Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Walking Wounded

I am in a unique position in the church. I am a pastor's wife. I smile, I greet, I comfort, I encourage, I minister, I pray, I work beside my husband, I sing, I lead, I sweep, mop, hammer, fix, I organize, I plan, I teach, I create, I welcome. Those are some of my jobs. When someone is hurting I try to fix the problem, at the very least, I comfort. But a pastor's wife can very seldom show her own feelings. If she is hurt, she smiles and forgives because that is what she is supposed to do. If someone quits a position, she jumps to fill in until someone else can be found for the job so that the ministry continues. When her husband is talked about in a negative way, she takes it and prays harder for him. 

 I recently read a quote by a  Mrs. Bouma. She writes: “The women who are married to ministers are usually also among the walking wounded. Some are nursing serious injuries; others have received only minor cuts and scrapes which seem to have healed easily without leaving any scars. Few escape completely unscathed.” 

The ministry can be filled with many trials as the Lord said it would be. We have to be aware that all of the pressure is not just on the pastor, but there is enough to go around for his family members too. I'm sure you have seen pastor's families which have fallen apart. I know I have. I personally know of several pastor's wives who have told me that if their husband dropped dead tomorrow, they would never darken the door of a church again. That's sad. Truly sad. 

Many feel that they have no one in whom they can confide or actually be themselves with. Everyone wants to be the pastor's wife's friend as long as everything is going well but if she has an actual need and reaches out for help, very few will ever respond. I have known pastor's wives who do not attend their husband's church because of the great hurt they received there. I personally couldn't do that because I feel it would hurt my husband's ministry, but some do. 

In life everyone must swallow much sorrow but being a pastor's wife requires you to not only swallow much sorrow but to do so while helping others with a smile on your face. No wonder we are the walking wounded! It's a wonder we're not mentally ill! But we're not and we keep going on because we do what we have to do. We're called to minister, to serve, to care for people, even those who hurt us. And so we guard our heart and find comfort and friendship in our husband and keep going on. 

When we entered ministry we had many couples who had been in ministry for several years tell us things like 'remember its you and them; don't get too attached; don't get too close; don't make friendships', but we never listened. It just wasn't in our nature. We love deeply, we become attached, we care and because of that...we hurt. But even knowing all this, I still wouldn't change. I can't. This is who I am and God called me so I continue to be the walking wounded at times knowing that only He can comfort and only He can give me the reward I am working for: to hear those words 'well done my good and faithful servant' (Matthew 25:21)

If you are reading this please don`t think it is a gripe session because it`s not. I wouldn`t change my life if I could. I am happy and blessed to know that the Lord has chosen me to be a pastor`s wife: a very unique position within His church. Sometimes the Lord sends someone my way just when I need a hug or a word of encouragement. He lets me know He`s there and He sees me. I am not alone. I have a Father who cares. 

A few weeks ago my husband ended the evening service by having an altar service where we came to the Lord not to ask anything of Him but to simply give praise to Him; to offer praises and worship to Him without asking for a thing. It was a beautiful time around the altar and I know the Lord was well pleased. In that same vein let me encourage you to go to your pastor`s wife without asking for her help but to offer yours; not to ask for her prayers but to give yours; not to seek encouragement or comfort but to give both to her. In this I know the Lord would be well pleased. 

1 Timothy 5:17-18 tells us "the elders who direct the affairs of the church well, are worthy of a double honor". I don't believe that is only talking about wages and it can apply to pastor's wives as well. Honor your pastor's wife. She works without pay to make the church go forth. She ministers beside her husband often without thanks. She loves the people the Lord has entrusted them with and oftentimes becomes very attached to them. Many times she wears several hats with a smile but beneath that smile she may be one of the walking wounded. Pray for her, encourage her and help her. The Lord will bless you if you will. 

"When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the Rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2

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