Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Confessions of a Pastor's Wife


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 This is completely indulgent on my part, given my last post, but what the heck, it's my blog.

1. My name is Dawn. Don't be afraid to use it.
What is it about the pastor's wife and not being able to use her name? Who wrote this crazy rule?

Can't we just break this one? It's my name, I'm used to it. I look around for the source when I hear it. I even perk up if I hear something that only sounds like my name.  And although there was that bit in fourth grade about wishing my name were Francesca, I rather like my name. It's common enough. People know how to spell it, pronounce it. But it was never the most popular name around, and there aren't fourteen of us everywhere I go. I don't find it offensive whatsoever to be called my name, just as I imagine you don't when I call you by yours.

But there are some in our church family who just can't bring themselves to it. I'm addressed as Sister, Mrs. Dawn, and First Lady. While I find none of these substitutes disrespectful, I have begged for my own name, but with many, to no avail. I try to play along because I know they mean well. Just know up front that you may have to call out, "First Lady!" more than once before I realize you're talkin' to me and respond accordingly. Just sayin'.

2. If you speak privately with Pastor Mike, don't assume I know all about it.
In  fact, assume I don't. The first lesson from seminary Mike took to heart was that pastors are supposed to protect their wives from the inside beltway of the unsavory aspects that do arise from time to time in church life. I must say, right now, that Mike has had pa-lenty of opportunities to practice this one ... in the past. This skill is getting fairly rusty since CWO is the most wonderful church family ever, and government in our church is after the biblical model, cutting down on a lot of the political jockeying.

But if you have unloaded your burdens to your pastor or sought pastoral advice, you have made a deposit in Fort Knox. Be assured he will take it to his grave. There is no safer place for your secrets. (Unless you are one of our children, in which case he will use you as a sermon illustration.) I, however, do not know, nor do I want to know your goods. If you come to me with chapter two of your saga, you'll just have to start all over again at the beginning. You've been fore-warned.

3. Please do not ask me for the details of any upcoming events on the church calendar. I cannot help you.
Yes, I'm aware that I'm the pastor's wife. Yes, I attend almost everything and end up with all the details correct myself. But I don't listen for details from the announcements. I just get in the car with whomever/whatever I was supposed to bring with me when Mike tells me it's time to go. I don't know anything about the calendar because I live with the calendar-maker. You're on your own.

4. I'm really in quite the hug conundrum.
I've never been the huggy, touchy type, and our church is a true melting pot of cultural ingredients the likes of black, Latin-American, and Caucasian. I have found the different cultures to have different greeting expectations. Caucasians are content with a hand-shake at most, but simple eye contact and a "hello, how are you?"  is perfectly acceptable. Black culture requires a quick hug, while Latinos don't feel properly greeted without a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

I have completely given up trying to meet these expectations. Can you imagine my embarrassment as I kiss the cheek of someone who was expecting a mere half-smile? So, if you hug me, I hug back. If you don't, you get the "hello, glad to see you" variety. Please don't think I play favorites or feel like you've been slighted. The true confession here is how much time I've spent plagued with thoughts that I may be offending someone because I hug her all the time, but never hug you.  I love you all. Trust me. And I'll hug you if I have to.

And to think there was a time I wasn't the slightest bit interested in being a pastor's wife.

8 comments:

  1. Love it Mrs Dawn (I mean Dawn :D)! Thanks for posting, it definitely clears up a lot of things and gives a little insight on your life as a pastors wife (which I am so grateful you are) . Love you much, and appreciate your honesty! (But I must admit it will be challenging to not call you Mrs Dawn!)

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  2. Good Morning Dawn - my Grandfather was a circuit rider preacher; he ministered to a different church, same denomination, each Sunday of the month. I well remember Grandmother telling me how the church women would visit and run their fingers along the mantle, testing if she'd dusted. It didn't take her long to find a job outside the home and buy their own home. That stopped the church women from being able to comment on how she kept "their" parsonage. Of course, then they would talk about her having a job outside the home.
    It's so easy to take our eyes off Christ.

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  3. sistah dawn,

    come on over here and give me a big hug!

    this is priceless! we do have the most unreasonable
    expectations of pastors' wives.

    are you telling me you don't have the builder's
    society meeting on your mental calendar?

    hee hee.

    oh sorry, i'm sure it's very frustrating. if it's any
    consolation, i have the same role but different
    venue.

    i have started calling everyone, "sweetie or honey"
    and now i know why. i can't remember everyone's
    name!

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  4. Bah ha ha!!!!! I love you! Your writing gets better and better This is an A+ and I will carry the smile all day.

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  5. Love it First Lady, Can't wait to see you tonight to give you a BIG Hug!:)
    ANdrea:))

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  6. Living in the fishbowl can be quite interesting...and confusing. Never knowing who to help first or who you didn't help that you were supposed to help. Yikes ...we can only know that God is the one who put us here and follow Him the best that we can. Some of all those "First Lady" things come with living in the south!

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  7. Dawn,

    Great post. My husband is not a pastor, but he has clients who share intimately with him. Some of these people are church family needing help. I have been protected from quite a bit and I'm grateful for it.

    It is surprising how many people just think he comes home and tells me everything. Nothing could be farther from the truth. And, if they knew how he stinks at details in a story, they'd never worry again!

    You know, this could be an article. Actually, it could be FOUR articles. Each topic is great. There are LOTS of wonderful ministry magazines out there. Do you have a Christian Writer's Market Guide? If not, it's time to get one. :O)

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  8. Love it!!! So true! :)

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