Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Journey Together

A few years ago, when Zach was finalizing his decision to become a Pastor in the United Methodist Church, and going through the steps to make that decision a reality, we had lunch with a, at the time, dear friend.  It was during this lunch that I was told by this friend that I was not cut out to be a Pastor's wife.  I was told that I could very likely hinder my husband's ministry unless I chose to change who I was.  This conversation, which was less a conversation and more an attack (in my honest opinion), left me feeling many things.  Anger, indignation, betrayal, and, most of all, insecurity.  It was the last thing I needed to hear at this point in our lives.  We had already accepted a job at a new church, in a new town, things were already in motion, there was no going back now.

I returned home from that lunch and promptly cried buckets of tears.  Zach and I discussed, at length, whether or not we thought this friend was correct in his assessment of me.  My dear husband reassured me repeatedly that I would not hinder his career in anyway, which, I'll admit, I only half believed.  I didn't choose this life.  I married a man who was going to school for business.  When we got married we both only worked part time at the church, helping with the youth.  There was a time when Zach worked full-time in sales, both of us thinking that this was his future.  I never would have thought that God would call him into full time ministry.

Since that afternoon three years ago, I have met many Pastor spouses.  Each one has taught me that there is no one way to live this life.  Each one is different in personality, in gifts, in weaknesses.  Each one has a different opinion of their role in the church and in the ministry of their pastor spouse.  I've been told by more experienced spouses that I have permission to choose my own path.  True, not everyone in the church we are sent to will like me, not everyone will agree with my chosen path, regardless of what it is.  You simply can not please everyone all of the time.

Still, with this knowledge and with these great mentors in my own life, the insecurity persists.  I have not been able to rid myself of the voice of that friend, hearing it in the back of my mind each and every day.  There have been moments, times of despair and uncertainty, that I lament "I am not cut out for this life!"  I cry out to God,"How could Zach be so obviously called to ministry, to being a Pastor, and I am not called to go with him?!"  These moments occur more often than I would like to admit.

However, last week I was able to go to the Annual Conference of the New Mexico United Methodist Churches.  This was my first time at Conference and I quite enjoyed it, despite the long business sessions.  There was a special speaker at Conference, Pastor Jorge Acevedo, who said quite a few things that was life giving to me.  One such thing was, "Comparison is not of the devil, it is the devil."  I would imagine that all of us are guilty of comparing ourselves with others.  It doesn't usually lead to anything good.  Pastor Acevedo had many good things to say, particularly at the Ordination Service.  I found myself getting inspired, inspired to do ministry.  Inspired to do ministry with my husband, excited and emotional, thinking of the day when he will finally be ordained.  Then, like a light turning on, sitting in that service, it occurred to me.  I am called to this life.  Sure, my calling looks nothing like Zach's, and it looks nothing like the spouses of other Pastor's, but it's a calling all the same.  I know I help Zach do ministry when I am at home with the kids feeling useless.  I help when he can go where he needs to go, do what he needs to do, and he knows that I have things handled at home.  I help when I support him unconditionally, when he knows I am willing to go with him wherever his ministry takes him.  I must stand firm in the faith that God has called all of us, in some fashion, and I must not be tempted to compare my calling with others.  I also must remember that as we continue along our paths, the view will change but the destination is unwavering.

I can not promise that I will not have moments of insecurity, of doubt, of worry, moments where I compare myself with someone else.  I can not promise that everyone will like me or agree with my choices.  I can only continue on the best that I know how, hand in hand with my husband, in the full and comforting embrace of our Father, enveloped in the unending and unwavering grace that is offered to us all.

May I please offer a plea to all my church going friends, laity and clergy both, to stop comparing, but to love one another, encourage and uphold the calling in one another, even if it looks different that what we expect or desire?  Thank you for reading.  It means more to me than you know.