Have you ever noticed how kids do not care what others think? At least that is the case with my kids. I have heard stories about kids that are so eager to please their parents that they are in tears after the smallest transgressions and eagerly attempt to make amends for their mistakes. My kids are the complete opposite! My kids emerged from the womb with strong opinions regarding what they want and how they want it. Even now, my kids are oblivious to societal norms. For example, I bought two new toothbrushes, one pink and one blue. My son insisted that he wanted the pink one (because he likes pink), and my daughter begged for the blue toothbrush. While other kids are fascinated with trains and dolls, my kids prefer to run around pretending to be crocodiles and snakes. My kids experience a blissful freedom in their ignorance regarding what they “should” like and how they “should” behave. My kids have a characteristic that most adults lack – authenticity.
I wonder when we outgrow authenticity. What happens in our lives that leads us to believe that we cannot be who we are, and we cannot like what we like, but instead must conform to what society says that we should be?
I struggle with authenticity every day. When my husband and I prayed about planting the Refinery, I felt a peace that surpassed my understanding. I knew that this was what God wanted us to do. However, I was very concerned because I am the least likely candidate that I can think of to fill the role of a pastor’s wife. The pastor’s wives that I have known tend to be larger than life women. In my past experience, these women were always good with children, had some musical talent (singing or playing the piano), and they were so spiritual that they almost glowed with the presence of the Holy Spirit. These women also tended to be quiet and humble. Anyone that knows me realizes that I am the opposite. I tend to be strong-willed, opinionated, and outgoing. I lack any domestic abilities whatsoever (which rules out being good with the small kids or cooking brownies for the church socials), and I have no musical talent (I don’t think taking piano lessons in high school will qualify me for our praise band). Although I love God and love my church, I also have a demanding career to balance in addition to family responsibilities. And even though I love the Lord, faith is sometimes hard for me (I am too analytical and seek answers to questions that have no answers). I concluded early on that God knew what he was doing when he made Mike a pastor, but God must have made a mistake in making me a pastor’s wife.
Sometimes I become so worried about the way that a pastor’s wife should act (and all of the ways that I fall short), that I wonder if I should try to change who I am. I have spent time wondering if I should not express my fears and doubts because expressing my weaknesses and fear could make some people uncomfortable. I worry that if I read a book that has a more liberal or conservative point of view than others at the church they will be offended. I wonder if I should pretend to have my life figured out when in reality I am barely holding everything together.
This week, Mike preached from Ephesians. Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” I read this verse and thought, “I am fine. I don’t lie.” However, upon reflection, I realized that when I try to be someone that I am not, I am essentially lying to my neighbor. When I hide the essence of who I am (my deepest beliefs, my outgoing personality, my lack of domestic talents), and when I try to force myself into roles that are clearly not suitable for me to please others, I am not only being untruthful, but I am harming the body of Christ.
If I have learned anything from observing my kids, I have learned that there is freedom in being who you are. I hope that I can follow their example – I want to learn to be who I am, not who I “should” be.