So it’s official. I am married to a minister.
Last week, Southlake Baptist licensed Justin as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can’t tell you what the past year has meant to me as I’ve seen my husband valued by this church. I’ve prayed since we were engaged that men, especially, would believe in him and mentor him and that prayer has definitely been answered.
They love him. I mean, love him. They trust him, they recognize his brilliance and wise heart, they think he is hilarious, and they encourage him everyday. I have watched him bloom (I wish I could think of a more manly way to say that, but it’s true and that’s all I can come up with. So he’s bloomed, but in the most masculine way possible like a cactus or a pine tree). He is more himself than I’ve ever seen him be. Even the technical aspects of his job have improved. He’s more comfortable on stage – more real. His leading perfectly fits who this church is and where they want to go. And people respond to that – they connect with and worship the Lord under his leadership. It has been really fun to experience.
He’s a minister. He always has been one , really – but now we get the awesome tax benefits.
And I am a minister’s wife. That part, truthfully, kind of freaks me out. I sometimes fear that by being myself I might screw this whole thing up for him.
I’m far from perfect. I mean – really far. I often wish I could sleep in on Sunday, I have my doubts about some of the more confusing aspects of our faith, I am strongly opinionated about the role of women in the church, I can be proud and stubborn about almost anything (even stupid things), I really dislike most contemporary Christian music and Christian subculture, I have recently discovered a love for wine, and I think a well-placed curse word can be absolutely hilarious.
Sometimes I feel like being a minister’s wife means I have to change who I am. But I’m 35 years-old and I’ve lived most of my life uncomfortable in my own skin, and by God’s grace I’ve finally gotten to a place where I feel at home being Jen.
I don’t want to pretend anymore. I like who God made me to be. I think I’m finally getting pretty good at it.
I love authenticity. I like confessing my sins to others and seeing how God redeems and deepens community after confession. I love messy relationships and complex conversations. I love having a drink with a searching person and seeing them open up to discuss the Lord from an unexpected angle. I see God in art and music even when the people creating it probably don’t know they are reflecting the Creator of all. I believe that God can redeem anything – and I believe being in the world but not of it means just that.
So here I am – a newly licensed minister’s wife. And I have a choice to make. Be myself and trust, or hide who I am out of fear of retribution. I choose to trust. I think that just as Justin has trusted the staff and elders of SBC with every aspect of his being and personality, I need to do the same. We’ve come to know them well and we know that they believe in redemption, not perfection. They have treated us with nothing but grace and love, and they seek the heart of the Lord. I choose to trust and be myself.
I will never be a perfect minister’s wife, mostly because I am a sinner saved by grace. But I have a God who is sanctifying me and smoothing over my rough edges and who chooses to use me despite my failings. And for that I am so incredibly grateful.
So here I am, quite possibly the very worst minister’s wife ever*, but excited to see what God does with this stage of our life. We are grateful for you, people and staff of Southlake Baptist, and for Christ in you. Thank you for trusting Justin and honoring his commitment to the Lord. You have been used by God to encourage our family in more ways than you can know.
(*Bekah adds “ever” to the end of every sentence when she is mad. It’s hilarious. For example, “Grace, I will eat my sandwich and you won’t get a bite, EVER!” To see that little person so passionate makes me laugh every stinking time. So in her honor, I threw an “ever” in there for emphasis.)