The second thing about being married to the minister is that feeling of responsibility that ‘they’re watching you’.
I took a dander yesterday afternoon along the Lagan and scribbled a few points down.
The first point was the whole ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ idea whereby your life, family, marriage all become tangled up in what is essentially your wife’s/husband’s work and vocation and because they are working in that area of life that is most important to Christians (the church) boundaries are hard to set or define. Can you and your family ever really be free or yourselves?
The second point is the whole idea that your life (by default of who you are married to and what might be expected of the typical minister’s wife) is under scrutiny as well.
Batman and Robin are both being observed by the powers that be until the L plates can come down. Then when Batman and Robin get a new church they are being even more closely watched by their new congregation.Maybe that is exaggerating things, but that is what it feels like sometimes.
I had scribbled these words in my notebook
‘Feel like I’m being marked, assessed and judged as well as _____ or as a couple by people I never really agreed to be judged or assessed by’
What this means is that we had to move to a new country to study for three years in order for ____ to become a minister.
I had to say goodbye to somewhere I was very fond of and friendships I had made there and start again in a church that I didn’t have a say in choosing.
I’m not saying that the people in our present church aren’t lovely, Godly people (because you are if you are reading)
The point is that any minister’s husband would naturally give up their life and move home for 3-4yrs,
perhaps from somewhere that they love dearly and have been salt and light in and happily be placed in a new church that they know nothing about and expected to get on with things.
It’s like someone telling you to move to a new country,
change work, find work,
find a home,
make new friends, say goodbye old friends,
learn the area
while placing you in a certain church of their choice that you have to attend and become very involved in.
Added to that is the bonus that you are being watched to see if you are a suitable couple for ‘the ministry’ by people higher up the Presbyterian food chain. And those higher up the food chain might be judging you from a certain cultural perspective or lens (that of a Northern Irish, Protestant, Unionist etc.) even though you might be coming from a different culture altogether. To pick one example Remembrance Sunday and singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in church might cause issues if you are from a different part of Ireland than Lisburn or Ballymena.
For instance it seemed to be only natural that I would give up my job for the sake of this move and find new work. At the time it felt like my job and what I was going to do was only a minor consideration compared to the importance of ____ being called to the ministry.
(Sorry, this is a very garbled one again)
As I’ve said to _____ many times we didn’t have a choice in where we had to worship.
In my idealistic head the church should be the one place you can go if things are tough at work for support or encouragement. But what if the church is your work and work or the organization you are working for is the thing causing the discouragement?
Perhaps it is the sense that my freedom of worship has been taken away from me as well.
There is also those who say you just have to survive your placement and just ‘dot the i’s or cross the t’s, jump through the hoops, just do whatever you need to do until you get called to another church where things can be different.’
But I resent that sort of thinking.
Surely the ‘now’ is just as important as the ‘then’ and the means are just as important as the end? If I start faking things just to create a good impression that everything is OK in my soul and that I’m a dedicated minister’s spouse is that just not hypocrisy and dishonest? Is that not just training me to be dishonest?
The danger of course is that if you are too honest about how you really feel reports will get back to the next church you might apply for that ‘____ is great but I’m not sure how _____ would cope with the move. He wasn’t very involved with anything and seemed resentful.’
The idea that people are watching both now and in the future is frightening and frankly off-putting.
I’m a mess.
Most Sunday mornings I don’t want to go to church, church politics drives me crazy, theology bores me to death, I don’t want to be involved in small groups,men’s group, lead youth group, the formality of the service drives me crazy as well,I find church halls the loneliest place in the world.