“Being a pastor’s wife is a great privilege – the privilege to stand alongside your husband and support him in this unique calling.”
Why didn’t I feel this way?
Why was one of the greatest challenges in our relationship my husband’s ministry? I love that Dale is a pastor, and I can see the evidence of God’s calling on his life every day. So why did I struggle so deeply with how his calling impacts my life?
A Struggle to Find My Place
It was all very hard for me. When we got engaged, I left my church that I had attended since I was twelve years old. A church where I was known, loved, adored. A church filled with countless people who had left everlasting impressions on my faith. They had been with me through some of the darkest hours of my life and had seen me grow into an adult.
Now I was being uprooted and placed into a new church that didn’t feel like home. I was supposed to love this new family that didn’t feel like family at all. This hurt began to warp my perception of this new church, and my heart grew cold. All I could see was a place that continued to pull my husband away from me. A place where his life, time, energy, and efforts were consumed. Where the calendar is filled with meetings, events, and other church activities.
But how could this be my heart? All of my memories of church were filled with comfort, acceptance, care, and love. I saw my husband’s love, dedication, and faithfulness to the congregation, but even that didn’t change my heart. I was ashamed of how I felt. I questioned my ability to love others that weren’t in my comfort zone. I sensed that I was equally outside theirs.
A Hard Reality
I had hoped this struggle was partially related to our dating stage of life. But my heart only grew sulkier after marriage. I felt more entitled now that I was his wife. So I began to dig my heels into the sand. I let my heart continue to grow harder still. It’s as if I were Pharaoh. I couldn’t see past my desire to have things the way I wanted them.
It didn’t take long for me to see that my lack of subtlety in how I felt was beginning to damage our marriage. Every commitment related to Dale’s job filled me with anger. My boisterous complaints hovered in the air like a heavy fog. I had prayed throughout our dating relationship and into our marriage for my attitude and my heart, but I just couldn’t shake it. Let’s just say I didn’t deal with the transition to a new church and the unique demands of being married to a pastor well.
I was used to my job ending at 4:30pm and the rest of my day being open. But that’s not how ministry works. Ministry isn’t just a job. It’s a life of true and genuine love for people. You don’t just share the gospel and go home for the day – you share your own self (1 Thess. 2:8). Of course work-life balance is crucially important. But Dale’s role as a pastor is not just a job. And I struggled with that.
A Point of Crisis
After a series of events (and really after three years of this), the pressure built. I had never felt the way I felt that night. It was devastating for me to hear Dale express how unsupportive I was. How could I be working against my husband? I was just so focused on the way I wanted our lives. But I didn’t realize that my grip on how things should be resulted in me showing my husband that I didn’t support him.
Talk about a blow to the heart. I thought this whole wife thing was relatively easy.
At first, I tried learning how to deal with it. I tried to just not be so vocal about how I felt. Just submerging my frustrations. I strived to involve myself in this new church community even more than I already was. That wasn’t helpful.
But really I needed a heart change. I needed to surrender my heart, expectations, and desires to Christ. I was really struggling to trust that where God has called Dale is also where God has called me. God in all of His sovereignty has placed both of us in this community, in this particular capacity, in this specific time.
A Change of Heart
With Dale bringing to light my lack of support, and God revealing my lack of trust in His care, my eyes were opened to the selfishness of my heart. It wasn’t until one evening when I cried out to God, knowing that I couldn’t let go of my frustration and bitterness, that my heart softened.
In a moment of clarity, I saw God’s miraculous and sanctifying work in my heart. I was literally on the floor crying and pleading with God to do a desperately needed work in my life. I knew this struggle within me was driving a huge wedge in our marriage. It would end up leading us down a road of turmoil where I truly didn’t want to go.
God’s grace and loving desire to grow me have transformed my heart and perspective. We are both sorting through our call as a family into ministry and how to balance the many moving pieces. We have most definitely not figured that out yet, but God had to do this work in me before we could even begin moving forward.
God continues to show me time after time, in all facets of my life, that I can trust Him. I can trust Him with the major things of life, as well as the little things, the minor things, even the trivial things. I don’t want a season of change to sweep me away, but to be like the tree planted by the water. Where my roots are buried deep into Christ and His faithfulness. Even if life catches me by surprise and I don’t respond the way I thought I would, I can trust that Christ is in control.
I am so thankful that God never leaves me the way He found me.