Tuesday, October 9, 2012

31 Days of Awesome Relationships : : Day 9 : : A Pastor's Wife Shares Her Heartache

Back on Day 1, I invited our 31 Day readers to shoot me a quick email with a question about some kind of relationship issue ... a dilemma, a choice, or a challenge sitting right in front of you.  Within hours, this letter found its way to my inbox ...

How do you close one chapter and move onto the next ... not getting bitter and hateful when you get dropped as a friend?

I had a group I thought I was close with ... and I went thru a hard time in my marriage -- and my (youth pastor) hubby had to resign from his job so we could go get help ... My husband and I have gotten to a great place & God has been so good to restore.

Problem is, we are still in town so reminders and old friends are everywhere ... of those, I talk to 2 girls.  That huge group ... just shunned us. That hurt as much as the stuff I was going thru in my marriage.

For a while I was so angry. First at God, but then he showed me that I was so hurt because the church didn't act like the church ... the very people who should have been bearers of grace and compassion and love, weren't.  

I don't want it to still hurt, but it does. I invested and poured out my life for 4 1/2 years into those relationships, and then we had to leave and it's like we never existed or made a difference or were important to anyone.
My response ...
Thank you, A, for your note.  It sounds like alot has happened in quick order and it's left your heart broken, your head spinning, and your life empty.
First of all, I am truly sorry for the challenge that's hit your marriage, and thankful that God has begun to bring hope and healing there.  These difficulties surely have been magnified because your husband is a pastor.  Any choices or decisions that have been made within your marriage have not only affected your family, but impacted your church family as well.
That has, most likely, left your friends feel like the rug has pulled out from under them, and left them feeling confused, disappointed, hurt.  They probably aren't quite sure what to do with all these painful emotions.  And yes, the result would be exactly as you've written ... they have pulled away.  They are grieving the loss of their pastor and his wife, their church family as it was, and the warm, safe experience of an intact community.
In order for you to go on without bitterness, you must continue to do what you've already started to do ... grieve the lost dream of a picture perfect marriage and the departure of your church family and friends.  While so much of what has occurred has been out of your control, making the choice to refuse to haul this painful stuff around is a pivotal decision that, with God's strength, you have the power to make.  
A few things that might help ...
1.  Journaling can be a huge tool to help you unpack all the very real emotions that are swirling around right now.  Many of us begin this spiritual discipline when we've just about hit bottom.  This is a great grief, and there's no better Person to walk you through this valley than the Lover of your soul.  Invite God right into the middle of your crisis and name your hurts and the feelings of abandonment so they don't get stuffed down into your soul and begin to form bitter roots that will only lead to bitter fruit {Hebrews 12:15}.  
2.  I'd encourage you and your husband to be involved in some ongoing marriage counseling so that you can explore the roots of what led to this situation, and make plans for improved communication in the future.  There might be the need for one or both of you to benefit from individual counseling, as well.
3.  You mentioned that you are still in touch with two friends.  See if you are able to re-cultivate those relationships outside the church setting, focusing on all the common interests and enjoyable activities that you've shared together.  Please steer clear of conversation about anything to do with the church, and see if you can foster a new, richer bond.
4.  This isn't easy, but it's time to begin to expand your borders and discover some new relationships that will bring you hope, cultivate some hidden potential, or simply get you out of the house.  If you ever wanted to take a class, volunteer, join a book club or Bible study, now's the time.  I'm assuming that you are looking for a new church family.  I trust that God will give you the gracious gift of 'wounded healers' there who will warmly welcome you into a new community.  My prayer is that you will discover those 'bearers of grace and compassion and love' that you so long for.

5.  This final step could be the most powerful in your healing.  Would you commit to praying for your former church family for just 1 minute a day?  Chances are that many of those you poured out your life for are experiencing some of the same emotions that you are.
Warmly ~
P.S.  That Day 1 welcome mat is still out ... feel free to write to me here.

*     *     *

Don't miss the chance to win
a $25 Applebee's gift card or a $10 i-tunes gift card!
Be sure to leave a comment to enter this October 31st giveaway!

Click here for the links to each of the 31 posts.

* orange mailbox by VinCross    


  1. Sometimes it seems like the hurts we experience at church wound more than the hurts experienced in other areas of our life. Why is this? Maybe because church is the last place we expect to be hurt? Maybe because we've allowed ourselves to become vulnerable to these people, and when they don't treat us well, it makes us wonder why we opened up in the first place? I, too, am at a very difficult place with the congregation at my church (I've attended there for 15 years). My family and I are hardly ever invited to others' homes, though we've entertained many in our home. I see Facebook pictures of others in my "circle" enjoying parties and weddings that I expected to be invited to...but wasn't. I am ready to drop out of church. It hurts too much.

  2. I hear your pain, disappointment, and disillusionment. You have put some very important observations on the table. And you are not alone.

    I encourage you to keep talking with God about these very real concerns, and see if you can sense His direction for the future.

    May He bring good, Christ-like people into your life ...

    I so appreciate you sharing with us this evening.

  3. I read your blog today and it reminded me of many difficult times I experienced as a pastor's wife. While I wanted to sit down immediately and comment on it, I decided not to. As usual, God's timing is perfect. A little while later, as I was checking my email, I received one from a woman from our last church. She was thanking me for attending her mother's funeral 15 years ago. Today is the 15th anniversary of her mother's death and what she remembered is that we drove out of state to be there and supported her through a difficult time in her life. We all influence people every day. I pray that these positive memories come to mind more than the difficult ones.


  4. Yes, Marilyn, oh yes ...

    May your healing continue, may you find that the positive memories continue to overtake the negative experiences that have brought you such pain.

    Someday, in that place where there's no more pain and sorrow, they'll be knocking each other over, trying to get to you to say 'thanks' ...


  5. I can so relate to this young woman's situation and feelings. My husband and I had what I call "messy ministry years" as well as messy marriage years. People don't realize just how gut-wrenchingly hard it is to be in the ministry at times. People hold you to a higher standard and young friends are sometimes the worst at extending grace when failures come to light. (Only because they haven't had enough life experience) But I love your advice and will commit to praying for this young pastor's wife. My heart certainly breaks for her, and I'm thankful, Linda, that you've given her great words of wisdom to make a new start!

  6. Yes, Beth! Truth be told, who hasn't had seasons of messy marriages, messy ministry, messy parenting ...

    God is gracious! If we let Him carry us, He does so! And allows us to learn huge lessons, give and receive forgiveness, and move ahead to do something besides sit around and wish things had been different.

    Like extend grace and mercy and wisdom to others.

    Always love when you drop by, Beth!

  7. I can understand the hurt here. Although we've been soooo blessed by our church family, I can see how this could happen. Being the pastor (and his wife and family) sometimes comes at the cost of ministering while not being ministered to. The lay people often don't understand that we are human, too! The fact that we need relationship and understanding when our lives fall apart is so hard to convey! Being the super-human pastor is tiring!

    Thanks for sharing this! I found you through Women Living Well!


  8. Thanks, dear pastor's wife, for reminding us of what we need to hear. That you and your husband and your children are human. And that your needs and feelings are as real and valid as anyone else's.

    May God bring good people into your life to bless and nurture and encourage your spirits.

    Thank you, Christie!


Welcome to the table, friend!

This is where we gather and hang out. I'd love for you to pull up a chair and jump right into the conversation. Or simply say 'hello.'

l'll be dropping in to visit you sometime soon ...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...