Taking my usual seat in church one Sunday, I looked around to observe the people coming in to find their seats before service began. As I looked to my left, I noticed two women, chatting away with huge smiles on their faces, obviously reminiscing about some inside joke that was only funny to a chosen few. I looked to the right, and I saw two older women, embracing in a friendly hug. Although they had just seen each other the other day, their hug indicated they relished the opportunity to see each other again. As I looked down at my hands laced together on top of my lap, I realized that I wasn’t a part of any of the conversations taking place that morning, or many mornings for that matter.
As much as I want to have close friendships, being a pastor’s wife puts up this invisible barrier between me and the people within my church. It’s a wall no one acknowledges but still exists nonetheless. It’s a wall that prevents us from experiencing the same intimate friendships that other members get to enjoy. That wall prevents me from venting to another congregation member when issues and tensions arrive amongst its leadership. It’s also the same wall that prevents me from rejoicing when the church leadership has just voted to move in an exciting new direction. It’s a wall that I try hard to chisel away to see inside people’s hearts. But no matter how hard I do, I only get a glimpse inside, as the wall still covers up the majority of their hearts as well as mine.
I don’t write this to make you, dear reader, feel sorry for me as a pastors’ wife. Although we don’t get to enjoy the gift of fellowship as someone’s friends, we do get to enjoy many aspects of the ministry that no one else enjoys. For example, I get to watch back stage as a member who chooses to publicly dedicate their lives to God immerses themselves in a tub full of warm water to the sound of joyous claps and cheers. It’s also special to console a family as they sit beside a loved one’s bedside who is just a few breaths away from being swept away into the loving arms of Jesus for eternity.
I write this to help you understand the loneliness that plagues a pastor’s wife’s life. It’s part of our responsibility to be everyone’s friend, but in the process we lose the gift of intimacy close relationships give us. The next time you see your pastor’s wife, don’t just wave hello. Take her out for coffee and get to know her. Your friendship is a gift she is waiting to unwrap and enjoy.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a pastor’s wife, a mother, an author, and a speaker. She is a contributing writer for Movieguide Magazine, a community group leader for Incourage, and has been published in numerous places such as Charisma Magazine and Women’s Ministry.net’s Tip of the Week. Please visit her website at www.michellelazurek.com, find her on Facebook at Michelle S. Lazurek or follow her on Twitter @mslazurek. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.