Dear Sweet Pastor’s Wife,
I saw your tears. I was too young and naïve to know why you might have been crying. I thought you had the greatest life; how could you be sad? I saw the tears during prayer time. I watched tears stream down your face as we worshipped in singing. I wondered why you were dabbing your eyes near the back of the church during that one business meeting. You remember the one. I didn’t know.
Maybe those tears were tears of joy as your love for Jesus overflowed while you sang.
Maybe they were tears of sorrow as you plead with God for change in a loved one’s life.
Maybe your tears fell because someone told you that you weren’t doing things right.
Maybe your own fear and self-consciousness kept the tears flowing.
Maybe things were getting tight and you didn’t know how you were going to supply your children’s needs and your tears were in desperation for help.
Maybe your tears were because your child couldn’t quite get a hold of the power of God in their lives.
Maybe someone you trusted turned out to betray you and your tears were tears of forgiveness as you begged God for the strength to love them anyway.
Maybe someone was attacking your husband and spreading lies and you cried tears of anger.
Maybe the attacks seemed never-ending.
Maybe the work of the ministry seemed futile.
Maybe the apathy in the church was overwhelming.
Maybe your children were feeling all these things and your tears were for them.
Maybe you were ready to be done and your tears were begging God to intervene someway, somehow.
Maybe you were lonely. Past hurts were keeping you from having authentic friendships.
Maybe you were lonely at home too, missing your husband who must work two jobs besides being the Pastor.
Maybe they were tears of exhaustion as you served yet another year in an area that you were not called to or shaped for.
Maybe you were crying over the lost souls in your community.
Maybe your tears were because of how awful the circumstances were in that missionary’s presentation from a third world nation.
Maybe they were from anger and disgust over the petty things that your church members were fighting over when there were so many people lost and going to Hell while they fight over carpet.
Maybe, just maybe, they were because you are human like everyone else and have the same sorrows, trials, joys, and emotions as ever other human.
Now, twenty years into ministry, I get it. Paul reflects on his time in Asia in Acts 20:18-19 with the Elders from Ephesus. He reminds them that he served the Lord “with all humility and with tears and with trials…” Ministry is so hard. There is only one thing in this world harder than being a pastor, and that’s being a pastor’s wife. (Don’t tell your husband that though. That’s our secret). You are in ministry with him, you serve just as Paul did, with humility and with tears. Your ministry looks different than his, but you are in it together. It’s beautiful and messy all at the same time.
I know it’s hard when you feel all the things and can’t do anything to change any of the things.
I know how you feel when that church member complains about how tired they are so they’re just sitting this one out. When you’re on the verge of a breakdown and now must pick up their slack too.
I know how much it hurt when the person you thought was your husband’s biggest supporter turned out to be the one to try and tear him down.
I know you worry about your kids and how they are handling the stress of ministry. You do the best you can to protect them, but is it enough?
I know you can’t do everything, you can’t be everywhere, you can’t meet every need of every person, and I know you still feel guilty about all the things you couldn’t do.
I know you don’t think you can talk to anyone. I also know that you must have someone to talk to.
I know that you must take care of yourself. Your spiritual life matters. Your family life matters. Your mental and physical health matters. Don’t ignore these things for the sake of being “the good pastor’s wife.”
I know now what the tears were for.
Thank you for crying your tears! Each and every tear represents the burdened heart of a precious servant of God who is crying out to her Lord. God see’s every tear and is holding on to you so tightly.
Psalm 56:8 “You have taken account of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?” In the middle of a passage talking about being oppressed, attacked, fought against, trampled on, and discouraged God reminds us that He holds our tears. Every. Single. Tear.
So, my sister Pastor wives, let those tears flow! Give them to God, the only one who will handle them with the care they deserve.