Heavy Butt – Heavy Heart…

My heart is really heavy this morning. It’s making me really irritable and depressed, and I just want to crawl back in bed and wallow in my self-pity for a while.

Being the wife of a pastor can be difficult sometimes. More often than not, it is a blessed life. I enjoy being in ministry with my husband, and I enjoy learning to love the people on our churches. But days like these leave me feeling battered and broken and bruised to the point of wanting to quit. I feel like throwing in the towel, quitting the things I am involved in, removing myself from the community of faith I have tried to become a part of. The truth is that no matter how much you are loved by the church you serve, you are still an outsider. Most of the people in our pews have grown up in the towns where our churches are located. They know all the history and all the people. No matter how hard you try, it’s really hard to become a part of a community like that.

I have watched and listened as people have judged my husband’s performance on everything from visitation to bulletin design. Positive comments get made, but people are so quick to pass on the negative ones. I have heard through the grapevine that comments have been made about things like my attire at church (admittedly on the more casual side, but that’s just me – and my generation!), my hair, my makeup, my jewelry, my attendance habits in the pews, my attendance at UMW meetings, my involvement (or lack thereof) in every little program of the church, etc. It’s as if people expected Matt to show up with a pretty, proper, piano-playing, preschool-teaching, UMW-loving little wife who fit exactly into the mold that had been created for me. Little effort has been made to learn about me and what I’m passionate about. Few people seem to love me for who I am (though there are some – and I am grateful for them!). More effort seems to be made into trying to shape me and suggest that I be who THEY expect me to be. When I have finally felt as though it were time to speak up for my beliefs, I have been shushed in very condescending ways that further infuriate me. On top of all this, a very hurtful comment about my weight was passed on to me last night. It’s like the straw that broke my back…

Come on – I’m not stupid…or blind. I see myself in the mirror. I know what size my clothes are. I know I am overweight. Beyond chubby – I have been the “fat” category for many years now. I could go on and on about what got me to this state, but the real point is that I am trying desperately to learn what it means to feel and be beautiful regardless of my weight, and how to be healthy at the same time. In the past year, Matt and I have changed our eating habits quite a bit to where we’re eating more organic, local, fresh, kind food. We are trying to watch portion sizes, fiber intake, protein, etc. We are getting more active – we joined a gym, and have been learning how to weave workouts into our regular schedules. At this point and size in my life, I am proud to say that I usually feel beautiful. I am married to a man who loves me for who I am on the inside, regardless of how much flesh surrounds my insides. I frequently leave the house feeling pretty. And every day I remind myself that I would rather be this fat, happy person than a thinner, bitter, unhappy person.

So why is it that one comment about possibly breaking someone’s patio furniture sends me into a tailspin of self-pity and loathing?

I have been struggling with what to do next. Right now (with some careful guiding on my husband’s part) I am contemplating moving ahead as if the comment were never made. As though I had no clue that there was worry about me crushing a chair with my fat butt. My gut reaction was to stay away – immediately disconnect. But the wisdom of the Lord and my husband makes me think otherwise. I’m not the first pastor’s wife that has been talked about in such demeaning ways. I’m certainly not going to be the last. If we want to get really spiritual about it, didn’t Jesus carry that cross all the way to death, suffering hateful comments from onlookers every step of the way? This pain and gossip is much less invasive and hurtful. Perhaps I should just suck it up and keep my eyes on the one who really matters…


>Worship with Bernie

>Bishop Coyner came to my office for the day Monday. We talked a lot of ministries going on in our district that are vital and those who are merely being “propped up” by our resources. So much of our time and money and energy and buildings are being wasted on programs and ministries that should really just be allowed to die. Look around the town where you live. Chances are you have at least one United Methodist Church within a few miles of your house. I want you to try to think of 3 good, vital ministries that church has that really reach people in the community. Can you think of any? Many churches in our denomination are so caught up in traditions, buildings, and other things that really don’t matter. Just because we did ministry effectively “that way” 50 years ago doesn’t mean it will be effective still.

When Bishop Mike talked about this problem in our church, I couldn’t help but see this face in my mind:

You’ve seen Weekend at Bernie’s, right? It’s a hilarious movie. I must have watched it a thousand times when I was younger. I had an odd crush on Andrew McCarthy, and you have to admit the antics of trying to make a dead man look alive are pretty entertaining. They put sunglasses on him, take him to fun parties, take him water skiing, etc. You see quickly that it’s a real chore dragging around a dead body trying to make him seem alive. The guys fake it for a while, and fool quite a few people. Eventually a few people catch on, the body gets rank, and the challenge of simulating life in death becomes too much to bear.

Do you have a “Bernie” ministry in your church? What can we do to bury all our Bernies and put our time and energy in to vital ministries???

>Tonight in Hillsboro…

>Tonight in a tiny town called Hillsboro…

-As I complained about swollen ankles and an empty stomach, she succumbed to the cancer that ravaged her young body.

-As I mindlessly thought ahead to tomorrow night’s plans with my mother, sister and grandmother, her children and siblings were struggling to imagine what life would be like tomorrow without her.

-As I watched the clock in anticipation of going home to snuggle in bed with my husband, her husband was kissing the love of his life goodbye.

I’m so sad tonight at the death of one of our church members. Certainly to us it seems as though her life was much too short. Our feeble minds try unsuccessfully to understand the purpose and meaning behind such a cruel death. I am trying to remember that death is really just another part of life. I am not naive enough to think that any one of us is lucky enough, rich enough or strong enough to cheat death, so why is it still so hard to lose the people we love? Perhaps it reminds us of all that we have yet to do and say. It reminds us of wrongs that we have yet to right – or rights we want to right again.

Being in ministry during times like these always seems hard. I watch as Matt walks along side these friends of ours, and see how much it affects him. He may not have the overflow of emotions like I do, but the pain he experiences with these families is plain to see.

We must have faith, though, that God is true to His word; that He works in all things for GOOD. It’s not good that this friend is gone, but we KNOW that God will work in this situation for GOOD. He always does – and we know that He will continue to do so. I am thankful tonight that this woman knows the lord, and that tonight she is with him in paradise. For Christians, death is always a sad thing, but we rejoice in the fact that this is NOT THE END. There is something more – something better – waiting for us.

I am mourning for this family tonight friends. My heart breaks for them….

And I’ll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

-Casting Crowns