“At the heart of what it means to be a Christian is to receive a new identity.
In Jesus, we do not lose our true selves, but we become our true selves, only in Him.”
Last week I had the blessing of spending time with my parents, sibs, nephews, adult children and my grands. When I got in my car to start the drive back toward my person, I was ready to see him but was feeling a little sad and hesitant. For a week I had the pleasure of being daughter, sister, aunt, mama and grandma. I love these roles because there’s no real performance expectations. These roles were granted to me, and I just am. The time was sweet and light and free.
As I made my way back across the long highway toward home (home = Brent), I pondered how thankful I was that I had chosen to be his wife; yet I inwardly admitted that I was struggling with my role as pastor’s wife. It was somewhat of an unexpected and nagging feeling, though I’ve certainly had it through the years. I mean, all I’ve ever known (except for about two years of my life) is an identity associated with the Pastor. For the first 20 years of my life, my pastor was also my daddy. For the last 30+ he’s been my hubby. While being associated with these two men has been such an honor in my life, these relationships have taken me through some excruciating seasons. Being attached to a person who is in a position requiring them to make decisions that affect a corporate group of people, can bring heartache to one who thrives on transparency in relationships. While it isn’t necessary to uncover all the layers in a blog post, I’m prone to digging into the deeper reason my anxiety had come to the surface at what seemed to be a curious time.
I could consider several things that have rolled around in a lifetime of thoughts: Are my friendships real? Or do people want something from me? Will friends be unhappy with my husband’s decisions and will that impact our relationships? Will friends leave our church because of his leadership? Are those in our circles authentic around us or just performing for the pastor and wife?
Though these are real feelings and thoughts I’ve entertained at varied times, I’m fairly certain these questions don’t get to the root of my most recent fears. Yes, I desire real connection… real friends. But as I’ve prayed, I realize that it’s not nearly as much about doubting the genuineness of earthly relationships as it is doubting the faithfulness of God in my life. At the core of this insecurity is an unfounded suspicion that God’s plan for me must include long seasons of discomfort and very little assurance. Even though I know Him better than that – because He’s proven multiple times to be a great Comforter and a Rock – I have allowed myself to dwell on past hard times rather than His present nearness.
Even as I write this confession, I’m aware of what it is. It’s first and foremost a wrong view of the heart of Father God. And when I forget to preach the good gospel to my soul. a big ol’ idol emerges. It’s a subtle one. It is the idol of settling for the pleasure found in ‘lesser things’ that don’t last. And as it makes its way into the space that is reserved for God alone, the peace that comes from knowing God’s goodness and faithfulness is replaced with fear of the future.
As usual, coming home to Brent’s smiling face and warm embrace brought some relief. But as I moved forward through this week, I was reminded that I won’t be completely settled until my burdens are properly placed in the reliable hands of an always-good God. Even though being Brent’s wife is a joy and honor, it’s a temporary identity. While being Mama Mel is a wonderful privilege and gracious gift, it’s a temporary identity. While being a pastor’s wife can be amazing and also agonizing, it’s a temporary identity. There is only one permanent and perfect identity. And as a daughter of the Most High God, when I embrace this identity to the full, a very real and comforting peace blankets my trembling soul.
I know myself fairly well. This fight isn’t over. I will have to choose to remember and believe what I know: I am my beloved’s and He is mine.
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.