The Pastor’s Wife
“I think I’m called to be a Pastor’s Wife,” she said with her head back, sunglasses on, soaking up the sunshine in her one-piece bathing suit.
It was the summer after my junior year in college and I was a camp counselor at Camp Mundo Vista, a Baptist camp for girls. The air was heavy with talk of calling and one-piece bathing suits.
Some talked of calling to be missionaries. One girl wondered if she was called to be single, but two summers later married a boy she hadn’t even kissed. I didn’t know what I was called to be yet, but the idea of being called to be a Pastor’s Wife – or called to be anyone’s wife for that matter – seemed a little 1955 and June Cleaver to me. And I really hated my one-piece bathing suit.
Fast forward to present day. I am an ordained female Baptist minister who is currently not employed as a minister. And I am a Pastor’s Wife.
There are a lot of reasons I am not “working” as a minister now, but the main ones are:
1. After serving as a missionary in Alabama, I started to feel that I might be of more use to God being “Church” outside of “church.” I am now a substitute teacher and PTO president at our local elementary school.
2. I am writing a novel. It is something I’ve always wanted to do and now that I am doing it, I want to actually finish it.
Right now, I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. Living in a small town (we have two stoplights) where people knew exactly who we were within the first ten minutes of our arrival (my husband, Matt, was asked to do a “shotgun wedding” while we were unloading the moving truck) has made me realize that a lot of people have a lot of ideas about what a pastor’s wife should be.
I have been asked to do certain responsibilities at church just because the last pastor’s wife took care of those things. I have been used as sermon illustrations and then chastised for my behavior in the illustration. (Apparently, I shouldn’t have told my stressed husband to go for a run. I should have told him to pray.) It has been assumed that I should know how to play the piano, that I should be an excellent cook, that my children should exhibit perfect behavior, that I shouldn’t fraternize with the wrong sort of people, that I should keep my house immaculate for unexpected guests… and only half of these are expectations other people have of me. Most of the time, I have unrealistic expectations for myself.
The Pastor’s Wife in a small town lives in a fish bowl. In a town this small, we all socialize at ballgames, parades, and other hootenannies. If I get a little (ahem) vocal at my children’s sporting events, I hear, “Well, listen at the Pastor’s Wife!” Or if someone lets a colorful epithet fly, “Oh, I need to watch my tongue around the Pastor’s Wife!” I went on a girls’ weekend with friends, none of whom attend our church. “My mama felt a whole lot better about me going on this trip when she heard the Preacher’s Wife was coming too.”
Being in an area where there are a lot of “jack leg preachers” is interesting too. One teenager who has done some babysitting for us marveled, “I have to come to your church sometime. I can’t imagine Matt yelling.”
She came. And heard no yelling. So, she came back.
Everybody has their expectations of how the Pastor should be and how the Pastor’s Wife should be. But at the end of the day, we have to be true to who God has called us to be. So, I have written children’s plays at Christmas and taught Sunday School. I preach when the Pastor asks me to and I sing a solo now and then. I volunteer at the elementary school and host a ladies group where our laughter is our purest prayer. Sometimes I bring store-bought baked goods for pot luck dinners because I am not anyone else but Melanie. And sometimes, Melanie is just too worn out to be perfect.
I love my husband. I love my church. I have learned to adjust my expectations of myself. Being a Pastor’s Wife is part of my calling. I’ll live it out in my unique, God-blessed way. Even if it means I am chatting up moms at the community pool…in my bikini.
Melanie Storie is a graduate of Catawba College and Campbell University Divinity School. While in seminary, Melanie married Matthew Storie, served as a youth and children’s minister, had a son (Aidan, 11), and finally graduated – while eight months pregnant with her second son (Owen, 8). Melanie has served churches in North Carolina and Virginia as Minister of Children. Recently, she served with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Alabama. Melanie currently lives in Independence, Virginia.