Do you find these challenges in being the preacher’s wife?
It is not often that I use another writer’s material on “Bless Your Heart”. Today I make an exception. First, let me share with you a “reach-out” kind of query I received a couple of days ago from a dear friend who is married to an exceptionally talented preacher. I will include my response, with a few minor changes, to protect the innocent and the guilty (me!).
Coincidentally, last evening I was reading my daughter’s most recent post on “The Heart of Hannah,” her blog which is also also available on www.thecolleyhouse.org., when I realized her thoughts were much related to the letter I’d received a few hours earlier. It doesn’t take extra intelligence or beauty (thankfully), but it takes a prudent and discreet woman of God to be a good preacher’s wife. It takes sisters who care about her eternal welfare to make her life as productive as it can be. I’m very thankful and blessed to have so many in my life. You are helping me go to heaven.
Here you go:
Do you ever just feel like you are the one in need of encouragement, but it’s almost as though everyone else expects you to keep doing the encouraging, and you just feel like it is taking all your strength? I almost feel guilty that I am struggling lately. I am confident it will pass, but I almost need some of the women of the congregation to be my friends. I mean, really be my friends. Do you know what I mean? Not just nice to me b/c I’m the preacher’s wife. Just feeling this way makes me feel weak. I am trying to spend more time in the Word and prayer. It is helping, but I feel a tug-of-war going on. Okay, now I am starting to sound like a complainer. Well, thanks for listening. So, I guess this part is a bit of the “fishbowl” thing, but that is okay. It’s life. Thanks again.
I have mirrored these feelings at many points in my life. I sometimes have not had deep and meaningful friendships. I have often been deficient in that area. Sometimes I have been surrounded by crowds of women, but still have been just plain lonely. It has, at some points, been hard to even see the women at church planning/doing things together that are just fun and, while I was not excluded, there have been times when I was unavailable. Other times, when I did get to participate, I sometimes felt like I was the question answerer/counselor (still working) rather than one of the bunch having fun. I can totally relate. I wish I could give you answers, but I do not know all of them. I am just not great at this. I think maybe it comes with the territory. If you are really busy in the kingdom and if your husband is preaching things that need to be preached, that means that in most congregations, there may be some people upon whose toes he often steps. There are often going to be a few who are not as comfortable around you for that reason. But mostly, it’s that you just cannot talk about the things that trouble you most with the members of the local church, because it’s just not prudent and often, it’s not following the golden rule. SO you may feel a sort of wall between you and potential friends and eventually you may start missing the encouragement that comes from sisters. I do not know how to help you except to tell you that it helped me when I was your age to find a confidante in an older woman, perhaps an elder’s wife, who’s mature enough to be able to listen and be sort of your Titus 2 mentor. Glenn would keep the kids sometimes and let me have coffee with such a woman and it would help me tremendously. I had a very faithful and wise mentor/sounding board in most of the places we lived. Then, of course, as you are doing, be your husband’s best friend and be even closer to God. Pour it all out daily to Him. You can’t let pressures keep building or you will crash and burn. You need naps, little get- aways with just the preacher and occasional coffee shops and antique stores all by yourself (all easier said than done). Then dish out the encouragement to all the hurting and discouraged people as you are doing. God will give it all back and so much more one day relatively soon. Perhaps that is part of the exclusion of Luke 6:22. The rejoicing of Luke 6:23 is not easy, though. Love and prayers.
Now here’s the post by Hannah Colley Giselbach.
A Note to Preacher’s Wives
I’m a preacher’s wife. It has a few drawbacks with which I’m sure all preachers’ wives can relate but overall it’s a blessed and exciting life. It’s not something I planned for my life—in fact there was a phase I went through in which I next to swore I would never marry a preacher. I got over it, obviously, when I fell in love with a sweet guy that happened to be a preacher.
Anyway, my handsome preacher husband delivered a lesson tonight at church that got me thinking. The topic was gossip and, while he was diplomatic as always in not making it a lesson for women, let’s be honest, it was a lesson for women. I say that because we all know that women struggle with gossip 110% more than men do. Not that men don’t or anything, but if they do, I’m not really aware of it, God love ‘em.
I’m not going to write a blog about gossip and why it’s wrong. If you don’t know gossip is wrong, perhaps this isn’t the blog for you. What’s on my mind is gossip as it relates to preachers wives. I discussed this over dinner at Los Palmas (our Sunday night tradition—a good one) with Husband and he said that he doubted very much I was alone in how I felt about this, so if you’re a preacher’s wife, humor me by reading this and letting know what you think.
I struggle with gossip. As much as the next girl—I really do. But I don’t think it’s the same kind of struggle for me as it is for most girls. I think the fact that I’m a preacher’s wife makes it harder for me than it should be.
Bear with me.
What most people don’t know about preacher’s wives is that close relationships don’t come easy to us. I don’t know if it’s in the How To Act Around Your Preacher’s Wife For Dummies book or if preachers’ wives just have an ugly green alien aura about them that repels people, but generally speaking, I think it’s hard for us girls to form close, intimate relationships with other women. I know you’re thinking I probably feel that way because I’m just socially awkward, and well, you’d be right, but I think it’s more than that. I think preachers’ wives crave real, solid friendships with other women with whom they can relate. They crave it because it’s a precious rarity for whatever reason.
Okay, what does this have to do with gossip? Let’s think about why gossip is a struggle for girls in general. Because it gives us a feeling of power to know something other girls don’t know, because it makes us feel important, because it makes us feel popular, because we feel like it helps us make friends. Bingo. That last one is why I think preachers’ wives struggle with gossip. It’s not a popularity trip for us, or just because we can’t shut up, necessarily. It’s because we’re so hungry for intimate conversation with someone we can sincerely call friend that we feel compelled to gossip, creating a counterfeit feeling that true, warm camaraderie is taking place. For me personally, I want so badly to hear, “Oh, I know just how you feel,” that I grasp for the one big thing we might have in common—which, in this scenario, is a general dislike for someone else, meaning my selfish desperation for intimate conversation is at some random person that’s not even here’s expense. (Ignore the horrendous grammar—blogging is for writing exactly how you would say it out loud to a girlfriend, right? But of course she’s just hypothetical for obvious reasons.)
I’m only a little bit bitter about not having close girlfriends that I can call up at 11 o’clock at night because I finally figured out how to clean my baseboards with dryer sheets or how to put my hair in a bun with a sock (all Pinterest inspired, of course). The beef that I have is with myself. How shallow does a girl have to be to fall prey to the temptation of gossip simply because she wants to feel close to someone other than her husband?
I guess I just want to know…am I the only one? Do other preacher’s wives struggle in this way or am I just a freak? My husband thinks I’m not the only one. I’d like to think I’m not the only one. And if I’m not, I just want to make you—preacher’s wife reader—aware that just because we’re relationship deprived (in our heads, anyway) doesn’t mean it’s okay to instigate fun, intimate conversation at someone else’s expense, no matter how substantiated it makes us feel.
I’m determined to ask myself, with any given information I’m tempted to share, three questions:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?
If not, it’s not my business to share it—preacher’s wife or not.
After all, Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Now that I’m aware of the temptation, maybe that whole keep-your-mouth shut mental note will get easier.