Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I just gotta be me


The following is an excerpt - name changed - of an email I got today from a friend who is a pastor's wife...I have shared it here with her permission and I wanted to blog my thoughts about it. Here we go:


Deanna,

I just thought I would drop a line or two. Saying hello mostly. Just finished catching up on your blogs ( I really do enjoy doing that) and reading some of the ones you like too. I want to start my own. I feel I have too many issues, but I do have some good thoughts sometimes, but no outlet. So maybe I should create one huh?

Our church plant has been rocking along ok. We grew and then lost several families for all kinds of reasons. Some hurt us deeply - and made me want to quit. But we are at seven families. Dh put in a resume at a non-denom church in our town (about 200-300) people and they are really interested in us, I am glad (it will be financially good for us) and our our core group is all excited about it. I am nervous though as you can imagine. What does this hold for me personally? On one hand (dh cannot understand this and feels like I am giving him the ultimatum) but does being married to the preacher automatically make me have to fit a certain role? Can I not design (with God's input of course) what my life should look like? I mean I have three small kids and want to go back to school to teach school. (I think) And I feel so alone already. That will only make it worse won't it?

Dh thinks I hate the ministry when I get to venting. It's not that. I love God, and I like church. But it has hurt me. Deeply at times. I am just apprehensive and no longer naive about church ways. And I am jaded as to whether it can be done successfully! That's why your blog encourages me and makes me laugh. Cause you are normal. You love your family. And you love your church folks but you are not oblivious to the truth of church politics and all the ugly stuff that can happen there.

I told our core group the other night with tears, "If you think you are nervous about merging with this church" (would they fit in or just blend in and get lost in the pre existing cliques) I said, "what do you think I must feel like? I am the one going to be put under the microscope. Me and my kids. And you know me for me. I dont want to have to change my approach just to fit a mold. They all were like..."wow, we didn't think about that but yeah you're right..." But I don't think I will change.

My husband gets irked. I say" screwed up." I say "sucks." I say "freaking." He thinks it's not fitting. And I would work on it if I thought it was a sincere thing with him. But, I know it's becuase of the "image of a pw" that it bothers him. But it's for that reason that I don't worry about it...because I am me. I love God. I love his Word, and that shows through as well as my goofy quirky (sarcastic) sense of humor.

Anyhoo. Just wanted to throw that out to you. The baby is 8 months old. I will attach a pic or two. Sorry for the incorrect grammar spelling etc. I am having to type while keeping her from eating paper and carpet lint. It wears me out.! lol" - Kate

Excerpt from my e-mail back to her and then I will be back with more of my thoughts...

Kate -



Hey! Wow, lots going on there! You're so funny the way you express yourself...I love it.

I believe we CAN create our own mold and yes I believe we can be ourselves. You do have to decide for yourself how much a price you are willing to pay for that, though. I am "real" but it comes at a price tag. We have had people leave the church over it. You have to decide how far you are willing to go.

I understand where your dh is coming from - mine sounds a lot like him. I wrote an article a few months ago and used the word _______. [I said the word in my e-mail but not in this blog for obvious reasons.] Larry asked me to change it simply because he said he would lose some people over it, and it was a stupid reason to lose them. I understood. I did change it - the article was just as effective although I chafed against having to change because of people's stupidities. The same people will go watch an R rated movie and not blink.

Sounds like you and your dh should maybe go on some dates if possible where you just go sit in a comfy spot, get a coffee and talk about all these issues calmly...and if they start to get heated or stressful table the issues and come back to them? That's what we've done at times.

I understand and I'm here to listen and help... Deanna



When I have conversations like this with other minister's wives, my heart goes out to them. Because I've been there, and I'm still there.

Recently my son Jordan asked me the question: "Mom, why do you do certain things at home that you would never do at church?" I said, "Jordan I wish I didn't have to, but as a minister's wife, it's necessary to survive sometimes." I explained to him that while I wish we could just be the same everywhere, there are things that while not wrong, are simply viewed as inappropriate by those we lead or serve. So, when with them, we don't do those things, in order to be more effective.

Our best friend Randy (who is lead pastor of Celebration Christian Center, Mesa, AZ with his wife Dawn) says that being the first lady of the church is like being the president's wife. There are just things you can't do as the president's wife. I would add to that, it is very much like being the president's wife - minus the money. Ha ha! Just like the wife of the prez can't just go anywhere and do anything, neither can we. Just like she can only totally "let her hair down" only in certain circles, so it is with us too, so we have to find a way to deal with that and the sooner, the better.

