Life in a Fishbowl, Part 1

Whoever said that “to be a pastor’s wife is to live life inside a fishbowl” couldn’t have been more right. After six years of being one, I could actually rejoice and pat myself on the back for thriving inside this “fishbowl.”

Come to think of it, pastors go through the training, whether formal or informal. Not to mention the bloody ordination ceremony that Jeff had to go through, that I had the privilege to witness. And was I the proudest wife then! I remember the ordaining council commending Jeff for a job well done, to an overkill, even. A future preacher really has to earn his title one way or another. But how about for the wife? There is really no getting-ready-to-be-the-preacher’s-wife course that I know of that exists. I remember attending a Partners in Ministry Certificate Course in one of the more prestigious theological school in Asia (formerly ISOT-Asia), but I cannot recall being told how to rise up to people’s expectation of being a preacher’s wife at all! I remember taking that course when my wedding with Jeff was yet two years down the road. You see, I knew right then he was called to minister as a preacher no less and of course my primary motivation in taking that course is to be equipped. I knew it is no easy road for me and  I was out for a spin.

The fear alone of being subjected to criticism is enough to eat someone up. Expectations were high and I resolved to just take it one day at a time. I never really intended to live on anyone throwing me on the scale to measure how I’m doing.  I have known rejection from childhood and this is one of the major things the Lord has been dealing with me since I gave Him back the full control of my life.

I have once come across a friend who challenged me with this old school thinking that I should do this particular ministry because it is expected of me being the pastor’s wife. I just had to tell her myself, lovingly, of course, that it is not one of my gifts. I don’t intend to live to please people. I want the Lord to work in me and not just through me. Being the passionate person that I am, I always intend to do things wholeheartedly. I don’t do things half-baked, as much as possible. Otherwise I know I’d cringe in regret. I found an old verse probably written by a preacher’s wife, who opted to remain anonymous — which, for me, does not come as a surprise. If preachers’ wives still feel the pressure in this day and age, how much tougher could things have been for them way back then?

An Easy Job (Author Unknown)

You may think it quite an easy task, and just a pleasant life

But really it takes a lot of grace, to be a preacher’s wife.

She’s supposed to be a paragon without a fault in view

A saint when in the parsonage, as well as in the pew.

Her home must be a small hotel, for folks that chance to roam,

And yet have peace and harmony- the perfect preacher’s home!

Whenever groups are called to meet, her presence must be there,

And yet the members all agree, she should live a life of prayer.

Through hearing people’s burdens, their grief both night and day

She’s supposed to spread but sunshine to those along the way.

She must lend a sympathetic ear to every tale of woe

And then forget about it, lest it to others go.

Her children must be models rare in quietness and poise,

But still stay on the level with other girls and boys.

You may think it quite an easy task, and just a pleasant life;

But it really takes a lot of grace to be a preacher’s wife!

To cut us, pastors’ wives, an inch of slack, should not be all that hard. For one, people have to consider the fact that some pastor’s wives did not plan to marry a preacher, and it just so happened that the men they love were called to minister. Not to say that I’m one of them. Having met Jeff in church when I was eleven years old (he was twelve), I kind of already knew in my heart of hearts that he was destined to be a minister. Here’s a snippet of our love story that Jeff wrote in 2008.

I would have to agree that being a pastor’s wife must also be a “calling.” I remember there was this one time I struggled during my devotion time when Jeff and I were thinking about marriage more than ten years ago. There was never a time in my life that Ruth 1:16 has ministered more to me.

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.'” Ruth 1:16

The Lord provided me such peace when I acted upon that personal rhema and chose to seal that calling to be Jeff’s wife.

I’m not the stereotypical pastor’s wife in many ways than one, that’s for sure. My husband leads me and allows me to be molded by God Himself and not by what our culture seemingly dictates. He has protected me from “the pressure.” He is first a husband, then a minister. Because it’s a fallen world, cultures are tarnished one way or another. This imperfect world does that to us. Our authority  remains to be God and His word.

With all that said, I remain to be a work in progress. Praying that I will continue to find favor in the eyes of the God I serve as I press on doing what I am purposed to do. I consider myself really blessed to know that even as I live in this fishbowl, I still get to be the person the Lord has designed for me to be — unbiased by what our culture dictates. Having the approval of my God and my better half is worth more than all the world’s applause.

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The above article was also published via Unblogged column of the PhilStar.com on September 20, 2011.

Life in a Fishbowl, Part 1

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