I have this pair of shoes. I love them.
I was forced to buy them in one of the best bridesmaid purchases of all time. They are hot pink leather and wonderful. The heel is a good three inches. They are freakishly comfortable for their height, and they are completely impractical. They make me feel like a princess and a rockstar all at the same time. Every time I wear these shoes I get compliments without fail. They are a seriously great pair of shoes.
I wore these shoes out on the town, for my husband’s benefit, on our 15th wedding anniversary, just last May.
The plan was dinner and jewelry. This year demanded a mark of celebration in the form of refined diamonds- formed deep within the Earth, under heat and pressure. A fair representation of God’s work in us over the last few years. We had made it fiercely through a difficult season, holding hands, and building one another up, only by God’s grace and mercy.
We walked into the jewelry store with a clear cut budget. We found a delightful and hip jewelry salesperson who understood our language – unique and understated, please, something…atypical.
Her name was Jaime and I’ll never forget her. She gave me one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever known:
“You don’t look like a pastor’s wife!”
Jaime’s words set my heart on fire with an elated sense of worth and appreciation. And I had to ask myself, “Why?”
Why was this compliment so valuable to me? My extreme response didn’t make logical sense. I loved being a pastor’s wife! Why would I want someone to recognize that I don’t look like one? Why did this compliment matter so much to me?
I sat across from my husband at dinner and processed all of this, “It’s not just me. Most pastor’s wives I talk to desperately want to ‘look like something else.’ Why is that? What’s wrong with ‘looking like a pastor’s wife?’”
It took me 8 months to circle around to a conclusion:
No one wants to be put in a box.
No one wants to be generalized.
We want desperately to be kept outside of a category. While being in a group is fun and special, being seen as an individual, with unique thoughts and contributions, unique and valuable words and actions, this is an important part of who we were made to be.
Being part of the body of Christ is our reality, ordained by God. He sees us as chosen people not just a chosen person. He sees us as members fit together as moveable parts, working together, striving together. But he also sees each of those parts very much as valuable pieces of clay, molded and made by Him, set apart for every good work, individual testimonies giving glory to Him, shining His light.
It’s common in “pastor’s wife world” to claim you are atypical:
“I’m not like those other pastor’s wives,” I have heard on more than one occasion. “I don’t dress like them, play the organ like them, talk like them,” it has been said. But in order to change this perception that there isn’t a perfect pastor’s wife or even a typical pastor’s wife, we have to change our own language.
There is no typical in God’s economy.
When we look at those around us and group people into categories, no matter how useful –
Millennials, jocks, engineers, those who struggle with some kind of disorder, artists, Christians…
We stop seeing the individual. We turn back into our eighth grade selves, careful of what tables we sit at, and who we invite over. It changes not only our perceptions, but our ministries as well. There is no typical pastor, just as there are no typical computer software specialists, administrative assistants, or cashiers. And there certainly are no typical seminary wives or pastor’s wives.
Jesus has the perfect picture of the pastor’s wife in His Word:
Psalm 64:8 proclaims that we are all the work of His Hand.
Psalm 139:14 declares that work as wonderful, each of us- wonderful.
Songs of Songs 1:15 calls us beautiful, simply as His creation.
I embrace my crazy awesome shoes and wear them with a bit of pride for my solid or not-so-solid fashion sense. I click around happily in them, looking forward to my night on the town, but firmly knowing they have absolutely nothing to do with my identity.
Sneakers, flats, flip flops, or heels…none of it has to do with who I am as a wife that loves my husband and loves Jesus even more.
I need to retire my pink high heels. They are getting warn out, but today I know my response to the very kind jewelry sales person’s compliment better than I did that day, “Thanks! I don’t think there really is a cookie cutter pastor’s wife, but I do hope you have received a little Jesus because I was here today though.”
In all of it, that’s all that matters –
Jesus proclaimed in every step of my three inch heels.