19 September 2009

My hobby

Being asked what my hobbies are is always unsettling--just more proof that I don't really exist. Things I do that other people might consider hobbies are what I consider necessary work for the operation of our house. We do not live from scratch to the extent that we do because I have too much time on my hands. Doing things on-site as I am able is a priority for our family, and the products are desirable for thrift and/or quality. Some of them I enjoy; others, not so much. This blog is my hobby, but there's no honor in that. :D

But there is one other thing I spend a lot of time doing: church stuff. Dad has me subcontracted for a women's Bible study, I'm involved in various modest musical endeavors, I'm inextricably entangled with the school, I'm elbow-deep in every project and event, I babysit to make it easier for other people to do church stuff, I put up signs around town, I have clean underpants on hand for when a kindergartener next door needs a pair (something that happens enough that it doesn't surprise me any more), not to mention that I'm the main supplier of children to the cradle roll. Many of these things cause our house to fall into greater chaos than usual, but it's cool. It's for church, and everyone in our family gets that. Church operations are a "hobby" for all of us.

This, I think, is what pastor's wives used to do. They weren't co-pastors. They did for their church families the kinds of things they did for their families at home. But since wives don't do what wives used to do any more, pastor's wives don't either. Instead of spending the week making pies for the auction (what am I, a scullery wench? and who makes pies any more?), they won't suffer anything beneath the dignity of leading exegesis sessions in the original languages or organizing spiritual retreats where everybody has to sing stupid songs and cry. They're just as busy and tired from working as everybody else, so they're not going to spend their spare moments doing grunt work at church any more than anyone else from church is. Furthermore, the few who are home and are called upon for such tasks are likely to feel taken for granted, since anyone else would be getting paid for their work, and it does intrude upon household operations.

Contemporary pastor's wife angst is cut from the same cloth as contemporary maternal angst. Maybe we don't all play the organ or teach Sunday School or do those things we all love pointing out that we don't do to prove that we're "not the typical pastor's wife," but sheesh, can we please put this boring whine away? I know it would make my husband's life a lot easier if I did play the organ, so that's nothing to be proud of. :P

But the argument I'm more interested in making is that the traditional pastor's wife, like the traditional mom, is primarily someone who is available. Someone who might be able to answer your question, or if she can't, can make sure it gets answered for you. Someone who has the keys and knows where things are. Someone who is there when there's cooking or cleaning or calling of plumbers to be done. Someone who is sensitive to and patient with a parish's quirks and needs. Someone who knows who needs help when, and who might be able to offer it. Someone who can quietly take care of the stuff that other people don't even realize needs to be done. Someone who considers her special gifts an offering to the church rather than something she has a right to pursue and showcase on her own terms for her own fulfillment. Someone whose work stretches the church budget rather than eating into it. Someone who doesn't growl about how she's not getting paid for this and if she were in some other church she'd have a desk and a paycheck (thank you, Commissioned Minister roster).

And all this disregards the fact that there's a rather huge Christian tradition out there that's been getting along just fine without clergy wives and their important, important "ministry" for centuries. Perspective, girls.

Anyway, that's my hobby. And I like it. I love church and I always have and I'm glad I can do things for church because I'm home. Thank you, God.

UPDATE: That should be "pastors' wives," not "pastor's wives" in the third paragraph. How embarrassing.

12 comments:

johnqmercy said...

Hey, I don't know you, but thanks. Not because you're being properly domestic, whatever that might mean, but for serving - unseen - with joy. All of us need more of that. Nice job.

Jodi Nierman said...

Rebekah,
Your blog is brilliant, I discovered it by accident today, but relate so much to it. Thank you for verifying that being in the sidelines is still being a pastor's wife. I feel too, that teaching your children the faith, how to act, and love their Savior is by far the most important role we have as pastor's wives.

Rebekah said...

johnq, you are kind. I, of course, have a quantifiable interest in keeping our beloved parishes operational. :D The real credit goes to the many people here who work so hard for their church.

Jodi, glad to have you here! :)

The Mama said...

Well said- and a great reminder of where my "job" begins and ends.

Monique said...

Rebekah, this is really a good post.

I know you ladies don't take too kindly to praise, however, your posts are so encouraging and really sort of an inoculation against what our culture and Satan whisper in the ears of PP women. Thanks to all of you. You provide a great ministry.

Rosie said...

Good post. I'm never impressed with those who try to convince me the church should employ me as an official deaconess for the few merciful things I attempt from time to time. I don't teach S.S. or visit the shut-ins b/c I have a deac degree. And to be honest, I don't even do them b/c I'm married to the pastor. I do these things because I love to, and because it's what Christians do.

MooreMama said...

I wish some of you girls would come live by me.

Reb. Mary said...

So I'm going to reread this whenever I'm feeling grumpy :)

Is it really pie time again already?

I got to be the "key person" again the other night. I used to think that I should be a "key person" of the important, indispensible, own-office-and-nameplate type. Turns out there's a strange and quiet satisfaction in being the person who is home and has keys to the church when it's locked and someone needs in. Who knew? :D

Ewe said...

I never have to be the key person because the church is never locked. A positive for small towns!

Luzia said...

I wish the barriers cpuld be removed which divide us into "called worker" families and all the rest, and all just be and act like Christians. LOVE one another, as Christ loves the Church. (...in a perfect world...sigh)

Rebekah said...

Aw, Monique, go on with ya! :D

Ro and Luzia, good point. The only unique offerings I can make as the pastor's wife are the key thing and the fact that I live right next door. Anyone who has some time to spare could spare it for the church, deac, PW, or whoever they are.

RM, apple time=pie time for the sake of efficiency. :P

Ewe, the smaller of my husband's two churches is never locked. :)

Gauntlets said...

Keys. :D When we first got to this parish, the powers that be decided not to give me a set of keys, to protect me from being pestered. What they didn't know: I'm pestered anyway, but can't do anything for the people who come knocking. Now I'm trying to figure out how diplomatically to get those keys . . .