The slide began for me when I heard the news that Jenna (not her real name)—a ministry wife from a neighboring community—had died by suicide. She was one of the most beautiful women I had ever met. Her blue eyes were animated and humbly charming. Her shiny, blonde hair framed a face of flawless complexion. I freely admit to a bit of envy whenever we chatted. Because she smiled easily and displayed a quiet charm that I mistook for a quiet spirit, I assumed life for her was stable and enjoyable. Her husband pastored a modest church in a large city and, from all appearances, loved her dearly. On a white, snowy Sunday, while her children and husband were in church, she took her life in the parsonage.
As a pastor’s spouse myself, I was shocked. Christians were not supposed to experience such turmoil. As a result of this and another life-changing event of my own, I began searching for answers to tough questions that seemed endless. While both men and women can find themselves in the role of ministry spouse, I found I had a calling to better understand the struggles of women like me. I am a scientist and began searching by reason alone in a venue that questioned any faith step. I was looking for spiritual answers in a place bereft of eternal perspective. My questions mounted, unanswered, and I sat in my pew at church and pondered while my husband preached. It was a dark time for me.
Then God, in his magnificent grace and providence, began a series of events and a work in my heart that led to great certainty, and to a trust that has not wavered in the forty years since those events. That is the story of how the book When the Pastor Is Your Husband began.
When finally God had set me back on solid faith I cried out, “Someone needs to help those of us in ministry who endure such dark times as this. Maybe someone could have helped Jenna. God, send someone to help us!”
And God spoke quietly but certainly: “I have equipped you to begin this good work.”
Because the normal way I answer questions is through the collection of data, I set out to design a questionnaire to collect information from pastor’s wives all over the country. With the help of many, many people, 450 of those questionnaires were returned to me and formed the basis of my thoughts about what is good in ministry, what is difficult, and how those difficult times can be used by God and surmounted.
According to this survey, the number-one battle faced by most ministry wives is “the expectations I impose on myself.” We have seen or imagined what the perfect ministry wife is, and many of us are determined to imitate that ideal. Managing those expectations takes God’s grace, a sense of humor, a shoulder to cry on, and an eternal perspective. It also requires understanding that most of the pressure we feel comes from within. Precious woman of God, let God be sufficient sustainment, and know that you are not alone.
When the Pastor is Your Husband: The Joy and Pain of Ministry Wives has helped ministry wives since its release in 2011. It is currently still available for purchase here.