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.
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