I grew up in the 80s, and I engrossed myself in movies we call classics now. Star Wars, Goonies, Ghostbusters. I loved all of them. One of my favorites was Back to the Future. While the time hopping in the film gets confusing, it makes me wonder what message from the future might have been helpful for the younger me.
Nineteen years ago, I married a pastor and the journey as a pastor’s wife began. I think about what I might say to the younger me if I could go back in time and give her some advice. Maybe I would encourage her by letting her know that some of her most joyous moments would be in those church hallways, Sunday school classrooms, and between the pews and choir rows.
I might tell her that some of her deepest spiritual moments would be serving people and loving them even in the midst of their brokenness. There would be great times of laughter with people who would become lifelong friends, and there would also be some of the greatest travel experiences where she would meet people who would change her life.
I don’t know if I would tell her about the struggles. No one likes to be hurt or to cause hurt. But it’s inevitable when in relationship with people. In both the most joyous moments and the painful ones, I don’t think I would change the part I played in my husband’s ministry. But as I look back, I do think of some guiding principles I would pass on to the younger me:
1. Love deeply regardless of the cost
When we choose to give love, we choose to give the greatest part of ourselves. It can be really hard when people are hard to love, but it will be worth it in the end.
2. Be transparent
Due to your connection to the pastor, you are already in a bit of a “fishbowl.” Instead of pretending you are perfect, be yourself. Consider the expression, “Be you. They’ll adjust.”
3. Make real connections
Find your tribe. Seek out people you can safely be vulnerable with. And hint: it’s okay if they are not at church.
4. Don’t neglect your own walk with God
It will be easy to go through the motions and also get wrapped up in volunteering more hours than you can count. “Doing church” or serving in the ministry are not substitutes for spending time with God.
5. You are always a child of God first
It will be easy to make your identity from your many roles in the church. While those roles are wonderful ways to serve and be involved, they do not define you. Only God defines you, and you are his child before any other definition of yourself.
Jessica Carlson, Coach