The first piece of advice I received upon entering ministry was “you can’t trust anyone anymore – these people want to pick you for information, and when your husband makes them angry, they’ll use it and turn on your family.” Welcome to the ministry? I wasn’t the only who received this advice – a few years later, a friend became engaged to a pastor and she got the same speech. She sidled up next to me at the restaurant table that evening and said, “Missy, I already heard that I can’t have friends anymore. Well, guess what? You and me, we’re best friends now!” I was so grateful to her and I smile (and laugh) every time I think of that evening!
I laugh when I think of that advice, too. It was well-intentioned, I have no doubt AT ALL – I have just found that it isn’t true. Not for me, anyway. “These people” are not these people – they are my people. Over the past 23+ years, “these people” have been my closest friends, and I have been blessed by letting them in.
I like it like this, this living heart open.
Of course, when you live heart open, it follows that you may at times be heart broken. It’s okay. It’s life, and we have a comfort from the Lord:
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book….
This I know: God is on my side! I praise God for what He has promised;
yes, I praise the Lord for what He has promised” (Psalm 56:8-10 NLT)
And we have this:
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23)
It doesn’t seem like those two go together here, but stick with me – they do! If your steps are ordered by the Lord, you are exactly where He would have you, and you are exactly with the people that He ordered alongside of you too – and it is delightful! If you are heart open or heart broken, God is collecting your tears, your sorrow is not for nothing. He has placed people around you (a dear one told me yesterday: “sometimes we need Jesus with skin on” and oh, wasn’t she just that to me? You know those times – God is on your side, but it’s nice to have one of His children alongside too).
While we’re visiting and vulnerable, want to know something else? I try not to cry in front of my church, I don’t know why. But some days…. Well, some days I can’t help it (this wasn’t the first time, sorry!). You know what I do? It’s so silly. I take a deep breath and I greet everyone like usual: “How are you? Oh me? I’m so good too!” and smile and walk around as if nothing. Sometimes, not often but sometimes, I sit down and put my head on a dear prayer warrior’s shoulder and cry openly. I tell her: “I can’t talk about it, I have these people to protect, but will you pray for me?” and she does right that very moment and she reminds me of the faithfulness of God and my faith comes by hearing and hearing her voice (Romans 10:17) and I’m strengthened. I’m blessed. I have a handful of tissues or napkins on the front row. As I’m facing the people on the stage, I’m bawling my eyes out, sometimes shoulders shaking from the trying to stop it, sometimes closing my lips tight to try and hold in a sob. Sometimes the band notices me and sometimes they don’t. When Michael says, “turn and greet your neighbor”, I dry up and turn around and smile, as if no one in the sanctuary has seen me. I pretend no one saw me rush out to grab another handful of tissues because I used up the ones I had a few minutes ago. Sometimes no one did notice, thankfully. Sometimes I get a “you okay?” text from the back row, thankfully. Both are mercies. Sometimes they all noticed, and they all prayed. They remember when their heart was broken and I prayed for them.
They aren’t just “these people”, they are my people and I love them.
Thank you, People’s Church of Winter Haven – not every pastor’s wife is afforded the luxury of being herself, like I am with y’all. Masks off, truth between us, hearts open. Each of you are my treasure, and continually in my prayers ❤
Rejoice for your steps are ordered by God, my friend. Whatever your situation, don’t be afraid to let people in. The occasional hurt is most certainly worth the continual community – and there’s your treasure! Praying you will recognize it and reach out to those whose steps are ordered to be around you –