Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Where have all the cowboys gone?

A nagging question. Really. I'd guess they are wherever cowboys go. I actually really don't care where they are because I don't care about cowboys. This post has nothing at all to do with cowboys or their location. I guess if you count not caring about cowboys it kind of applies. The facts are these. At this moment young Mel has been a pastor's wife for 10 months, 3 days, 2 hours and 4 minutes (go watch Pushing Daisies and then you'll understand the phrasing). I haven't really considered myself to be a pastor's wife as such. I don't do all the things that typical pastors wives do like form knitting parties and ladies Bible studies or run the children's room or anything else of that nature. The past few months or so I've been wondering what that role means to me and to the people at Artisan. I don't know how approachable I am. I don't see myself as the warm and inviting person that I envision pastors wives as being. I'm sometimes socially awkward (mostly in large groups or around many women) and I don't always like to be around people who require me to give more of myself than I feel like giving (emotionally demanding people). Do not misunderstand me and think that I don't like people because I do. Sometimes I don't (like when I'm driving). Mostly I'm just retarded when it comes to relating to people or being able to help someone through a problem. And sometimes I'm a downright jerk and don't do things I probably should for various selfish reasons. At any rate, the purpose of this post was not to get down on myself for sucking at life and being a subpar pastor's wife but to throw it out to see what other people's conceptions are. Somewhere along the way I will arrive at a place that I can live with whether I'm comfortable or not (as I don't believe that God is always terribly concerned with how comfortable I am).


Lisa said...

Well...doesn't that just open the Pandora's box.

As you might imagine, I could say volumes on the art of being a pastor's wife. I have been one for 14 years, 8 months, 16 days, 8 hours and 40 minutes.

I think the most important lesson I've learned is to chuck whatever everyone else's idea of being a pastor's wife means, and just do what I'm gifted at. Because after all, God gave me certain gifts and did not give me others. And assuming that all pastors' wives are gifted the same is nonsense.

I am not an evangelist. I probably couldn't lead someone to Christ if the rapture was knocking on my door. But I spent years trying to make myself into the type of person who can take someone out to lunch, discuss the bridge illustration, and have them saved and sanctified by dessert.

I was miserable.

Then I spent years trying to run children's ministries. I told myself it was because I wanted my own kids to have a quality kids program to attend. But I was miserabler.

It wasn't until I finally learned to let go of all those stereotypes and hone in on what I really enjoyed doing that I was able to be an effective pastor's wife. Sometimes people think that if you enjoy something, you must not be thinking outside the box or going "out of your comfort zone". We have a comfort zone for a reason, usually because it's what best suits us and what we were designed for!

I love organizing things and providing hospitality. I can whip out a 7-meal rotation plan, shop, cook, and organize volunteers like nobody's business. I can make sure there's enough pens and paper towels and plastic cups to keep things running smoothly. So, that's what I do. And doing those things is just as much a ministry as the people who teach the kids or preach or invite loads of people. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

What I've always appreciated about you is that you are visible. I think that no matter what role you choose to take on as a pastor's wife, it is vital that the congregation should see you serving. I've known too many pastors' wives who hide behind the scenes because they can't take the pressure, or they don't like the people, or they're resentful of the expectations. But the congregation looks to us as role models of mothers and families as well as Christians. And they can't learn from us if they don't see us setting the example. (Even if the example is that we really screwed up, but are willing to admit it and do better next time.)

And you do that wonderfully. You're on stage almost every week, or doing the communion table, or chatting with people in the lobby, and it's obvious that you're an attentive wife and mother.

I think you're a great pastor's wife.

Mike said...

I personally think you're about the best pastor's wife around... in that you're the wife of the best pastor around... or something :) But seriously, the ladies of Artisan redefine what it is to be a wife, a mother, a role model... and that fabulous! Those roles have been yearning for redefinition for some time. Mel, you make me proud! And you are a big part of Artisan's unique fingerprint. \oo/ (that's the rock-on hand!)

bethanybeams said...

I think any pastor's wife who sends me a photo of me at her wedding reception being housed by my husband who is wearing a penguin suit is my kind of pastor's wife.

Seriously, though, I think being a pastor's wife is about serving where and how God has called you. If that's not doing cross-stitch with women in floral print dresses who wear straw hats, then so be it. We don't have any of those women anyhow (at least not to my knowledge). Artisan is a unique community, and as long as you are remaining faithful to who God has made you, you will keep being an awesome pastor's wife. (And the wife of an awesome pastor...)

Tracey said...

Funny that I just came across this, after church!
Amen sister. It is a confusing place.

The only thing I can lend is that I have found the whole term "pastor's wife" as somewhat dismissive. I am my husband's wife and he happens to be a pastor. I serve my church because I am called to do that as a person and I like it and think we all should be doing that for our own church. I don't feel obligated because of who I married.

Those are my own feelings. Of course it may be from years of people shaking their heads when I tell them proudly that Scott is a pastor. Which I never know how to take. I then wait for the inevitable, "That makes you a pastor's wife!"

I do not approve of the assumptions that pins on me because I think those expectations are not biblical but were formed from pastor's wives in the 50's who actually ran the rumor mills in their churches and ordered their husbands to wear the black suit not the blue.

I explain to people at my work that I am a part of a church because of my own faith and not because I have a marital responsibility. I love the people in my church because they can except this and seem supportive of all of our different expressions of that.

I can surely understand being married to a leader and therefore being some kind of symbol of leadership. But I think that is something that is gained out of respect and not title. I will never be comfortable thinking that someone is looking to me as the example of anything. I doubt that being a 'pastor's wife' should be a means of motivation for living how God wants us to live anyways.

All that mumbling to say, we all have our own visions of who we are and I think God has give each person a beautiful way of expressing it. I honestly think God has individual plans and goals for all of us, and how that relates to our husband's work.

I think you are perfect just as you are. You and Mike together help Artisan be the best church we can create. And we love you for it!