I recently had the opportunity to come alongside a pastor’s wife whose world had turned upside down and so unjustly.
Her husband was a Worship/Youth Pastor and found out before Christmas that his position was being eliminated without any warning. The hurt and pain they experienced from the staff was almost unbearable.
She recently poured her heart out on paper in a blog but because of the sensitive situation she did not want to publish it where those that caused the hurt would read it and accuse her of being bitter. But she shared it with us in our private Facebook group for pastors’ wives and I asked if I could use it without names and cities because I believe her rawness and transparency will bless many of you in similar situations.
Greetings family and friends. Many of you have been asking how we are doing, what is new and how is life? Well, let me tell you, it is nothing like we anticipated or ever hoped for.
I wish I could follow that up with – it is so much better – but it is not. If I’m being real with you, right now life kind of stinks. So, if you wish to know more, read on.
It has been a little over two months since we left our last church, and headed west to another town. The day we left our home was horrible, for many reasons. Perhaps the most difficult was watching helpless from my rearview mirror while our 5-year-old cried uncontrollably from his car seat because he didn’t want to leave “his home.” Try as I might, I couldn’t hold back my own tears and the reassuring, “It’s going to be Ok,” I uttered from the front seat as we drove out of town. I knew that was an outright lie. I wanted to believe it was going to be OK, but his world, the world of my children, my husband and my world, was ripped apart and turned upside down and we didn’t know what was next or where we were going to land.
What we did/do know is that I have a job in our new location that provides us an income, but does not cover our expenses. Did you know that when you own a home and then have to rent a home that is nearly 2/3 more than your mortgage you will wipe through any savings you have rather quickly?
So, we are living in a nice, albeit expensive house that we are renting. Our boys are now sharing a room – a 15—year-old and a 5-year-old in the same bedroom is dandy let me tell you. Most of our belonging are still in our garage (a more expensive house does not equal a bigger house). The big yard and tree house that my husband worked 3 years to finish is no longer visible to them from the kitchen window and no longer their safe place to go and “get away from it all.” And let me tell you, all of us need that time.
My husband has been unable to find work either in ministry or in the secular world. This man has applied for every job out there, from cook to cleaner, you name it. He is always too experienced. (When you show up dressed professionally against those in p.j. pants they pick the one in p.j. pants because they think either you won’t stay at the job, or you have too much experience/brains.) Our other dilemma is school hours. My youngest son goes to and gets home from school an hour before the older two, so someone has to get him and be with him. We are choosing not to let our kids be Latch Key kids (home alone by themselves). They have given up enough in all of this and I refuse to make it so they have to raise themselves too.
My job keeps me busy, as in most weeks 50 plus hours. I am lucky to get home in time to sit at the table for dinner and then it is right back to work on my computer. This leaves me about 1 hour of the day to see and interact with my 5-year old. For a little boy who was used to having his mommy there it has been very difficult. If I am lucky my older two children have their homework done, and I may get to sit with them for a few minutes before they are headed to bed.
My older children are attending schools much larger than they ever have. For example, my son may be in the marching band at his new school and the band is larger than his entire graduating class in our last location. He has yet to make any friends. (I think he is still sitting alone at lunch.) My daughter talks about girls at school, but never mentions anyone by name and says she hasn’t made any friends really. Both ask constantly if they can have their friends from our previous town over, which is difficult when you live an hour away.
There have been some very dark moments for all of us. For me, more so than I care to admit. I have sought the counsel of a pastor and his wife to help me through this time. One thing I have learned is that we are in a grieving process and while we expect the world to hurt us, we don’t expect God’s people to. They recommended a great book that I have begun reading, “Wounded by God’s People” by Anne Graham Lotz. I highly recommend it.
What we have been blessed with in these last couple months are some things that we are holding tightly to. We started attending a great church that has welcomed us, loved on us and, though they don’t know it, helped us to begin the healing process. The kids are beginning to connect in the youth group and they have invited my husband and me to volunteer as youth sponsors. When you have served in churches for more than 20 years, it is hard to sit back and watch from the sidelines.
My husband has begun to serve on the worship team as well. I can’t tell you how much my heart was touched to see him up on stage doing what he loves and is gifted to do. I believe 2 months or more passed from leaving our church before he picked up his guitar again.
We have joined a small group that has been a safe place to share our hurts – much more than I could ever put in writing. We look forward to Sunday nights when we get to do life together with these folks.
Bonus to living in this city: I’m minutes from my dad, mom and siblings. Not only do we get to worship with them on Sundays, we get to have them over for dinner, hang out and celebrate life together.
We are also closer to my aunts and my husband’s parents. Family is so important and we are glad for the few and far between moments living an hour closer has afforded us.
In the past several months our closest friends have lifted us up in prayer, come to see us and reached out to check on us. Thank you for doing that. You will never know how much it has meant.
Some people have told me I shouldn’t post updates or frustrations or any of the above in a public setting. “What will people think.” “You don’t want people to think badly about the church.” “You don’t want churches my husband may be interviewing at to see that you are hurt.”
I do not want people to think badly about the Church. Churches do not hurt people. People inside of churches, outside of churches and everywhere in between – that is where hurt can come from.
Our church here has been going through a series titled “Every Day Matters.” We have been talking about being real, being honest and sharing our story so that others may know more about God, who He is, how He loves us and about His redemption power.
It has made me realize that if I sit back and smile, and give you the “I’m OK. Everything is great,” answer that you may be expecting – I’m not only cheating myself of being able to be honest and real, I’m cheating God of the opportunity to use us, our story and our circumstances to minister to others.
God isn’t done with us yet. I believe with all of my heart that we will be back serving God and His people fully in ministry one day. Someday, we will be able to look back and see God’s hand in all of this. Right now, hard as I try, it is difficult. Little bit, by little bit I can see glimmers of hope arising, but like most – I want the full picture and I want it now. God doesn’t work like that. I know He has something to teach us.
I pray that we can look back someday and say, “OK God, I get it.” What a glorious day that will be.
In the meantime – in the wait – I am trying to remain faithful, trying to remain confident in His promises and trying with all my might to hold it all together. Day by day I am attempting to give up more of my pain, my grief, my frustration and doubt to God. I’m not perfect and I know there is a long road to go.
So why do I write this? Why am I sharing our struggle, pain, difficulties? I am doing it so that you know life stinks, but it is going to get better. I am doing it so that you can see that God has a plan. I want you to follow with us in the wait and watch and see what God is going to do. I want you to know that we all struggle in our faith and confidence, but God doesn’t love us any less and He doesn’t give up on us. I want you to know that we can pray for healing, but we have to still remain close to the Healer while we wait.
So, join us in the wait. Pray that we remain steadfast in our faithfulness to Christ as He has remained faithful to us. Watch and see what God is going to do and be encouraged that it is okay not to have all the answers, as long as we wait patiently for the One who does.
I am so thankful Susie has chosen not to become bitter in their situation but is allowing God to grow and stretch her in her journey. I appreciate her allowing us to share her story and I pray it will give you hope if you are going through a similar journey or maybe have in the past.
God has not forsaken you and He has a plan!