Being married to a pastor can be hard, draining, and extremely lonely at times. Let’s talk about some of the challenges and reasons you feel spiritually tired.
Now, this is a long one, so don’t feel the need to read it all in one sitting. Instead, of taking it chapter by chapter.
As I type this, I’m having a hard “pastor’s wife” week. Yes, pastors’ wives have a hard time and it’s ok to let people know that we do. Honestly, one of the biggest misnomers is that pastor’s wives are always happy, always jolly, and always feeling super good. Hey, if that was true, we’d never grow. We’d never mature. See, we grow in our struggle seasons. We get our spiritual muscles and earn our spiritual “sweat equity” when we suffer and matriculate through our tribulations. Yeah, we get street “cred.” Ok, enough analogies, right? Well, seriously, just because we’re married to pastors doesn’t mean we cannot go through hard times. We need them just like everyone else. They are faith-builders for us women married to a pastor! Lord knows we need lots of faith in this role. Married to a pastor means married to a church and a purpose.
In our pastor’s wives Facebook group, I asked for us to finish this sentence: “Being a pastor’s wife is like:”
We’re a chill group and not terribly active, but I wanted to see what others would say.
One of our sisters said it’s like being in school with all the cliques and such. I said it’s like “balancing on a tightrope” and another sister said it’s lonely at times. All this is true. Well, because this role is not an easy one.
Yes, we will have tribulations, but we are not to let them get or keep us down because Jesus has overcome this world and all its stressful foolishness. In other words, Pastor’s Wife, He’s got you and me covered.
Sometimes we are just “tired” pastors’ wives
Now, let’s talk about spiritual fatigue and its simple remedy for a moment. As a woman married to a pastor, you’ll feel the burden of loving a man of purpose. This can be so hard on a marriage– much more so than many people even know or believe. They bear such burdens and often need a safe place to communicate them. Usually that “safe place” is us.
After a while of hearing so many challenges (i.e. problems) or seeing him so emotionally exhausted, it wears on you. I know it wears on me from time to time. I don’t feel the need for any disclaimers so I won’t write a paragraph explaining them. I’ll say this: we all know we love our husbands. We all know we want to support them. We understand it’s part of the role. Got it. Clear. We understand all this, but we also need a safe place to say “geez, this is a lot.” Being married to a pastor is A LOT! Doesn’t it feel good to hear someone affirm that?
Affirming it doesn’t make us weak, nor does it make us carnal…it just makes us human. Amen?
No shame in being “fed up”, pastor’s wife.
After all, everyone gets mentally and spiritually exhausted from time to time. Spiritual fatigue is real.
The way I see it, there are two types of “fatigue.” One is deep-rooted and spiritual and the other is the one people commonly associate with being tired. Both can affect us as pastors’ wives. In fact, I’ll bet we all struggle with one or the other (or both!) from time to time. Don’t you think?
Let me break it down the way I see it…and often feel it myself.
First, there’s the “tired” you have at the end of a long, drawn-out day. Do you know that kind of tiredness?
Sure you do.
It is when your limbs are achy and heavy. Your mind is cluttered and convoluted. All you want…all you long for is an opportunity to just…collapse. The only remedy in this situation is a good, uninterrupted night’s sleep and the absence of an annoying alarm clock waking you in the morning. In my opinion, this is the easiest sort of “tired’ to deal with.
Why? Because the remedy is easy and familiar. The cure is rest. You can “veg out” on a boring tv show to sleep or maybe take a light sleep aid. Either way, you can fix this with some help. Hey, if you have ideas of what helps you sleep, please share them below! I’m one of those people who have a hard time sleeping. Tips welcome!
Now, for the other “tiredness” or exhaustion.
Again, this is the other “weary” we often encounter.
This tiredness is more like a spiritual, inner one.
This one originates from something much deeper inside of yourself. It’s the result of weeks, months, and sometimes years of hardship, distress, and heartache. The types of hard seasons I’m talking about are those that wear on you over time. These life episodes seem to gnaw at your spirit to the point of anxiety and little by little chips away at your happiness and even your hope for the future. It depletes you; it exhausts you. It drains you. Tiredness could also be caused by worrying about what people think or feeling like being a pastor’s wife is a mistake you should not have made. I’ll talk about those things later.
