Ok. Most everyone knows by now I had two silly preferences for my future husband. I say silly because they most certainly were not necessary, and I don't think I ever counted on them too much. In fact, I'm pretty sure it was my sister and a close friend who reminded me I'd hoped for them for longer than we could remember. I don't know when I "decided" these, but the fact that I ended up getting both of them in one man is at least worth a laugh.
I wanted to marry a redhead.
(And who would have thought a redhead with brown eyes? Ah! They're the best.)
And I wanted to marry a preacher.
But now as this reality grows closer and closer every day I confess I feel ill-prepared at times. Me? A pastor's wife? This year of preparation has been a blessing! The Holy Spirit has certainly been convicting and refining me in my ways, and helping me to grow and mature. I know, you read my blog and you can't tell-- He's not finished yet!
Daniel has been applying to churches and different ministries. He has a list of churches to apply to every couple of weeks. Some we've gotten excited about, some we've even prayed for a door to open. Most though, are just opportunities. Daniel is an ARP at heart. He always will be, I think. But several godly men have advised him to consider bigger branches of the Presbyterian church, just for starters. I may end up back in the PCA after all! But quite honestly, we just don't know. How could we? Even the next six months are a toss up for us. Graduation is in May. We're bound to be here until then, but we could have plans to move to a whole new city, a whole new state the week after graduation. Or, we could end up working in Charlotte another 12 months before being placed anywhere. It's so unsure we don't even know what to do about our renter's agreement that will be up in February.
So now, as I look towards the new role I'll be taking on, some day, in God's timing, I realize He is teaching me (again) the importance of waiting on Him. Waiting with palms up, as someone once told me. Palms up so that we are ready to receive whatever God gives us, whenever He chooses to give it.
Daniel has been the intern at a local Presbyterian church since the beginning of seminary. The men that he has been surrounded by have shaped and influenced him in incredible ways. He even told me a couple months ago that if it weren't for those men the first couple months of our marriage would have been nasty! But the entire church has been an instrument of sanctification in both of our lives. I came from a very mixed congregation in Ohio. Young and old and youth were evenly dispersed for the most part. Unfortunately, I did not use that opportunity to mingle with different age groups, but stayed safely aside with the kids (who are not kids now) my age and the little ones. At All Saints' I don't have an option-- the majority of our congregation is over 50. This has stretched me more than I wanted at times. It is incredibly awkward and rude to stand in the middle of the foyer, surrounded by people, yet not say a word! I've had to learn to break out of my comfortable shell and converse with real, live grown ups-- and without a baby on my hip as an easy distraction. Genuinely conversing with people, I am learning, is a long process. There are a handful a people I immediately connected with. Some who took a little more work. There are still a large majority whom I know I do not know enough about.
So, God is teaching me in this preparation time how to connect and reach out to people-- in all ages and stages of life. This will be vital wherever God places us in ministry.
Setting aside time for a quiet Bible reading every day has not often been a struggle for me, but where my personal devotions most often fail is in my prayer time. The past six months as I've learned how to be a wife, live away from my parents and siblings, and friends, adjust to a new city, job and schedule, and still deal with the trials of every Christian's life, God has driven me over and over again to prayer. I have been convicted many times, What else can I possibly do buy pray? O, God knows I still fail daily. Yet, Daniel often reminds me that knowing you need to change is the first step to achieving it. A well-known pastor told someone once that when he visits a church the first thing he looks at in the Sunday bulletin is their weekly events. Is there at least one weekly prayer meeting? If there is, he trusts the unity and strength of the church.
If prayer is then so important for a church, how much more important must it be for its leader and his family? I'm convicted I must be a woman of prayer if I am to be a Christian, but especially if I am to be a pastor's wife.
I didn't go to college. In fact, I spent more hours watching babies, and schooling kindergartners, than I did studying for my high school classes. I scored a 23 on the ACT because I didn't think to study for it until 11pm the night before. *laughs* And then I married a man who went to a private Christian college on nearly a full-ride with scholarships and a weighted GPA of 5.1. I married a man whose entire family has at least a bachelors degree, with several masters, and a PhD thrown in there too. I married a man who likes to spend time with his professors, and talk smart.
The first time I met Paul Patrick, the pastor who gave the homily at our wedding, he sat us down in his living room and just asked questions. He asked me about my family, about my home church, about my conversion. And all I did was answer him. No pretenses, no thinking, really. Just simple, straight forward answers. Within an hour he somehow got to my heart, and with clear honesty he told me what he predicted to be a struggle of mine for the rest of my life. (Paraphrasing) "You are going to be married to a smart man. A man who went to college, and grad school, and whose colleagues and friends will have done the same thing. You are going to be tempted to feel like you're inadequate to be married to such a man. You're going to feel like you need to be more, or do more. But I want to tell you now, before any of those thoughts come, that when they do you need to chase them away, because from what I've heard you say tonight I know you are smart, and wise, and you love the Lord." Daniel and I had to sit through that little speech dumbfounded. He had hit the nail on the head. How many times had we talked about my feelings of inadequacy? We left his home later that evening and Daniel asked, "Has anyone ever told you what Paul told you tonight?" "No. Never." They are words of encouragement I will never forget.
The Lord is showing me how to find my definition, my meaning, in Christ alone. My life is not defined by my college degree, or the lack thereof. It's not going to be defined by how successful my husband's ministry is or isn't; or how many children we have. My life is not defined by how pretty I am, what I weigh, or what kind of clothes I wear. It's not defined by how much I exercise, how healthy I eat, or what I spend my time doing. It is certainly not defined by how religious I seem, how pious I appear, or how righteously I live my life. My life, the definition of my life, and the meaning I have in it is found only in Christ. "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things." (Romans 11:36)
So, me? A pastor's wife? Yes! Absolutely. Whom God calls, he equips with the power of His spirit and the grace of His Son to see us to the end.