When I was younger, there were two things that I swore I’d never do. I swore I would never live in a trailer home and that I would never marry a pastor. I got over the first promise in my early twenties when I went to visit a friend in her trailer home, which was much nicer than the apartment I was living in at the time. I was in my thirties before I realized I was going to have to get over the second one in a hurry.
When it became painfully obvious that The Pastor (who was at the time known as The Carpenter, no relation to the band) was meant for the ministry, my first thoughts were very selfish. I thought Ummmm God? I’m pretty sure that I made it perfectly clear that I do NOT want to be a pastor’s wife. You did not make me sweet, blonde, or perfect in any way. As a matter of fact, I think you should go back and check your plans. I’m pretty sure you have the wrong carpenter. Then I sat back and waited for God to realize his mistake. God, on the other hand, just sat back grinning and watched the show.
My first problem was that I did not look like what I thought a pastor’s wife should look like. I thought a pastor’s wife should be a shining example of beauty and self control. I was a shining example of peanut butter M&Ms and not enough sleep. This was not a huge problem for me. I was already used to not looking like people thought I should. While The Pastor (at the time The Carpenter) looked like Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling’s love child, I looked a bit more like Kirtsie Alley and Groucho Marx’s offspring. Voluptuous Kirstie Alley, not perky 80’s Kirstie Alley.
I also did not dress like a pastor’s wife. I did not own any denim jumpers, nor did I want to, so I could not be Republican 90’s Pastor’s Wife. I have never had fluffy blonde hair and I have never been able to put makeup on my face without looking like I should be wearing a rainbow afro wig and shoes ten sizes too big, so I could not be the Southern Pastor’s Wife Who Makes a Fried Chicken for the Potluck That Will Bring Hundreds to Jesus After One Taste. To be honest, I frequently needed help form The Pastor just to make sure my clothes even matched! I was sure I was going to need a total image change.
I also did not act like a pastor’s wife. As hard as I tried, I could not work up a tear every time a bewildered three year old recited the sinner’s prayer in Vacation Bible School. I could not stand to the side, looking patriotic and proud while The Pastor stood in the spotlight releasing his wisdom (snort!). I was not a big Joyce Meyer fan, nor had I ever had even the slightest desire to participate in a Beth Moore study. Also, and this is the worst one, I was usually the first one with a joke or an inappropriate comment during a serious situation or crisis. Pastor’s wives just can’t be like I am!
It also occurred to me that The Carpenter was going to change. Somewhere, in that Bible school was going to be a class on how to dress like a conservative and shave that goatee. I expected there would also be a class on judging those less enlightened and not sitting in the Walmart parking lot making fun of people. This broke my heart. I did not want to give up my wild, fun, and quirky carpenter. I truly felt like I was mourning the death of myself and my marriage.
But then things started to get interesting.
As The Carpenter began his morph into The Pastor, he became even more wild and quirky. He did not shave his goatee or even have his tattoos removed. He didn’t even have his morbid tattoos turned into Jesus on the cross or the Last Supper. As a matter of fact, he took our daughter in to have her ears pierced and came home with five piercings himself!
I didn’t change either. What I did do was get to actually know a few pastor’s wives. What I found was very interesting. I discovered that when not in front of a congregation, most pastor’s wives were actually normal people with normal lives. Some of them didn’t like their parents. Some of them thought their husbands were buttheads sometimes. Some of them liked to sit on the couch at night with a pan of brownies and a glass of wine (Shhhh! Don’t tell the Baptists!). Some of them even agreed with me that our kids can be snotty little poop monsters! Why had I not know this before?
Then it hit me. Pastors and their families are expected by the people who support them, to be some bizarre form of perfect. It is absolutely unnatural what we expect from pastors. If everything a pastor says, does, and thinks is anything less than perfect, they are condemned to horrible judgment and ridicule, usually loudly and behind their backs. It gets even crazier when you realize that different people’s ideas of perfect can be drastically different. I actually even know a pastor’s wife whose mother bought her a new dress. When she wore it to church one Sunday, the congregation actually considered cutting her husbands salary because they obviously were making too much money if she could afford cute new dresses.
Suddenly, I started asking myself “Why are more pastor’s families not institutionalized?”
I do not want to be institutionalized.
Whenever I’ve been put into a situation I don’t want to be in, I usually do one of two things. I either run like hell, or I will narrow my eyes, stick out my jaw, and dig in my heels.
This time I chose the latter.
I still do not look like a pastor’s wife. I still don’t get enough sleep, although I have given up the peanut butter M&M’s. I replaced them with Snickers bars. Groucho and Kirstie’s baby still lives. I dress however I want, even in church. Maybe this week it’s jeans and a tank top, maybe it’s a cocktail dress and combat boots. I certainly don’t act much like a pastor’s wife, I mean, have you read my blog? I know that there are people who have a problem with me. I deal with them on the incredibly rare occasion that they actually say things to my face. Actually, that’s a lie. No one has ever said anything to my face. I HAVE heard what they are saying behind my back, though. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot. I refuse to give in, though. I refuse to become something I am not because I believe that maybe the reason God was smiling way back then was because He knew that there was another pastor’s wife out there who needed to see that it was okay to sit on the couch at night and eat brownies and drink wine. Maybe we can sit together and call our husbands buttheads.
YOU are not a butthead. YOU are the kind of person who shares my blog!