By Shirley Turner
There’s no doubt men are cut from different cloth than women. Men talk ideas, women talk details. How I hate to miss a district meeting, largely because that means I will miss all the details. My husband can tell in three sentences what was said and done there. As for me, I can talk the afternoon away about all the subjects covered, the sights noticed, the sounds enjoyed, the tastes savored, the atmosphere absorbed.
It may be because of this difference that one of the most valuable possessions a pastor’s wife can have is a few close friends.
The mobility of the pastor’s family explains part of the need. How many pastors’ wives get to live near their mothers, their sisters? Who ever thought in those days of planning a marriage to this wonderful young preacher from a thousand miles away, that someday there would be a great sense of loss in not being near family members?
How is that void to be filled? It is wonderful that our God is always there for us, yet it is He who made us with a longing to talk to someone with skin on, as the little boy said. Who can be surrogate sisters for the pastor’s wife?
One possibility is for her to make close friends with women of the church. But can she truly be open and honest about her life to them? Can she say, “I’m so angry I could bite a nail in two! My husband just . . . [fill in the blank]!”
Absolutely not! If he is ever less than perfect, she has to just swallow that thought as she smiles and chats among church families as though there has never been such a thing as a wall of silence inside the parsonage.
With whom does she share the details of problems with the children? Now there’s a challenge. Somehow, children never learn the art of hypocrisy. We teach our children to be transparent and genuine, until they begin having ideas of their own that don’t match ours. When that transparency shows unacceptable attitudes, all of a sudden being hypocritical doesn’t seem so bad. Matter of fact, there have been times I was downright grateful for it.
The pastor’s wife might make close friends in the neighborhood, unconnected to the church. That might work if she weren’t interested in winning them to Christ and her church. But having that overarching desire to win anyone she can, each neighbor has to be treated as a potential and eventual member of her church. How scary might it be to see that neighbor become a regular part of your church with her memory bank full of stories that might not reflect well on the pastor’s family.
I think I’ve found the perfect solution to a pastor’s wife’s need for intimate friendship. It is drawing close to other women in ministry, women who understand the difficulties that can arise in a pastor’s home or situations that would not be understood by wives of laymen, or neighborhood women. For me, the perfect solution is a few Free Will Baptist Bible College friends who reconnected in the last few years and have become just what my pastor’s wife heart needed. They understand me and they share details!
With the advent of computers, it is possible to keep in touch far beyond anything we could have hoped for in college days. Do you have a prayer request too personal to share at prayer meeting? You can quickly send that request to those special friends who will lift your name to God.
Are you sad? Angry? Worried? Depressed? An electronic hug is just minutes away. Of course, in time, the electronic hugs are not enough and eventually require a living, breathing get-together.
Judy Bryan, Rita Wenning, Sue Wilcox and Dari Goodfellow have become that support system we call Chosen Sisters. We try to get together once or twice a year. I don’t know how to express what their friendship has meant to me.
To feel loved and understood, to be accepted even when some attitude is unacceptable, to rejoice at their good fortune and know they are happy for mine, to feel heaviness over their losses, to realize they hurt when I grieve—this is true friendship.
How blessed is the pastor whose wife has that kind of friends. What a relief it must be to the pastor when he discovers that he doesn’t have to meet all her emotional needs himself. It gives me courage and confidence to face life’s untrod path, assured I can always reach out for . . . a little help from my friends! n