Sunday, August 3, 2008

When A Good Pastor's Wife Leaves

Next to every good pastor, in my experience, is a faithful and lovely pastor's wife. As sad as it is to see my pastor leave my church, it's just as sad to see his wife go, too. Many a story about Diane came through her husband's sermons. But, I can't remember a time when she wasn't spoken of in the highest regard. (Although there were 13 years before I arrived at the church when there may have been a slip!)

Diane is a Welcomer! She has a genuine smile and an outgoing yet totally comforting presence. She never overwhelms with a too-hardy handshake or a too-pushy join-our-church-today hello. She definitely finds and reads your eyes, and gives you a tap or a hug depending on how she sees things in you.

I was very fortunate to have had Diane join the church's handbell choir, which I direct. She played with us for our first two seasons before opting to spend more time with her husband. (Who could blame her! "What? He's home!?") Diane was one of THE hardest working bell ringers that we have had--always practicing, always asking questions. Always concerned that her efforts weren't good enough, yet always coming forward with her best, having grown through her concerns to a full bloom! It's not every day you find that kind of spirit in someone's service.

Before that, I only knew Diane in passing. She was a former Mentor Mom in the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group--a position I am now going to try and undertake. (Thank God for good role models!) She had a part-time job at the library and always gave me a whispered, "Hi, Sue!"

She also, inadvertently, had one of the greatest impacts on my life. As Paul Harvey would have said next, "Now it's time for the rest of the story."

* * *
One day, when I was in the library and pregnant with Daughter #2, Diane came up to me.

(Whisper) "Hi, Sue!"

"Hi!" (Back to browsing kids music selections)

"I have something to ask you...."

Uh oh.

You know when there's an ask by the pastor's wife that you have to put on your full listening gear and defensive shields against 'something.' What is she going to ask? I'm due in a few months. No. No. No....

Diane gently launched into a conversation about 40 Days of Purpose, Rick Warren's best-seller, that we all would study as part of a churchwide focus.

"Would you be part of the Prayer Team?"

Prayer Team? Where did you get my name from?? Who would I work with, because I'm not doing this myself?

"Do you know Kelly?"

Kelly, now a.k.a. Chatty Kelly, was a very distant somebody-who-went-to-our-church person. Our daughters were in the same Sunday School class and wore the same black velvet Disney Princess boots. We rarely spoke.

"She's expecting, too."

Yes. I had noticed another very pregnant woman a few pews up on Sundays. Diane explained that Kelly was doing this, too, and tried to convince me that my past MOPS leadership would serve this effort well, while somehow implying that working with another pregnant mom would make things easier.

"OK," I said. (Could you answer more meekly?)

I introduced myself to Kelly after a service one Sunday morning. I said Diane had asked me to serve on the Prayer Team. What do you want me to do, etc., etc. Kelly--with negative pregnancy hormones in full swing--basically gave me the brush-off.

"Are you going to the meeting today?" she asked.

"," (OK, I could be meeker.)

"Oh." (You know the kind. The 'Oh' of disappointment that said, "Then why are you doing this at all, and why do I have to work with you!?")

Then, she may have said something like, "I'll call you later." But, I clearly remember her turning to talk with another mom, commenting on her cute outfit.


* * *
I would go on to work with another gal on the team, writing short e-mail devotions/prayers to sustain the church during the 40 days. I had Daughter #2. Kelly had her Daughter #2. And after the 40 Days study, a mutual friend asked me to join Kelly's longtime Bible study.

Surprisingly, I said yes. It definitely wasn't about Kelly. It was all about Bible study. Funny thing, though, 4-1/2 years later, Kelly and I have become the best of friends.

Diane probably didn't ask me to join the Prayer Team way back when to have me befriend Kelly. Though Kelly and I certainly weren't going to do it on our own. (HA! We can laugh now, but this was inconceivable at the time, unlike our baby girls.)

God knew that Diane would be a critical link in making a new relationship happen, and He knew the ripple effect that would be created by bringing Kelly and me together. We are indebted to the one who heard God's Word, put in into action, read our eyes and encouraged our hearts. (And, no doubt, said a few prayers along the way, too.)

Thank you, Diane! You will be missed!!

(And now you know the rest of the story.)


My ADHD Me said...

Oh, that is so nice. Kelly told me that story some time ago. She takes her friendships very seriously and gives her friends 100%. Meaning, she could be getting ready for bed, fixing dinner or on the way out of the house (not all at the same time....Even Wonder Woman can't do that!) and if a friend calls and needs her.....she is there for them. Whether it is to help out with a child, help them do something or just offer an ear. Just remember, if you ask her will get it with 100% honesty.
One day soon I will write a post in my blog about the day she changed a part of my life.

My ADHD Me said...

I forgot to add that when Kelly told me the story about how you and she became friends, she started out by saying that God pushed the two of you together and how she felt blessed to have you as such a great friend. :)

Chatty Kelly said...

Perception is reality. I vaguely remember our first encounter, but not with the clarity of Sue J. She was even able to tell me the name of the person who's outfit I complimented.

What I do remember is thinking no matter how wonderful Sue J may or may not be, I do not have time for another friend in my life...busy, busy, busy. So perhaps I was not overly friendly.

But God did have other plans, praise him! And now I can't imagine not having Sue in my life, and we are indeed the best of friends.

Thank you Diane!

The Patterson 5 said...

I never knew this story- I just always thought ya'll were great friends! What a blessing you both are to so many! I am glad God pushed you together! What a wonderfully wise team you make!

Edie said...

This is a great story of what a BIG GOD can do with our tough hearts. I'm so glad I read this, and so glad God introduced me to both of you. :)

B His Girl said...

What a great story Sue J! I love how God opens our eyes to others, sometimes the ones under our nose. Thanks. B