Regardless, it’s a common type of fatigue for a pastor and a woman married to a pastor. Have you ever felt that sort of tired down in your soul?
When you do, you need rejuvenation. Yeah, with this “tired” you feel like you’re on “empty” like a car’s gas tank after a long, long road trip.
I figure pastor’s wives are often the ones everyone likes to dump problems on. It’s OK when they do. It’s part of our ministry. But, it can be taxing. Right?
When I’m in this state, I feel …
Blah. I just feel blah.
For sure, when you’re in this state, it becomes increasingly difficult to be optimistic or cheery because you’re just mired in this cloud of being “tired”.
Your mind seems to reel all the time. Relief seems far away. Not at all accessible.
Your spirit feels heavy and overcome with a dogged and unrelenting spiritual fatigue.
It may seem like your best days are far behind you (but, they are not). The enemy of your soul may tell you that, but don’t believe it. It’s a temporary rough patch. That’s all. You’ll come out of it, in Jesus’ name!
You know what else? You can’t hide this “tired” very well.
It is evident to the outside world. Evidence of it slips out. It comes through your social pores. People seem to easily notice it when you’re married to a pastor. I guess because they are “watching” you so closely. Either way, it shows in how you carry yourself physically, respond to agitation, and even betrays you by revealing a sort of dimness in your eyes.
Have you ever seen someone smile with their lips while their eyes were filled with sadness?
Hey, Christian Woman, I’m not trying to depress you.
I’m affirming you. So many Christian bloggers like to post only “happy happy” stuff and talk only of the victories or problem-free seasons. I wanted to fully embrace the fact a woman married to a pastor can feel heavy at times. Amen?
If your fatigue lingers, nothing is wrong with getting help professionally or talking to a trusted confidant. However, most of us just feel “off” sometimes and those days are when you need a blog post like this one.
What causes this type of fatigue…
We get tired of being treated badly. We get tired of being ignored. We get tired of being low on the priority list. We get tired of being overlooked. We get tired of being the one everyone thinks they can mistreat. We get tired of handling all the “home” stuff by ourselves. We get tired because our bodies are complex machines that can get off balance on a monthly basis. Girl, there are lots of reasons we get “tired” and most of them are not our fault.
For a woman married to a pastor, any type of mistreatment makes us “tired”, right? Especially when people don’t appreciate our gifts after we render our best effort.
Sure, they can take us for granted. *sigh*
Yep, many things foster the tiredness.
When people disappoint us time and time again; tiredness also develops.
Nothing else to give.
Done. That’s where we find ourselves.
But, beautiful Christian woman, there is hope.
There is a spiritual “nap” for the soul and it really does work! I’ve totally unpacked the whole “tired” thing, so I’m so glad to shift gears! I just didn’t want to gloss over the “realness” of it all. 🙂
Hope, hope beautiful hope! We got it in Jesus! It lies in connecting with the “Rock that is higher than I.”
Read Psalm 6:1:
Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Breathe that scripture in. Read it a couple of times, if you can. Selah.
Pastor’s Wife, the next time you begin to feel the sort of “tired” in your soul I’ve been describing, go ahead and still the moment, stop the world and refresh yourself from the Well that never runs dry. In the presence of the Lord, you will become refreshed. You’ll find comfort and you’ll find the assurance you are not alone.
He really does love you, Christian Sister. Not because of any acts you do or don’t do. Trust me, being married to a pastor means people expect so many of those “acts” from us. Many of which are unreasonable to expect.
Anyway, only in the presence of God will you be able to hear that ‘still small voice’ that brings you solace and respite. It can even bring direction. Don’t laugh, but I believe I’ve heard the Holy Spirit tell me things like “Teri, turn off the TV and just go to bed.” Ha! Has that ever happened to you?
Back to you.
In that quiet place, you gain fresh perspective and spiritual nourishment. The horribleness of life seems less so because it pales in comparison to Jesus Christ and all He offers women married to pastors.
Back to me. This past week, I was mentally and spiritually exhausted from life.
I needed to stop the world and everything I needed to do. I snuck upstairs to our bedroom and closed the door.
Fortunately, my husband and the guys were downstairs having a good time together. I was blissfully alone. The room was calm and quiet. I could hear myself breathe so I took long, deep, cleansing breaths. They felt so good.
