By Joy Lear-Bernard
My husband and I visited a church thanksgiving service. We ploughed through the drill of arranging childcare, sorting evening supper, bedtime routines done ahead of time, dressing ready for the invitation and we were set to go. I’ll say at this point a nice evening gown and beautiful restaurant would have been my chosen date night, but I openly went to enjoy the fellowship and let’s face it sometimes we have to take a date where we can get a date!
Greeted at the door as ‘first lady,’ I down patted my dry humor and resisted looking behind me for the second! (I even comically assigned my invisible second lady the role of cleaning washing and cooking. Now wouldn’t that be nice!) I should say at this point I’ve learned what no one tells you: a pastor’s wife learns quickly that some humor and comments stay firmly inside our head “For the sake of the ministry,” and there did mine that evening!
As we got seated I yearned so desperately to hear from God and connect with his people. I basked in the worship songs and just wanted to hide away. Oh how I craved a time for just sensing God’s presence. I was spent, isolated and worn. I carried this backpack of weariness so naturally I only felt its weight as I stood still before God. “Lord I’m so tired and broken!”
The speaker suggested we all find someone and begin to pray with them. I had already waved a friendly ‘Hi’ to the pastor’s wife nearby but at this point she scooted over to me, and then it happened.
As we held hands an unrestrained and unpredicted burst of prayers and tears overwhelmed us in mirroring fashion. We felt a cave of burden that neither of us had expressed verbally. A gush of lament and pain surged out of us until our knees buckled and our faces wetted with release.
The young expectant Mary had to journey some way to the pregnant Elisabeth in scripture. And the sameness of purpose in them leapt in unison. And just like them, we two women found ourselves vacuumed together by experience with the power of prayer and connection defeating the wiles of the enemy, unloading the heavy backpack and sharing a powerful moment.
Connection is important, imperative, vital. I’ve no doubt any given person in that room could have approached me and prayed with tender care and I likewise, yet there is something incredible about the cries made with sheer burden and understanding. It is why we have community. It is why we do and should seek out safe ‘Elisabeths’ in our sphere. ‘She’ needs us as much as we need her. Maybe she is older, wiser, different but she needs you as she navigates the terrain of her own season.
That day I went home lighter. Without saying a word I was understood. I was free.
I pray today tears of burden and empathy will gush from us for another as pastor’s wife. Whether on our knees from a million miles away or over a hot cup in a coffee shop, he sets us in families of likeness. May we never be left alone.
If you feel alone today, take confidence that someone has you on their mind, in their prayers, and before God’s throne. You are not alone. Reach out ask God for your Elisabeth and watch the burdens lift.