“If you tell Lisa something, are you sure that she will not tell others?” the pastor asked his wife. They were dealing with a tricky church situation that could turn into a huge mess. Gossip needed to be minimized so that the situation could be dealt with privately. “Oh yes, Lisa is a vault.” This pastor’s wife trusted me with her secrets. I was her friend. She knew that I would pray for her and not gossip about her.
I can’t imagine what it is like to be a pastor’s wife. Your husband has a job in full-time ministry and is putting in more than a 40 hour workweek. Yet somehow the wife must also meet the many expectations of the church. She should lead the ladies ministry, graciously entertain church members at home, never show anger or weakness, and serve tirelessly. I’ve heard that is a lonely position, as the wife has few trusted friends in whom to confide when she is struggling.
I live my life by a spreadsheet that tells me what to do each day. It tells me my chores, the phone calls I need to make, what time I need to leave to make it to the doctors office on time, what errands to run, what friends I need to text, and when to rest. Every night I make my schedule for the following day, and the next day I just follow the plan.
My life has been much the same way. I graduated from high school and went off to college. Then I graduated from college and got a job. Next I got engaged, then married and had 2.0 children. I became a stay at home mom and homeschooled them. Then they went to college and left me…with an empty nest.
And with absolutely no plan for what to do next.
I quietly rolled over in bed, trying not to wake up my husband. We were on vacation, and I was doing my darnedest to let him sleep until 7 am. So I did what I usually do when I awake early: think and pray. I prayed for friends who were struggling, friends who were sick, and for family members who needed help.
Then I began to pray for my fledgling speaking ministry. As I prayed, I felt a familiar knot in the pit of my stomach. All of my hopes and aspirations were rolled up in that pang of uncertainty about my future.
I walked around my house chanting, “I am braver than I think. I am braver than I think.” I didn’t feel brave, but I was trying to convince myself that I was. My heart was in my throat, and I felt sure that I was going to have a panic attack. My 18 year old son wanted to drive to a friend’s house for the first time. The friend’s house was on a busy city street that was near “the projects” on the other side of the railroad tracks. And it was dark outside. I was desperately trying to be brave, but all I could envision was him being lost in the city in the dark in the projects. I was an emotional mess.