A letter to my 12-year-old self.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dear Whitney,

On Sunday night, you became a pastor's wife.
Your two children became pastor's kids.
Most momentously, your husband became a pastor.

Hear me out. I know that at this particular stage in life, there are 3 things you say you'll never do (quite emphatically, and in this particular order):
1. You'll never be a pastor's wife.
2. You'll never homeschool your children.
3. You'll never drive a minivan.

I know that because of traveling with Mom and Dad to different churches every weekend, you've met many, many pastors' wives. To you, they all have two things in common: a permanent assigned seat on the front pew and an obligation to nod and smile during their husbands' best sermon points. They either seem to wear no makeup at all or way too much, particularly frumpy clothes or overly gaudy. They always seem to be wrangling a gaggle of children to church, then home for lunch where they wear aprons and serve casseroles. Their role, to you, seems so weak. So subsidiary to the actual goings-on of the church. It doesn't matter if they have careers outside of the church; they could be lawyers or teachers or nurses. They're simply known as "the pastor's wife," an identity dependent on the man they married.

Fast forward 17 years and you'll find yourself smack dab in their shoes, but (breathe...) actually really proud of your new title.

In your late twenties, you'll move to Raleigh, North Carolina, and even before your husband is ordained, the other pastors' wives at your church will invite you to their monthly gathering. What you'll discover is that the stereotype you've created in your head is just that: a stereotype. Instead, a handful of these pastors' wives will become some of your dearest friends. When you get together, you'll pass your baby girl around the room and receive candid breastfeeding advice and laugh and gorge yourself on chocolate cheesecake. You'll share prayer requests and pray for one another. You'll feel supported and loved and so honored to be considered among their ranks. You'll find them to be godly, intelligent, insightful, creative, passionate women. Pastors' wives.

What you've also underestimated is the privilege of being married to a pastor. No, not all pastors are men you'd want to be married to. You know that already. But the man you married, pastor or not, loves Jesus more than he loves you (and that's a really good thing). He serves humbly. The man he is on stage is exactly the man you see at home, and that's something you can't take for granted for a second.

On a chilly Sunday night in February, you and your family will respond to a call God placed on your lives to serve His church for all of your days, whether in Raleigh or on the other side of the globe. The prayers spoken on your behalf that night will ring in your hearts for years to come. You will have never felt so encouraged in your calling or so unworthy of the love this community has shown to you. You will want to cry happy tears over the sweetness of this season of life and ministry.

So, sweet girl, be careful what you don't wish for. It may turn out to be the most precious gift.

Your older, hopefully wiser self

PS - Don't worry... you still don't have a minivan. At least not yet.


  1. Ah, Whitney. After reading this post all I could think of were all the times my not being a wife at all kept me from being much of anybody to the church...at least some churches. I would encourage you to forget the label and to pay close attention to those women in your church who are not wives at all or at least not yet. Your in-laws did that for me, always treating me as a person of great worth and showering unconditional love upon me. As you know, I now have a husband and I'm aware of the stature my husband brings me and the doors that are now open to me. God has placed you in this honored position. Look to Him to see what He wants this to be. I'm so thrilled that Shawn has been ordained!

    1. Thanks, Anne. So thankful my in-laws were such a blessing. I never meant for this post to be divisive between the marrieds and the singles... just wanted to chronicle what the Lord has done in my own heart as He's put me in a position I never expected.

  2. Welcome to the "club!" Haha! Many many blessings and congratulations to Rev.Shawn and your entire family on his ordination. This is a treasured occasion and the beginning (sort of, considering yall were pretty much already walking the walk, now it's just "official") of an incredible journey.

    And if it eases your heart... None of our wives drive mini vans and none of the PKs are homeschooled! Haha!! ;)

  3. Whitney,
    I started reading your blog before you had Liam. I cannot remember how I found it, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I don't think I have commented on any posts until now. As I was looking at the picture of your pastors praying over your family, I recognized Brian Frost. I attended SBU with him. He was also my team leader on a mission trip I took to Africa with the university. He and his parents influenced me greatly during my time there. How sweet it is to see him ministering to you and your family!

    1. Such a small world! Pastor Brian has been SUCH an encouragement to us since we got here.

  4. Whitney, it has been a joy to check in on your blog from time to time. Like others, I've seen you from nursing student to mom of two and now a "pastors wife". We have a lot in common, I live down the road in Wilmington and my husband came on staff as the Worship Leader initially and 6 months ago he was brought on as a Pastor. What a humbling, humbling call. One that is rich in blessing and one that causes us to cling to the truth of Jesus' death for us when difficult circumstance and people come our way! I will be praying for you as you live out God's call in the "fishbowl" and that you would always find your identity in Christ alone. Thank you for always being honest and vulnerable. ---Wendy

    1. Wendy, thanks for your sweet words. Humbling, humbling call is right!

  5. Dear sweet girl,
    Please dont get caught up in thinking that your new role makes you so much more significant, or places you in a special little club that others just wouldn't get. Sure, its something to be proud of, but you and your husband are no more laborers for Christ than I and mine, who dont work in positions surrounded by other believers.

    1. Oh goodness... you've completely missed the point of this post. What I wanted to highlight was how the Lord changed my heart from not wanting to be a pastor's wife to counting it a joy when that became my reality. It wasn't at all about a "special little club" - that isn't at all how I feel about it. If that's what you truly came away with after reading this, I sincerely apologize.

  6. Girl I could have written this post. "I will never homeschool, drive a minivan, feed my kids chicken fingers, co-sleep, raise my voice, etc etc etc" Thank goodness for grace and redemption. I am SO excited for you guys and the next steps the Lord has for you! You spruce up the PW title quite nicely, I must say! :)

  7. Not sure I've ever commented but I've followed since we were FB friends in college.

    I'm glad there are women there to encourage you as being a pastor's wife can be isolating. As for the critique, I understand why some might feel that way because the church is a messy place and no one can perfectly meet all expectations. People get hurt, feel left out and ignored. (Be it lay people, singles, the childless, the elderly and on and on) This is not how it should be. It doesn't mean, however, that it isn't difficult to be a pastor's wife. There is something unique about being a pastor's wife, and it's usually not considered a good thing. Satan attacks preachers of the Word in a special (not "good" special but "bad" special) way and that is often felt by the wife and family. I did not read this as "I'm part of a special club" good thing but "help, I'm part of a special club" difficult and trying and scary thing, phew, there are other ladies who've walked this path before me! No one can relate perfectly to all situations at all time, though we are called to try!

    I have found many many women find it difficult to have real meaningful friendships in their church because of being in the "special little club" as it has been called above. It's not a spiritual status it is spiritual sanctification!

    As an example, We can't conceive children naturally so I have a special understanding of that particular struggle and can be ministered to and can minister to women who've walked that path. That may make us part of a "special little club" but it's only because of a shared experience with someone else and in that way we can relate and pray for one another. This doesn't make me more spiritual or have more status, it is spiritually sanctifying in the best-worst kind of way.
    Anyway, that's just my 2 cent understanding of the post!

    1. And I came to this site to look up your diaper bag recommendation and totally got distracted with myself! Gahhh.

  8. I have a "I will NEVER drive a minivan" bumper sticker.....on my minivan. :( Three kids in two years will do it, every time. haha!


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