|my view Sunday from the 2nd row|
I haven't done that in years.
Four to be exact.
You might be interested to know that when we were dating & things got serious I told him I thought we should break it off soon. I explained I was completely and utterly uninterested in marrying a pastor.
I clarified that I specifically did not want to sit in any front row and be his personal cheerleader.
That was a mold I knew I could never and would never fit.
He asked me to "pray about it" and we were married within a year.
That was 21 years ago.
Due to recent shift he is no longer in traditional ministry and has returned to school. On occasion, however, he is still asked to do pulpit fills. That is how I found myself, last Sunday morning, sitting in the second-to-front row of a strange church, smiling as my husband delivered an inspirational message.
Never say never. Just saying.
After the service we (but mostly he) received lots of handshakes, hugs and compliments on his message. One woman approached me and invited us back anytime as she expressed her complete joy over Aaron's preaching skills.
"Thank you," I said.
"But I must ask you one thing," she said with such great hesitancy that - I'm not going to lie - I braced myself for what was coming.
You see, in the time I spent as a pastor's wife I've been ridiculed for my lack of musical ability, misunderstood for my strong sense of self, accused of wearing inappropriate blouses, blogged about for being unauthentic, accosted for ring leading a clique and charged with not being evangelical enough ...... and those are just the things I know about!
It wasn't all bad though, nay - we pastored a small congregation for twelve years and our parishioners were lovely, generous people. I often think fondly of most of them.
Back to Sunday ... I'm not exaggerating when I tell you the woman who had just invited us to return anytime we wanted, was extremely and suddenly nervous as she said, "In my 34 years as a pastor's wife I have never seen another pastor's wife NOT sit next to her husband. May I just ask you why you choose to sit opposite him in our service this morning?"
My mind raced five ways in a nanosecond and I filtered, almost instantaneously through an assortment of the following answers:
- Oh you soooo don't know me!
- Why do you care?
- Hel-lo it's not 1974 anymore!
- I'm not even a "real" pastor's wife
- and I'm certainly not Tammy f'ing Wynette
instead I smiled graciously and explained that I had, in fact, asked Aaron where he would be sitting and subsequently choose a seat for the both of us however he was steered in another seat, opposite
mine at the start of the service. I chuckled and said, "So it's his fault!"
She looked relieved, I imagine because my answer failed to challenge her ideology of good pastor wife-ing, and went on to explain that she and her husband had spent a good portion of the worship service trying to figure out who I was. She said, and I quote, "I know we shouldn't but you just know how it is, honey, we were judging the situation..." I can't be sure what else she said because honestly I was so frustrated.
I turned on my heel and left.
As wrong as she was - she was speaking the truth.
We look at people and make judgements, assumptions and form opinions All. The. Time.
Be careful, friend.
For if this continues I imagine our pews will remain empty ... as will our hearts.
Mother Teresa, "If you judge people, you will have no time to love them."
Side Note: You may be interested to know that this Sunday I'll be doing a pulpit preach and I will watch with great interest where Aaron chooses to sit when the roles are reversed! Ha!
By the way: Thanks for reading To Write a Better Story today - I am well aware the internet is full of great blogs - the fact that you choose mine is an honor. If you liked it please feel free to share and if you have something to say ... let's have a conversation. Do you know what it's like to be judged? To be the judge? What's your story....