Our guest pastor’s wife is Mrs. Laurel Davis, wife of Pastor Charlton Davis, of New Beginnings Believers Bible Fellowship in Culver City, CA. Sister Laurel is also the founder of www.reluctantfirstlady.com.
Church Hurt of Pastors’ Wives was addressed in our previous blog for the “Pastors’ Wives Perspective” (PWP) series.
You may have never experienced “church hurt,” but have you ever been lonely?
I recently read an interesting article about the life of Susannah Spurgeon, the wife of Charles Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers. According to the article, Susannah was upset with her fiancé Charles, for forgetting about her the moment he stepped into a church to preach.
She went home angry and venting to her mother that her fiancé easily forget her, and her mother responded saying,
“Charles was no ordinary man and his whole life must be dedicated to the service of the Lord,” and that Susannah “must never, never hinder him by trying to put (herself) first in his heart.”
OUCH! That had to be a shocking, unexpected, and hard pill to swallow. Yet, this is exactly what every pastor’s wife comes to understand and accept. Not that she is unimportant, but that at times she will not be her husband’s first priority, specifically while he is seeking to fulfill the work of the Lord.
Sadly, loneliness has become the main “BFF” of many pastors’ wives.
My husband ( Kesha Griffin, Bible Thinking Woman), does an awesome job of spending quality time with me (pretty much every day lol), so I rarely feel lonely due to him neglecting me. Yet, this has not always been my experience, and is not the case for other PWs.
In fact one pastor’s wife said,
“Frankly, the church is like a mistress to my husband. He has abandoned me for someone else.”
Oftentimes, the church requires so much of a pastor’s time and attention, a pastor’s wife can feel that her husband is in love with the ministry more than with her. From in-person counseling, over-the-phone counseling, emergency phone calls, church meetings, hospital visits, etc., a pastor’s mind is constantly on someone else… and that can be challenging for PWs.
“But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided…” 1 Corinthians 7:32-34
The truth is, PWs have to learn how to cope with being married to a husband whose interests are divided. When loneliness sets in, she has to remember that God’s grace is sufficient for her, and remember to cast all of her anxieties, emotional pain and disappointments on the Lord, because He truly cares for her (1 Peter 5:7).
Unfortunately, PWs not only experience loneliness because our husbands are seemingly on-call 24/7, but also due to her lack of close friendships.
Here is Sister Laurel’s perspective.
It’s one thing to be alone, but it’s another thing to feel alone. Or, more specifically, to feel left alone.
Some people like to be alone; they’re rarely lonely. But some of us prefer other people’s company. We don’t mind a little solitude sometimes, but we really thrive off the dynamism of various friendships, social interactions, and “BFFs.” We shouldn’t obsess about it, because that’s plain idolatry. But being designed in the image of God, mankind is ordained to be relational.
In the Body of Christ especially, positive interaction and fellowship among the saints is at least encouraged, if not an imperative, in scripture. So, when we experience less than that, when we feel not just alone but left alone, it naturally bothers us.
For pastors’ wives (PWs) in particular, while the degree of loneliness varies from one pastor’s wife to the next, it is especially pervasive and adds yet another layer to an already difficult role for us. Here are some reasons why:
- Some women are jealous of us. They shouldn’t be, but they are.
- Some women automatically assume we’re snobs, but only because they would be snobs themselves if they were in our shoes.
- Some women are intimidated by us because they think PWs are more important than them.
- Some women’s expectations of us are too high and they treat us like infidels the moment we act like the normal, flawed human beings that we are. See John 7:24.
- PWs shouldn’t confide in most women because our spiritual struggles might make them stumble, or because they can’t relate unless they’re a PW, too. See Romans 14:13. Sadly, even some fellow PWs can’t handle it or relate.
- Some women at church can’t be friends with us because their husbands have issues with our husbands.
- Some women think they can’t just “be themselves” around us in non-church settings. To some degree, they’re right – depending on what “be themselves” really looks like. But mostly, it’s alienating. Plus, “being one’s self” should not be a higher priority than fellowshipping with a fellow sister in the Lord who needs some girls’ time too and may actually be fun to hang out with.
- Some women we (PW or not) should avoid socially because they are fellow believers who are practicing some sort of immorality in their lives. See 1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
- Some women we should avoid socially because they are gossiping busybodies, want to get close to us in order to get close to our husbands, or are in some other way divisive. See Romans 16:17.
- If God has called us to teach on Godly Christian Womanhood – especially modesty, meekness and submission in marriage – certain women will respond with hate, not humility.
- Last but not least, the call to servanthood that God places on our pastor husbands oftentimes requires their undivided attention, day or night. Not even wives come before the high calling of God.
Nevertheless, my sisters – and this is if you’re a pastor’s wife or not – loneliness need not overwhelm us as believers. If we were the loneliest people in the world, we still have a Friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), who calls us His friends if we do what He says (John 15:14), who is able to sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15), who will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5), and who loves us enough to die for us and give us eternal life (John 3:16). That Friend is Jesus, and we, even pastors’ wives, never have to be lonely. We are more than conquerors even against loneliness, because Christ loves us (Romans 8:35-39).
Let’s see our relationship with Jesus as our ultimate relationship, in this life as well as the life to come. Sure, He’s not tangible like our husbands, friends and family, but He really is our ultimate satisfaction for our God-given desire to be relational. For isn’t He the most consistent, the most dependable and the most understanding Person we know? Any marriage, friendships, confidants and “BFFs” we have besides that, as long as they don’t replace the Friend we have in Jesus, are just an extra measure of grace from our omni-benevolent Savior.