No matter how "real" we get - no matter how much we decide, "I'm going to be myself" and mean it, we quickly come to the realization that in general, being real does come with a price tag. Yes, we can with God's help, design what our lives should look like. I don't believe God wants anybody to live their lives as a fake. However, to be in pastoral ministry and to be real - we must realize that it will not come without a heavy price to pay. I am more open than the majority of other pw's I know, however I'm still holding back in public or my spouse wouldn't survive. Why do I say "my spouse" and not just me? Because if it were just me, and I didn't have a husband and kid's welfare to think about I would be different.

If I didn't survive in the church being "the real me" and I was single, I'd just take up another call, provided I didn't sense God explicitly telling me not to. What if he told me not to? I'd probably go to counseling. (Again, lol) I think there are plenty of missionfields and places to give your life for Jesus where they don't care how "real" you are and might even find it refreshing. But as Kate mentioned...the church cares and has it's limitations. So I have to care about it.

Sometimes everything in me wants to do something that has my unmistakable mark of uniqueness on it and then I realize it will cause Larry an immense amount of grief so I just don't do it, at least not for now. If something I want to do or say is going to make life hell on my husband, is that really what I should do? No.

Last Saturday we took a group of our Northside ladies to the movies. We had to go through the angst of choosing a movie that would be deemed appropriate. I talked with the women's leadership team about this quite a bit and they all agreed it was a challenge. We looked at movie review websites and chose a movie with great care. It was hard to find something that we thought wouldn't offend anybody. My friend Lisa (a board member's wife and also on the women's leadership team) brought up the fact that although some people will get mad over going to the movies with the church if something happens in the movie that we didn't know was coming (a curse word or sex scene) the same people will go see the same movie or one like it on their own and not think a thing of it! My leaders all talked about how dumb that was, but they agreed it was just the way it is. What the people do personally is one thing but what the church or their pastor or pastor's wife does is another.

A few months ago, I wanted to take the Northside women to see the movie, "Evening" with Meryl Streep. Larry said, "no, it has the potential to cause a lot of problems. I don't need an uprising. Just go with a few friends and don't make it a church activity." So I asked Cathy and Misty to go and Misty's grandma was in town and she just so happened to want to see the movie and was thinking about it before we even asked! Her grandma is one of the coolest chicks on the planet. So the four of us went and had a fantastic time. All of us were crazy about the movie and we went next door to Panera afterwards, got a latte and talked about it for a while. Although we had a great time it's really a shame that we couldn't have invited more ladies however I undertand Larry's point. He just doesn't need the stress.

It's maddening sometimes however it's reality. So we must work with it and decide...HOW MUCH AM I WILLING TO PAY? We have to ask ourselves...what are we willing to go to the wall for? We have to make sure it's worth it.

For instance, I am willing to go to the wall to teach a "God's plan for Sex" series in the church because I realize that it's a seriously relevant issue that God has a lot to say about in His Word. People's lives are being ruined over not receiving teaching on this, so we must bring it to the people boldly. If they get mad, if they are offended - if they walk out - so be it. However, am I willing to pay for it simply because I took to the ladies to a PG-13 movie? No. It's not worth it. Spare me. I will just forego the movie.

One time I was preaching in a conservative, more rural area of Florida and without thinking twice in the middle of my sermon, I shouted, "We're living in the last days! It's time to let the Holy Ghost move through us in unprecedented ways! It's time to get off our butts and do what God has been asking us to do!!!" When I said the word "butts" it was like all the air was sucked out of the room. They were horrified. I instantly realized that everybody in the room was upset. In my particular church, that would be nothing. Not only are they used to that terminology, but many of them would stand up and shout with me! But there, in the rural church I was preaching in, it was taboo. It took at least 30 minutes for the anointing to come back into the room. LOL!!! I learned NEVER to do that again on a speaking engagement unless I scouted out the land first to learn local church customs. I was just being "me" but it really cost me my audience that time, so it clearly wasn't worth it. I'll gladly leave "butts" out of the sermon next time I'm in rural America. :-)

