Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Show Your Real: Courtney

Don't worry...you don't have to endure more of my ramblings (well...not today anyway). The "Courtney" sharing with us is a friend I met at last year's Influence Conference (are you sensing a theme with the contributors here? What a beautiful group of women I got to know through that event!) Courtney is as real as they come. She writes at Story Hope, and started a t-shirt line to raise money for clean drinking water in Africa. She has such a heart for people, and for sharing her story as a means of encouraging others. (Hence "Story Hope"). She also has super cool hair, and even cooler son. I'm so happy to have her here today.

Hey everyone! I'm so happy to be sharing on Courtney's blog today as a part of her 'Show Your Real' series. I love keeping up with Courtney and her family on this blog and doesn't she have GREAT style!? And before I start jabbering, here are a few pictures of my family. My husband ,Justin, is extremely extroverted and can make anyone laugh, anytime and anywhere. Except for me of course who has seen and heard it all by now. But we still do laugh together a lot! He is an amazing dad and gifted communicator. Cooper is our three year son who has a sweet spirit, is obsessed with music and musical instruments, and loves to play with his dad.  

The SYR series resonates with me for many reasons. It's ironic that when I hear friends describe me they often use the words genuine, real and authentic but the irony is that often I don't feel that way. I definitely strive to be that person and sometimes I succeed but other times I fail. But don't we all? 

There are many things I would love to tell you about myself because we as women have many different roles, but today I'm going to focus on just one of those roles. And that role is the role of being married to a pastor. For years I've called myself a 'Pastor's Wife' but I'm really trying to take that phrase out of my vocabulary. Rather than being called a 'Pastor's Wife', I'd prefer, 'married to a pastor'. This might be a little controversial so let me explain. Recently I read an article online that said this: 

"There is no other occupation — besides, perhaps, being the actual First Lady — in which a spouse is so defined by what her husband does. I cannot think of a single instance in which a woman was expected to give up her gifts and calling in service of her husband, the dentist. Or lawyer. Or plumber. But a woman who is married to a pastor will inevitably face expectations about her role in the congregation that have nothing to do with how she is gifted by God."

Interesting isn't it? Have you ever thought about that before? Have we done damage to the souls of women all over the world who are married to pastors because we assume they've given up their personal lives for the sake of their husbands calling? To be fair, vocational pastoral ministry HAS to be a calling. It's too life-consuming not to be. And in my opinion if a woman is going to marry a man who is a pastor she needs to be on board with that calling, or I'd say she's signing up for a rough journey. 

So it's time to get to the point, right? Well here it is. Being married to a pastor is hard. And it's especially hard to be real. Or to 'show your real' as it were. I've been married to a pastor for six years and in that time my husband has been on staff at four churches in two different states. (Yikes. That sounds way more dysfunctional than it is.) Every church has been different as far as what was expected of me. Lucky for us, all four of those churches did not place high exceptions on me as the one married to the pastor. I was not expected to lead a women's bible study or plan girly events. And THANK GOD because that is so not my thing. 

But there was still a struggle. A struggle to connect. A struggle to build REAL relationships. Who can I be real with? How vulnerable can I be without offending my husband? How honest can I be without being thought of as a hot mess? It's been said that women married to pastors often feel like they're living in a fishbowl, like everyone is watching their every move. If you're married to a pastor, can you relate? Even if your husband isn't a pastor, maybe you can still relate?

Here's what I've learned in the last few years... 
  • Everyone wins when I do my best to just be ME. Because that's what people love most about us, when we are authentic and relatable.
  • My life is sometimes a mess. Or a hot mess, as I like to call it. And I'm not going to hide that. I'm not going to shout it from every street corner either, but I'm going to be honest about the fact that I didn't come from a functional, healthy family. I've got junk that God is working out in my heart. And I bet you do too.
  • I have to be careful who I confide in. The truth is, because of my husband's "job" I have to be discerning about who I hold close and who I can talk to about the intimate details of my life. I need to be able to talk about my marriage, my personal struggles, issues with church, friends, or whatever, with someone I can trust and who will listen without judgement. At each church God has brought me a handful of women (usually older) who have been this for me, and often, I for them. 
We all have misconceptions about how perfect or not perfect we think our friends' lives are. Let's throw those misconceptions out the window and start with a fresh, clean slate with the truth in our minds that we're all on the same journey. Whether you're married to a pastor or a fireman, we're probably all struggling with the same stuff and we just want to be surrounded by people with whom we feel safe enough to be real. 

So go ahead, Show Your Real.

Show Your Real is a bi-weekly series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often suface-cy interactions of social media. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me! 


    1. Thanks for sharing, Courtney! It IS difficult to "live in a fishbowl", but I bet you do a pretty good job at it!

    2. Thanks for reading, Rachel! I don't know how well I do but I sure do try:)

    3. Thanks for being so real, Courtney! I hope as time marches forward and so many other stigmas fall away that the stigma placed on women married to pastors falls away too. It almost feels like a pastor's wife has to look a certain way (homely?), act a certain way (homeschool a slew of kids?), and generally be different from the other women of the church, wiser, less troubled by insignificant things, etc... That is such an old-fashioned way of thinking! I think it is refreshing to find women married to pastors or don't fit the traditional mold and it is awesome to see more and more (like you!) out there that the women of the congregations can really relate to.

      It does sound like a role that comes with a ton of pressures and like you were saying about not being able to confide in just anyone about anything. May God bless your journey and fill it with people who help you, guide you, and encourage you to show your real!