So, I wrote this article about 2 or 3 years ago and sent it in to "Just Between Us" magazine (a magazine geared towards pastor's wives and women in ministry). I never heard back from them, so I kind of forgot about it. Yesterday, they e-mailed and asked if they could include it in their summer 2011 edition. I'm pasting it for you below....enjoy!
As a young pastor’s wife, I had my eye on the prize. As we toured the low-income neighborhood of the first church where Mark and I would work, I imagined the difference we would make. I envisioned many coming to Christ, and this building coming back to life as God used us to set our little part of the world on fire. Fourteen months later, we were loading our U-Haul to move into our next church. Disillusioned with the surreal experience of watching God’s people tear each other apart, I found it difficult to look forward to the next stop.
Onward we went. God was gracious enough to put us in a place where people loved us. My heart was cautious, though. I was hesitant to let people in. I selectively reached out to people who seemed safe, but kept the walls up around others. Even as God used our time there to bring healing and strengthening in many ways, I was exhausted. Looking back, I realize I never allowed myself to let my guard down. A good friend pointed out my sin to me. She called it “the sin of self-protection.” Ugh. She was so right.
“But, how can protecting yourself be a sin?” you ask. After all, the Bible says, “Be as wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves” (KJV). Self-protection is a sin when it becomes the single most important thing in your life. How can we be a blessing to anyone if we don’t allow them to see who we are? Beyond the Sunday clothes and women’s ministry titles…who are we? Who has God created us to be? Doesn’t He want the world to be allowed the privilege of seeing that He doesn’t make junk?
Six years later, we moved to a new church in a new state. We both sensed God’s hand in the move and in the church and community He was calling us to. I made a decision on the long drive up the interstate. Before God, I decided that I would be myself in this church. I purposed in my heart that I would pray for two solid friends in the church whom I could be honest with and share myself with. God delivered inside of a year. He answered my prayers beyond anything I could have hoped for or imagined. He gave me two friends who allowed me the grace and freedom to share from my heart and be who I was. They also had a gracious way of letting me know when I was wrong. What a gift!
Five years later, we moved again to a new ministry position in our current state. Leaving my friends behind was painful. I’m so grateful God gave me the courage to let my walls down and to go deep with my sisters in Christ. What a rich time of friendship and spiritual intimacy.
As I write this, I am three years into our new place of service. It hasn’t been easy, but my heart is free, my friends know who I am, and I realized that God is using us to begin to set our little part of the world on fire.