I get as "real" and transparent as I think I can safely be in a public setting. Yes, I crave more. Yes, I'd be somewhat different if I weren't a pw. But reality is, I am. And the fact of the matter is, all you have to do is say one thing over the edge, wear one garment that is questionable, or take the church to see one movie where a certain word is said, and WHAMMO, there is a brou ha ha, or an exodus. So I go to wherever I think the boundary is in front of the crowd. And then with my family and friends in smaller groups, I basically let it all hang out. There, I'm me. Take me or leave me...and if you don't...you're screwed up, freaking crazy and you really suck!!! (ha ha! just a little sarcasm there on my part, Kate...lol) Once you get with your "homies" you can say what is in your heart without measuring every word, wear your favorite bathing suit, and watch a movie without your heart beating in fear as to the next word that might come out. But with the church? You have to either have your guard up somewhat, or start packing your U-haul.

This whole issue is why I'm so intensely passionate about creating close knit relationships outside the church setting. It's essential to have these kind of relationships to be healthy.


To give you one last visual illustration...this whole issue is why I wear this...




instead of this...


at the church beach day...even though I think it's killer! LOL :-) I thought about putting this photo on my ministry website or my Myspace with the song, "Brick House" playing in the background but I wondered, "would Larry get some flack for this?" Ha ha! Just kidding, but seriously I think it's pretty smokin' especially for a 41 year old and so does he. He just doesn't want me wearing it for a church activity, and I totally agree! So it's just for when I'm with family or close friends. And a few thousand other strangers on the beach who don't attend Northside Assembly of God...

8 comments:

Kerry said...

PD,
I really enjoyed reading this because the one thing that I really liked about you when I first met you was that I felt like you were being "real." It's a shame that we can't always be our "real" selves among everyone we meet. I understand that some things are taboo and you can't just say eveything you think. But I appreciate when people are "real" and not phony. I also believe that God knows us and loves us just the way we are and we should be more concerned about pleasing Him than we are about pleasing a lot of those "holier than thou" people walking around in this world today. Of course, oh how I wish life was that simple! However, please continue to keep as "real" as you can be because there are a lot of your church members, me included, that really appreciates that...Kerry

Deanna Shrodes said...

Thank you, Kerry. You are a gem. I appreciate church members like you...how much...you'll never realize.

Love you!

Tara Sloan said...

This was SO well said Deanna. I have learned the hard way!)to pick my battles carefully!You'll never please everyone, but most will find transparency and being "real" refreshing!

Sometimes people are totally caught off guard when we as pastors, women married to pastors, and/or Christians refuse to wear a "religious cloak" that masks who we really are.

Michele said...

Oh PD- I love the fact you are so real with us-I think that was the first thing I ever noticed and loved about you and PL- you are real of course you are real- you make mistakes I make mistakes - we yell HELLO when someone walks in and laugh about it later (do you remember what I am talking about)
Stay true to who you are- We are so blessed to have youas our pastors -
The picture of the bikini- you have more guts then I do you go girl
Love
Michele

Deanna Shrodes said...

Ha! ha! YES Michele, I remember, how could I forget?! That was so funny. (Well, it wasn't at the time, but it is now.)

Thank you. I probably should do a post on the people that like the fact that we're real vs. the ones that don't, who are in the minority by the way, but their voices are sometimes just so loud. Know what I mean?

If everybody were Michele's or Kerry's, the world problems would be solved. :) (or at least the pastor's problems...) lol

Deborah said...

I really enjoyed this where were you when I was been real and got the red carpet lol I love the fact that you are so open and honest it is so refreshing in a world of holy then thou people. I use to get slack about my jewelary that I wear now people have come to realise that its not the jewelary that maketh the man (ME) but the heart. and wow hope I can wear a bikini when I am 41 I am working on it, could you please tell us more about lack of sleep and weight again. once again thank you for sharing from the heart. you will never know HOW MUCH you mean to all of us all over the world. love ya girl.

Julie said...

Wow. It's amazing how God works. I, to, am a PW. I have been now for 7 yrs. I really really needed this today. I feel like I am drowning in my role. I can so relate to your entire post. I found your blog through a friends blog. God bless you!!

Julie, a sister PW

Deanna Shrodes said...

Some days I'm drowning too Julie...and I thank God for my friends who are so faithful to throw me a life preserver when I need one.

I'm so glad you're here. Don't be a stranger! Thank you for commenting, sis!