Last week was a kind of a crazy week for me. In summary I left my waitress job at the restaurant and we also announced that my husband got a new job and that we're moving, news we've been waiting to share. With some of my new-found free time I've had a chance to think... which always leads to a blog. Usually a vulnerable one.
I'm not proud of the blog's title. I already know the words "burnt-out" and "pastor" should never be in the same sentence.
I learned a lot of things quickly upon talking on the roll of "pastor's wife". I am not saying my church forced these learnings upon me... I am saying that somewhere along the way to becoming the wife of a pastor I learned that there were expectations.
+ One of them is to always be happy.
+ Lots of smiling and nodding will help you win over the masses.
+ If you don't cook- try taking cooking lessons, so that you can cook great meals for those in the church who need them. Real Woman Cook.
+ Try and lead a bible study at least once a year and preferably invite other pastor wives to join you- showing a united front.
+ You MUST volunteer in Children's Ministry, because you're a woman and every woman has the gift of volunteering with children.
+ Also, try to never stir-the-pot. Instead, be positive, always, even if you don't agree... just pretend you do. If you cannot always be positive then try to at least be positive 99.9% of the time.
These are just a few of the ways in which I failed the church upon taking on my prized title of Youth Pastor's Wife (YPW). I failed all together 6 months in to being a YPW (okay maybe one month). But by 6 months it was obvious. I publicly said our worship needed updating... in a forum about whether or not our worship needed updating. It did. I stand behind that statement, still- 5 years later. I was taken aside and quickly told that pastor's wives have a lot to think about before speaking publicly, like our husband's reputations and essentially that I should probably go back to smiling and nodding. Which is crazy because I have never been a smiler or a nodder.
I knew early on it wasn't going to be an easy role for me to fill but like the President this job is based on approval ratings and so I forged ahead trying to remain positive- the golden rule- in order to have high ratings for my husband and our soon-to-be family.
I reminded myself that I had the whole innocent-baby-growing-inside-my-belly thing going for me and that soon enough that baby would be my connector to all those I'd offended. My baby wouldn't have offensive opinions or a worship style. He would just want to cuddle and rock out to universal well-loved lullabies...preferably ones about God. And who can resist a Pastor Baby cuddle... I mean you're practically cuddling with an angel! I convinced myself my baby would help me better fill my role as YPW. Moms always fit in better in church, known fact. Ask any mom-aged church goer who's not a mom.
And the whole mom thing did work. For a time it did. My red-headed cherub Pastor Baby won over the hearts of many and made my lack of knowledge on the best way to marinate a chicken almost invisible. (Almost.)
Here we are 5 years later and we're leaving this first real-job for my husband. When we made this decision part of me wanted for Shawn to have a complete change of heart and make a career change, not just a church-change. In my heart I know that his calling is to lead youth in to a relationship with Christ, but in my mind I was/am sick of being a pastor's wife. I just want to be a normal God-fearing woman who's married to an insurance agent or a teacher and can go to church and be on committees and have an opinion without affecting reputations and being fearful I'm not fitting the mold. Or that my kid (my grown-up Pastor Baby) is now saying, "poop head" and should know better. PK's should never ever say the word poop.
This 5 years has been full of exciting moments, life-changing moments, happy tears, sad tears, anger and bitterness... It's been full of feeling excited and feeling depleted. I have lost sight of Jesus in the process many times because I have let my annoyance at humans (Christians) become more important than Jesus himself. I have gone from leading a ministry to completely stepping away from everything except Sunday service as a way to guard myself from my hardened heart... that ever growing hardened heart. The heart that remembers every complaint, every criticism... every disapproving note mailed to our personal mailbox. Where I collect bills and wedding invitations and do not want to read about how much you hated my husband's church directory picture. Guess what, I choose it.
While we're leaving our church, I know our church is still a sweet place of worship where many people seek God's will. I have some of the best friends I've ever made in my life from our church. Families who have treated me like family and my kids like their own grandkids. And I am grateful to our church for every lesson learned whether through happy tears or sad tears. I know that every church has issues... because every church is made up of people, imperfect people. And I know that sometimes church gets ugly... just like sometimes family gets ugly, because the church is a family.
We're headed to a new church, 1 hour south, where my husband will take on another Youth Pastor position. We will be moved down to Santa Barbara in less than a month, leaving behind everything our kids have known- from preschool to friendships to Sunday school. While there's excitement and hope, there's also the very real fact that things will not always be perfect there. I will probably still say something that will offend someone and I might still come to resent my role as the imperfect YPW. I know at some point Shawn will tell me something I do not want to hear and I will again wish that he'd become an insurance agent. (Preferably for Progressive, I just love Flo.)
Until that point I will pack the house and stay positive... because I am still a YPW and that is still the golden rule, now isn't it?
This Youth Pastor's Wife,