why I'm afraid I'll never be a good pastor's wife...

>> February 2, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is a wife to Pastor Jose, and mother to Toby. Adel is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal, and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This deeply transparent post was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and stories. 
Disclaimer: When I wrote this, I'd just had an "aha" moment where I realized that my sense of unfitness isn't from trying to meet someone else's or my own unreasonable expectations. Rather, my feeling of being misplaced has to do with my own belief system. This is in no way an effort to discredit or discourage pastors, or even an attempt to justify my stance. It's simply venting my confusion...

Whenever I say to someone that I don't feel like a good pastor's wife, I'm asked what I expect a pastor's wife to look like and if I'm trying to meet an unreasonable standard.

I don't know how to answer.

I'm the biggest believer in "being myself" and yet, strangely, I have found it virtually impossible to be true and honest in the position I am in. How does a pastor's wife struggle with challenges in her own relationship with God without discouraging others? How does a woman with a quick, sarcastic sense of humor CONSTANTLY bite her tongue? How does a pastor's wife take hugs from people who are professionals at back-stabbing her husband?

The answer, of course, is to love as God loves, but sometimes that's easier said than done. In the meantime, I can be the picture of serenity and sweetness while inside I am a brewing volcano of frustration. Or suppressing laughter for some irony I've noticed that would be scandalous to point out.

Of one thing I am convinced: I desperately need to experience God's love so that I can be more gracious with others. That is something that I EARNESTLY pray for, and often I am so discouraged by my own hardness!!!!

But I'm sure I'm not the first pastor's wife to struggle with that.

There's also a deeper and more perplexing reason I'm afraid I'll never fit in the pastor's wife role. Deep down, I'm afraid I don't really believe in pastoring. I have such a hard time believing that so many Godly, educated, able-bodied men need to babysit populations of informed, capable, well-groomed pew-warmers while more than half of the world is starving to know about Jesus. I wish that the last 4 1/2 years had convinced me of the need for such a thing, but instead I have seen congregations in which part of the people resist leadership while those who don't resist are mature enough to lead themselves (and maybe some overlap between the two).

As I understand it, (at least in the worldwide denomination we serve) roughly 10% of American resources go to reach the 60% of the world that is untouched by the gospel. That means 90% of money, supplies, and people-power is spent on the 40% who are Christians or who already know about Christianity and don't want to be Christians.

That is a really big deal to me, and I can't seem to get over it no matter how much I pray for contentment in the role that I am in. "No one should hear the gospel twice," says a friend of ours, "as long as there are people who have never heard it once." Believe me, I see an allegory of this played out every week at potluck (especially at the dessert table). I believe in this strongly.

But I am obviously missing something, because I believe God led us into pastoral ministry, and that He has continued to do so. I've been waiting a long time for the Mission Boat to pick me up, and all the while God has gently been saying to me, "Wrong boat, honey, at least for now." I pick up mission magazines and I don't read them because they make me cry. I can't understand this passion, this burden in my heart that I believe God has put there.

For me, pastoral work and what I have firmly believed is "my overseas mission calling" have been in direct conflict. But this is where God put me. It is agonizing, and confusing. It has taken its toll on my faith.

I don't know what the future holds. God MUST put love in my heart. Will He fill in the missing piece of my belief system so that I see pastoral work as more of a valid and necessary calling? Will I be a pastor's wife forever?? I'm trying SO HARD not to think of that right now! Sometimes I'm thankful I can't see into the future.

Whatever it is, it's in God's hands. Today I'm taking it one day at a time, walking through the doors that open, praying to be a better wife and mother, and learning to trust that God will save the World (with or without me).

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Anonymous,  February 2, 2011 at 10:15 PM  

I admire your honesty and your tenacity toward God. I'm forty and we have been pastoring for ten years, and I have often had the same frustration. But I'm also realizing that many of the people in our churches, though well intentioned, have no idea how to live for Christ. They've heard the gospel, but there is a huge gap in their understanding when it comes to applying it to their lives. So I thank God that we get to be full-time disciple makers, sharing our passion, and hoping that God will send some of them into the world harvest.

Adel February 8, 2011 at 2:46 PM  

Thank you, anon. I know it's true. It just feels so futile sometimes, but I also realize one is likely to feel those feelings of futility in any line of ministry.

Anonymous,  May 30, 2011 at 7:36 AM  

Thank you for sharing so candidly. The things you wrote touched my heart. I am also struggling with the feeling of conflict. I can't figure out how the passion I've felt inside for so long can be so out of reach now where it seems God has led my husband and I. And as I search for a way to find peace and contentment I've found myself dealing with emotions and frustration that overwhelm me. I really appreciate you opening your heart and sharing this.

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