By Tracy McCarty
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV)
We believe these words, right? In fact, as pastors’ wives, you may have even spoken them to someone else to give comfort or encouragement. Why then do so many of us refuse to think that they apply to us as well? I realize this way of thinking is not exclusive to pastor’s wives, but as we begin a new year, I want to give these words back to YOU as comfort and encouragement.
Twenty-one years ago Ryan and I stepped into a life of ministry together, and together we were…ALL THE TIME! Well, I guess maybe not ALL, but definitely MOST. It was a crazy, whirlwind time, but loads of fun as well.
But that season changed when we had Reagan. Oh, we tried to keep doing things like we had in the previous season, but Reagan was not a very easy-going child to put it mildly. I think she cried fairly consistently for a good ten months! At six months old we took her on a weeklong youth trip with us. Let’s just say it about did our marriage in.
I loved being a new mom, but I’ll admit I missed the old season as well. The old season was the FIRST season that I ever had as a wife to Ryan, so it was special to me.
Fast forward 21 years, and I can now say that there have been MANY seasons that I have been through: a season of a young wife, a season of a new mom, a season of having multiple children at home, a season of being a stay-at-home mom, a season of being a work-from-home mom, a season of being a work-out-of-the-home mom, a season of being an employee at the same church as Ryan, etc. Some of these seasons have even been repeated as my life has woven in and out of each one. And there will be many more and varied seasons to come.
The season that is just now ending, however, has been one of the hardest seasons for me to swallow in my capacity as a pastor’s wife. It’s a season that I sure wish someone would have told me years ago that I would one day experience. And that they would have assured me was okay. That I was still okay.
For the past four years I have been in a season (gosh, this feels like more of a confession) in which I have been VERY minimally involved in our church. Eeekk!!! It’s not that I have done NOTHING, but compared to all the years prior, it sure feels that way.
My involvement in our church has always been a HUGE part of who I am. Now granted, when Ryan changed from Youth Ministry to Senior Preaching Ministry eight years ago, that in itself shifted my role. However, I was involved in many other ministries besides those with our teenagers.
But everything came to a screeching halt a little over four and half years ago. You see, that was when our oldest daughter, Reagan, started junior high. From that point on, both of our girls have been in different schools from each other. And living outside the school system, that requires a driver. It also introduced sports schedules, choir practices, homework sessions, etc.–none of which Reagan could drive to herself.
When you leave our home, you go east to get to the town where the schools are, but you go WEST to get to the town our church is in. So through process of elimination, you can guess that all this driving and schedule juggling landed mostly on MY plate.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly LOVE watching my girls in these extra-curricular activities! The driving schedule just started conflicting regularly with a plethora of church functions that I had previously either participated in or led myself. And suddenly, the Senior Minister’s wife was nowhere to be found. (Not Sundays though. That was a personal choice our family made to not be in anything that conflicted with Sunday mornings.)
After awhile, people started noticing my absence and commenting on it. And to be honest, I felt like a big, fat, FAILURE! I was letting the church down! I was a miserable specimen of a preacher’s wife!
Here is what no one told me, what I am telling YOU, whether you are going through that season now or will be in the future:
IT IS OKAY!!!!
Who made the seasons anyway? “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years.’” (Genesis 1:14 NASB) Creation was MADE to have SEASONS! And YOU are God’s creation too.
In Indiana we have all four seasons in full force. Right now, we are in the heart of Winter. It’s cold. It’s still. It’s dormant. But it does have a beauty of its own. If it weren’t for Winter, I would never appreciate the fresh start of Spring. Spring is a lot of work! I could easily be burdened by the demands of Spring outside our home, but instead, I roll up my sleeves and get out my gardening gloves, energized to get to work by the dormancy of Winter.
This season of winter in my ministry has come to an end as well. Reagan can drive! That simple fact alone has changed my season. And I am EXCITED to roll up my sleeves, put on my gloves and get down and dirty serving in the church again.
But here is something else that I realized. Even though I may not have been physically present in as many ministries at our church as I would have liked to have been, I WAS still VERY active in ministry during this winter season. You see, even though no one else may realize it, I know that for Ryan to have been the man and the minister that God called him to be these past four years, I NEEDED to be the woman and pastor’s wife that I have been during this time. In a sense, I had to do less in the church so that he could do more. And God has definitely blessed that!
So if you are in a winter season in your own ministry right now, don’t fret! Spring WILL come again one day. In the meantime, be a person who delights in God’s Word and meditates on it day and night like the Psalmist describes. “That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit IN SEASON and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3 NIV)
Just as the seasons come and go each year, I now know that there will most likely be a ministry winter again one day, and next time I’ll be ready, knowing that IT IS OKAY!
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With over 20 years as a pastor’s wife, Tracy openly shares her life–combining humor, raw honesty and a passion for God’s Word to touch today’s women. If you would like to read more of Tracy’s blogs, go to her website at tracy-mccarty.com