Ahhhh…there’s something about time alone with Him. It’s wonderful! Right?
Yes, the solace was rejuvenating. The quietness slowed my heartbeat and I just thought about the goodness of the Lord and His love for me. I didn’t think about all the things people expect from me being married to a pastor. I didn’t think about the telephone calls I needed to return. No. I was just quiet and it was wonderful!
I am so glad I didn’t run to the phone to call a friend to vent.
Friends can do nothing for that kind of “tired”.
I didn’t call my mama. She couldn’t have done much. Plus, she doesn’t need all that drama.
Instead, I sat on the floor to bow my body and spirit all while just “being” before a loving and living God. My heavenly Father. Your heavenly Father.
Let Alvin Slaughter minister to you in this song. This is one of my favorite songs for my spiritually tired times.
I prayed …mentally and spiritually exhausted from life. I just prayed.
I invited the peace of the Holy Spirit into my “tired”, spiritually fatigued moment. Then, I breathed.
I thanked Him for comfort, rest, and joy – some of which I hadn’t fully felt yet. But, I knew He’d deliver. Then, I breathed again.
In faith I said thanks and I prayed. I expressed gratitude for His fellowship and my access to a most Holy God who loves me just as I am – married to a pastor or not!
I praised Him for His Word that repeatedly supplies comfort to my “tired”, thirsty soul.
Oh yeah! Don’t forget the Bible is perfect for spiritual fatigue, Pastor’s Wife.
The Psalms are life a gift during times like this!
Oh, there is nothing like Psalms when you feel exasperated.
Sometimes, you’ll have to search until you find the “right” one to speak to your heart and your circumstance.
But, never fear: it’s there. Holy Spirit will guide you to it. Another spirit will try to pull you from it. Ignore that “spirit”.
You know, the “spirit” I’m talking about.
It’s the one that tempts you to lay in bed, depressed and defeated. It is not of God. No! Turn to the Lord in worship, gratitude, and fellowship with His Word.
Reject that other one.
Without a doubt…I FELT BETTER!
I felt so much better after I did that…after I had that moment.
When I rose to my feet, I could feel the burden had lifted and I once again, I had a flowing stream replace my spiritual desert.
I literally exhaled. Have you ever felt that sort of release?
Of course, My problems had not gone away, but my focus was no longer on them.
They seemed small and insignificant in light of my mighty God.
The point of all this: find peace in the presence of God when you feel at the end of your rope.
Don’t let me paint a bad picture of being married to a pastor. 🙂
Let’s talk about my life now and a couple of things that can cause spiritual exhaustion for pastors’ wives. An ounce of prevention is … well, you know the rest.
Chapter 2: Is my life better being married to a pastor?
Few things dim the glow of life quicker than failed expectations.
Many pastors’ wives I know personally have said “I thought it would be different” or “I didn’t know it would be like this.” I’ve felt the same way before myself.
For me, it helped me to think about my life prior to marrying my husband and compare it to my current existence.
Through the years, numerous people have asked me: “Is your life better now that you’re married to him?” Again, I’ve asked myself the same version of that question: “was I better off single?”
Let me start at the beginning.
As the story goes, I was a single, divorced mom for almost fourteen years when I met my husband. Tying the knot for the second time unquestionably reshuffled my world and my son’s too.
Right after I got married, people always seemed to inquire whether my new life was as “dreamy” as I’d expected.
Honestly, this added some sort of pressure for me to perceive it as “better.”
My husband was a very eligible and popular pastor in the African-American community. but, since I attended a mixed-race, non-denominational church in a different sector (i.e. I was not Baptist – he is), I hadn’t heard of him at all. Nevertheless, those who were familiar with him figured I had hit some sort of jackpot.
So many people had that whole ‘just add man and stir’ dream for me. They wanted a fairy tale. You know, the whole “Boaz coming to save the day” fantasy.
There was only one problem with that “fairy tale” notion.
My life was pretty good as a single woman. Sure, it had challenges, yet, it wasn’t all bad.
I had suffered much, endured much, and cultivated an identity of strength and resilience.
Around the time I met my husband, I’d healed from many (but not all) of life’s most traumatic scars, and my goals were coming within reach all while my career was flourishing.
