When Josh and I moved back to Cedar Rapids, his job at the time was a dual-role position. He was the Worship and Youth Pastor for our church. Worship for Josh is like eating Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups for me. Effortless, enjoyable and satisfying. He lives a life of worship. I live my life to eat chocolate and peanut butter. Youth pastoring, however, is a whole different story.
The Youth Pastor before us had a VERY involved wife. She supported and loved her husband and ran the administrative side of the Youth Ministry. She was the one who meal planned and cooked at camps, worked the logistics of events, stayed the night at lock-ins, loved and prayed for the kids in the youth group. She was a rock star (still is), and they took ministry head on, together, as a team.
So, naturally, Josh thought we should take on this new challenge, head on, as a team.
I want to tell you something. I don’t like kids. Specifically middle-school aged kids. I know that seems odd, given I have had three of them, but some days I don’t like them either, and I am praying God is near in their middle-school years. I just don’t understand kids. As a teenager I worked 5-6 weeks of my summer at a Church Camp. I did this for years, and it wasn’t because I loved kids, it was because I had a crazy crush on a guy, one of the other camp counselors, and had developed amazing friendships with the staff. I went to hang-out and win over my crush. Not for the kids. Nope. I am 36 now, I can finally admit to that. It was strategic for me. The whole camp thing. NOT FOR THE KIDS.
Now, you know the truth.
Back to Josh and I winning the youth for Christ, I wanted to be a loving, supportive, sacrificial Pastor’s wife. I really did. So I agreed to take on the youth with him. Josh, knowing administrative things make me sweat and retreat to bed in a fetal position, decided that, and I quote, “since you are so easy to talk to, I am putting you with the MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS.”
Get behind me, Satan.
Friends. I was a disaster. Your worst nightmare as a youth leader, trust me. At the time, I had three very small children at home, couldn’t remember the last time I slept, AND I am the worst person to invite if you are throwing a pity-party. Especially if I haven’t slept.
One night, as we were going around sharing prayer requests, one of our girls mentioned that she was still struggling not to self-harm. She had no past with self-harm, had yet to harm herself, and spent the majority of the time in group complaining about her life. This had gone on for weeks. On this night, I was particularly salty, and instead of drumming up some sort of empathy, or compassion, understanding, love, even silence, INSTEAD I, in so many words, told her she was a spoiled little-attention-seeking mess and that we didn’t have time to hear her whine anymore in group. Something like that.
FULL STOP- I know this was not productive, healthy, and harmful even. I know this. I also know this makes sense for someone running in a lane that God has not called them to. I should have never been there.
After this night I went to another youth leader, one that knew me well, and told him I was stepping down. I didn’t have the courage yet to ask Josh’s permission (catch that? Because I thought I needed it) and wanted to run it by someone else. This person, in love, told me “I think you are running away from something you are called to. The girls love you, and you are really good at this.”
Bring on the guilt.
I have never understood why, when women (or anyone maybe) FINALLY, ACTUALLY, know that they know God isn’t calling them to a particular ministry, or task, or church, or service area that their knowing is questioned. Why do we listen, and lean in, to what other’s tell us we are good at instead of leaning in, and listening to what God is telling us we are good at? Are we afraid He can’t be trusted? That others know us better?
I understand the importance of good counsel, solid friendships, and people speaking words of encouragement, but nothing is more important than knowing YOUR OWN skills, gifting, uniqueness and calling. It will stand as a compass when others speak into your life, and YOU can decide “yes, that is confirmation of what I know about myself to be true, or no, that doesn’t line up with what God is telling me.”
You know what God tells me? Court, don’t work with middle-school kids. At least not right now. So I don’t.
Being a Pastor’s wife has been tricky for me, even more so has been understanding who and for what purpose God created me. In my journey of being a woman and being a Christ-follower, I have often felt the way I did in the youth room all those years ago. “I just don’t belong here” I would tell myself, here being the norms of biblical womanhood and pastor life.
I do belong though, so do you, running wide-open in my God ordained lane, the lines drawn for me, with purpose, with intent, so I can grow and thrive in EVERY area of womanhood in my life.
My personal, Courtney definition of biblical, Godly womanhood is this; a heart freely given to Jesus every morning, an open-mind to what is coming next, courage to love myself, strength to stand my ground, boldness to believe my relationship with Christ is sufficient, because He is sufficient, meekness and awareness in stubborn areas that are harmful, and a disciplined, thankful prayer that God created me as a WOMAN.
Also. Prayer for those coming, ridiculous, middle-school years.
My prayer for you dear sister is that you would write your own definition, listening every so closely to God’s leading, and drawing the lines of YOUR VERY OWN WOMANHOOD with Him.