Saturday, January 25, 2014

the messiness of magic

The beautiful snow is melting and I see the dirty plastic bags of old mulch piled in the corner of the kitchen garden. It's messy. And I'm looking at the messy, but my mind is also seeing it with the snow piled high and hiding all of the imperfections and dirt and cracks and I'm remembering how fairy tale and ethereal the sight has been the past couple of days. And I'm quite okay with the messy because that is really a small price to pay for the magic.

Then I wince and shudder as my mind hears the words that have zinged and darted and catapulted from the bow and arrow and replays the pictures of expressions and averted eyes and disdainful head tilts and for a minute I am hopeless because of the messy that will probably always leave a stain even after it has been cleaned and cleared away. But the view backward and the view forward have huge piles of redemption and mercy and heaven and Spirit Song and soft, white blankets of forgiveness and from somewhere deep inside I am reminded that the magic doesn't even exist without the messy.

And in that mysterious, Divine way the King James English described as "quickening," the red letters lift up and drift off the pages of Luke 6 and I can almost feel the grass between my fingers as my spirit sits down to listen to the relevant, 21st-century sermon on the side of the mountain and verses 27 - 36 begin to fall softly and cover the messiness of my humanity with the magic of the spiritual.

And my heart practically bursts from within as I realize that the beautiful covering of mercy and redemption have again completely covered the muddy glob of the ugliness of the sin nature wearing my clothes and walking in my shoes so I am free to rejoice and laugh and sing and love and celebrate my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ because it is covering their messiness, too.

Luke chapter 6 verse 31:
"And as ye would that men should do to you,
do ye also to them likewise"

© 2009-2014 by Melani Brady Shock

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

20 Bewares for the Minister's Wife

It is the sum total of our lives which make us who we are.  It is our response to the good, the bad, the blessings, the curses, the nice, the ugly, the happy, the celebrations, and the grief that shape us and mold us and create the beings we become.

After having been in ministry for over 40 years and married to a minister for almost 30 years, there are a few things I wish I would have known without having to learn it the hard way.  I know we learn our lessons better by experience, but on the off chance that someone just might be able to learn by instruction, I am listing a few of the things of which someone walking this same ministry/minister's wife road might want to beware.  These are not in any particular order and are not all things I had to personally experience.  Hopefully, you won't have to experience all of them, either.

Beware of:

1. ANYTHING that takes the place of your Morning Time with God.  (See the post, "Filter of First").

2. Establishing your identity based on your husband's position.

3. Striving to achieve significance/acceptance/approval based on what you DO rather than on what you ARE.

4. Saying ANYTHING negative about your husband in public.

5. Being Über sensitive to criticism of your husband.

6. Women who would attempt to gain your husband's attention.

7. Driving your husband crazy with jealousy.

8. Constantly supplying your husband with details of what the church people are doing (Facebook/Twitter/IG).

9. Wanting to know details of your husband's counseling sessions/church business.

10. Trying to imitate someone else. NOBODY has your history/talents/anointing/experience/husband/home/children/etc).

11. Playing your role without being your role.

12. Concentrating on your weaknesses.  Build on your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.  Nobody has it all.

13. Cheating on recharging your inner self.  Introverts recharge alone, extroverts recharge with people.  You cannot change what recharges and what drains you.  Make sure you recharge on a regular basis.  Don't wait until you are empty--radical things usually happen.

14. Being too quick to defend your children.

15. Being too slow to defend your children.

16. Presenting ministry to your kids as exhausting, frustrating, stressful, a bad life.

17. Resenting the ministry and your husband's involvement in it.  (The key to this is making sure the communication between you and your husband is healthy, clear, and consistent.)  Embrace the good and come to terms with the unpleasant.  Every lifestyle has negatives.

18. Searching out spiritual answers from peers.  They are in the same stage of life with the same questions and frustrations.  The Bible specifically addresses this in Titus 2.  Search out someone who has been there--not those who are trying to figure out where they are.

19. Feeling inferior to older/wiser/opinionated women. Love, kindness, and respect covers a lot.  Never be ashamed of your stage of life.

20. Attempting to "instruct" without experience.  Every stage can share the goodness and love of God.  But attempting to instruct the widow stage when you are a young married is not wise.  Instructing moms of teens while yours are in diapers can also create a problem.  Never be afraid to talk about where you have been, but it is best to defer if asked to address where you have never been.

