When I met my husband, I knew the Lord was calling him to be a pastor. In my head, I envisioned us working side-by-side for the Lord, furthering His kingdom by building relationships with the kids, youth, and adults in our church together. While perhaps this may be true of some pastor’s wives, the reality for me has been much different. A lot of times being a pastor’s wife has meant holding down the fort at home by watching our three young kids and allowing my husband to be out of the home doing ministry.
It is during these times that loneliness sets in, and if I’m not careful, I can begin to wallow in the mud pit of self-pity. No husband wants to come home to a wife in the mud pit of self-pity. I start flinging mud at my husband before I even think: “Where were you?” “Why did it take so long?” “Don’t you see I need help here?” When these ugly things come out of my mouth, my husband goes naturally to the defensive position. He ends up frustrated, and I end up in tears. I feel neglected and then guilty: neglected because I am lonely; guilty because I know and knew that this is what the Lord has called my husband to, and I feel like any time at home takes away from that calling. God has been teaching me that none of this is true, but rather I need to prioritize my time with Him, communicate respectfully with my husband in order to make the most of the time he can give, and reach out into the community for support and to live into my calling to make disciples.
God has continually convicted me that I need to come to Him to correct my attitude for the sake of my marriage. If I am in the mud pit of self-pity, Peter cannot pull me out. He is not strong enough. Only God can. In a similar way, Peter cannot satisfy my needs. Only God can. When I feel neglected, it usually means that I have been neglecting time with my heavenly Father. My heavenly Father reminds me that he will never leave me or forsake me (Joshua 1:5). My heavenly Father promises to gently lead those who have young (Isaiah 40:11). These are God’s truths. In order to wash off the mud of self-pity, I need to soak in the Word. I need to remember that it is God who satisfies my needs and that my life isn’t about me and getting my own needs met. As I recognize this, I begin to see opportunities to serve like Jesus served.
When I am making sure that God is meeting my needs first and soaking in the word, then I can speak truth to my husband in an honoring way, without throwing mud. Yes, there are times when my husband really can’t be with us, but there are also times when he has to learn to say “no” to something good and “yes” to us. Titus goes so far as to say this: “An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient.” (Titus 1:6) The man described here is a man who leads his family and helps guide his young children by showing them boundaries. Thus, there are times when I need to make sure that I am communicating openly with my husband about our needs, but I make sure to do this after the kids are in bed. Through years of experience, we’ve learned that it helps the kids and me if we schedule family time each week. If my husband is really busy one week, we work to make sure that we all know when our time together can be, even if that is for the hour or so around dinner or breakfast. As my husband always says, communication is key. When we are communicating together, we can also help encourage and lift each other up to complete whatever God has laid before us.
Lately, God has been reminding me that He didn’t just call my husband; He called me. I cannot sit idle in my home and let life pass be by. God has called me out into the community to make disciples. One easy way I have found to connect with other moms is through a mutual need for community. We all recognize that our husbands can’t and don’t fulfill all our need for support and encouragement. God does speak and encourage us in His word, but He also gave us each other. So, I have responsibility to find ways to interact with other moms, to reach out, to admit my faults so that I can relate to those around me. Many women can relate to a busy husband; so, when my husband has a busy week, I reach out to other women I know whose husbands are also really busy. We get together with our kids, have a quick dinner of chicken nuggets, and use that time to share and have fun together. I also use it as an opportunity to let these moms into my life so that I can begin to disciple them. In this way, I am building up a support system and a network to reach out into our community with the good news of Jesus. It also means that I am not simply sitting at home waiting. I am doing ministry too.
When I met my husband over ten years ago, my vision of what being a pastor’s wife meant was full of marital bliss and togetherness. As I emerge from the other side of the mud pit of self-pity, I have come to realize that maybe this vision wasn’t as far off as I thought. When Jesus meets my needs first, when my husband and I communicate, and when I am living into my calling, being a pastor’s wife can be full of marital bliss and togetherness. Our home is our base camp from which we do ministry. Our home can even be a place where we do ministry together, and it is the place we come together before we go out. Our ministry itself may not always be together, but our purpose is. Our purpose is to love those around us like Jesus did, to let them know of Jesus’ love for them, and to make them disciples who can go out and do the same.