Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
Pastors' Wives--Letter to My Pastor Husband #1
July 29, 2015
A RAGING BATTLE
Dear Pastor Husband,
This is probably the hardest and longest letter of all to write, because every argument, every disagreement, every hurtful word spoken by me to you most likely has stemmed from this one aspect of being a pastor’s wife. It’s ugly and embarrassing to tell you, but the fact of the matter is this: sometimes I absolutely, wholeheartedly, unreservedly CAN’T STAND the church. As soon as I write it, I want to take it back, because in the very same heartbeat I LOVE the Church—she is the bride of Christ and she is beautiful!
This is the spiritual battle I wrestle with on an almost daily basis.
The Church is the Bride. And I am a part of her. I look around our congregation each Sunday, talk with the ladies in my small group, listen to the hurts, answer the questions, witness the growth…and I am so in love.
And thankful. I’m thankful to get to be a part of the spread of the Gospel with you and through you.
But then I also live through so many lonely evenings, nights and weekends because of the absurd expectations that the church throws on one man. I watch our children go from asking when Dad will be home to asking IF he will be home to no longer asking at all.
Statistically, at any given moment there is someone in the church who is struggling or suffering or knows someone who is struggling or suffering and wants to turn to you. And you turn. And after the twentieth person in five days, I become the neglected shrew. The ball and chain holding you back from being all that you are meant to be. And I hate myself for it.
I never grew up playing Barbie and Pastor Ken. I played Barbie & Prince Ken or Hot Boyfriend Ken or Husband Ken. Ken was there to romance Barbie, not come home after little Skipper was already asleep, wolf down supper alone and fall into bed exhausted. Yeah, I know that I was playing a fairy tale, but the real truth is that long ago I simply fell in love with a man. A man whose eyes lit up when he saw me. A man who made me feel like the only woman in the world. A man whose silliness made me laugh out loud. A man who when he held me close made it seem that nothing bad would ever hurt me.
You see, the struggle rests in that I know and totally understand both sides of my own dilemma. I know that when Peter declared to Jesus how the disciples had left all they had to follow Him, Jesus replied back, “Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:29-30 NIV) I realize the disciples of the early church gave everything, many their very lives, for the spread of the Gospel. So I can’t expect that just because I live in twenty-first century America those type of demands don’t still exist for us.
But on the other hand, I also read specific instructions about marriage. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25 NIV) It doesn’t say “unless you are a Pastor Husband, then you love the CHURCH like Christ loved the church.”
I do understand YOUR conflict as well. Paul also addressed that in his letter to the church in Corinth when he said, “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32b-34a NIV)
So how do we reconcile those divided interests? I think that John Eldredge hit on it pretty well in his book to men “Wild At Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul.” He explained how from the time he was a little boy he had three desires written deeply in his heart that still exist today. 1—The desire to have a battle to fight 2—The desire for a great adventure to live 3—The desire to have a Beauty to rescue, to be the hero.
I see that in you. You fight against the enemy every day inside and outside the church. And every day is different. It might not be what you would call an adventure, but it certainly is a journey with unprecedented highs and unexpected lows. But who is the Beauty you are rescuing? The Church doesn’t need you to be her hero. She has already been rescued by THE hero—Jesus Christ. You can love her and serve her and pray for her, but she does not need you to rescue her. I do.
John and his wife Stasi wrote a companion book “Captivating” for women, detailing how our own desires fit perfectly with a man’s. And they do. You need a Beauty to rescue? Awesome! Because I want to be fought for, to be romanced, to be WANTED. You want to live an adventure? Perfect! Because I certainly don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch others live, I want to live an adventure WITH YOU. I want to fight for the beautiful Church TOGETHER, no matter what that looks like in our life situation right now.
I just don’t want to battle AGAINST the church in order to experience my given role as your wife, lover and friend. Doing that tears me up inside. Just wanted you to know.