Monday, November 29, 2010

Three Points to Reconcile about Being a Pastor’s Wife

Today's post is from author Bonnie Grove

Hello. My name is Bonnie and I’m a pastor’s wife.

This is the central irony of my life. If you’re looking for unlikely, you’ve found it. No, I’m not a former biker chick, nor do I sport gang tattoos marking my redemption from my former life of sin. It’s worse than that. From the outside, you can’t tell I’ve been anything other than a nice person who grew up in a Christian home and regularly attended church since childhood (which is true).

But here’s the thing, I’ve been caught up in an unrequited love affair – I’ve always loved church, but church hasn’t always loved me back. Since my youth, I’ve found it difficult to fit into what I now refer to as church culture – the micro world of life inside any single church. Was there room inside the nave for a tall, slightly goofy, drama geek with a tendency to say what was on her mind? The answer, it turned out was, “Meah. Not so much.”

Yet, I loved the church. Loved youth group, and choir, loved visiting shut ins, and adored the months of practice it took to put on the Christmas pageant (Oh Lord, don’t make me be Mary this year. All Mary does is hold a baby and look angelic; she doesn’t get any good lines!) But before I turned eighteen, my life fell apart, and I turned to the church in earnest – A little help, please? My church’s response was to show its cool, solid back. The message seemed to be; you’re too messy for us.

The years following weren’t much better for me. Life continued to disintegrate in many ways. What remained was my faith in God. Shaky, unconventional, inconsistent, yet somehow undying faith in the God who loved me first.

By the time I met my husband Steve, who I knew from the moment I clapped eyes on him was called to be a pastor, I’d lived enough for two lifetimes and was heartily disillusioned with the institution of church. But, I had the hots for Steve (still do), so I had to come to terms with a few things – fast.

Number one: The church would always be a central part of our lives. Fine. Deep breathe. I can do church.

Number two: I would henceforth and forevermore be referred to as The Pastor’s Wife. Uh. Hit the brakes for a second. Why must my identity be defined by what my husband does for a living? I checked with hubby. He had no interest in me losing myself inside of his calling. He married me for me – not for my ability to fulfill a preserved role. Okay, good. Moving on!

Number three: Accept the fact that I cannot play the piano, and I’m lousy at crafts (no kidding – I can turn Paper Mache animals into a contact sport. Someone will get hurt!), and have no particular interest or gifting to lead children’s church. In short, I have zero pastor wife skills. Combine that with the fact that I’m ridiculously honest and have no problem talking about the elephant in room (remember, I’ve lived a few lifetimes filled with some pretty serious loss, pain, disappointment, and failure. I’ve learned life is too short to pretend). What have we got? Well. Just me.

Just me who can’t pretend to be someone I’m not. Just me who is learning that my job as a pastor’s wife is to love my husband, love the people in my church, and not be a jerk who judges people based on what I see on the outside. And the biggest thing I’ve learned as a pastor’s wife? That gossip is murder and it’s my calling as a Christian (never mind pastor’s wife) to love people and keep my big mouth shut. That people matter more than institutions, and it doesn’t matter if there are coffee stains on the carpet as long as the people spilling the coffee know they are loved. And I’ve learned I can be a trailblazer simply by being myself – my authentic, true, real self.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bonnie Grove married to Reverend Steve Grove, Senior pastor of Louise Street Community Church, in Saskatoon, SK., Canada. They have two young children they are very fond of. Bonnie is an award winning, internationally published author of fiction (Talking to the Dead), and a former program developer and author of the self-help book Your Best You: Discovering and Developing the Strengths God Gave You.
You can connect with her online at her website, www.bonniegrove.com, and blogs, http://novelmatters.blogspot.com and http://fictionmatters.blogspot.com. She’s also on Facebook, and Twitter.




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8 comments:

  1. Yes, to often we are identified as "the pastor's wife"....yes, I agree the gossip is murder. I think that church people tell the pastor's wife the gossip to see if she's going to reveal more thinking that she knows a lot. Thanks for your article.
    schillingej(at)gmail(dot)com

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  2. Bonnie, I love this. You know, the more pastor's wives I meet, the less inclined I am to be intimidated by the stereotype!
    From another daughter of God with "zero pastor's wife skills." LOL.
    Thank you!
    Niki

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  3. Hey Elaine, good thoughts about the why behind the gossip. Something I'll ponder.

    Niki: You and I can hang out on the "unskilled" sofa and be real together. I bet lots of others will join in!

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  4. I love Elaine's response, I had never thought of it that way!
    ppreacherswife at gmail dot com

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  5. I have to tell ya, I do have a few pw skills however I do have to say there are times I would like to hide my God given skills to force others to get off their booty and serve. For example, I am currently responding via my phone in the church foyer as I man the directory sign in table. No, I wasn't forced I to the job. But no one else was steping up... So here I sit! But I know God will bless me as I use my talents for Him!!!
    Thanks for your blog, Bonnie. Very encouraging!!!
    Adamandgracejones (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  6. When my husband pastored a church, I so struggled with this mantle, less because of the expectations I thought God might have of me but more because of the expectations people seemed to have. Over time, I learned to shake it off and be myself, imperfect but striving. I hope God was pleased.

    BTW, Elaine, sometimes people gossip with the pastor's wife as a means of conveying information to the pastor. I learned, depending on the situation, to take it in or cut it off at the knees, and tell him only what I thought he truly needed to know.

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  7. I forwarded this to my friend who happens to be a pastor's wife. I think she will identify with you in a few ways.

    mmdenboer(at)mountaincable(dot)net

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  8. Interesting thoughts. When I became a PW the congregation was very small. The church never grew that much and I didn't really feel that much pressure. When Ed was called to the church we're at now it was because the former pastor was dying. He was gone before we got up here. His wife is still here and I admit that I feel a bit intimidated because she IS the epitome of a PW while I'm not.
    As for gossip...I would have to disagree that gossip can be a means to let the pastor know something about members. A pastor can learn all he needs to know from the members themselves. There is never a reason to listen to gossip at all and it should always be cut off the minute a conversation turns that way. Now actually DOING that is one of the hardest things to do. We don't want to offend anyone and a part of us wants to hear what the person has to say. But no good can come from it!

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