Today’s topic is one that each of us could write about. I have asked one of our pastors’ wives, Patti to share with you the next two weeks on this subject and I believe it will be a blessing to you.
For the longest time I subconsciously rejected the fact that loneliness was a part of being a pastor’s wife. Despite the feelings of loneliness, my head said that it was silly and unnecessary to feel lonely. After all, look at all the people you are surrounded by. On Sundays, an entire congregation of people both in the morning service and evening service, Bible study group of people, prayer meeting, meal fellowships, special conference weeks…How could loneliness mark the life of a pastor’s wife when constantly surrounded by people, more than the average person even? Perhaps you have asked the same question and had these same thoughts?
Well my question was answered in what I think was a most unusual and creative way one Sunday morning at church. From that day forward I have never questioned the loneliness of a pastors’ wife life. I call it my “hiding in plain sight” moment. Below is the event that convinced me.
As is our custom, my husband and I greet at the end of Sunday service in the foyer of the church. Our habit is to greet until the last person has had a chance to come through the line for a handshake, a short conversation or to give a chance for someone to approach in privacy after most folks have left. This leaves us the last standing most Sundays, with the task of shutting off lights and checking locked doors.
This particular Sunday went longer than usual, and once we had bid goodbye to the last person, I ducked into the ladies’ room to use the facilities. My husband had apparently headed to his office to wait for me.
I was not quite finished up in the stall when I heard the door swing open and shut. Suddenly, I was in the pitch dark. Not a single thing was in my sight. Only blackness and me sitting in the bathroom stall. Obviously, someone else had been in the building and came around shutting off lights. Nice try, but one detail missing. Checking to see if anyone was in sight and needing those lights.
Now I am a pretty agile person and quite capable of performing routine tasks but finishing up and finding my way out of the stall in the pitch black was somewhat of a challenge. I felt my way to the door and the light switch and was back in the light.
Once I met up with my husband and revealed my story, we talked about how difficult that could have been on an older person, or someone not as agile and confident to work through the dark. After the logistics of preventing that again were discussed, I settled in on how that made me “feel.” Invisible is how it made me feel. Literally I was “hiding in plain sight.” Such a simple gesture of “Hello…anyone in here…?” would have eliminated that feeling altogether. However, I realized the feeling was a familiar one. One that I had felt over and over again even in the midst of a Sunday morning congregation, a Bible study group, a meal fellowship…It would happen when I would approach a group to say hello and be ignored, it would happen when I was sitting amongst people and no one spoke to me, it would happen when I would attempt to sit down at a meal fellowship only to be told the seats were saved for friends, it would happen when I opened my mouth to reply to the question “how are you?” only to see the back of the person walking away or turning to talk with someone else.
Yes, a familiar feeling of “hiding in plain sight.” Invisible. Loneliness in the midst of many.
I then, as now, fully acknowledge the loneliness we experience as pastors’ wives.
I wonder how many people would accept this as a part of their role in life. My guess is not many.
I am reminded of a story my mother-in-law told many times of the afternoon she was putting our toddler son in his car seat in her car. She accidentally hit his head on the car window frame and before she could get the words “I am sorry” out of her mouth, our son, her beloved first grandchild looked up at her and in all sweet innocence of a toddler looked her right in the eyes and proclaimed, “Grandmom, how you like I do that to you?” She chuckled then and every time she retold that story. Out of the mouths of babes comes truth!
Oh, how many times when I am feeling lonely even in the midst of church people do I want to exclaim the same thing when one more time I have been ignored, dismissed or overlooked.
“How you like I do that to you?”
Now I know I would not actually utter those words, and my guess is neither would you, but I know that’s what is in our heads. But we go on, move on, keep on being pastors’ wives. Loneliness is part of the role we have been entrusted with. God knows we are here and we are not hidden from His sight.
Next week I will share how I have learned to embrace the solitude that is in the midst of those lonely times.
I pray what Patti shared today will encourage you in your loneliness. Our role as a pastor’s wife is unique and many do not understand how we could be lonely when we are surrounded by people but it can be a very lonely life.
We are here to walk with you on your journey in hopes to make it a little less lonely.