I was standing at the door after church, talking with folks, when a woman who’d been visiting our church approached and blurted, “Can we be friends?” I knew immediately what she meant: she wanted to connect with other women and with the church, because she was in a time of transition and needed a lifeline of relational security. The surest thing, it seemed, was the smiling pastor’s wife who’d greeted her at the door each week.
I swallowed hard, trying to think of a response to a difficult and uncomfortable question from someone I didn’t know. In the past, I would have immediately answered, “Yes, of course!,” taken down her number, and then invited her to coffee, not so much because I was a bleeding heart but because I felt guilty if I didn’t do it. After all, I told myself, wasn’t that what a good pastor’s wife would do?
I know now that unless it’s prompted by the Holy Spirit, it’s not what a good pastor’s wife would do. Spending time with people to avoid feeling pressure, guilt, or the discomfort of knowing we’ve disappointed someone is not Spirit-led ministry, and it’s certainly not the gateway toward friendship, for either party.
In my last post, I discussed how important it is for us, as pastor’s wives, to have a hearty and healthy perspective on friendship. It’s important because it helps us navigate our many relationships, but it’s also important because we have the opportunity to model for other women how to do the same. We not only need a healthy perspective regarding friendship for ourselves; we have the opportunity to teach others a healthy perspective on friendship.
Talk about friendship and community
When women come to me for counsel, they usually want to talk about issues related to community or friendship. Some are feeling lonely or left out, some are in transition, some need help forming words as they consider approaching a friend who is in sin and some have been hurt by other women.
Pastor’s wives, we are often a type of security blanket for other women in church or group settings, especially if we’re open and friendly. I think this is mostly a good thing, because it offers us an opportunity to shepherd and speak into the lives of women around us. We can say hard things or challenge perspectives because we often have worked to build the relational capital.
In conversations with other women, as I have opportunity, I often speak about the “big picture” in our church, which I can uniquely see from my vantage point as the pastor’s wife. I tell the older women that the younger women desperately want to know them, even though the younger women may not know exactly what to ask or how to approach them. I tell the younger women, much to their surprise, that the older women can relate to their fears and insecurities. I challenge perspectives regarding age, marital status, race and educational choices—all the things that keep women apart because they assume they’ll have no commonalities. I challenge assumptions, trying to teach giving others the benefit of the doubt.
Being a type of security blanket for others, however, can be a bad thing if we think of ourselves as the answer to every problem. If someone is not connecting within the church or has been hurt, it’s easy to slip into “fix it” mode and feel responsible for that person’s well-being. We may began to feel we have to include everyone in everything we do or that we need to constantly be the “giver” and never the “receiver.”
Again, we have opportunities here. The opportunity comes through refusing to be the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present Christ, because we aren’t and only hurt ourselves and others when we try to be. In other words, much of our opportunity for teaching others comes through disappointing people, and that opportunity is for the person to find their hope and comfort first and foremost in the Lord.
In conversations with women, we can voice these truths in gentle and loving ways. I often have to help people see that hurt in relationships is inevitable, no church is perfect and each person can make choices and take responsibility for pursuing deep community. They need to know that, in fact, friendships and connection within the church takes persistent intentionality over time.
I’m not advocating a cold-hearted approach to women in our churches. Not at all. I am, however, advocating for pastor’s wives to not try to be everyone’s all-in-all. The way we avoid being the all-in-all is to personally connect with those the Holy Spirit is nudging us toward for discipleship and friendship and then, for all others, use our influence to connect other women with one another.
The possibilities for connection are ongoing and endless, and by intentionally connecting others, we move from being the overwhelmed hub of a wheel to being a part of the living, growing body of Christ.
With the woman at the door requesting my friendship, I tried to remember my own advice. I smiled and said, “I’d love to invite you to the small group that meets in our home.” I wrote down the details on the bulletin and handed it to her, and although later I felt a twinge of guilt at not running to rescue her, I realized that instead of accepting responsibility for fixing her situation, I’d put the responsibility for her community where it belonged: with her. I’d opened the door. Then I prayed she’d walk through it.
1. How would you answer the question, "Can we be friends?" if it was asked of you at the next Sunday church service?
2. What is your take on Christine's comment, "We have the opportunity to teach others a healthy perspective on friendship?" Have you ever thought about friendship and the pastor's wife in that way?
3. What is your perspective on friendship and the pastor's wife?
Christine is wife to Kyle Hoover, mom to three energetic boys, and the author of The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart and From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel. In 2008, their family planted a church in Charlottesville, VA. She enjoys encouraging ministry wives and helping all women apply the gift of God’s grace to their daily lives. Christine offers fresh doses of biblical truth and grace on her blog, GraceCoversMe.com.
More from this author
“Are you saying no because of your weight?”
Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say what they do.
Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”
In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that my self-worth is still so easily tangled.
Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity shouldn’t knot us up anymore?
The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree:
The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough.
Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.
So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Do my opinions and ideas matter?
We want to know we’ve contributed to the world in significant ways. Our hope is to know we’re beautiful in our own way, and others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable.
So when a careless comment tightens the tangle of worthlessness, it hurts so deep.
In my naivety, I thought I’d eventually grow out of insecurities. I assumed being an adult meant the craving for worldly acceptance and approval would stop. But for many of us, we are still getting tangled by the same ole people and the same stupid situations.
But here is what I’ve learned. Victory doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle with insecurity again. Victory means that when we feel the knot begin to tighten, we are quicker to see it and faster to take our tangle to God.
And even more, God never measures our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick. God values us simply because we’re His.
“You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15 GNT)
What a beautiful reminder that God’s scales are not the same as the world's. And this scripture offers a powerful warning not to allow the world’s definition of success and beauty be the judge of our value and worth.
So how can we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of God?
Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. And when someone questions why we’re skipping dessert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!
This blog post was written by Carey Scott for Propel Women in June, 2017. She is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord…stumbles, fumbles and all. She is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and offers practical advice on how to live in freedom. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter or Pinterest.
No matter how great of a minister, husband, leader or father he is, he’s not immune to adversity.
Church dilemmas erupt, leaving his leadership landscape shaken. Sin happens, either committed by him or against him. A friend that was life-giving awkwardly leaves the church. Exhaustion eventually affects his emotional stamina. The list continues.
Whether his struggle is private or public, as his wife you feel a version of his pain and walk in the aftershocks of his struggle.
How do we walk wisely with our husband in the landscape of his suffering?
Resist reacting with emotional solutions that bring temporary relief.
When he hurts, you hurt. Any path to relief, even if temporary, seems right in the moment. Job’s wife could only think of one thing to relieve her husband from his suffering – quit! “Curse God and die.” Let’s not rush to be too harsh on her. I’ve entertained saying, “quit” to my husband, too. Everything they had built together was gone! She had been the wife to the “greatest man of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3). They both lost children, financial security and reputation in the community. And now she’s watching her suffering husband and probably thinking, “ENOUGH!” Yet, temporary relief doesn’t change reality.
Cling to the reality that God is sovereign in our suffering.
Pain in the present distorts our ability to comprehend anything beyond our present circumstances. Job and his wife didn’t have a clue that a conversation had occurred between God and Satan. While their circumstances were incredibly painful, there was another reality they weren’t privy to. And no amount of logic attempting to answer the question, “Why is this happening?” would have unveiled the real reason. God’s sovereignty shadows our suffering.
Recognize his vulnerability and the value of your strength.
In suffering our husband is more vulnerable than he may admit. He may flirt with quitting or react by isolating. Chuck Swindoll confessed, “Men are weakened when times of affliction hit…In our weakened condition we lose our objectivity, sometimes our stability. We become vulnerable and most men don’t know how to handle themselves in a vulnerable state of mind. We become – hard as it is to admit this – afraid. So in light of all this, hear me – we need your clear perspective, wisdom, and spiritual strength. We need your words of confidence and encouragement. We even find it hard to say, ‘I need you right now.’”
Be present, but don’t always talk.
A loving presence that is courageously resolute and unconditionally available speaks loudly. Sometimes, there are just no words that need to be said. Give him a safe place and space to process. At times he needs be alone. Other times, he needs you near without words. If he speaks, listen. A safe space is comfort to a hurting soul. Your presence in pain creates a deep, unspoken intimacy.
In the shadow of our leader-husband, we often default to his initiation in spiritual intimacy. However, we are in partnership on this journey. When my husband was in his own pit of despair I asked him, “What do you need from me?” His first answer was, “I need you to initiate praying because I just have no words.” Don’t ask if he wants to pray, just start praying out loud with him. Initiate ushering both of your hearts before the throne of God.
Discipline yourself to build-up strength reserve, now.
Adversity will come. You can’t fake strength. Those who possess it have built it from a disciplined conditioning of the heart. Build up strength and you will walk wisely beside him in his pain.
Adversity is wrapped up in anxiety. Where there is trouble, there is also fear, worry, fretfulness and distress. Statistics tell us that over forty million Americans struggle with anxiety disorders, with women diagnosed at a rate twice that of men. Even without an official pronouncement of a “disorder”, worry affects even the most spiritually mature and faithful. It drains us spiritually, emotionally and is exhausting. How can we best manage anxiety? Here are three suggestions:
FACE THE “WHAT IF…?”
Years ago I learned a valuable lesson when I least expected it (isn’t that how it always happens?) One of our young daughters had plaguing allergies, making her very uncomfortable. Traveling always exacerbated her problems, making her miserable. One Sunday morning prior to a family trip, I ran into Luanna, one of my prayer partners. I asked her to pray that Holly’s allergies would not flare up while traveling. She agreed, then casually remarked, “But if they do, it’s not the end of the world.” I was stunned...Continue reading
During the first few flights I took, I was always bothered by one point in the safety protocol delivered by the flight attendants: if the oxygen masks are deployed, parents are instructed to put their own on first before assisting their children. Even though I wasn’t a mother at that point I couldn’t imagine taking care of myself before taking care of my kids.
