Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Don't Put Me in a Box!

I have issues. Ha! Got your attention. Yes, I have issues, you have issues, and we all have issues! However, one of my biggest issues is not with myself, but with people who try to confine me into what they desire me to be. Honestly, I cannot stand it! Whenever I feel like I am being forced into a box, I come out kicking and screaming. Okay, not literally, but inwardly and when I vent to Craig at home. I simply refuse to be put into a box.

In Jeremiah, the Lord says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I take that as meaning we’re all different, because really, what would be so wonderful about making billions of the same person over and over and over?

Maybe it is just me, but I like being different. I like “shocking” people and making them think. Not in a bad way, but in a necessary way!

Craig and I were at a gathering of pastors and ministers once where I had not met some of the people. So, we’re being introduced here and there as “Pastor Craig Sloan, and this is Pastor Craig’s wife.” Now, understand that I was there as a pastor and as a wife. So, at the next introduction, I stepped up and interjected my own introduction. “Hi, I’m Pastor Tara Sloan,” the couple looked at each other and pointed at Craig saying, “and this is…” I interjected again, “Pastor Tara’s husband.”

Craig and I both laughed and re-introduced us as, “Pastors Craig and Tara Sloan, from Oxford, Alabama.” As we walked off the people who had been introducing us tried to explain why they were introducing us the way they were. It really meant nothing to me; I had gotten my point across. I was NOT going into that box!

Even if I were not a licensed pastor, I would still have a problem with being introduced as Pastor Craig’s wife. I mean, of course I am his wife, but I also have a name! And an identity of my own!

For too long, women in ministry and pastors’ wives have been compartmentalized, categorized, labeled, and boxed up. We are expected to act a certain way, talk a certain way, look a certain way, and perform a certain way.

Recently an article published in Time Magazine about pastors’ wives, “Pastors’ Wives Come Together.”, troubled me. At first I thought, “Wow! How great! A secular article about unifying pastor’s wives!” Then I read it and I was disappointed.

The article begins with a ridiculous “job description” for the pastor’s wife. In the next paragraph, looming statistics declare the role of a pastoral spouse as the most miserable job in the universe. In addition, the pastor’s wife is also slated as the number one reason pastors live the ministry.

The article does give kudos to some of the online resources available for “venting purposes” and recipe swapping, but all in all, the article did not do justice to the pastor’s wife. In my opinion, I believe this article stemmed from an ignorant blogger who attempted to blame the Ted Haggard scandal on Pastor Haggard’s wife. I won’t even attempt to go here because that is a post all by itself! And I might add, Pastor Mark Driscoll got quite a bit of “mail” from PWs all over the world for his comments.

Anyway, it is sad situation when pastor’s wives are feeling the way they do. According to statistics:

* Eighty percent of pastor's wives feel left out and unappreciated by the church members.

* Eighty percent of pastors' spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.

* Eighty percent of pastors' wives feel pressured to do things and be something in the church that they are really not.

* The majority of pastor's wives surveyed said that the most destructive event that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

After reading these statistics and many more, I began to feel a mixture of emotions. First, I felt bewildered! I wondered where in the world they found these women! Who had they spoken to! It was hard for me to grasp.

Then I got angry. I got angry that these women were made to feel this way. I got angry because deep down, every pastoral couple knows that they are both called into ministry together. I got angry because I know the very reason these women are suffering is because they are being forced into a box. They are tired of fighting, they are weary from trying to please everyone, and they are fed up with being expected to be perfect.

I am all for the online support, I frequent those boards myself, but I also know that a lot more than whining, complaining and recipe swapping goes on there. The women on those boards are God fearing, praying, encouraging, talented, called, chosen, and fired up women of destiny!

So, if you are a pastor’s wife, minister’s wife, a woman minister, pastor, or co-pastor, or connected somewhere in between, or if you know someone who fits this description, be encouraged! Don’t let anyone put you in a box! Remember who you are- you are wonderfully and fearfully made!

1 comment:

Nan said...

Great post!

I especially like this line: "Maybe it is just me, but I like being different. I like “shocking” people and making them think. Not in a bad way, but in a necessary way!"

That is SO me!