Pensive Ponderings of a Church-Planter’s Wife: His Helpmate Suitable

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!”

What?

I am?

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?”

Me: “Brad.”

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.

Brad’s wife.

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:

  1. Someone who prayed intimately for him and our body.
  2. Someone who encouraged the call God had placed on his life.
  3. 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).

The Burden of the Lord

I’m just going to come out and admit it: today has not been my day.

As the wife of an associate pastor at a fairly large, but understaffed, church, I often find my calendar overwhelmed by activities–and the upcoming month or two are no exception. In addition, as a woman who is in a relapse with a debilitating disease, I find that I can view these activities as just another thing which demands my husband’s attention yet leaves me home alone…again.

And today was one of those days.

Receiving my weekly update on the bulletin, I balked. Quickly I texted my husband and queried, “Did you realize we have church events three weekends in a row?”

Moments later my phone rang. My sweet husband. He did his best to explain that two weren’t really “events,” but, yes, the two-day worship conference clearly would be quite the affair. He gently recalled to my mind that our pastors truly pray over each and everything we host, while also turning so many opportunities away. And then…he apologetically reminded me that this Saturday our church was hosting a rather large Ladies’ Tea–at which he had to serve, but which I could not even attend.

My heart sank. My eyes teared up. My body plunged into “cope mode.” Essentially, I was undone.

After Josh left for his baseball game, I decided I needed a nice little nap–something I hoped would refresh me enough to address this steamroller sensation. Not so much.

I cranked some worship up on the ole iPhone stereo and stepped into my steam shower. My worship center. My refuge where I pause to pour out the cries of my heart, both praise and pleadings.

I sang along with “Hallelujah Jesus,” and simply felt His presence near. I then sat and started interceding. For my beloved daughter, who leaves today for her dream missions/service trip to Maui. She’s weary from the past couple of weeks, and desperately needs me to hold her in my prayers. For my dear son, who bears the weight that only a junior in high school can feel, while also struggling with a baseball season where he watches more than he plays. For my husband, who already seemed weary before he even left our home this morning. All burdened. And then me.

But as I prayed I remembered how Jesus blasted the attitudes of the Pharisees, who He also referred to as “children of the devil” for “they tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” (Matthew 23:4). Yet Jesus said of Himself, “for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

My choice today boiled down to whose burden did I want to carry: the heavy load of the devil or the easy and light burden of my Lord?

My shoulders and mind relaxed. My heart melted. My choice was made.

This is not to say that the next couple of months will float by like silken petals adrift on a summer breeze. Nope. Though rewarding, ministry mixed with family responsibilities often presents hard, hard labor. But allowing God to speak His gentle words across my heart has permitted me to nestle into His goodness and kindness and love for me, even during a steep trek in life.

So let the SAT prep and baseball games continue. Let the church activities and events and retreats come. Let my daughter’s graduation approach. I don’t have to live all these things at once. I simply get to live each day with my Jesus.

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken,” (Psalm 55:22).