I think I've mentioned before on this blog about how my fellow employees are obsessed with alcohol. There has not been one day since I started working there over 4 years ago that there have not been numerous references and discussions about drinking, in fact, I would think it odd if I didn't hear about alcohol at least once during the day. Well, this time was no different. The first discussion that went on after everyone sat down at the table was about the beer and wine list. Every person, except me, had alcohol to drink. I tried to not draw any attention to myself because it's just awkward. I'm not ashamed that when Jesus washed me of my sins, He also took all desire to drink alcohol with it. On the other hand, I don't want to make others intentionally feel awkward about their desire to have it, especially if they aren't saved.
Everything was moving along fine until someone noticed that I had ice tea. "Cyndi, don't you want some wine or beer?" I just smiled and said "I don't drink alcohol." Then someone else spoke up and said, "tell the group what your husband does for a living." I couldn't believe my ears! I thought to myself, i don't remember going around the table and asking everyone else what their spouses do for a living. At that point, the waitress came and talked with us and I thought I had dodged the bullet and I breathed a small sigh of relief. Once the waitress left, that same person said again, but louder, "Cyndi, tell everyone what your husband does for a living." Well, then I had no choice so I had to share with the group, most of whom I had just met that day, that my husband was a Pastor, which makes me "the Pastor's wife." As soon as it was out of my mouth, I felt it--the label. I wasn't sure if the label was a crown or a scarlet letter but i'm leaning towards the scarlet letter.
This may sound crazy, but sometimes I just want to go somewhere and be myself, me, Cyndi, not someone's wife, not some perceived position. I don't define myself by what my husband does for a living and I don't want people defining me by it either. I don't enjoy the extra scrutiny of every word I say and every action I take because some people think that I should act a certain way because I am the Pastor's wife. I don't think it's fair that I am liked or accepted based on the perception that people have about Pastors and their wives because everyone's perception is different depending on what they've heard, see on TV, been taught or experienced-good or bad. In a lot of ways, I don't feel like I have a chance. I know this to be true because I had worked there for nearly 7 months before anyone found out that I was a Pastor's wife. After that, some people treated me differently.
Being the Pastor's wife, in my experience is cause for stricter judgement. It does not allow for my individuality. It hinders me from truly getting to know a person if they are ones who have been taught that Pastor's wives are not to be trusted. The label doesn't let me be me. I'm not saying that I'm not me regardless. I'm just saying that it can put you at a serious disadvantage. In some ways it feels like being a can of green beans, but someone who didn't take the time to find out what was truly in there thought you looked like a can corn and applied a corn label instead. I'm not ashamed of the ministry, but in today's world, it can seriously limit your chances of getting to know people to the point where they will be totally honest and open with you. And above all things, I hate fakery.
How many people get introduced according to what their husband's do for a living? Have you ever met your doctor's wife? How about the garbage man's wife? You may have but they weren't introduced that way. I know sometimes people do it out of respect. I think my church ladies do and I love them for it. Others do it as a clue to others that they need to mind their p's and q's because "the Pastor's wife" is here. I've even had people rebuke others and say "not in front of the Pastor's wife." Why not!!?? I hate feeling that I'm spoiling someone's fun or making them self conscious or hindering them from being who they are. I love people. I love sinners. I recognize that they're sinners. It's okay. Really! I used to be one myself. I just want to get to know people. Actions or language are not going to melt my ears or traumatize me in any way.
I just want to be me. I want people to know who I am. I want to be accepted or rejected based on who I am, not what my husband, who many have never met, does for a living. I'm not a Pastor. Don't label me as one and expect that I will be a certain way because of it.
Now I know that some Pastor's wives think I'm looking at this too negatively.Other's see themselves with some kind of calling and think they deserve the same respect. That's fine for them. I'm in no way ashamed of Christ, ashamed of my husband, or ashamed of the ministry. There are many blessings that come with being in the ministry and I enjoy them all. If I suffer for the name of Christ, that's okay too but seriously, Jesus didn't go around announcing to all that He was the Son of God. In fact, he intentionally kept that a secret for a large portion of His ministry. Why? I believe for some of the same reasons I just mentioned. People knew Jesus for what He was to them, not because of His label. When he was labeled- "Isn't that the son of Joseph?"-it hindered Him from ministering to them the way He wanted to. Of all the people that Jesus would want to bless, it would be the hometown crowd but because they labeled Him, He could not.
Is there more I'd like to say? Oh, you bet! Maybe God made me a PW so that I would have to learn to use discretion and not just say everything I think. If you think that being married to a Pastor is easy, you're wrong. The demands on his time and attention are endless. The influences that come from people to try to color his opinions are many. This, plus the things the enemy will throw at your ministry and your marriage are sometimes just too much to handle and I return to telling the Lord that I don't want to do it anymore.
Initially I didn't want to be a Pastor's wife because I didn't think I could do it. You see, when my husband made the big announcement that he felt called to ministry, I thought of all the Pastor's wives I had seen and known and thought to myself, I'm nothing like any of them so it took me a long time to find my way. What I learned is this. Allow God to develop in you a soft heart and tough skin and don't get lost in the label. More importantly, don't allow the label to form who you are. That's God's job.
On a particularly stressful day, while my husband was in seminary, I was praying in the living room telling God that I just couldn't do it, I couldn't be a Pastor's wife. The Lord spoke something so loudly to me that I've never forgotten it. It has helped me all these years. He said "Cyndi, I made you the way you are because that's the way I'm going to use you."
I believe that's what He would like every human being to know whether you're in the ministry or not. God has designed you by His own special design. He knows what He had in mind for you when He strung your DNA together. So go with it because to do anything less is to deny your Creator the opportunity to shine through your life into a dark and needy world.