Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hey P-Dub

Hey P-Dub,

(No, not Pioneer Woman) P-Dub...PW...Pastor's Wife.

Hey, you.

I see you.

Not in a voyeuristic type of way - in an I see you kind of way.

I see you at church on Sunday mornings, clothes carefully picked out and a smile on your face as you greet person after person, hoping to remember everyone's name.

I see you late at night, as you lie in bed and try to sleep as you fight back the tears worrying about the pressures of ministry and their effects on your husband and family.

I see you leading a women's group, or a circle, or small group or life group - I see you as you leave your family to serve, as you stay up late at night cramming and praying and hoping to find some pearls of wisdom to impart or for the ability to share a story that will inspire others.

I see you as you move from volunteer position to volunteer position, filling the gaps as they are needed, still smiling.

I see you sitting in your home, feeling lonely and isolated and wishing that someone would reach out. Wishing that someone would ask you how you were doing - and that someone would really mean it.

I see you as you fight with your husband, both of you weary from the 24 hour a day, 7 day a week demands of ministry life. I see you depleted and exhausted.

I see you feeling self conscious because someone in your family did something or said something or acted in a way that may make others raise an eyebrow. I see you worried and beating yourself up because you can't possibly attain the level of perfection expected of you.

I see you lonely and isolated, as you worry and pray for your husband, wishing you could share your struggles with someone. Wishing you had a safe place.

I see you loving on the people who come through the doors of your church. I see your genuine compassion and your beautiful heart that shines for Jesus not just on Sundays but on every other day of the week.

I see you loving your children and maintaining your home. I see you praying for strength and grace to be the kind of mother He wants you to be.

I see you plead with God to give you the stamina and the understanding to know how best to support your husband as he gives of himself day after day and comes home weary and tired and forever changed by the things he's seen, the stories he's heard, the broken people he's counseled.

I see the way your eyes light up when your husband preaches or leads worship, I see how much you love him and how proud you are at the way he is using his God given gifts.

I see your internal battle as you struggle to be accessible, but not too vulnerable. I see you weigh how much of yourself you can share.

I see you wince when you accidentally overhear criticism about your husband, or the church, or the music, or the staff, or the chairs, the children's ministry...I see you rise above and smile anyway. I can almost feel that pit in your stomach because you know every prayerful, angst filled moment given to making each decision.

I see you shove aside personal pain and anguish as you strive to fulfill your role in ministry. I see you succeed at times, and I see you fail many times.

I see you as you struggle to breathe because the stress and the pressure feels like a very real, very heavy block sitting squarely on your chest.

Dear Pastor's Wife: I see you. I see behind the role, behind the title, behind the persona and I see you.

It is a beautiful road you are walking. One that is special and God-filled and grace-filled. It is one that many people will never understand. It is a road that at times feels so lonely and dark and twisty and at other times feels so full of joy and amazing and breathtaking that you can scarcely believe you get to walk it.

Dear Pastor's Wife: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Not just by many people at your church, not just by your kids and your husband and not just by the few close friends you have - but by your Heavenly Father. Oh, Pastor's Wife - He loves you. He loves you. He loves you.

And whether you knew your entire life that you were destined for this role or you became a Pastor's Wife without any preparation - whether your church has 100 or 10,000 members - whether your church plays hymns or loud music - God sees you. He sees every smile, every tear, every heartache, every fear. He sees you awake at night, worried and feeling alone.

You are not alone.

He sees you.

And I see you too. I am praying for you tonight, and every night. I am praying for you, dear Pastor's Wife. I know it's a tough, lonely road but I also know you are strong. You are stronger than you think and stronger than you know. You are treasured.

You Are Loved.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

now that i have seen

I want to tell you a story.

But truthfully, it's hard to put into words what God has placed on my heart this past year - hard to formulate swirly thoughts into written words about the things I've read, the things I've prayed for, the promises I've made, the leaps I've taken, the fear I've felt, the frustration and apprehension, the joy and certainty.

I could list all the books I've read over the past year that have begun to chip away at me, take hold of a place in my heart and push me out of my comfort zone. I could tell you every thing that has inspired me along the way but this journey has been mine and your journey may be different. It may not look anything like mine. You may gather inspiration from completely different sources. God will tell you something completely different than He's telling me. He may be telling you to rest in motherhood right now, or to go back to school, to dive in at work, to invest in a friend.

So here is what I want to tell you. This year, I knew that God would radically shape who I was. I knew that I was being called to do something else with my life than what I was currently doing. I knew that this year was going to rattle and stretch me.

He took me from a comfortable place in motherhood and handed me a baby who needed much more than I thought I could give. He took me from a comfortable place of worship with other believers just like me and put me in a multi-cultural worship environment with people who are not just like me. He took my husband and I from a comfortable position where we couldn't discuss our weaknesses and brought us on staff with people who know our struggles.

And He told me to get up out of my comfortable Christianity and to branch out of my once a month volunteer church position and give of myself.

For 10 months I've been talking to God about all of this, about where He was taking me, what He was doing. For 10 months I've been asking him to break my heart for what breaks His - and in the words of Jen Hatmaker, to "raise up in me a holy passion"

I prayed, I pondered, I researched, I analyzed the dreams I had in rare moments of sleep. I took one step forward and then doubted myself, and took ten steps back. I questioned God. I looked around at my chaotic life and laughed, thinking - there is no way. There is no way I can do more.

But, friends, I am really - truly - excited to let you all in on the little secret I've been keeping for awhile now. To tell you that God has led me into territory that is frightening and heartbreaking but is exactly where God wants me to be. I will be joining up with the already amazing team at End Slavery in Charlotte, a fantastic organization and justice initiative of 24-7 that exists to raise awareness about modern day slavery.

Human trafficking, sex trafficking - these are areas I will immerse myself in over the coming months. My role at ESC will be partially in the social media capacity, and partially as a writer and blogger as I record my personal journey through this process. I will write about what I learn, about the people I meet, about the safe houses being acquired for victims, and I am sure I will write about much, much more.

It is my hope to not only raise awareness for the 800,000 victims trafficked each year, but to tell the stories of those who have been rescued. To put faces and stories and lives behind those numbers. The statistics I'm learning are already breaking my heart. There is no way I can turn away now. What I know is too powerful, too tragic and it is not ok.

I hope you'll follow along with me on this journey. I'm excited to share it with you.