The Preacher's Wife
December brings about some of my favorite Christmas movies, and one of my personal Christmas movie classics is "The Preacher's Wife," which featured:
Whitney Houston in all her vocal skills glory,
Denzel Washington (my all-time favorite actor, I mean did you see him become Malcom X, or watch him in Man on Fire, or Fences, or American Gangster?),
and the sometimes overlooked but definitely NOT under-talented Courtney B. Vance—as the overworked, in-need-of-a-Christmas-miracle "preacher."
I LOVE the movie! And I over love the soundtrack! (So its not Lion King, but it takes number one for me on the Christmas movie list! So if you don't mind me jumping up out of my seat to sing along with every song, then let's definitely plan a Preacher's Wife movie night! But I digress.)
"Preacher's Wife" is not a label I would have chosen for myself.
I already knew the scrutiny that came with being a preacher's kid, why would I want to endure the pressure that comes with being a preacher's wife?
I vividly remember my Health Teacher in 9th grade telling me I was destined to become a first lady, and that he could see me wearing a big hat and all. I kindly rolled my eyes, and told dear Mr. Gamble, "Um, no."
Yet, here I am. The wife of a Youth Pastor. Even typing that out looks strange.
Our third wedding anniversary also doubled as Danny's first anniversary as a Youth Pastor at our church.
After he got hired and we realized his first day would fall on our wedding anniversary, we weren't disappointed at all, it was the best second year wedding anniversary gift God could have given us! It was a blessing.
But in all my human-ness I found myself torn. I was witnessing my hopes and dreams for Danny, and the purpose God had long instilled in him, actually coming to pass—which was nothing short of wonderful and miraculous! But selfishness managed to rear its ugly head and I found myself wondering, "What does this mean for me? Where do I fit in?"
His new role meant a new church home for both of us, which meant new people, and a new way of doing things.
New. New. New.
And while some people get an invigorating kick out of everything shiny and new, I often hesitate. I want to get my bearings right. I want to sit back and observe for as long as possible to have a good understanding of how things work. In short, I often have an inexplicable fear of failing, miserably!
After a couple anxiety-filled (on my part) conversations with Danny and the Lord, I realized this new change wasn't that new at all. It had be done before. I had done it before. This wasn't the first time I attended a new church, it wasn't even the first time I attended a new one with Danny.
But more importantly came the understanding that this change didn't require me to radically change myself. Christ had already done that. He is the one that makes all things new. He is continuing the work that He started in me and will see it through to it's completion.
I was gently reminded that there is no mold of the ideal Pastor's spouse that I had to fit, thank God!
I was allowed to be myself - honestly, authentically, freely.
And so that's what I did!
Serving in church is something that is instilled in my genetic make-up. My grandmothers did it, my parents modeled it, and as soon as I came of age, I jumped to it. It didn't matter what church I went to, or how big or small the role, I always found a way to serve joyfully.
And as soon as I gave myself permission to loosen up, my eyes were opened to the many opportunities to volunteer within our student ministry.
I've had the pleasure of co-leading a small group of amazing high school girls.
I've had the chance to sing with the praise band.
And of course, there's always always always the ever-present opportunity to pray!
In the past year, I've had the chance to get to know some of the most amazing people—students, pastors, and parents alike. People with a heart for God, and who are committed to learning more about Him and pleasing Him. People who do not necessarily look like me, and who don't come from where I come from. People who have embraced me and Danny nonetheless.
It's been amazing to live and witness!
Of course with the joy that comes from the position we are in, there are also strains and tensions that have to be learned, navigated, and worked out, especially for a young married couple in the first year of full-time ministry.
Danny went almost a year without taking any real time off. We also still don't live as close to church as we'd like to be, yet. In addition to his Pastoral duties, he's also working with a school as a basketball coach.
Although, we're both professional communicators (Danny is a speaker, "counselor" and coach, and I'm a writer) we have to consistently work at ensuring the channel of communication with each other in marriage is clear. Communication between couples is always one area that can be strengthened and improved.
There are weeks where Danny is going non-stop, and we only get to see each other for an hour, maybe two, before bed. In many instances, all I want to do is talk, and all he may want to do is NOT talk and unplug.
And with only one really reliable car right now, and long hours for Danny, a little thing like grocery shopping can become a task if we don't plan it well. And we can't always make it to social gatherings, which means we're not able to get together with friends as often as we'd like.
As a work-from-home wife, who is away from our extended family, there are days when it can feel lonely, even for an introvert that thrives on alone time.
There are also days when I have to make a conscious effort not to be overwhelmed by the work yet to be done for client projects and things to be done around the house. But thankfully I'm constantly reminded that I don't have to put undue pressure on myself, because again there is no ideal mold I need to fit. I've also learned to rely on God, who is always more than willing, to help me prioritize.
There have been "solo" trips on both parts, because either he had to travel for work (you can view his DR Mission Trip travel log here), or we had an out of town invitation he couldn't make it to because he would be working.
But all of this comes with the territory.
When God brought the Israelites into the promised land, it was not without its own set of troubles and challenges. But God promised them that through it all, if they remained faithful to Him, they would receive the victory each time, by His power.
The truth is none of these "strains" are life, or faith, threatening. In fact, it's only served to build up our faith in, and reliance on God. It's also taught us to appreciate one another and our time together even more.
Little things—like "thinking of you" text messages, small "just because" gifts, and trying to work from church one day a week just to be in his vicinity—have helped.
Personally, I don't think I look or act like a preacher's wife, and I'm okay with that. I definitely don't have it altogether (even when my hair and outfit actually come together nicely, lol)!
With Christmas, which is also Danny's birthday, only a few days away. I am reminded how much of a gift it is to be on this adventure called marriage with him.
Preacher, pastor, or basketball coach, or none of the above, I am Daniel's wife. I am blessed to know him, and proud to be associated with him, because he is a godly man. Perfect? Ha! No. (But neither am I.) Nevertheless, his desire to please God is evident and I'm happy to be along for the ride!
P.S. You can listen to one of Danny's messages here