If you would have asked me a few years ago how comfortable I would feel playing the part of the pastor's wife instead of the pastor, you might have gotten an earful. But if you ask me these days, I'd probably tell you that being the pastor's wife (at least the way the congregation here is allowing me to experience it) is like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers: it just feels right. I feel at home doing it.
A huge part of the reason I feel this way is because my husband does not require me to fit a cookie-cutter, image-conscious shape of a pastor's wife. I needn't wear churchy dresses to do grocery shopping, it's ok that I'm not the best house-keeper, and I'm welcome to make our home as open or as private as I choose. He thinks that his family is very important (more important in fact than the church) and he helps out around the house (not leaving me to do everything "domestic"). I'm not required to teach Sunday School or play organ (and you definitely wouldn't want me to do the latter!).
Another reason I haven't felt pressured by the role is because I am working on growing in the areas of image-consciousness and people pleasing. In the past, I've felt very pressured, particularly as a pastor because I had an idea that my goal was to please everyone, to make sure they were happy with me. This led to me slapping on the happy mask sometimes. And it was awful. I hated that mask. It suffocated me. But a huge part of the reason for the mask was my own issues. Why did I feel it was so important to please people rather than just try to please God? Slowly but surely, I am in a process of recovery from people-pleasing and from the self-centered work of image-preserving. And since I have a direction, a way to recover now, I am finding it easier to fit into the role of pastor's wife.
And then there is the thankfulness in my heart for the joy of being home with my daughter, thankfulness for the joy of being able to spend time writing, thankfulness for being able to volunteer doing things that I feel truly gifted to do. Instead of spending all my time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, I get to look for opportunities that fit the gifts God has given me and plug myself in there. It's energy better spent. It brings me joy.
In the difficult past few years, a few things rescued me. One was God, whose mercies never ceased, even when I was tired and depressed and couldn't see them. Then, there was my daughter, whose joy and miraculousness filled my heart with joy. Many times in the midst of the stress, I would lean my head back and think of the adorable thing she had done that day. It was my happy place, my joyful place. She kept me going.
And then there was one other thing that helped me immensely: cooking. This may seem strange, but when you are under tremendous stress, you need a creative outlet and you need it a great deal. For me, this creative outlet was cooking. We lived in a small town that during most of our time there had no restaurant. We were 15 minutes from any restaurant or take-out and what was available even there wasn't that good. I already liked to cook, but I really began to hone some skills during this time. If I wanted good food to eat, I could not order it; I had to make it myself. And since my family had to eat, I did not begrudge myself the time to cook creatively. My husband would take over with Burrito and I would go into my kitchen, my other happy place. I learned a lot about making beautiful food in those days.
Fast-forward several years. Here I am now, a pastor's wife. I have more time to do even more cooking, I have skills that I have honed, and I am suddenly finding that with that cooking, I have an incredible ministry resource at my fingertips. Cooking is my one really strong domestic skill (unless you count mothering, I guess). I don't keep house particularly well (I do keep things sanitary, but I'm pretty cluttery). I don't garden well. I'm not much good at interior decorating. But I can cook, darn it!
Lately, I've been feeling a real call to use my ability with cooking to create an open, welcoming place for church relationships to develop. It's so easy to pass each other at church on Sunday and not get to know each other. But it's wonderful when we can sit down, eat a meal together, and have good focused conversation. The ability to use this gift, because I want to (not because I have to), makes it a joyful opportunity.
I don't know what God has for me in the future. I have a lot of opportunities to use many of my gifts now--gifts of teaching, shepherding, writing, encouragement, mothering, cooking. I don't know how those gifts will play out in days to come. But I do know that I am grateful to be where I am now, and I don't mind this role of pastor's wife at all. I'm me and I'm the pastor's wife. And that's just fine.