Dear Pastor's Wife

Dear Pastor’s Wife: The Things They Never Told Us

Dear Pastor’s Wife,

I had surgery recently, and it’s given me some extra time to think about pain and healing…specifically about the part they never told me would happen after surgery. I’ve also had some time to write, and it’s been awhile since I wrote you a new letter.

So….it’s like this: I was well prepared for what would actually be done in my body during the surgery. But here’s what I wasn’t prepared for:

The brain fog, desensitization, and other negative effects of anesthesia {both physical and emotional.}

A week of stabbing, searing pain from the gas they fill you up with {the nurse told me it would feel like a heart attack and it did….for about 10 days.}

How hard it would be to walk and stand up straight for the better part of two weeks.

How long it takes the body to heal internally {thus the 6 week limit of lifting no more than 10 pounds.}

In the wake of essentially having 4 stab wounds (also known as incisions), suddenly normal things like turning over in bed or getting up from the couch became a royal occasion with many carefully planned steps involved.

After poring over my paperwork from the hospital, and finding nothing to answer my questions regarding the issues they conveniently forgot to tell me about, I turned to several fabulous friends of mine who are nurses. “Is this normal? How long should I expect_______ to be present? Here’s what’s going on…should I be concerned?”

Turns out, my experience has been normal. {well, relatively so.}

I’m seeing daily improvement now. But depending on what kind of surgery, those rough weeks can last a lot longer than I’ve just experienced. And it’s turned my mind toward the hurting, healing phases we find ourselves in in ministry.

Sometimes the hurting, healing phase can last for years. I’ve experienced this- you probably have too. Really, the trials that we face alter our lives forever and shape who we are in a way that keeps us healing and changing for the long term.

Immediately after a painful resignation or a difficult church struggle, we sting and smart. We live conflicted.

It hurts to do simple things like walk through the doors of a church, and it hurts to walk out of the doors of our church.

It hurts to sing a song, and it hurts to not sing anymore because the tears always push through so hard.

It hurts to see a post on FB from someone in our former church, and it hurts to not see what is happening at that church.

It hurts to sit in the pew when we’re used to serving, and it hurts to serve when we just want to sit down and process our pain.

It hurts to tear ourselves away from the people we’ve given our lives for, and it hurts to stay and love those same people.

We live conflicted because what we deeply loved has brought a pain we couldn’t even imagine surviving.

These are the things they never told us. Mentors? College professors? Former pastors? Pastoral parents? Who of us was fully prepared for the hurts to come from within, from our own loved people? These are the things that can’t be articulated very well with words. These are the things we learn by experience.

These are the things that only a suffering Saviour can whisper into our hearts.

Only the One Who gave Himself for His church can give the grace needed to His under shepherds and wives to put aside their own ambitions and make decisions for the good of the church, often causing themselves exhaustion and pain.

Only the One Who took upon Himself the form of a servant can give strength to His servants to actually be treated like servants, and still keep serving.

Only the One Who took sin upon Himself can bear up the shoulders of His pastors and wives who bear the sin of others via false accusation.

Only the One Who loves sacrificially and unconditionally can infuse a love into his shepherds and wives so that, when they are hurt by the sheep, they grieve in love instead of defending in hate.

Only the One Who opened not his mouth can give closed lips to his servants who could say so much…but don’t.

Only the One Who poured out His soul unto death can refresh and replenish so that the already-poured-out pastor’s wife can pour out yet again to the one in front of her who needs prayer, or an encouraging word.

Only the One Who was devastatingly betrayed can give poise and grace to cover the pain and shame of the betrayal of someone trusted, someone who worked closely on staff.

Oh yes. There are things they never told us. And somehow I believe that this is by design.

These are the things they couldn’t tell us.

Jesus. Only Jesus. For every pain, for every searing word that comes back to haunt when night falls…for every betrayal, for every lie and for every brutal wound…Jesus shows His wounds, received first so that we could follow in His steps.

Take a moment to meditate on this beautiful passage:

“…But when you do good, and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. {Let that sink in again? We are called to suffer for doing right. The example to follow is the suffering Saviour.}

Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;

Who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him Who judges righteously.;

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness- by whose stripes you were healed.

For you were like sheep going astray, but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:20-25

Friend, don’t be blindsided or sidelined by the things they never told you. It’s a part of ministry that only Jesus can accurately share in with you.

He will lend a perfect understanding that your experiences are what His experiences were….what’s more, His presence is an amazing peace in the midst of that thing that is tearing your heart apart. And, the days will come when it doesn’t hurt so much. Jesus- Himself the Healer- will see to it.


A Kindred Spirit

P.S. Join me in November for 3 hope-filled days together!