For better or worse, that is thought a lot of women carry with them everywhere. It doesn’t have to involve children; women naturally tend to care for others and put other’s needs before their own...However, what happens when your tank starts flashing the low fuel light?. It’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest strengths that God gave the female race...continue reading
Hormones are being spoken of more often and openly these days as the Western medical model shifts it’s attention to this somewhat overlooked area of health and wellness more than ever before. Women, thankfully, are now realizing that hormonal imbalance IS worth investigation and evaluation in their quest to live, look, and feel better. Today, even Church Women’s Groups are bringing this relevant topic to the forefront as a part of their program subject matter to engage and resource women in a unique way. This is a great thing to see happening, because hormones can wreak havoc on a woman’s body as she goes through the reproductive years, through the aging process, and as she simply adapts physiologically to life’s stress and unexpected difficulties. To leave out this critical aspect of health and concern in trying to be relevant to the needs of women would be a tremendous oversight. I hope this short blog will bring enough insight and interest, even with limited content, to encourage each reader to seek help in this area if personally struggling with suspected hormonal imbalance.
Menstrual irregularities, endometriosis, infertility, miscarriage, polycystic ovaries, and early-aged hysterectomy can describe some of the reasons that a young woman might consider hormones as a contributing problem and then seek helpful restorative therapy. For those women in other stages of aging; anxiety, insomnia, depression, sexual difficulties, irritability, pelvic floor pain, weight gain, foggy thinking, incontinence, mood swings, hot flashes, rapid aging, high blood pressure, social withdrawal, palpitations, night sweats, and fatigue can definitely be linked to hormonal imbalance as well. Truly there are some women that seem to have very little trouble with hormone changes as they pass through various stages of aging. Even then, it is still important to know that hormone balance is now being studied as a benefit in the prevention of diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cancer, heart disease, thyroid disease, and more with compelling results. Family history alone can be a reason to monitor hormones, especially if there exists a strong family risk for certain diseases.
Stress also must be considered when discussing the topic of hormones. The body is designed to release adrenal hormones such as cortisol or DHEA, during heightened states of stress or injury. This response is intended to address inflammation and increase energy to the body. Sadly, our culture is moving so fast with the demands of life these days, that adrenal fatigue, a condition linked to altered or diminished stress hormones, is becoming more of a norm and a concern all it’s own. Women are carrying heavy personal demands as they juggle countless responsibilities and commitments. Even those women that seem to have it ‘all-together’, could truly be falling apart inside emotionally, mentally, and physically as they deal with stress and lifestyle demands.
Hormones can be connected in so many ways to good health and vitality in women. Furthermore, it’s probably safe to say that most women, at some point in life, will likely be affected by hormonal imbalance. If you or someone you care about is trudging along with no answers and no hope in what seems to be a hormone related problem, please take the initiative to connect with a provider that will give you the attention that you deserve….and that this issue needs.
This article was provided for Refresh Ministry Women by Dr. Sonja O'Bryan, Pharm.D, ABAAHP, who is a Board Certified Healthcare Practitioner Diplomat, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, Minister, Professional, Consultant, Author and Speaker. She has been married for over 22 years and has three beautiful children and lives in the Springfield MO area. Sonja received her Bachelors degree from St. Louis College of Pharmacy and her Doctorate from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Dr. Sonja has 20+ years of experience professionally with practices in Administration, as an Advisory Board Member for various pharmaceutical companies, and has also served as an Adjunct Professor for colleges and universities. Other areas of experience for Dr. Sonja include retail, oncology, long term care/geriatric consulting, and compounding pharmacy. She currently practices at The Custom Compounding Center) Bolivar, MO as a specialized consultant dealing in anti-aging and integrative medicine along with providing Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy for men and women. She promotes and provides God-made therapies when possible and Man-made therapies only when necessary to help men and women achieve their health and wellness goals. She is a Board Certified member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Sonja is also a licensed minister, and often meshes the spiritual and physical aspects of better living in her presentations with the audience walking away feeling renewed and refreshed mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Her speaking events are known to be extremely relevant to the majority of "issues" that people face in their daily lives and Dr. Sonja enjoys seeing the excitement of renewed vision and hope in the eyes of her listeners as she explains what's going on inside the body with aging. This is her passion and it's how she lives "On Purpose." You will clearly see that if you ever get the opportunity to sit in on one of her presentations. Her goal is that YOU feel better, look better, and live better.
Dr. Sonja is also founder of "On Purpose Women" a ministry that is dedicated to equipping, educating and encouraging women in all aspects of their life-long journey. Visit http://www.onpurposewomen.com for details.
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