This list could continue on indefinitely; however, you are probably at your limit of reading a blog post.

As you ponder some things of which you should beware, also consider one of those cheesy quotes from Pinterest that just happens to ring quite true, "Forget what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you."

If you like, feel free to add your own "beware" in a comment below.

© 2009-2014 by Melani Brady Shock

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I am a preacher's wife...

I am a preacher's wife.

Five words that carry a thousand possibilities and unanswered questions and negatives and positives with very few black-and-white pieces to the puzzle.  Five words that confuse, clarify, misrepresent, and identify.  Five words that can be embraced, rejected, celebrated, or mourned, but cannot be ignored nor refused nor resigned.

I am a preacher’s wife.

I am young and pretty!  In love and a newlywed, I am on a quest for my identity.  Will I be nurturing or ambitious? Will I be a conformist or a radical?  Will I build my identity around my position or build my position around my identity?  I often base my authority upon my title rather than my experience and, consequently, end up hurt and disillusioned by those whom I am called to serve.   I am watching and observing, wanting to be everything God wants for me to be, but not quite sure who that is.  More than anything, I need for older, more seasoned members of my congregation not to write what I say in stone.  Allow me to grow, to become, to mature.

I am a preacher's wife.

As I settle in to my new life and start my family, I am often overwhelmed by all things pastoral.  If I am involved in the ministries of the church, I find it hard to balance my home, my family, and my duties in those ministries.  If I work a secular job, I often become resentful of my job or my family or my husband or my little ones or my church or, sometimes, all of the above.  I pray, but am exhausted and try not to think about the fact that Jesus was a man and not a woman and didn’t have a spouse or family.  I thank God when my husband is understanding of my plight and often wonder who I can trust to help guide me when I am at odds with him because of the sheer weight of the burden.  Somehow my identity has become that of a mom and a maid, and I am convinced this season of my life is eternal.

I am a preacher's wife.

My children have become teenagers, and I look in the mirror and wonder when I became so old.  I am busy trying to teach my children how to have character and integrity, to love God and keep His commandments, to make good decisions and right choices as they begin to venture forth into the world on their own.  It is so hard for them to figure out who they are if they are continually reminded by the members of the congregation who their father is.  I sometimes resent the interference in our family life and wish my children could receive the grace that we have extended to the children of those creating the angst.  I’m not really concerned at all with my identity at this point, because I am a mother hen and nothing—not church, nor husband, nor identity—comes before my children.  I am finding that with more age comes less patience, and I become bolder in my interactions than I was in my younger years.   Many times, I am weary with the weight of it all and have to work at controlling my tongue and my reactions in order not to create more problems for my husband.

I am a preacher's wife.

I am tired.  I would much prefer to stay home with the grandchildren and just go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays.  Motivation and being stirred are not words that move me much anymore.  Been there, done that.  Bless you, dear.  If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that it will all be here again tomorrow.  And next Sunday.  And next month.  And the wheels will keep on turning, and it will all be as it was.  I’ve earned my place; let the younger ones do it.

I am a preacher's wife.

We retired last month, and he’s now the Bishop.  It’s nice to be able to travel about and let someone else shoulder the burden for a while.  We’re enjoying our golden years.  He spends hours in his study, and I enjoy helping out where I’m needed when necessary.  We’re enjoying the reduced stress and the lighter schedule.

I am no longer a preacher's wife.

He passed away six weeks ago.  I feel so lost.  I didn’t just lose my husband, I lost my entire identity.  Who am I?  What is my purpose here in this world?  What needs can I meet within my circle, my sphere, my environment, my world?  I based my growth on who he was.  We connected with our friends at the conferences, meetings, and special services.  I feel so out of place going there alone now.  Where to from here?  

Are you a preacher's wife?

It’s never too late for you to be better, to grow, to minister as you.  Your identity as a whole, emotionally healthy woman who knows who she is, where she is, and where she is going will complete him more fully than you ever could as an insecure, indecisive, unmotivated companion.  Your personal pursuit of God and the things of God which have nothing to do with your husband nor your congregation will catapult you into that celestial realm of fulfillment and God-relationship that no human companion can ever give.

I am a pastor’s wife.

I have an opportunity to partner with an incredible calling.  I will do so with prayer, with enthusiasm, and with gratitude.  But I will make sure that if called upon to stand alone, I can do so with integrity, conviction, and grace.

I am a pastor's wife.

What an honorable place from which to grow.