To the church family we’ve been graciously given,
The “Pastor’s Wife” can be a withering position. Expectations can run amuck and disappointment can swim deep surrounding who stands next to the pastor every Sunday morning. Whispers and rumors can destroy her spirit, and gossip can eat her alive.
But you have been kind. So very kind. Your expectations, if there, remained unvoiced. Instead of disappointment in your eyes, I’ve found warmth. You’ve given my family space to figure out who we are. We didn’t know what it would be like, and you welcomed us into the fold in a way I never saw coming.
You showed up on moving day before we really knew a soul and stayed late to set up beds and put away silverware. You showered us with giftcards and meals as we set up a new home so very far from everything we’ve known. You became grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to my kids without me ever asking. You offered to babysit for our anniversary so we could go out before we knew anyone to ask. You regularly welcomed us at your tables and told stories that both filled us with joy and despair. Your holidays and celebrations were now ours to share. You’ve been our family at birthday parties and because of you, my kids have never known a day of loneliness in their lives. You brought meals when our son was born. You’ve prayed over him and checked in on him often as we’ve dealt with frustrating digestive issues.
On Sunday mornings while my husband is unavailable, you’ve included my daughter who was too young for your Sunday School class with joy and delight and made her feel confident and courageous. You’ve taken my children to the bathroom, to get a drink, to the nursery and just on a walk when I didn’t have a 3rd (or 4th) hand. You’ve laughed as my children tore past you running wild with their friends. You’ve sat in the nursery with them crying, even when you weren’t scheduled to be there so I could listen to my husband preach. My children have come home smelling like you, after spending the entire service quietly on your lap because I was home with another sick child and they wouldn’t go in the nursery.
You’ve smiled. You’ve hugged. You’ve listened. You’ve prayed. You’ve cared, and you’ve loved us deeply.
I’ve walked a road here I wasn’t always sure how to navigate; in marriage, ministry, and motherhood. Instead of watching and wondering how well I’d do it on my own, you jumped in and walked alongside and cheered me on. Some of you even held me up when I wasn’t sure I could keep it together. You didn’t demand my love and respect or even my presence, but through your unending and consistent love and care I’ve tasted and seen a shadow of the grace of God. Without asking anything in return, you have been a beautiful representation of the kindness of Jesus to me and it is inexplicably bittersweet to be spending our last Christmas this side of Heaven in your fellowship.
Now as we venture into a new wilderness of ministry, you’ve not only granted your permission, but you’ve shouted your affirmation. You’ve rejoiced at God’s work in our lives and proclaimed his goodness in calling us away. Your desire to partner with us from here on out is indescribably humbling. I write with tears of gratitude and heartache streaming.
I now understand more deeply than I ever would otherwise, the emotion behind Paul’s words to the Philippians when he says:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Amen and amen.