Archive for May, 2020

And I would like to start with this caveat . . . I don’t know what the answer is.  I have pondered this question for years.  Over the last few months, this question has again come to the forefront of my mind.

Here is the question.

At what point is it ok to ask society to help you?

All three of my children have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses that are serious.  The seriousness of each child’s illnesses vary.  My son has the most significant life threatening illnesses.  He was born early.  He had his first open heart surgery at 2 1/2 years old.  He has had many more surgeries and procedures.  He has kidney disease.  He has significant GI issues.  The list goes on and on.

He has limitations placed on him throughout his life.  But his dad and I always wanted Ben to be able to participate fully in the world around him as much as possible . . . without causing inconveniences to his friends and classmates.

So if there was a field trip, I always went along so that Ben could still go.  And yet, when he got tired or it got too hot or whatever, I would take Ben aside to take care of his needs.  I never wanted to burden the teachers and students.  They shouldn’t have to miss part of the field trip to accommodate Ben.

I am a truly believer of pulling up your own boot straps and taking care of yourself without asking for help.  Probably because that was how I was raised.  God forbid, my grandmother EVER asking for help.  She insisted on cooking her own food even when she was severely blind because of macular degeneration.  She figured out how to be self sufficient.

So now we have COVID.  Society is sick of being in quarantine.  For many, money is running out.  For others, they don’t want anyone telling them what to do.  Society got its forced two week stay-cation and it is ready to get back to work.  I don’t blame society.  It is part of the “Pull Up Your Own Bootstraps” philosophy which I whole hardheartedly endorse.

So what do we do?  We, as in those that have severely immunocompromised family members or are themselves seriously ill.

When society was locked down, Ben didn’t go any where.  He has not left the house (minus one trip to an empty church building while wearing a ton of layers of PPE) except to go see his grandparents who live less than a mile away (who are being extra cautious just so Ben has another place to be).  But I, as in Ben’s mom, felt somewhat comfortable because society was all working together to keep themselves and everyone else safe.   I was not as scared about becoming sick because society was wearing masks, standing six feet apart, and taking other precautions to avoid becoming sick.  We still spray and wipe things down.  We still immediately come home from being in society and change our clothes and take a shower.  That was when society was also taking care of following social distancing.

Now . . . now (I say with a major catch in my throat) society is blatantly flouting the social distancing rules.  I have gone into stores, and most people are NOT wearing a mask.  I drive by stores to determine whether to stop in and run an errand and see people lining up with NO social distancing from each other.  So what do I do now to protect my family,  because ultimately THAT IS MY JOB? We have decided to not go into any stores.  We are doing deliveries.  When we can’t get something delivered, we go into a store with major strategy in place.  Stores in the city of Conroe are avoided (NO MASKS. NO ONE TRYING.)  We chose stores in zip codes that strongly suggest social distancing.  We put our money where our mouth is.  That is my ONLY choice.

But this is in regards to buying the supplies that we need to live.  What about the rest of it?  The living part.  Ben has become so isolated.  Now with the number of active cases in our county still on the rise, restrictions have been lifted, and the vast majority of people ARE NOT social distancing. We are becoming more isolated.  My question is again . . . when is it ok to ask society to help you?

It is my choice to keep Ben home.  Because the idea of him getting sick scares me to death.  It is my choice to wear a mask in public.  It is my choice to take all of the sanitizing steps that I take. But is it fair to put Ben into a prison because of society deciding not to want to wear masks?

When is it ok to ask society to help me out . . . to help Ben out . . . by trying to keep germs to yourself?  He has not done anything wrong.  And yet he is being punished.

I really don’t know what the solution is.



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When a congregation decides to “call” a pastor to its church, it is a long and thorough process.  Many “jobs” are like that.  Many jobs are not.  But there are stark differences between hiring someone is the secular world and calling a pastor to a church.

Besides President of the United States and other political positions, how many jobs out there interview the spouse of the applicant and review the immediate members of the applicant’s family before hiring them? That actually happens in the church.  It is not a formal part of the “call” process.  But it happens.  I was interviewed, maybe not with the same questions that they asked my husband, but it happened.  Each time my husband has reached the final stage of the call process with a church, I have been invited to attend a weekend with the congregation.  The premise is usually to introduce the pastor’s family to the congregation and to show the pastor’s spouse and family around the community, but the other side of that premise is that they are getting to know you to see if you will be a good fit for their church and community.  Trust me, if my children were crazy and wild during this “interview” process, my husband would NOT be called.

Our behavior is watched and judged.  What my children wear, how they behave, the clubs that they join, how involved they are in church is scrutinized.  Over the last 20 years my husband has been on staff at a church, either as a pastor or a youth director.  During that time, I have been accused of being a bad parent during a council meeting which was then thoroughly discussed by all members of council (even when my husband asked them to stop).  I have been asked to teach Sunday school and then had that offered rescinded.  I have been accused of not saying “hello” to a member when they walked past me in the hallway which then caused the family to ___________ (fill in the blank with some kind of negative response to the church.  God forbid that I ignored someone unintentionally).  My children have been dis-invited to birthday parties after the family became upset with my husband.  I have had members accuse me of being greedy when the church decided to hold a fundraiser for my son during one of his open heart surgeries.  It goes on and on and on.

