“My best friend is a pastor’s wife so I know exactly how you feel,” Gina said to me one Sunday morning before church. She continued on in conversation about what her friend had shared with her but my mind stayed locked on her first sentence, and while I smiled and nodded anger was growing inside me. I spent the rest of the service distracted by her words.
When I shared our interaction with my husband, he assured me she was only trying to find common ground on which to converse. I’ve replayed the moment in my mind and still feel the same as I did then.
To say she knows what it’s like to be a PW because her BFF is one is like saying I know what the ocean is like because I’ve seen it on TV. But until I smell the sea air, taste the saltwater on my lips, feel the way the sand changes as I step from hot and dry to wet and sloppy, step on a crab or another unseen creature beneath the surface, get knocked over by a wave I’d under estimated, experience the tide rushing in and out, or feel the breeze through my hair there is no way for me to know what it’s like. Not. At. All.
No matter how many times Gina’s friend has shared with her what it’s like to be married to a pastor, Gina will never know the reality of it because she hasn’t experienced it herself. Only another PW knows how it really is. That's why it’s important to find friendship in like-minded women. We need each other. We struggle with things that few others do. We can laugh about things that many people in our churches wouldn’t understand. We can shoulder one another when things get ugly.
In this season of thankfulness and gift-giving let’s remember to be thankful for the gift we have of each other. Some of my closest friends are PWs, many of whom I’ve not met face to face. Online communities can be safe havens for us, such as the message boards at PastorsWives.com In the fishbowl we find acceptance without pressure, love without judgment, and fellowship without fellows. What we go through on a weekly basis can be shared with women who have experienced the same thing. And that is the greatest gift of all.
If you are a pastor’s wife I encourage you to find friendship in another pastor’s wife. Whether in your community or out, in your denomination or across line, we need the support we can get from each other. I can (and do) share things with my closest friends and they offer the words I want to hear, but when I share with another PW words aren’t needed. A hand on my shoulder or a hug can give more encouragement than words because it means she’s been there. If you prefer to share in a more intimate setting then I encourage you to find an online group you can participate in. There are many, from Facebook groups to message boards. I was an active member of such a group for over a decade until social media changed the way we shared with one another. Over the years I’ve been blessed to be able to meet some of these ladies as I’ve traveled the country. Their hugs have been some of the sweetest I’ve known, alongside the ones I receive from the ladies in my denomination during our yearly retreats and other ministry meetings.
Do not take these friendships for granted.
For me, they are one of life’s greatest gifts.
Merry Christmas my sweet sisters.
Suzanne Schaffer has been in full-time ministry with her husband Wayne since 1992, pastoring in Pennsylvania and Illinois. She has two grown children and spends most of her days either writing or reading with a cup of tea close by. She enjoys attending auctions and sometimes brings home more stuff than she knows what to do with. She believes life is too short for mediocre food and insists on having good chocolate in the house at all times. You can connect with Suzanne at her blog, www.notenoughchocolate.blogspot.com