While I am equipping ministry leaders in Guam, I’m privileged to feature a post from my friend Shannon Milholland here at FaithWalkers. Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.
She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.
I’ll admit he was handsome. But I immediately noticed his tan line. No doubt he was one of those creepy guys who took off his ring at the office to take advantage of unsuspecting, desperate, needy women. I was determined to fall into none of those categories.
My marriage crumbling, I found myself in a new life, in a new city, at a new job. He was one of my coworkers. He stopped by my office daily to check out my office supplies…and just maybe the girl who handled them. It was around day 30 I heard he was going through a divorce. Behind his happy façade, I saw a dark, hopeless heart.
One day I felt the nudge of God to share Jesus with him. Timidly, I simply asked him if he wanted hope. Six months after I offered him hope, he accepted Jesus’ offer of forgiveness. Six months later, he offered me a diamond ring.
Today I tease my husband I might have reconsidered his proposal had I known it would lead to life as a ministry wife. Five years into our marriage, he walked away from a lucrative career as an insurance executive to invest his God-given leadership in the body of Christ. He became the Chief Operating Officer of a church. I became his wife.
Pastor’s wives share a common, secret world. We cover wounds inflicted by lovers of God. We wear loneliness. We feel invisible. Today, I want to invite you into our world. This is the true confession of a pastor’s wife.
I Want You to Notice Me
Jesus turned and saw her. Matthew 9:22
She watches for the new family who visits. She scouts the crowd for the woman who hurts. She looks out for her husband’s best interest.
One hundred percent of pastor’s wives were someone before they married the leader of the flock. She had a promising career, was the first chair in band or the head cheerleader. She was known and she was seen. Now she’s Mrs. Shepherd. She longs for you to see her – as a separate, distinct, gifted individual. Let her know you appreciate God’s gifts in her.
I Want You to Love Me
And to know this love that surpasses knowledge. Ephesians 3:19
She holds the hand of the woman whose husband cheats. She hosts the shower for the soon-coming baby. She handles details great and small.
But when her house is quiet and her mind has time to think she wonders. Who will hold her hand? Who would visit her in the hospital? Is she loved?
Life as a pastor’s wife is one of lonely service. She has burdens she can’t share. She has secrets she can’t tell. But like all of us, she deeply desires to be loved. Even her husband cannot fill this space. Her heart was designed for female companionship and she yearns for faithful friends who truly love. Give her the freedom and safety to have some.
I Want You to Encourage Me
Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
She champions her husband when others criticize. She’s first to give and last to leave. She cheerleads the building campaign and thanks the nursery workers. She rocks babies but not the boat.
But her children aren’t perfect and her marriage partner sure isn’t either. Sometimes her clothes are too tight and so is her budget. Her brain is too dull and her tongue too sharp. She needs you to offer her and her family the same grace you give others. She hungers for words of encouragement. Tell her how much you appreciate her.
In His ministry, Jesus took time to see those overlooked by the world. Why not go to church this weekend with new eyes? You might just notice a woman who gets the kids ready every week without her husband’s help, who serves behind the scenes and not on stage and who quietly cares for and carries the burdens of her church.
© 2013 Shannon Milholland, all rights reserved
What ways have you found to come alongside the wife of a pastor? What would you add to this confession of the life of a pastor’s wife? Leave a comment below to help us all grow with abundant faith.