As a ministry wife, it can be very difficult to have a true friend. There are so many layers to being in church leadership, and people often hold you to unrealistic expectations and may treat you differently. It’s not easy.
But, some of my sweetest friendships I grew in church. Girlfriends who loved me through losses and disappointments and fears. Those who:
made me meals when my dad died,
cleaned my bathrooms when I had surgery,
hugged me when I had miscarriages,
and prayed for me through a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis of our oldest son.
These friendships were not instantaneous. They were hard earned. It took me a long time to open up, to trust, and to expose my weaknesses. There were many years of loneliness and isolation – wondering if anyone would see me at church for more than just my husband’s position or leverage me for information. It stinks to feel used or dispensable.
Ministry can create an isolating bubble around friendships:
- You may feel like you can’t be yourself.
- You may distrust someone’s motives.
- You may be unable to move beyond your role as a ministry wife to reveal the broken, imperfect person that you are.
- You may not have the energy or time to invest in growing a relationship.
Even though friendships can be hard for all these reasons, they are so WORTH THE EFFORT and risk. I don’t know where you land today:
Maybe you have a loving church family.
Maybe you have 1 or 2 or 5 amazing girlfriends who love and support you.
Or maybe you feel lonely. You may know a ton of people who would call you “best friend,” but it’s a one-sided relationship. They don’t really know you.
Or maybe you are scared to open up and let others know your fears and missteps because what would they say if they knew the “pastor’s wife” had those struggles. So, you are caught in this role of perfection and isolation, never really being yourself- only playing a part.
Believe me, I get it. I’ve struggled with all these things. In some churches, I had good friends. In other churches, I didn’t. I wish I could tell you a guaranteed way to get a friend. But, God never works on a template. Instead, he customizes each situation to meet your needs for good and with himself. If you are lonely and discouraged because you don’t feel known and loved, let me encourage you to take the tiniest movement forward:
- Ask God for a friend.
- Be open. Be wise. Be honest.
- Be ok and flexible with the relational ebb and flow that comes in each season.
- Put yourself in places and situations where friendships can grow.
- Ask God to show and heal you from the unhealthy parts of yourself.
God gave us each other to love each other and that doesn’t exclude a ministry wife. Lean into him and see what he will do.
Written by: Amy Petersen