Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Treatise on Being a Pastor's Wife-Part 1

I made a mental note of the stir my post about marriage caused; most of the fuss seemed to be related to the context of ministry. So I've been mulling it over, and here is my take on ministry...at least here is part one...

Why I married a pastor:

I decided I wanted to marry a pastor when I was about 15. Note that that was about 4 years before I became a Christian. The reasons at the time were probably because I felt like it would make my parents happy (and I'm pretty sure that ultimately hasn't been the case), and because I really liked my youth pastor and his wife. But even then, I wanted my life to have some thick purpose, and to not just marry some regular guy and have a regular job and a regular life. I wanted to be "about something" that was much bigger than me, and I was cognitively convinced by my surroundings and upbringing that thing was church. At that point, I was still a consumer of programs the church offered me and I guess I pictured attaining some kind of status by becoming the pastors wife (a little painful to admit but certainly true of an angst ridden teen looking for her place in this world.) I also wanted a guy who was "about something." The last guy I dated before Robb was just fun and we had a great chemistry since I was too serious...but he was never about anything...except maybe chasing a new adrenaline rush.

(Please note that there is nothing wrong with a regular job and a regular life. I in no way think of myself as superior or on some higher plane than everyone else.I just felt differently about things, and believe me, I was aware how "weird" I was for feeling that way.)

All of this led me to attend Bible college where I met Robb (and parenthetically, fell madly in love) and became an actual follower of Christ, in that order. By human standards, this progression seems to be the exact opposite order of "normal."

It was exactly at that point too, that my life began to unravel a bit...I broke up with Robb, went back to the "Fun Guy" (aka shallow) and contemplated the life of a traveling business-man's wife. I thought maybe having the actual relationship with Christ was enough to center my life around, but ultimately, I was still passionate about the work of a church. Fun Guy wasn't too into that himself, though he didn't mind what I did. And even though he broke up with me, I was still wildly in love with Robb and all that he was about.

I know this isn't the same for everyone, but for us, who Robb is at the core of his very being is a pastor. The two can't really be separated. Some people might think that is unhealthy, but that is how we view things. And that is why we made some of the decisions we made right from the very start....

Because Robb is a pastor, we took a tiny pastorate on Staten Island the summer we were married. It paid nothing, and was a heck of a lot of work. We traveled there every weekend while I was finishing college in Scranton, Pa and moved there when I finished. It would have made more sense, looking back, to get a job in the same town as the Seminary he was attending and focus ourselves to that...but no...he just drove down there once a week after we moved to NY and worked on his Masters on the side.
We made lots of decisions in our marriage based on that premise: Robb is a pastor so that's what we do. Whether it pays or not. Whether or not it "works for us."

That's why this whole church planting thing has been a trip. For about a year, he was still a pastor...still thinking like a pastor..still planning like a pastor...but with no church....just a dream and some other piecemeal jobs that took up his time while he went on orienting his life to a church that didn't yet exist.

Our tenacious view of Robb at this point in our lives was a huge positive. At a time when it felt like we were being de-constructed, the presupposition that Robb's identity iis a pastor was a foundation that we could remain supported by. The same way that it supported us before we were married (Robb is a pastor, so no matter how horny we get, we can't have premarital sex...chemistry indeed), I feel supported by it now (our marriage might have struggled, but he is a pastor and won't stand up in front of his people on a weekly basis and still allow himself to ignore our issues). I know some pastors do cheat on their wives, fall into various sins, etc. but maybe it is because they don't view themselves this way...I don't know. I'm just saying that for us it is both protective and causative.

So just to sum up...it wasn't a vitamin deficiency or the need for a challenge that led me to desire a life in ministry. I think it was God. I think he channeled me into the choices I made and the man that I found attractive. I deeply respect the complete nature of who Robb is...a wonderful, loving man who at the core of his being, is a pastor.

It does raise the interesting question that I know you are asking...Would I still have fallen for him if he wasn't a pastor? Well, we believe in God's sovereignty (even if we can't spell it) so all of our lives and choices have happened for a reason...I see an order in it, and that's enough for me. The question does not bother me, but it is rather, kind of silly. So I don't feel any need to explore it.


Robb said...

Well, we may not have chemistry, and I apparently am not fun, but, heck, at least I'm a pastor.

courtney said...

Shut up, Robb. You got the girl, didn't you?

ness said...

That's nice dear.

akr said...

I always knew I wanted to be in ministry and marry someone who had that same heart...but...church ministry wasn't first on my list. Not that I didn't love my church but growing up in a parachurch ministry with a bigger fishbowl, I was a whole lot more comfortable with the bigger fishbowl than with a tiny one!

Mom Mattocks said...

Disclaimer....Disclaimer......I never thought that if you married a pastor, it would make me or your Dad happy...we were always surprised by your wishes, even when you were small, that particular choice.....we never knew any pastors up close and personal, and had no way of knowing what their lives entailed or their wives for that matter.....J & J were the only ones we knew, and I know what their lives were like....one I did not envision for any of my children. I just thought I'd throw that in, because the only thing that makes me really unhappy is the fact that you kids are not closer....you could be in the White House and I'd feel that way. I appreciate where all my kids are, and have no problem with any of the choices any of you have made.....you are all on your own journey, and time will tell where the Lord will lead you.

Mom Mattocks said...


Did I miss the point? Sorry...the menopausal brain is doing the "wondering woman" thing.

ness said...

No, Mom, you didn't miss the point. I think you helped make it.

I was kind of wired to be a pleaser, so I somehow got the message that pastors and their families were on a higher plain, an attitude many of the ones we knew perpetuated. What better way to make your parent's happy?

We both learned later that a life in ministry can be quite hard on your extended family, which is a loss that has been hard on both of us.

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