Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Rising....I'm Rising....Must Rise....ERRRR!!!

I so desperately want to share my week of ducking and covering from constant criticism from my Lead Teacher. It was non-stop and amazingly insane. Can I share just one example, please? We were having a night time open house, so she told me to take a student's work, cover it with a mat and put it on the cubbies out in the hallway so it wouldn't get messed with. I did exactly as she asked. But when I went back to get it the next day, it was gone. She huffed at me and said, AND I QUOTE ,"I know you meant well, but it was just too much stuff in the hallway." I meant well? I didn't mean well. I was following orders. And I know it seems like petty nothing stuff, but imagine 20 or 30 of those petty nothing things EVERY DAY!! BUT....I will rise...I will rise... I will let it go and tell you about the joys of being a pastor's wife.

Because something else happened this week that really tweaked me in all the wrong places. I will be the first to admit I am not the world's best pastor's wife. I am someone who struggles daily with a crisis in faith. I was not raised in a church and my family was not particularly religious. So you can imagine what a large adjustment it was for me to go from NO church to being the woman behind the leader OF the church. I make mistakes and I fight desperately to maintain my small corner of myself. But I am still involved.

So I was very surprised by a conversation I had the other day as I was driving a church member to church choir practice. Remember that sentence because I will repeat it in a minute. The CM was telling me about another woman she is friends with who is the wife of a Lutheran minister. And she said, "And she's just like you, she takes a hand's off approach with the church and makes sure the church knows that she is not part of a package deal. Her husband is the pastor but she doesn't want to have anything to do with the church." I just about slammed on the brakes and dropped her out of the still rolling car right then and there. I couldn't believe she was comparing me to this woman! Did I mention I was driving her to CHURCH CHOIR PRACTICE?!! Let me check. Why yes...yes I did. I almost screamed at the top of my lungs "*&*&*&HOW DARE YOU SAY I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE CHURCH%$%^#$?" Boy, that would have been the story that got bandied around the conference meetings for years to come: Pastor's wife goes insane, throws congregant from moving car while screaming obscenities. Yep, it will happen one day. I just hope it won't be me.

So dear readers, I'm going to let you be the judge and tell me if you think I take a hand's off approach with my church and list the things I do:

Sing in the choir
Sing solos at funerals and weddings upon request FOR FREE!
Teach a Sunday School Class
Teach Children's Church
Teach VBS for all 5 days in the summer
Make goodies for all of the shut-ins several times a year
Organize and do everything for the children's Christmas program
Sing in the Christmas Cantata
Fold bulletins
Sit in the building as the church rep when an outside group rents the space
Organize Family Nights several times a year
Visit people in the hospital in emergency situations when Hubby is out of town
Prepare food for our cookie hour after the service several times a year
Step in wherever Hubby asks me whenever he asks me
Act as official greeter in the summer
And, oh yes, I drive church members around who don't have cars!!!!

The sad thing is, I do all of this stuff quietly, so of course she doesn't know I am doing it. All she sees is that I refuse to be part of the women's group (something's gotta give) so she thinks I don't do anything. And normally the only affirmation I need is the affirmation I get from my Hubby. But I guess it all goes back to all of the criticism I am taking lately. Now it's bleeding into my life in other areas. This CM is a woman who has always had my back and in no way meant to offend me or hurt my feelings. She probably didn't even mean it the way it sounded. But damnit, I DO STUFF!

So if you are a church goer and you are reading this blog, go up to your pastor's spouse this weekend and say "Thanks." We're a much maligned bunch and need a little love, too, you know.


Anonymous said...

Then tell her.

Jeannie said...

My sister was a pastor's wife and also raised in a non-religious (athiest in fact) family but I was quite young then and didn't know all the crap she had to go through. Our pastor's wife is involved as much as any regular member and I'm not aware of any criticism - we didn't hire her. You should have informed the church member that you are involved with quite a lot of things but you have no desire to run the church - your job is mainly to support your husband.

Michelle said...

I would have had to defend myself. That took a ton of nerve on her part. Hang in there. It has to get better.

cbrks12 said...

Thank you for your advice to thank the pastor's wife. I know I haven't made a point to do that and she has to sacrifice a lot of time with her husband while he serves the church's needs in addition to all the other things she does.

You may not be perfect, but you totally are doing one thing right. You should serve without calling attention to it! (Matthew 6:1) You're doing that so well that you even get insulted by someone about it!

Living in Muddy Waters said...

As a pastor's wife I walk a very fine line. I have to pick and choose when and where I defend myself. (There is this little line in the bible about turning the other cheek that gets thrown about a lot.)

But also, it's not the normal, everyday life. A pastor is not a doctor or a CPA or a lawyer. For some reason, people feel like they own a piece of this person and you must accept things that other professionals don't.

No lawyer or doctor would accept a call from a client at 10:00 at night just to get a phone number for another client. No CPA has to grin and bear it when a 90 year old female lifer grabs his butt. He can just tell them to find a new CPA. But a pastor, at least in our denomination, is appointed and must accept where he is placed. So pastors do accept the calls and the other stuff, because even though they go to school just as long, if not longer, there are a different set of rules for them and as such, for their families.

My life is truly lived in a fish bowl and I am expected by more than just the congregants to maintain a "holy" demeanor. The higher-ups demand it as well.

I did defend myself gently to the woman, but I just get fed up with the church's impression that I am not doing anything. Just because I don't toot my own horn.

Anonymous said...

Thank you pastor's wife.
From your favorite assassin.