October has been deemed Pastor Appreciation Month, and I don't know who started it or how they picked October. I'm usually kind of a rebel about these things and am not a fan of being told when I'm supposed to appreciate somebody. :) Truth be told, I know my life would be richer if I could learn to appreciate all of the people in it a little bit more everyday. But today there is one special person I need to appreciate.
In 2006 on an innocent supper run to Wendy's after church, Josh turned to me and made a statement that was life changing. He said, "I think I'm supposed to preach."
It would take a novel to cover what that statement turned our lives into or what the next several months looked like as we prepared to move out of state and follow God's call. I actually started blogging during that time and to say that it was a time of uncertainty would be the understatement of the year. You may think that if your husband decided he was supposed to be a preacher that would only mean a job change. You would be wrong.
It's a game changer. A life changer. Not just his. Yours. Your kids. Because while some may see it as just his "job", it's not. It's his life. And it becomes yours. For many people you will become the "preacher's wife" before you are anything else. And some days it is the most fulfilling, amazing journey as you build relationships and walk through all the days- good, hard, bad, sad, trying, fun, and life changing-with the people you minister to. And some days it is the hardest thing you've ever done. Lots of days you wonder if it's what you're really supposed to do. You question if it matters if you do what you do. You celebrate victories, mourn losses, bang your head against the wall, and question everything. It's beauty and grace. It's heartache and feelings of failure. It's the wildest ride and some days you feel like hanging over the side of the car sick, but other days.....other days you throw your hands up in the air and scream with pleasure and know that as scary and crazy as it feels, there is no other ride like this.
And you appreciate the man you call Pastor. And husband. And father of your children. And friend. You appreciate him in a way that no one else can. Because you see what others don't see.
You see him. You see the man that answers the phone and takes the hard calls. You see the man who answers the phone and takes calls that are more humorous than hard, but they are important to someone so they are important to him. You see slumped shoulders and the look in his eye when he is discouraged. You see that he wants nothing more than to please those he serves, and it hurts when what God asks him to do challenges what others think he should. You see that he truly cares about people, and they are not just numbers or faces in pews to him. You see the tears he has cried for people who may have no idea how much he cares, but he does.
You hear him. You hear his laughter as he tells his stories and the corny preacher jokes somebody told him. You listen as he excitedly shares what he is planning to teach on the upcoming week, and regardless of if anyone else takes it to heart, you do because you feel it in your bones that these words have come from the heart of God. You hear the man who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders stop and patiently answer your children's questions, whether they are deep and spiritual or have to do with the Playstation. You hear his voice and all is right in the world, because he is steady and patient and faithful in a way you hope to become. You hear him say, "I don't have a preacher voice", and he means that he's not loud and doesn't shout. And you think, he may not have a "preacher's voice", but he has a pastor's heart, and that's better.
You admire him. You admire how he can go and go and serve and do for others. You admire how he balances it all. You admire how when you are weak and emotional and reactive, he is strong and wise and humble. You admire how he can be so focused and not distracted. You admire that the most when he is typing sermons and children are screaming and hanging from ceiling fans and he has no clue. :) You admire the peace he embodies and the love he gives. He listens, and encourages and teaches and works with people others wouldn't give the time of day to. He sees their value. And you admire him.
You appreciate him. You appreciate that in these short (and yet long) years of ministry he has learned that he will most likely pastor many churches, but he will only father these children and be married to this wife. He puts you first when he can and his children know they are important. He never uses the stress or busyness of his schedule as an excuse. He never acts as if he or what he is called to is more important than someone else. He listens to you unload your day, no matter how crazy his was or how many other people have already unloaded on him. And you appreciate it. He treats you as his equal and understands you also have a call on your life and you appreciate it. You appreciate that he realizes he is still learning and you both make room for new lessons.
You treasure him. You treasure the memories and the laughs and the prayers and tears you've cried together. You treasure that because of this life you've had to grow up quicker than you would have otherwise and you've been given a perspective not many have. You treasure that you've watched your husband gently comfort a grieving mother, you've heard him speak words of wisdom that have made someone else's life better, and you've played kickball in church parking lots with him and some kids whose parents don't play much of anything or even really acknowledge them.
You understand. You understand that he gets tired and frustrated and discouraged, too. You understand that no one can really understand this journey except the two of you. You roll your eyes together, sigh in frustration together, and share heartache, confusion and secrets. And you understand those things never go beyond the two of you. You understand the community of being very involved in lots of people's lives and the loneliness of not being able to let many into yours. You understand the thrill of good news and lives changed. You understand that laughter is good medicine and you understand the power of words. You understand the need for a safe place and you hope you can be his.
You worship Him. That would be God, not the preacher. :) Some people want to worship the preacher, but you know better than that. You know he is just a man who throws away important mail and screams a little too loud when his football team plays. It takes some time to adjust to being married to a man of God because there is a tendency to expect too much. You think that one day you will look over and he will have become the grey haired pastor you grew up with who you never saw in anything but a suit EVER. But he doesn't become your old pastor. You still see him as the shy, skinny 17 year old kid that asked you to prom. Your time together hasn't been one of hymn singing, suit wearing holiness. There have been those things. But they are often overshadowed in your mind by the deep talks, the long hugs, and the whispers of encouragement. And in these years your faith has been more up and down than the thermostat in Florida, but his has been steady. And when you ask, "Are you sure this is what we are supposed to be doing?" he always is. He's as sure as he was when he was 12 years old and he's as sure as he was on the way to Wendy's. And though there are days that you question it, days that you fight it, you are sure, too. You are sure because the pastor who lives in your house is the real deal. He lives out his faith, he loves you and your kids fiercely, and most importantly he loves God in a way that makes you love Him, too. He doesn't have to write books or sing new praise songs or create a new program. He loves people like Jesus did and they respond. And I'm pretty sure that when people want to worship God because of the love they see in you, you're doing something right.