Day by day, I was learning to trust Jesus as my Husband and He always delivered. He met my every need for my finances, my friendships, and my spiritual growth. Challenges and all, life was pretty good. I wasn’t seeking any fairytale. I didn’t need rescuing.
“For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.” Isaiah 54:5
Back to the Question…
Is my life better now that I’m married to the pastor?
I would say “yes” on some levels.
Better because I know Jesus more intimately than I did before. Is that a result of marriage? Not necessarily, but I think it’s A HUGE part of it.
John’s “call” to ministry regularly humbles and conforms me (squeezes me) into the image of Christ – that’s a good thing. Yet, my ‘better’ life is a direct result of me still relying on Jesus to be my Rock and Sustainer just as much as I did before. I need Him just as much.
All this to say, my life is better because marrying my husband has made it a little harder. It’s broken me and grew me spiritually. The things I want to occur often don’t happen because someone dies or something happens that changes them. That has taught me selflessness. That’s a good thing, don’t you think?
It’s also better because I love him so much. He’s a blessing to me and to my heart.
Life was good and is good…
In the final analysis, hardships come now that I’m married to a pastor; they came when I was single. Bottom line: struggles are certain no matter what situation you find yourself in. God’s people will exhaust you, shucks, people will exhaust you regardless of your life situation. The good news is God keeps getting better and better!
Honestly, I attribute the escalating happiness in my life to being exactly where I’m supposed to be in this season. For me, that is married to a pastor. Knowing I’m walking in my purpose energizes me when I feel emotional exhaustion.
Sometimes when I feel emotionally and spiritually spent, I need to assess whether or not my priorities are out of order or if I’m making something an idol in my life.
My husband is the cherry on the pie of my life, but he is not the pie; not even half of the pie.
Keeping our husbands, the ministry, and everything else in proper perspective is so important. When you make something more important than it should be, it throws off a balance in your life and can trigger spiritual imbalance or spiritual exhaustion in my opinion. What do you think?
Anyway, I don’t think my husband would have married me had I thought he was the pie (or the most important thing in my life). The pie is my destiny in Christ and allowing Him to prepare me for His best use of me.
He’s doing that each day as He molds me into who He wants me to become. The fact that I’m excited about that makes my life better than it was before. So, yeah…I guess my life is better since I’ve gotten married – but not for the reasons most would think.
Remember your husband, the parking space, the reserved seat really is that important. Keep your perspective clear and your priorities straight, Pastor’s Wife.
Ok. Let’s keep this train moving. You can be “tired” by the women who covet your role…or even your husband. That’s a common reason pastor’s wives get stressed by the haters.
Alright then, let’s talk about “them” haters.
Chapter 3: How to handle haters when you’re married to the pastor
One of the most valuable life lessons I have learned to date is simple: don’t pay attention to the “haters”.
Giving too much power to people’s opinions is the same as “people-pleasing.” A “people pleaser” puts God in a substandard, or secondary, position in their lives. He doesn’t deserve to be there. God deserves to be up top and the jealous, nosy people do not. Want to know how to handle haters as a Christian? I’ll tell ya what I do.
Now get me straight: I’m not advocating treating people badly or being uncaring.
I do, however, encourage you to take the “meat” and leave the “bones” of what others say. This means take the “good” stuff they say to you and ignore the negative.
Those who criticize you in the wrong spirit. Ignore them.
Those who think you should be doing “this” or “that” ignore them too.
Consider the spirit in which [what is advised] is communicated and decide what you’ll take to heart and what you’ll consider rubbish. Everyone has an opinion, but that does mean you have to accept them all, right?
Ask yourself: “is this person a friend or foe?”
Plenty of times I received advice that hurt my feelings, but it was good for me. It instructed me and got me on a good, healthy path. I knew the person delivering the advice meant me good – so I listened. The first step in knowing how to handle haters is to know who is one and who is not.
Definitely, cultivate a mental (and spiritual) “filter” for the information you receive and reject about yourself. Listening, rehearsing, or pondering what a mean-spirited critic says will only exhaust you over time. Don’t replay their stuff in your head. Pitch it and dismiss it, when needed.
Don’t let “haters” get to your heart. I did once and it was a waste of my time and energy. I let a bunch of jealous, petty women’s criticism of me hurt me. It was my fault that it did. But, even then it was a blessing because it caused me to leave a ministry I wasn’t meant to lead at that time. In fact, it was a group of women that really didn’t need to be a ministry at all. But, I digress.
