December 13, 2013

Having to Stand in Line to Speak to Your Spouse

Who are the go-to people in your church? Who do you ask when the bathroom light needs replacing, when the sidewalk needs more salt, when the heat isn't working right, when the Christmas Eve service will start? Actually, I've had all of these questions in the last week. My answer? "I really don't know, ask the custodian, ask the trustees, ask the choir director, ask the pastor." I am not the go-to person!

A woman in our congregation drove this point home to me yet again. I was actually in the office standing in line to speak to my husband, when she poked her head in the office door, saw my husband was busy and thought she'd just ask me. The question had something to do with putting her mother on the prayer list. (Yes, important.) Would I see that my husband did this? And she left! I had to leave too, because I saw that he was never going to get to me and I had places to be. And if you're wondering, I did leave him a note about the prayer request. But there were about 5 other people in the office at the same time. Did she ask them? No, she asked me.

I'm happy that people feel that I'm approachable and compassionate, but I'm not on staff and I'm privy to no special information; and certainly I don't know where the extra light bulbs are.

But while I protest at not being a go-to person, people regularly think the pastor's spouse is just that. Like it or not, we are often seen as an extension of our pastor spouse. Some people in the congregation believe that saying something to us is like saying it directly to the pastor.And it has happened that a person feared saying something to my husband or they were angry at him, so they said it to me (and on rare occasions, my children). While you may like this or have a need to be needed, I don't. And I make as clear as possible that I don't carry messages to my husband. One reason is that if it's not written down, I'll forget and get it mixed up. But people assume that you know them, their story, their family, their problems; I don't. I may just see these folks once a month at best. But they assume that the connection they have with my husband, they can have with me. And they don't.

Most of the time, I smile and try to be as gracious as possible. But I'm also firm that I am not the right person to ask. I keep my boundaries. If I don't, there are always some people who are willing to set my boundaries with only themselves in mind. And I tried to teach my kids the same thing. That may be one reason that my kids still have a relationship with the church while other PKs just walk away and never look back.

As I reread this, it sounds a little harsh. Sorry, but this is a pet peeve. Perhaps you handle these situations better. If so, I'd love to hear from you.

Grace, Kathy

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