This has nothing to do with adoption.
This comes from a place inside of me where right now anger, sadness, frustration, revenge, disbelief, and so many other emotions are running wild. Today, a pastor’s wife that I love very dearly revealed that she received an anonymous letter from someone who actually said, “A pastor’s wife should be seen and not heard.” In response to this asinine behavior and opinion, I want to send out encouragement to any and all of you pastors’ wives that may have been on the receiving end of a similar personal attack. Whether you have been in your position for many, many years or if you are just getting started, this is for you.
First, let me say, dear woman of God, you are a special breed. I grew up in a pastor’s home and I know firsthand the stress and struggles that you face day after day and week after week. I saw the tears and anger caused by selfish people who felt the church was all about them and not about loving God and loving others. I saw the emotional scars left by the spiny prickles hurled carelessly toward you when all you did was support your husband, the man God hand-picked to lead His flock. You are a work of priceless art; a masterpiece set on display for the entire church to observe.
Unfortunately, with the “fishbowl life” you have been designed to endure comes great potential for criticism and not just for big spiritual or moral reasons. I have heard of church members informing one pastor’s wife that she really needed to stop dressing a certain way because it didn’t fit into their idea of what a pastor’s wife should look like. This criticism requires from you a level of grace far beyond what any normal layperson could possibly understand. The good news is that you have been equipped to lavish this grace freely if you so choose. Choose to do so! Even when it’s undeserved, choose to give grace and be above reproach. You will be blessed by this choice every time.
That being said, it is so important for you to take the time to build your thick skin and recognize your identity in Christ, the one who has put you where you are “for such a time as this”. Also know that your responsibility to the Church is to glorify God and to do so in such a way that edifies the man you married. Satan knows that debilitating the family is step one in taking down a ministry. He will find ways to stab you right in the heart and eventually numb and callous your spirit in a way that can make you insensitive to the world around you. He will find ways to remove one brick at a time from your cozy situation and take you to the breaking point of giving up on the idea of ministry being a team sport.
You do not owe the Church anything. Your husband is the one hired to lead the church, not you. Don’t get me wrong – if you feel led or called to teach or care for babies in the nursery or to participate in any particular ministry then by the binding of your calling you should do so. However, if you feel pushed or obligated into heading up the next ladies’ social event or missions project, you are going to find yourself forgetting how to say “No.” And when you forget how to say no, you start feeling resentful and overworked and underpaid. Find a place where God can use you and let it be a place you can flourish. Don’t assume it has to be inside the church walls.
My biggest piece of advice for you as you take on such an important role? Learn to sincerely forgive even when it isn’t requested. There will be times when the hurt runs so deep, whether it was you or your husband that was under attack, that you don’t think you can ever forgive. I know a pastor that is still harboring bitterness toward a church he was a member of in his youth that he believes wronged his own father who was the pastor. That bitterness has influenced his preaching and teaching in a way that makes it hard for me (and possibly others) to see beyond his hurt feelings. He comes across as bitter, which makes it hard to see the truth of the Gospel. Don’t let unforgiveness overtake you and turn your heart bitter. Yes, hurt is ugly and hurt runs deep. But, sin is ugly and when we choose to withhold forgiveness we are sinning. When we choose not to forgive we are causing as much damage as the one who inflicted the hurt.
I have never been nor will I ever be a pastor’s wife. I was not called into that field for a reason. However, you are and you have been called into that field. You were called for a reason. Know that you are loved, even if I don’t know you. You are highly respected and hold a special place in my heart. Support your husband, lean into God when the going gets rough, and always remember that above anything else, you are His.