Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Being "The Church Lady"

Marrying into full-time ministry presents all sorts of interesting scenarios.
About a year ago, Allen did a wedding for his cousin and a girl that graduated out of our youth ministry. She recently asked how to handle people's response when she tells them her husband is a pastor. I love the way she put it, "People look at me like I just told them we're surrounded by snipers and all guns are aimed at them."
In both our cases, we can say "youth pastor," which seems to soften the blow. I guess maybe thats less threatening than a 'real pastor'? I really don't know. What I do know is that 'pastor' and 'youth pastor', illicit slightly different responses, so I make sure to throw that in when it comes up.

Before kids, I worked in some pretty secular environments. I was a pharmacy technician, a temp at the state capitol offices, and I did a couple of different things in the restaurant scene. Whenever it came up that my husband was a pastor, the reactions would vary from glazed eyes to hung heads (perhaps as they recalled a dirty joke or ugly word recently spoken) to awkward pauses followed by something like, "Oh....that's cool."

My pastor shared a story years ago that has stuck with me. His family was camping and they struck up a conversation with the family at the campsite next to them. This family was unchurched and the father was using some colorful language here and there, and in time the inevitable question was posed, "What line of work are you in?" Upon hearing that he was in the presence of a 'holy man', he became apologetic and a bit embarrassed. My pastor's response was perfect, and I won't quote him directly because I can't remember exactly what he said, and to be honest he probably doesn't either.  Basically he told the man that he wasn't there to judge him. Just because he's a pastor doesn't mean that everyone needs to change their behavior around him and 'act right.' He's just there to be a friend and love people. Period.
That has been my goal ever since.
I've had some neat opportunities to share Christ's love with people that wouldn't normally be open to it, whether it's a homosexual I met doing musical theatre productions, or a co-worker who's language would put a sailor to shame. In both of those cases, when they found out that I was not only a Christian, but a pastor's wife, their reaction was, "And you still talk to me?!?" I'm then able to, forgive the cliché, be Jesus in skin to them.
Jesus Lady. Church Lady. Preacher's Wife. I've been called worse. No matter what I'm called by people, I'm called by God to love others.

I'm not here to judge. I'm here to love.

John 8:7 -- Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Luke 6:37 -- Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.


Karen Lambert said...

I can identify with what you have said today...though I am not married to a pastor, I have experienced the same things from "friends" who are unchurched when they find out I am a Christian. One "gentleman" and I use that term very lightly actually calls me the "church lady" But he still will associate with me. He lost a wife to cancer and has been angry at God for a long time. Became a heavy drinker, into very ungodly behaviors, etc. But never hesitated to send me a good email when he ran across it. At least he was reading it. As time goes by, his 2nd wife had a cancer scare and I have seen a softening in his heart, and even and acknowledgement that God is good. I continue to pray that he will come back to God, and I hope my willingness to be their friends with continue to influence them. Keep up the good work AMY. I love you.

Amy said...

Amy, I am sending your blog to my daughter-in-law. My son is a new pastor and she a new pastor's wife. I know this will be encouraging for her. Many blessings to you for sharing your heart so honestly.
Amy Korthals