One of the worst times for me lately was when someone became upset with me for a  multitude of reasons with the most egregious being that I thought I was better than her because I was the pastor’s wife.  Which resulted in me going to mediation with her and her husband for SIX HOURS with an outside mediator.  After six hours of mediation, she told the mediator that she didn’t know what she needed in order for this to be resolved and I told her out of frustration that the ONLY reason that I was there was BECAUSE I was the Pastor’s wife and that normally disagreements between members do not involve an outside mediator and entire day spent negotiating a resolution.

The families of the pastor receive very little in return for the hours missed with Daddy so that he can be with others during emergencies, or when church members feel free to talk negatively about the Pastor (a.k.a. their Dad) in front of them, or when people act inappropriately and you are not allowed to say anything.  The Pastor is someone who is truly called to serving God and sharing His good news to others.  Not the spouse.  Not the children of the pastor.

And yet, we are not allowed to become angry with others.  We must consider the many factors that may be going into that person’s decision to behave that way.  It is NOT alright for the Pastor to defend himself.  He/She must ALWAYS submit.  That is what you are taught.  We must listen to those who are angry and try to find a way to peace.  We must consider the rough life of poverty/violence/misogyny/racism/etc. that they must be going through. We must ALWAYS hold ourselves to a higher standard even when the other person will not.  Just because they are behaving a certain way doesn’t mean that we can behave that way as well.

The church DOES NOT allow you to publicly defend yourself against those that bring complaints against you.  You have to pray that someone (meaning another member of the church) is willing to do that for you.  I think that some people know that and take advantage of it.  When I had someone going around and spreading lies about me to cover her own misdeeds, I found out years later.  Out of respect for my position as “Pastor’s wife”, the people hearing the lies did not ask me if it was true.  They just did not spread the lie any further but allowed the lie to cloud their opinion of me.  Two years later they shared with me what happened and I was stunned and sad.

Out of 100 members of a church, perhaps only 1 or 2 are upset with you.  And then because everyone has different levels of involvement of the church, perhaps only 5 out of 100 know about it from your perspective because they are leaders in the church and are privy to the entire story.  Because the pastor is a leader in the church, if he publicly said  anything about it, it would be considered an abuse of his/her power as leader.  So what do you do?  How do you handle it?  As a Christian leader, what is the answer?

We often say in the church, “the issue is never the issue”.  A member may say he is upset about the politics of the national church and is going to leave the church because of it.  Or is he leaving because he made a huge financial commitment to the church and he can no longer uphold his commitment?  There is often a deeper problem going on besides what a person outwardly says to others.

In the end, being the family of the pastor is often a thankless, stressful, emotionally-painful job.  There are days that I want to just scream from the rooftop.  I want to be the town crier and loudly announce the misdeeds of those who speak against my husband.  When I am the one attacked, I want to be the one who gets to go the council and boldly tell them how I have been wronged.  I don’t want to do the right thing.  I want to stoop to my carnal nature and lash out at those who would seek ill will against my family, but I can’t.

There is no outlet for the Pastor’s family to turn to in order to vent and process.  Of course there is always therapy (which has been our constant tool for each member of our family). But with whom can you share your trouble  with in order to deal with the pain and grief of what is afflicting you in the church.  No one.

We used to have a small group of friends that met on a regular basis with whom we shared our highs and lows in life with each other.  It was a safe place for almost six years for us to cope and deal with any and all  joys and struggles that we might be dealing with.  But that came ended right before I stopped going to church.

About 1 1/2 years ago, I just stopped going to church.  In the beginning it was because the person angry with me was heavily involved and I felt it was better to just avoid her presence and allow her to be a part of the church than to continue upsetting her with my presence.  There was nothing I could do.  I had no power.  The accuser in this situation had ALL of it. 

Then the quarantine happened, and because I was living in the same household as the Pastor my help was needed and required.  Our motivation for helping to make worship happen is because we love the Pastor/Husband/Dad.  We also love the church.  We do not allow a few bad apples to ruin the entire bunch.

If you are a member of a church, here is what I would ask of you:

  • Consider the emotional welfare of the pastor and staff’s family.
  • Do not assume that you know everything just because you go to church every Sunday.
  • If someone EVER complains to you, make sure you next question to them is, “Have you spoken to ______ about this?”  If the answer is no, then the complaint MUST die there.  Gossip only festers and allows disease inside a community.
  • Remember that everyone is human and everyone makes very human mistakes.
  • Do not hold any person to higher standard than you ask of yourself.

There are so many different ways to be a spouse of a pastor.  I have seen spouses serve on church council and hold other leadership positions.  I have seen spouses do absolutely nothing.  There is no perfect way to be a pastor’s wife.  Someone will ALWAYS be disappointed in you.

In the end, the best thing that a pastor’s wife can do is to create a safe haven at home for your family.  Whatever that looks like.  A safe place for the pastor to not have to discuss church.  A safe place for your children to be their true selves.  And try to create a safe place for yourself emotionally so that you can ride the rough waves of ministry.

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