I have been a pastors wife for 17 years. I was a young 19 years old when I married and my husband accepted his first pastorate. Looking back, I realize I knew nothing. Seriously, nothing. I knew how to stand at the back of the church dutifully by my husbands side and shake hands with sweet people who really didn’t know me. I did this for many, many years. Throughout those early years in ministry I tried really hard to be a supportive, strong, encouraging leader in our churches. I really wanted people to like me. So in order for people to like me, I needed to dress the part, serve in every area effortlessly and make sure they didn’t know any of my deep struggles and God forbid they know any of my sin. It was exhausting and lonely and I was stuck.
My girlfriends and I from church have just embarked on a journey with Beth Moore into 1 and 2 Thessalonians. This week in our homework, Beth asked us to share our thoughts on how we share our lives with those around us. I thought a lot about my story; my journey in ministry and leadership. God has been so faithful to draw me out, change my heart and in the process prove His faithfulness in so many lives. When we left Arkansas to move to Saddleback Church, this was the first time I was not the lead pastors wife. In fact, I was one of many pastor’s wives. Their was no pressure, no eyes upon me. I could slip in and out of church with no one even knowing I was a pastors wife. God used this time in my life to show me a better way. He surrounded Brandon and I with a small group of people that showed us what authenticity looked like. They weren’t “doing” church and they had real problems with real hurts and relied on a real God for help. They also relied on each other. This was foreign to us and life changing. We left Southern California to plant Grace Hills Church back in Arkansas and we came back to the natural state different people.
We were determined that we would share our lives with whomever God asked us to. Not just the pretty part of our lives, but the hard stuff. Honestly, the first year of planting was one of the hardest years of our marriage. The enemy was seeking to rob, kill and destroy and some days he was victorious. It would have been easy to pretend that all was well and most days it was really tempting. Being real is hard. It’s risky and sometimes even painful. Their were days I begged God to let me go back to being the pastors wife that nobody really knew. Many times, sitting with someone who was hurting in their own marriage, I felt the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit say “share your story”. Seriously, God? I. don’t. want. to. But I did. I shared my weakness. I shared my pain and my sin and then I shared the grace that covers me and the redemption of a Savior who brought life and hope to a hurting marriage. The more I opened up, the easier it was. The veil of shame was lifted and Satan no longer had a hold on those dark places. They were pushed into the light and their I stood….vulnerable and covered in grace.
Now, let me say. I don’t share everything with everybody. I wait and I listen to the Holy Spirit. I have surrendered my life and my story to God to use as He wants to. So I walk in obedience . I desire to be real. I believe Jesus was real and I desperately want to be more like Him. Sharing my life, the good, the bad and the ugly, with this body of believers called Grace Hills has been one of my greatest joys and I won’t ever go back. I have moments when I’m tempted to retreat but I reflect on Paul’s words from Thessalonians “We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” My people, the ones I do life with and the ones I’ve yet to meet, are dear to me. Precious in my heart. Nope, I won’t ever go back.