I was watching Beth Moore on video last night. She was talking about a move she made from the home her children grew up in. She lived there for 27 years. The day of the move, her husband sent her a picture…. of all the trash on the porch, left behind and waiting for the garbage men to come pick it up. It got me to thinking, what is the trash I left behind in my move? What pieces of garbage stayed there, waiting for trash day to carry it away?
After lights out, snuggling with my man I asked him the question. His answer was quick and decisive, insecurity. It’s his story to tell but the piece of that in my story is that I am having a harder time figuring out the rubbish I left there. I don’t have a quick, decisive answer. And the answer most certainly is not insecurity. . . . cuz I still carry some of the around; not as much but at times I still find my pockets full.
When we moved to our last district (almost 5 years ago now) I was a new Pastor’s wife. Graduate school and 2 years of clinical experience covered I was just getting my professional license. There was adjusting and adventures and lots of “newness”. After some settling took place I found myself in a difficult situation. One that conflicted with the very core of who God called me to be, as a woman, a wife, a mom and especially as a Pastor’s wife.
To explain I have to go further back in history. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I carried a tremendous amount of shame. I covered that shame by hiding behind perfectionism, striving to be the perfect daughter, perfect wife, perfect mother. Proverbs 31 was my goal. Being that kind of woman made me worth something. I didn’t know that was what I was doing. Didn’t realize how destructive that was or that I even felt the way I did. I had deluded myself, living in this bubble of sweetness and enthusiasm…. it was a nice little bubble, all happy and sunshiney but it lacked substance, it lacked true friendship and closeness – even with my husband, it lacked “real”.
Then in grad school… I came face-to-face with it all. My therapist confronted me with “what’s with all this perfection?” (I had sent him an email. In two sentences, less than 10 words, I wrote “perfect” 3 times.) (O and when you study to be a therapist, it’s generally best to go to a therapist to work on your own stuff…. which what I was sent to do. With NO idea what my true “stuff” was.)
For a year and half I worked on it. Slowly shedding the pieces of armour, the layers that kept me “SAFE”, but kept me isolated and really, alone. It was freeing. I moved from a “human doing” to a “human being”.
Enter now a new church district and (again) Beth Moore. A new friend urged me to go to a Beth Moore conference. We found one, specifically designed for Pastor’s wives. (She is not a pastor’s wife but serves in children’s ministry and we went together.) What an experience. I cannot tell you. To be surrounded by hundreds of women, all ministering by their husbands’ sides. Of course being new to this “job” I hadn’t yet experienced the full impact of what a pastor’s wife’s life looks like. But that is a blog for another day.
Beth talked about being Real. Repression will make you sick. Rebellion will make you stupid. God wants Reverent Realness. I KNEW that was what God had called me to. What He wanted of me. To be Real, Transparent. It’s what God wanted and what His church needed. (and needs)
And of course. . . that was soon challenged. I found myself eyeball to eyeball, in a situation that forced me to make a choice. The conflict that ensued. The misunderstanding and hurt. Its not what I wanted. I loved these people, I cared, I wanted them to embrace and find the same freedom I had found. The freedom to just “be”. . . . . to live, to breathe, to be ok. . . . not to be all tied up in perfection and rigidity. Only that is not what they thought they were. No, instead I was the bad one. I was accusing them of stuff that just wasn’t true. They blessed people. They were good. Nothing was wrong with them. Yet when I was with them I had to hide…. I went back to that teenager that covered herself head-to-toe, physically covered herself to hide and then hid in her room. . . . with them I was doing that emotionally. No freedom, no peace, no contentment, just strive, strive, strive. . . be perfect, sing perfect, look perfect, just like the rest of us. . . .
To live to my calling I had to remove myself from close proximity. I couldn’t put myself in a situation that continuously put me in direct opposition to my calling. God’s voice for me to be Real . . . . .Transparent. It was so difficult. They felt rejected. I felt misunderstood.
In time I was put in situations where I could be transparent. Safe places where we shared. . . received and gave encouragement. . . loved and let people be who they are . . . . no masks, no hiding. . . . . . arms open in acceptance..
So the trash I left behind…… the hiding…… Garbage bags full of it….. I left it there, to be carted off to the dump where it belongs.