Advice to Newlyweds from a (Divorced) Pastor’s Wife

I have had the privilege and shared in the glory of seeing two of my beloved nieces (sisters) get married this past spring, their respective nuptials separated by 9 weeks. (I salute my sister who pulled off these weddings with grace, hilarity and originality.)

My gift to them was a letter of “advice,” written at length,  over a period of weeks, with much thought and prayer. At first I thought being divorced disqualified me from rendering such advice. When I said as much, one of my nieces protested saying, “Aunt Wendy, I think you would have a lot of good advice to give.”

This post is an abbreviation of the letter I wrote my nieces. I render my words to young brides and grooms as one who lived a lifetime in a Christian marriage, while in the public purview of  “ministry,” and whose marriage over time collapsed. I write with humility, with hope, and with the authority that attends the interrogation of suffering.

Many people do not understand how God could help a “pastor’s wife” separate from her husband. I myself could not understand it. But I came to see ultimately that the attendance of my life is not about me. It’s about God. In the same way, the attendance of your precious lives is not about you; it is about God. Your lives, and mine, belong to him and he made them in the just the special way he wanted them to be made to be nourished and fruitful, the way he intends them to be.

Measure Your Words

I read in a book by Frederick Buechner: “words spoken in deep love or deep hate set things in motion in the human heart that can never be reversed.” Appreciate the weight of words, especially if (as is often the case, whatever your vocation) your work and/or ministry depend on words to accomplish its ends. When one uses words constantly, in a professional context, and in a way that is intended to evoke emotion (such as ministry) it is easy for the weight of words to be corrupted, invoking a polished script. The temptation is always to elevate polish at the expense of gravitas and the true force behind words. The words you say to one another, for better or worse, will set things in motion in the human heart that cannot be reversed. Choose your words well.

Time is not benign

There is a trajectory being set for your marriage, even in these earliest days — in fact especially in these earliest days. Time will do its work, again — for better or for worse. Right now, patterns are being developed between you and your spouse that will continue to increase in magnitude over time.

The Little Things Can Kill Us

The little habits that take root in your united life together are either life-giving or are life-draining. They will continue to be a force in your life and in your marriage in increasing measure. The little things set bigger things in motion. Ultimately these habits will establish your destiny. Over time, the patterns win the day or lose it. The weight of sustained destructive patterns ultimately surpasses human limits, and a marriage can collapse. The power of nurturing life-giving patterns will bring about joy and fruitfulness. In either case, there will be bumps along the way. Bumps offer opportunities to set the course aright. Use them well and wisely.

Your Life is a Garden and The Landowner is God

Imagine a landowner (God) who owned a piece of land–let’s call it a garden — which he nourished and cherished (you). He then left his garden to a tenant (husband) to bring it to its fullness and fruitfulness. From this point there are one of two ways the story can go:

The tenant squandered the garden, used it ill, and ruined it. The landowner sent emissaries to claim the fruits of his garden, while the tenant–whose thinking had become perverse–killed the emissaries. The landowner then harshly rebuked the tenant and stripped him of the privilege of watch care of his garden, in order that he himself (God) could reclaim it and restore it, and bring it back to health and fertility.

There is of course another way this story can go:

The tenant can glory in the wonder of the garden, work and tend to it patiently — nourishing and celebrating its fruit. The Landlord is pleased ~ the tenant lives in abundance and . . . the garden grows fuller, richer more beautiful and generous year by year.

Tend Your Garden ~ Be your garden

After all, it belongs to God. He dearly loves it.



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 Celebrate with Wendy on the

Third Anniversary of the Publication of

her Debut Novel, The Warrior King

“thorough, and fascinating” ~ Publishers Weekly

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