We all define ourselves through titles. Titles like who we are in relation to our families, i.e. father, son, mother, daughter, husband and wife. We define ourselves by our profession, banker, teacher, manager, doctor lawyer. We define ourselves by our race Asian American, African American, Jewish, Italian, WASP, ... and the list goes on. But what happens when one title, one aspect of who you are eclipses every other title, every other aspect? What happens when people judge you, interact with you, talk about you, only in relation to this one aspect? I know what I am struggling with is a universal emotion and though it relates to my title specifically I'm sure many others with the same title or same problem can relate.
I am a mother, a wife, a Christian, and a Pastor's wife. I am a lot of other things too but that last title defines me to the rest of the world me more than any other part of who I am. Don't get me wrong, the fact I married a pastor is a BIG part of who I am. The fact that I chose to serve the church and be a part of the church as my full time calling is a HUGE part of who I am. Do I have any regret? Absolutely not. I know I am beyond blessed to live this life and be a pastor's wife. But it's not all of who I am. I know I don't talk about being a pastor's wife much on this blog and I think its because on a day to day basis that is all I am to people. I think in some ways this blog has helped me to express myself, to show the world that there is more to me than this title. That I have thoughts, faults, insecurities, fears, struggles, and a sense of humor, parts of me that I know would never see the light of day or beyond the four walls of my home, if it weren't for this blog.
Moving to Kaneohe has been great. I have been falling in love with the congregation and the community. I want to build friendships with other women and others in our community. At church we'll have a great time talking to people our age, other couples with kids, but when I extend an invitation to have a play date or hang out, I immediately sense hesitation in their voice. I realize it's because they see me as the pastor's wife. They might be thinking,
"The pastor's wife is asking us to 'hang out'. What are we gonna do sit around and sing hymns and pontificate about this weeks sermon?? Is she trying to ring us into becoming a member of the church?? I have to put on my 'church face' outside of church??"
I don't know what they are thinking exactly, but I know their hesitation stems from the fact that I'm not just another mother in the same life stage, that wants to hang out... I'm the pastor's wife, a different species. I can't want to just hang out, talk story, and have a good time. Though I am very fulfilled in the company my husband provides me, there is a part of me that wants to connect with other women, especially other mothers.
I've been wondering why this bothers me so much. I keep telling myself "
Why are you surprised?? Didn't you know what you signed up for when you entered ministry and then married a pastor??
" I know this shouldn't be news to me. I know in the big picture its a small price to pay, but it still distresses me and I think it boils down to three reasons.
For one I'm an extrovert. Being around people has always revived me, energized me, and it has always been refreshing. But like poison to a plant the connections I try to make are tainted, affected, and withered by this title. People tend to see me with rose colored glasses, they assume nice things about me, because of my title, but that is all they are willing to see. To me it becomes a rose colored glass box.
The friendships that I need and want as the extrovert God designed me to be, the connections I need as a human being, are unable to penetrate through that glass.
Also, it bothers me because people assume I am extending an invitation because I have some pretense related to the church. People assume I am connecting with them because I want something from them. What could it be? Volunteers maybe? or more people at our service? I can't be connecting with them because I genuinely want to get to know them and build a meaningful friendship. The fact that people automatically assume this about me is especially hurtful.
Lastly, it mothers because I am a mother. As a mother you always wonder how your identity will affect your children. I want my son and daughter to make friends and connections with other kids in the community as well. I wonder will they be put in the same rose colored glass box? Will people define them, judge them, and interact with them based on the fact they are pastors kids? Will they find themselves isolated and separated in some ways from their peers?
As hurtful and discouraging as some of these recent interactions have been, I am all the more resolved to not give up. I want to keep trying, keep persisting in putting myself out there, hoping to crack the rose colored glass. The image, at first will be distorted, and people may be pleasantly surprised and/or disappointed that there is more to me than this title, but that is the only way people will see me with clarity. I am resolved to make friendships, show people that I care, be there for them when they need me. God never gave up on me so I don't want to give up on them. Looking back in my life there are certain relationships that I didn't give up on. I wish I can say there were more, but it was only a few. In these relationships I would not let up, despite the good the bad and the ugly. I knew they were worth fighting for. I feel that same determination inside me. If I try, enough seeds will be planted and relationships will grow. If I try enough, the glass will be broken and people will see that I bleed, heal, and connect like anyone else.
On a lighter note. I need to stop putting them in one cart....