethlehem with the magi. Why did they fail to act upon their bible knowledge? Matthew reminds us that it is pagans who first worship Jesus. When they did find Jesus in Bethlehem, they prostrate themselves before the manger and do not turn the child and his parents over to King Herod. Instead they leave, and go home via a different route.

Herod, as ruler, was not willing to give up his leadership for a new baby King. Likewise, many in society are reluctant to acknowledge Jesus’ right to guide and direct their lives. Jesus is for all who will receive him. God may provide us, as believers, with allies in unexpected places if we have the wisdom to recognize them. He uses many open vessels. Today, think about whether God has used a non-Christian before to speak to you in your life.

Read the journey of the magi in Matthew 2:1-12.

Read more from other advent bloggers by clicking here.

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