Sunday, March 2, 2014

A year later . . .

Can it really be a year since we left the pastorate?  A year?  Really?

One year ago, after 28 years together in ministry, we walked hand in hand up the center aisle of our church--the church C had pastored for 6 years--and we said goodbye.  We said goodbye to people we had come to love and to a church building that held so many good memories but we also said goodbye to a way of life.

The life of a pastor is a unique one.  It is not more stressful or more difficult than other lives but it is different.  The expectations on a pastor and his or her family are unique.  If C had worked for NASA or Dell, no one would have cared much about what his wife wore to church or where his kids went to school.  No one would have wanted to scrutinize his beliefs or dictate his politics.  He wouldn't have been invited into the most sacred spaces of people's lives--birth and death and illness and marriage.  We wouldn't have lived in a fishbowl but we also might not have lived in the embrace of a loving faith community.

Truly, I loved being a pastor's wife.

I loved the front-row seat for God-at-work in people's lives.  I loved the ready-made friendships.  I enjoyed the hospitality, both giving and receiving.  I took advantage of the bully pulpit occasionally and I was grateful for that opportunity.  I loved working alongside some of the best people in the world in years and years of VBS and Bible studies and women's ministry and Sunday School and worship services and Christmas cantatas.

I truly loved being a pastor's wife . . . and I don't miss it.

When we moved into our new house, the first thing I took to Goodwill was the punch bowl.  It never was very practical, since my entertaining was more likely to involve Dr. Pepper than sherbet punch but it was a symbol of my pastor's wife life.  I've exchanged the fishbowl for anonymity at church and while I was grateful for the easy entré into church life in the past, I don't mind that no one cares whether I wear a dress to church or notices whether I stop and speak to them or even knows who I am.  We actually attended a church business meeting last week and it was surreal not to know the emotional backdrop of the decisions we were making.

I think I will miss it someday.  At heart, we will always be pastors, I think.  I know that C misses preaching and so who knows what the future holds?  But for now, I enjoy having Sundays that actually feel like Sabbaths.  I like having my husband at home most evenings, especially Saturdays, since he isn't distracted by all that will happen the next day at church.  I like looking at church opportunities and thinking about what I want to do instead of what I am expected to do, not that I was ever all that great at meeting expectations!

And what is really strange . . . it's been a year!


Lisa Spence said...

I can't decide how I feel about this because I knew you in the pastorate, a pastorate incidentally that profoundly influenced me...for the good! :) I am thankful for the Lord who directs times and seasons and who is sufficient in all! May He use this new stage of life for His kingdom and His glory!

Tammy D. said...

Congratulations on the successful reintegration to civilian life! I would like to assume that since you’re astonished at the passing of a year, that means, perhaps, that it’s been a full, fast-paced, and maybe even richly rewarding year –with all the ups and downs that come with “normal” life?! Who knows, maybe you’ll even purchase another punchbowl one day… just because you want to! ;)