From Margi: Wife, Mom, Attorney, Professor, Married to a Pastor
To: The Women I Know
Re: Our Inner Mean-Girl
It’s a mystery.
How did a cruel and untrue remark about me travel 2,298 miles, from my home town on the west coast, to the ears of my best friend from college, in the corn fields of Indiana?
We women, especially Christian women, can be way too nasty and judgmental about the women around us. The problem is that we have not walked in their Nine Wests. If you really knew someone else’s story, you’d cut them a lot more slack.
So when that cruel remark was made against me, I wondered, “Does that nasty [expletive deleted] really know my story?”
When I met Bill I was a tough, workaholic, defense attorney clawing my way to the top. I never thought I would marry a pastor. In my ignorance, I thought, How hard could it be to be a pastor’s wife? I didn’t grow into the position of being a senior pastor’s wife . . . I was baptized by fire.
This last February Bill and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. In those nine years we have moved six times, once across country, away from family and lifetime friends. We suffered the indescribable heartbreak of losing our first child through miscarriage. We endured a year and a half of being unable to have another child. At times I was so depressed that all I wanted to do was stand in the shower or lie in bed, removed from the world. My father died. My aunt, who is like a mother to me, was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Other family members endured serious medical conditions. I myself had some medical issues and had surgery about a year ago. I gave birth to two children, 19 months apart, one of whom had colic for 5 1/2 months and cried (it seemed) 24 hours a day unless we sat holding her. I gave up my law career. In addition to the career of wife and mother, I started a new career – teaching at Simpson University as an adjunct professor. And those are just some of the changes and challenges we have faced.
My question: Do you really know what those around you are going through?
Do you know if that smiling, seemingly happy go lucky person is really suffering from deep seated self esteem issues? Can you tell if that woman you just said “Hi” to was just told her child is not doing well in school and has a learning disability?
Walmart is where you sell your soul to get a discount. J.D. sat in the cart. We came to an impasse in the toothpaste aisle. A woman had parked her cart in the middle of the aisle. I was trying to get through going one direction. Another women needed to go the other direction. We were both stuck.
Finally the perpetrator realized her unpardonable sin and moved her cart. As J.D. and I quickly made our way through, the woman opposite me rolled her eyes. She issued a condescending snort at me for having gone first. So, being a pastor’s wife and always being sweet, kind, and unjudgmental, I breezed past her, commenting under my breath, “What’s your problem?” Then, I issued a snort of my own.
Immediately I caught myself. Wasn’t I doing exactly what I have just been writing about? What did I know about her? She could have been in a hurry to get medicine to a sick child. Or to bake a casserole for the funeral luncheon. Maybe she had to pee.
So what if the middle-aged woman at the grocery store was just rude to you? So what? Do you know that she has a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s who she just placed her in a care facility and one year ago she got divorced because her husband “felt trapped.” Do you understand that the seemingly unfriendly woman sitting by herself at church has just finished her second chemotherapy treatment and can scarcely move. You didn’t know that.
To look at others without knowing what challenges and changes they face and then to judge them–that they should be more accessible, or peppier, or more of this or more of that… Gals, this not loving and not honoring of those women. This is not the spirit of Christ. How do you know what is going on in their lives?
Show true Christian spirit and love to each other. No, I mean truly love those women around you. Paul commands, “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Rom 14:19). Translation: Women, build each other up! We need each other.
So, I’ve mostly resolved the anger, hurt and the need to justify myself that I first felt when I heard the “nasty comment”. I’ve said to myself, “This person just doesn’t know me or my life.”
To me the deeper mystery is not how gossip spreads so far so fast, but that it even begins in the first place.
The main impact of that untrue comment about me was to make me more conscious of my own nastiness. I hope I’m just a little faster now at catching myself before I say or think nasty things about someone else. I’m not perfect, but I’m growing.
How about you? C’mon, gals. Click comments and share your story with us.