I didn’t act like a minister’s wife. And I got away with it.
Whenever I travel with a group of church ladies to a women’s seminar or a conference, I wrestle with the expectations I or they might have of me as the minister’s wife. I need to be a good listener, be diplomatic in my responses, join in the conversation without dominating, be just the right touch of personal, be encouraging, and once in awhile drop in little pearls of wisdom that encourage my ladies to reach toward the higher calling of Christ. I need to – I want to – be a model of a Christian lady.
Believe me, some of this is overstated. A tiny part of it is, I admit, my wrestling with expectations from others. But for the most part, I want to love my Lord and be an encouragement to the ladies in our church. It really is heartfelt. So don’t let your gag reflex get too much out of control.
Yesterday, I failed to live up to even my expectations. And the ladies in my church let me. Big time. Ever since I returned from my second trip to Arizona in a month, I have been going full tilt. My husband and I took a two day vacation to see our daughter but Jack caught a sinus infection midstream and it was no longer restful. We came back, hoping that after this week, when several school year based programs ended for the summer break, our pace would slow.
After twenty-five years in the ministry, how could we be so naive? Next weekend, my husband is scheduled to conduct two funerals and one wedding. In the meantime, I was scheduled to attend a women’s conference with a group from our church, orchestrate our monthly women’s fellowship meeting, and put final touches on a baby shower for an international student through the nearby college campus ministry we support. We had weekend guests and I attended a historical society “High Tea” as research for a future book.
In the middle of this frenetic activity, I caught a cold.
I never took time to be sick. I didn’t have time to be sick.
But by day four of my cold, the day before the women’s conference, I was dragging my tail. I knew I was wearing thin. My cold wasn’t getting any better. And it would be a non-stop, heavy-duty weekend where I really needed to be at my best to love God’s people, rejoice in their joy, comfort in their suffering and be the glue that held my husband together. I had already paid my unrefundable registration fee and Ruth Graham was the featured speaker. In spite of my husband’s consternation, no way was I missing that.
So, instead of being the gracious, put-together, everything’s fine minister’s wife, I crawled into the back seat of a car bound for the conference, hunkered down with my pillow and blanket for the two hour drive and zoned out of any chit-chat. I sang the songs softly, popped pills in front of an entire hallway of women, picked at my lunch, stared at my supper and complained about cold chicken and dumplings I had hoped would sooth my aching sinuses.
Did I say these ladies let me get away with it? Oh yeah!
During dinner, one lady patted my hand. “When you get home, you are going to bed. When you get up tomorrow, you are going to continue to rest.” It wasn’t a question or suggestion. We’ll deal with the baby shower details another day, she told me.
“You’re banned from knitting group tomorrow night,” another added.
“We’re going to call you once an hour to see if you are resting.”
“Oh no!” I groaned amidst the laughter. “I might as well be in the hospital.”
My husband loved it. He’s dubbed the group of women the KKQ – Keeping Karen Quiet Committee.
I cherish their concern and I love this group of ladies for it. You see, they were doing more than just allowing me to be me instead expecting me to be the put together minister’s wife. They took care of me so that I could care for others this coming weekend. Like Aaron and Hur who held up Moses’ weary arms so Israel could win the battle, they flanked my sides and gave me the tools I needed to renew my strength so I could do the work God has called me to do.
I could get used to this.
(Oh, by the way, don’t tell the KKQ I’m writing a blog instead of resting. I’ll go grab a book and cuddle with my Welsh Corgi now – after I check the clothes in the dryer.)
How do others strengthen you? How can you flank your minister’s wife?