The Awkward Pastor’s Wife

I did something I haven’t done in a loooong time.  I went out to a big girl’s movie with some friends.  We went to see the movie Moms Night Out.  I didn’t really know what to expect because I haven’t really been keeping up with movie news.  The only movies I hear about are the superhero genre.

Whoever wrote Moms Night Out, NAILED IT.  I understood the main mom character all too well.  It was funny and bittersweet.  I laughed so hard I cried.  For me that is a movie worth watching.

The other fascinating part of this movie for me, was the character, Sondra, the Pastor’s Wife.  I’m always fascinated by Pastor’s wives, real or imagined.  We’re complicated.  Who isn’t?  Sondra was no exception.  I think the writer(s) of the movie have an ‘in’ with a pastor’s wife because in a few scenes it was like taking a peek into my life.  Other parts I didn’t relate at all which is the way it should be.  I’ve learned that all our journeys are different and unique so of course we aren’t all going to experience the same things.  We’re not cookie cutouts.  But there were a few things I totally identified with.

One scene, at the beginning of the movie (Don’t worry I’m not going to spoil the movie!) Sondra, has just had a run in with her rebelling teenage daughter while searching and finding her husband’s lost sermon notes in his office.  While her daughter natters in her ear, she makes a beeline for her husband across the church building.  It’s Sunday morning of course.  The worst ever day of the week.  Alone at last, she is on her way to the foyer of the church.  But before she gets there, she stops, closes her eyes and takes a breath.  Takes a moment really.  The image is seared on my brain.  She’s standing there leaning up against the wall, head down, in a dimly lit hall, the foyer lit up beyond her, waiting for her.  It’s so real.  I’ve been there as I’m sure you have.  Whether you’re a pastor’s wife, or not, we’ve all been there.  Needing to take a moment, before we enter the foray in the foyer.

As I’ve said before, I’m an introvert and that whole greeting people in the foyer at church, or a gathering of some sort where there is no agenda leaves me feeling lost, dizzy and idiotic.  Am I the only one?

It’s especially important to take those moments if you know there are going to be people there watching you, perhaps judging you, or just wanting a piece of you.  Sondra is facing all three.  She really lived in the fishbowl of ministry.  That makes it extra hard.  Thankfully the fishbowls I’ve lived in to date, have been relatively cloudy and small.  Or else I’m blissfully naïve.  Some are not that lucky.  We all go into arenas where people are watching, judging, or wanting a part of us.  It’s life.  Just the fact that the writers recognized this filled me with hope.  Why?  Because it takes a chink out of the fishbowl.  It starts to crack the stereotype.

It was interesting to watch the reaction of the other women in the film to Sondra.  She has been placed on the pedestal that so often gets put under ministry leaders.  Her acquaintances, one in particular, spent much of the movie with their mouths open in shock.  Sondra isn’t a real person to them.  There are little peeks into her realness but like everyone else in the movie, these moms have put Shondra in a box – a rather confining one.  It’s stamped with PW (PASTOR’S WIFE) in big bold red letters.

When you are put in the PW box, it is assumed that you have the answers to life’s quandaries, crisis, etc.  PW’s have all the right words to comfort in times of trouble.  Do the right thing.  We are and have been good girls.  You get the picture.  Let me tell you straight up.  It’s a lie.  At least for me.

Any answers I have, come from hard work studying or the Holy Spirit, or both.  I have studied the bible through many bible studies.  I do not have a bible degree from a college or university.  I did not go to bible college.  I have studied, not so I’d have all the answers, but because I wanted to know God better.  I wanted to be more like him because my own self wasn’t too nice.  I try to read the bible every day.  I’m working on my prayer life (It really needs some work).  Am I perfect?  NO.  Is your pastor’s wife perfect?  No.  No perfect people here or at any church.  That’s why we have Jesus.

I’m totally lame at saying the right thing.  I hide behind Mark to some degree when we go to funerals and visitations.  Because honestly, most of the times I’m tongue –tied.  My brain fails me.  Awkward.  I’m so awkward in these situations it is laughable.  I don’t see it getting any better.

The other scene that stood out for me was during church.  The preacher is up at the pulpit preaching (do they still have those?) Shondra and the teenage daughter are sitting right up front.  All by themselves.  There is a mile wide radius of empty pews around them.  I’ve seen this in real life.  You can spot the wife and children right in the front row.  All around them, there is empty space. It’s like they have a plague.

I’m not condemning those who want to sit up front.  It’s totally up to you.  I’m a backseater by nature but I have moved to midsection.  I find the very front row, suffocating.  I also have a practical reason.  I can’t watch the screen or read the words because it’s too close.  I start to feel motion sick.

My kids sit up front with their dad because they want to be near him.  It’s fun for them.  When it’s no longer fun, then they will move.  For the moment it works and it’s also a break for me.  YAY!

I won’t go into what else happens in the movie as it would spoil it. I like the ending for Sondra. I hope we all (pastors’ wives or not) have a similar one. If you have some time Go See This Movie!

If you’ve seen this movie, what stood out for you?  What did you take away from it?  

If you go to church, I’d love to hear what you love about your pastor’s wife!  Then maybe go tell her?!

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