Reflecting back, I think I was worn out trying to win the approval of women who would never deliver it. Tired of trying to “fit in” and get support, I decided to break all the rules and do my “own thing”. In doing so I found so much freedom. Freedom to focus on my new marriage and my children.
How do I handle the haters and preserve my peace?
- Decide this: to “heck” with the haters!
Now that I’m much older, I love the liberty of walking my own path and following Jesus’ direction in my life. No outside approval is needed.
People have to take me as I come. Gone are the days when I craved mass acceptance and being included in the “groups.” Here’s the thing: you don’t have to be my age to decide to walk in your own true identity in Christ. You can decide at any age to be free of people’s opinions and embody the role of pastor’s wife!
Also, this whole process of embracing oneself is not one-and-done. It’s an ongoing practice of reminding yourself who you are in Christ and how you want to remain free of the peace-draining exercises of insecurity. If you submerge your sense of purpose, it will weaken you and make you feel spiritually exhausted, Christian Woman. You’ve simply gotta shake yourself loose from the opinions of others.
Let me tell you, I found such freedom when I finally reconciled tongue-waggers, criticizers and copy-cats will always be around.
They will always be there to weigh in on what I do, wear, think and say. Most people do it because they are insecure themselves or even jealous. You can’t escape it. You just have to learn how to navigate it. It’s sad some people need to worry about us instead of living their lives fully, but that’s not our problem. It’s the way some people live their lives. But, that is not for you to be concerned with. Leave them to the Lord and keep moving forward. Haters will hate – is more than a song lyric. It’s a reality – even in churches.
By all means, don’t let them inhibit you or prevent you from fulfilling your dreams or walking in your purpose.
Just love them and pray for them. But, do not allow their foolish conversations and personal opinions to weigh you down.
If you do, your Godly ambitions will be nothing more than that…ambitions or ideas. You’ll be too encumbered by fear to act on them or take steps to be creative in leadership. You’ll never create that women’s conference or plan that event because you’ll be too scared of what others think. Boo to that!
Do not wait for folks’ approval; after you pray – MOVE FORWARD!
I’ve never watched a bio-pic or read a book about a person who did nothing productive with their lives because they were scared of people. No, it’s the people who step out on faith are the ones that impact history and impact lives.
NO! the best folks to read about are those who overcame challenges! People who reached goals and conquered the world! That’s who you (and I) want to be! Be that person and don’t worry about the small people and their small minds!
2. Don’t be “sad”, Girl!
I’ll tell ya, it breaks my heart when I see talented, Spirit-filled women impeded because they care entirely too much about what other people think.
Have you ever met someone like that? Someone with so much to contribute and give, but they won’t and don’t because they are afraid of what others might say or think? It’s so disappointing.
I often imagine what could “be” if they would just step out of their insecurity and merely try to do something great – in spite of the naysayers.
Also sad is that it’s always the “mediocre butts” in life spewing criticism and throwing buckets of water on the dreams and ambitions burning in the heart of others.
They are doing nothing themselves except criticizing and stuck in their own complacency. As a result, they want everyone else to be “stuck” too.
Instead of letting them hold you down or hold you back, here is what you do, Pastor’s Wife:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
3. Be you, Christian woman of God, UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU!
Try new things, and dream big dreams! Click here for ideas of ministry ideas for pastors wives!
Embrace the fullest, most complete version of yourself.
Doing so will energize you! It will invigorate you!
You won’t be depleted inside.
Being married to a pastor means a lot of eyes watching. But, those eyes don’t have to have power over you.
After all, people who take the time to criticize you are usually stranded in the dark, still waters of doldrums themselves. They are haters.
Have compassion for them, but keep it moving! Be 100% who you are without too much consideration of others, Pastor’s Wife!
The truly spiritually mature people are usually too busy with their own life’s mission to be condemning yours. So, pray for them to become whole. Amen? Amen.
I love you, Pastor’s Wife. You’re married to a pastor and that can be so hard at times.
It can also be a breeding ground toward greatness if you take care of yourself, remember your life is great because of the Lord and you don’t worry about the haters.
I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to you! Tell me your thoughts below!