I rarely talk about the stress of being a pastor's wife. My main reason? Because I am truly so incredibly, almost indescribably thankful that God has called Bruce and I to serve Him this way. Hopefully, I would be just as thrilled and thankful if He had called me to do something else....because I don't really believe one job is more important than any other if you're totally willing to do what God wants you to at that job.
However, I do believe there are stresses involved in ministry that (humbly speaking) only other people in the same shoes as you can fully understand. I would also say, this is true for whatever job you have. For instance, the stay at home mom has stresses that no one understand except others who also stay at home full time. The garbage man has to meet deadlines and deal with issues we don't even know about. We often find ourselves wishing for different roles, but let's be honest, every role involves it's own stress, deadlines, time restrictions....
I was looking at a few blogs the other days trying to find the right Bible study for the ladies at my church this winter. In my searching I came across this article about a pastor's wife who had committed suicide just days ago. It broke my heart. On the outside, everything looked fine, people believed she could change the world, she was successful, a mom, a grandmother, business owner, creative pastor's wife. And as I sat there reading, I thought of the many women I know that are juggling the weight of the world or their family or their church or their business on their shoulders....and realize how quickly it can all change.
I don't know what prompted this pastor's wife to commit suicide. I don't have to know. What I do know is that sometimes, in ministry and other places, people can be mean, the enemy can feed us lies, we can believe them, the burden of keeping up a spiritual appearance can be more than we can handle, we can get depressed, discouraged and completely consumed with negative, destructive thoughts. And those thoughts lead to actions...and sometimes even death.
Thankfully Jesus Christ is the answer to all those overwhelming thoughts that can consume us quickly. His Word provides every single answer that we need to overcome this world. Yes, counselors help (my mom is a great one) but she will tell you in a heartbeat, the root of all these negative actions is our own sin or the consequences of someone else's sin. The enemy wants us to get bogged down and discouraged and depressed and overcome. And in ministry...where you give of yourself, your time, your talents and your husband and yes, even of your children, it can become too much.
My heart aches for the many people I know that have been hurt in ministry. Imperfect people, who at some point in their lives felt God asking them to surrender all and go, preach, baptize and make disciples for Me, feed My sheep, take up your cross and follow Me. It's sad to watch them walk away from that call, that commission, that zeal they once had.
But what can we do? I have no real answers...on suggestions...but maybe if we become a more loving, caring body of Christ, that extends God's grace to those in leadership and those in the pew. Not ignoring or turning the other way when we need to address sin, but lovingly facing each other in agape love, shoulder to shoulder, iron sharpening iron, building up and strengthening each other, not esteeming ourselves higher than the other. Growing, learning and loving. Maybe if we have a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives to say an encouraging word, extend our arms to hug each other, offer a shoulder to cry on or lean on. Maybe we would see more people totally willing and excited about giving their all to Christ's service.
And for those in ministry, my heart screams out sometimes to CHEER UP! God could have called anyone to do your job but He called you! Be excited about what God is doing around you. Be in love with the Savior. Let people know He's the greatest thing that has ever happened to you. Be glad that your job happens to be helping care for the sheep....the beloved sheep...the bride of Christ....the church. What a responsibility to take hold of! Look at life through eternity's eyes. Don't be easily offended or you'll never make it! Give people room to mess up...after all isn't that what we all want...a little grace? Be REAL.....and smart. Let people know you're human but be smart enough to realize some will use this against you. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. He's strong...He can carry you...your burdens, your failures, your children and spouse, your thoughts.....all of it. He's got it.
As for this family who has suffered such loss. I'm praying that someone close to them is being the body of Christ during this gut wrenching time. No matter the circumstances, she was a mom and a wife and a grandmother who leaves behind people with questions and heartache. May God's peace envelope them.