Friday, July 24, 2009

You Might Be A Pastor's Wife If...

Last Sunday, at church, I received this book from my Secret Sister.

Obviously, I was immediately smitten with it. On the top of each page is says, "You might be a pastor's wife if". Some pages have cartoons drawings to accompany the ifs and some do not. I was in love with the book before I even opened the cover. However, once I flipped it open I very nearly promoted it to my all time favorite book ever. Even though it doesn't have much metaphor or imagery. Even though there is very little alliteration and almost no symbolism. Still, it almost knocked Chopin, Twain, Cather, and Lee right off of my bookshelf. Here's why. The very first page read:

You might be a pastor's wife if the term "fish bowl" takes on a whole new meaning.

Oh. Man. So I just about died laughing as I read through this book. Later that night I was talking to my brother using the webcam he bought us and I showed him page one. He then had an epiphany and exclaimed, "Oh! Is that what your blog means? I never really knew how you came up with that."

And seriously, my brother is a smart cookie. He's got two Master's degrees and didn't seem to lose very many brain cells when I repeatedly hit him as a child. If it had been anyone else, I might have made fun of them and then let it go. But really...he's smart. He got the looks and the brains and I'm still stomping my foot over the unfairness of it all. So I am totally concerned. How many people happen upon this blog and think, "Huh. She must really like fish." Maybe some of you think I am trying to hold on to my glory days as a competitive swimmer. Other's might think that, perhaps, this blog chronicles the deep thoughts of Shamu. (I know! I know! Shamu is a whale, not a fish.)

To clear it all up, once and for all, many pastors and their families refer to themselves as being in a fishbowl. It is somewhat like being in politics. Each and every choice has the potential to be scrutinized by those in the congregation or others who hold us to a higher standard. Of course, our standard for living comes from the Bible, but we do have times where we struggle with feeling, somewhat, like we're being stared at. On occasion, I've felt like one of those fish with the giant googly eyes. People are gathered around my bowl peering in and commenting about what great, albeit googly, eyes I have. For example: This bathing suit shows an inch of my torso. Is that too immodest? This one tends to ride yonder thus exposing a slight bit of Ms. Left Cheek. We can't have that. What if someone from the church shows up at the pool? I surely wouldn't want them to see the pastor's wife's buttock. My three-year-old is exhibiting normal three-year-old behavior but I'd better lay down the law because I'm the pastor's wife. We should look nice but not extravagant. This is often a challenge for me because, down here in the trenches of motherhood, I'm lucky if I can pass for anything except "frumpy" and I'm usually completely covered in spit up. Should I use our free Friday night to extend hospitality and fellowship with a family from the church or should I use it to have bonding time with my family or, oh wait, nevermind, it's not free, there's something on the church calendar.

I titled my blog with some of these very things in mind. It can be a real challenge to live in the fishbowl. But, what I've learned in my four years and three months as an associate pastor's wife and my one year and eight months as a senior pastor's wife is that it can also be incredibly beneficial to my spiritual walk. If I wonder how the church will respond to something, I should probably be wondering how God will respond. Amen?

Before you go, please take a moment to help me out with this poll:


  1. Lori, I just think that the reason your brother didn't understand was...because of your big accent. He didn't get it.

  2. I always understood it but... I am an airhead most of the time. I am not very smart and I sometimes wonder if I lacked oxygen at birth because I look at my siblings and they are all so smart. So maybe you have to be dumb to understand. (I hope you know I am kidding. Well about the having to be dumb part)And also it's nice to see you be HUMAN. Some times when you have someone in a position like you are and they are always perfect with perfect children and never have problems it's hard to go to them with your own stuff. How can someone who is perfect know what it's like to be in our situations, you know.

  3. I was never 100% for sure, but I figured it was something along those lines. And while I did not, I really really really wanted to pick the one about Shamu in your poll. That's probably just because I happen to enjoy Shamu so much.

  4. None of the above. I thought living in a fishbowl referred to all of us humans here on earth and how God can see us live our lives transparently. There is no hiding from God and he sees all past, present, and future. The earth is the fishbowl, we are the fish lol.

    That's what I thought of it! :P


  5. I, of course, totally got it...but having been a pastor's wife, plus a staff wife, and now on staff myself, well, we are often in a fishbowl ourselves.
    I never hold it against anyone who wouldn't know, because sometimes, until you experience it, you just might not get it.

    And can you bring that book next time we meet at the lake?

  6. Maybe I could have figured it out if I had really thought about it. Nut I never put too much thought into it. I was, after all, busy getting two Master's degrees ;)

  7. i understood the title because in my work the same metaphor applies and is often used, although clearly with different standards and for different reasons.

  8. living in Kenya is really, really, really a lot like living in a fishbowl.

  9. None of the above, I just thought it meant sharing your life publicly on a blog! I picked the last option in the poll because it was the closest option!

  10. Honestly, I never even thought about the title of your blog, so obviously I never tried to figure out what it meant.