Several years ago, just before Brad went on staff at our church, I experienced an “oh.my.what.have.I.gotten.myself.into” moment. Also known as a moment of unexpected panic.
Prior to that instant, I had trotted along–simply content that the man I respected and honored would soon serve our church body as an associate pastor with the gifts God had given him. Content, that is, until that one moment in time when a dear man grinningly proclaimed, “So! You’re going to be a pastor’s wife!”
I totally understood God’s call on Brad to become a pastor; after all, I knew how he lived. But, me? A pastor’s wife??
Goodness gracious! When did that happen??!!
With images of perfect women now running amok in my brain, I stuttered out a rather nebulous reply and wandered off to the lobby, where I gratefully ran into a sweet and no-nonsense older woman, who had stood with and supported her dear husband–another associate pastor on staff–for many a ministerial year. After explaining to her my confused state of mind, she offered me the lifeline of sage advice and joyful hope, all wrapped up in one short and practical conversation.
Me: “J. just said I’m going to be a pastor’s wife! I’m not sure I can do that! I understand Brad as a pastor! I just don’t think I’m a pastor’s wife!”
She: “Well, who did you marry?”
She: “Well, just keep being Brad’s wife! You didn’t walk down the aisle and say your vows to someone named “Pastor.” You said them to Brad. You just keep being Brad’s wife, and the rest will take care of itself.”
That fleeting yoke I had strapped on fell right off with those words. I only had to be Brad’s wife. Easy-peasy! I had been Brad’s wife for years, and simply loved my role.
His “helpmate suitable.”
Let the joy of the journey resume!
As we embark on this new adventure, I couldn’t help but recall this conversation which brought such relief to my soul a decade ago. For in a vulnerable moment a couple of weeks back, another random comment caused all those feelings of inadequacy to rush forth and challenge my impending role as Senior Pastor’s Wife. With an “Oh, dear! How can I do all those ‘church planter’s wife’ kind of things?” and a “What if I can’t meet expectations?,” I felt my heart sink within me.
Cue the images of a pastor’s wife overseeing children’s ministries while trying to initiate a women’s ministries program. Not to mention making coffee and playing hostess at Bible studies.
Um…did God happen to remember that I’ve spent the past three years trying to figure out how to even get to church, let alone try to oversee or initiate any ministry?
And the answer is, “Yes.” God did indeed remember.
I had forgotten.
Through a brief conversation with my match-made-in-heaven, God reminded me that my primary role had never changed: I was still his “helpmate suitable.” Despite my health issues, I alone gave to Brad the three things he valued most in a wife:
- Someone who prayed intimately for him and our body.
- Someone who encouraged the call God had placed on his life.
- Someone who stood “all-in” with him.
God knows my shortcomings, just as He knows the shortcomings of every other single person in history whom He has chosen to use…including church planter’s wives.
And He has a plan. A plan that either includes a “strengthened” me or offers another dear child the opportunity to grow.
And He has abundant love for me. A love that remains mindful that I am “but dust,” and yet delights to show His glory through such a weak vessel.
You know what? I can hardly wait to see how my God gets the glory through my humble offerings. All I have to do is surrender myself to God and trust Him to do the work.
And joyfully remain Brad’s “helpmate suitable.”
“O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works” (Isaiah 26:12).