Margi’s Memo
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?

Juicy Gossip

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.

22 thoughts on “MM1

  1. It may be Wal Mart for you, but I’m pretty sure I lose my salvation everytime I go into Winco…….That said, this was a good reminder for me…. seeing people and loving them as Christ does. After all, He loves me as I am, and I am a mess! So, what right do I have judging others? So easy to know, and so hard to put into practice! Thanks, Margi!!!

  2. Aw, Margi, I thought it was our job to give you a hard time 😉

    I’m intrigued that someone here connected with your best friend; too bad it wasn’t a friendly connection.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m looking forward to getting to know you a bit through your blog.

  3. Tell it like it is sister…. I appreciate your candor. I learned along time ago that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  4. Thank you, Margi ~ we moved from Redding shortly after you and Bill arrived and we knew we would miss out on a tremendous couple in the two of you. I so appreciate this entry. Too many times I’ve been both the victim and the perp of looking at the outside and seeing only what they/I cared to see. Would you mind if I passed this on to the gals who work with our MOMS group here? Thank you so much for being honest and real in this memo…on Good Friday when I’m reading it, it truly hits it’s target….me. 🙂

  5. Margi,

    I can’t tell you how much I hate being convicted first thing Monday morning. I thought it was bad getting it from Bill on Sunday…

    Okay, seriously, I appreciate your message, can relate a little too much, need to be more aware of those around me and probably need to issue a few apologies.

    Thanks for sharing, reminding and inspiring.


  6. Thank you Margi. There was a saying coined by a former leader at Moody Bible Institute that went, “In order for a man [person] to be used greatly, they must first be hurt deeply.” I’ve been there and I’m sure I’ll be there again. In fact, it happened to me again yesterday. We love you, Bill and your wonderful family. We must never forget that what we see is not the complete story and to be a true friend we must carry each others burdens.

  7. Ouch! Thanks for the reminder that I had to be NICE to that rude, snippy parent at my daughter’s concert the night before last! I tend to mostly not say much when they do this, but then go over to my “nice” friends in the following moments and help them commiserate with how wronged I was and how inappropriate she was … equally wrong, if not more so, I think, to the option of reacting wrongly.

    That said, thank you for reminding me of the deeper stuff … those hidden stories that I often forget are behind those I encounter every day. Father, open my eyes to the deeper stories when you want me to act in love, and give me grace to react with love when my eyes can’t see it.

  8. Hi Margi:

    Was nice to hear your comments on how to greet people and not jump to conclusions. I have to remind myself often when I see someone and an unkind thought passes through my brain. I thank God that he is a forgiving God.

    Am looking forward to meeting you and your family.


  9. Hi Margi,

    Your story hit very close to home with me as I recently moved to Redding, CA from Amarillo, TX to be close to my family after suffering a significant amount of loss. I lived in California all of my life, and moved to Texas away from my family and lifelong friends so that my husband could “climb the corporate ladder”. In a six month time period, I suffered a minor stroke (TIA) due to a blood disease, my 26 year old daughter committed suicide and left me to raise my 6 year old grandson, and my husband filed for a divorce.

    For most of my life I have been that person you see laughing, singing, and most always smiling. My family and friends would tell you that I have always been a very kind spirit and when my daughter died, I knew that if I displayed ugly behavior I would be forgiven, however the exact opposite happened with me. I started praying for truth, strength, wisdom, forgiveness and courage almost daily and am still growing as a Christian. I acknowledge that the time I spent with my daughter was a gift from God. I want to honor my daughter by being a person that she would be proud to call Mom.

    Thank you sharing your story and inspiring me to share my story. I pray that my thoughts about how I chose to deal with my situation will inspire anyone to lean on God during their time of pain.


  10. It is so nice to hear about you more. I always pray for you and yours. I think you must have a very hard job being a pastor’s wife.
    I learned alot about being considerate to others when I found myself at the end of the freeway offramp, just sitting there. The cars behind me had been honking but I don’t know how long I had been just sitting there at the stoplight. I had just come from the hospital saying goodbye to my husband who was brain dead. I should have had someone with me, helping me but I was alone. I once got mad at a van that just rolled across 2 lanes of the highway. I was just yelling until I looked and there was no driver in the van. It had rolled out of the tire repair shop! Here I am just yelling alone in my car at Who? We all have stories to tell. Funny ones, sad ones. But God will change us on the inside if we can let go of ourselves long enough to allow him to.

  11. This is what I think is peeling back the layers of superficial Christianity and getting to the core of real life. Being judgmental gives one the artificial feeling of superiority and creates incredible negativity. I agree: one never knows what another person is experiencing. So, let’s give each other a break.

  12. I like to way you phrased it Rosanna, I think of it as biblical pride but you are right by breaking it down. It is control, being judgemental, and having the conclusion of negitivity. If we give over the control of our body to the Holy Spirit (thus walking in the spirit) then we aren”t in control any more. We aren’t self centered we are other centered, or Christ centered. We will stop and be kind to our dog or cat, but a stranger, in a car even? We do need to not see our cars as estensions of ourselves, and stop being so territorial about them.

  13. Thank you for the reminder. I think we have all been on both sides of the issue, but maybe with this reminder, instead of the negative mumble under my breath and my version of your snort, I will simply asks God’s Blessing for the perp or for me, if I am the guilty one. Thanks. Katie

  14. It’s nice to know that I am not wandering about hogging those experiences to myself. Yes, I have been the cat hissing in the aisle at Walmart. Rushing you along telling you to get the h…l out of the way. Why, because of my sick asthmatic daughter, errands for my father with Parkinson’s and job that keeps me limited to sleeping 4 hours a night. Plus, five sisters that are constantly reminding me that I could lose 5 pounds, need a new car because mine smells like wet dog, need a new house because it doesn’t have a pool or when my husband gets furloughed that we need to “hang in there” and then follow it up with, “What do you think of my new shoes, only $300 dollars. What a bargain!” Yup, sure was a bargain. Considering I could feed my family for a month and we will be dining well on Mac n Cheese and Top Ramen for the next week. The dog eats better, at least she gets full nutritional value from her meals.

    Now, I only know a handful of women at church because I was exhausted and tired of hearing gossip. Tired of women who remind me that God loves me but he loves them ‘MORE’ because they are just “better” Chrisitians than I.

    But then again, THANK GOD for the close relationships that I have made with women at Neighborhood. THANK GOD for the women in my bible study that I love and have bonded with. Not all women act the same and we all have issues. Not one of us is perfect, even though some act like it.
    God loves us all equally. That is why I try to be a little more patient while standing in line, less verbal and expressive behind the wheel of a car (even though hand gestures are very tempting) and a little more understanding when someone needs to vent and I am the first person they call.

    So yes, thanks for the reminder that we are all sisters and we are all in the same boat. Whether that boat is a line at Walmart or Winco, being a parent to a 6 year old or dealing with a serious illness. We just have to keep sticking our fingers in the holes when the boat springs a leak, hang onto eachother and praise God even when things are falling apart.

    And just know that we are not alone and we need to continue to reach out and love one another.

    I couldn’t walk a mile in another womans shoes because I can barely teeter around a mile in my own.

  15. What a blessing this was to read this morning. I was looking for the bible in a year and stumbled onto this blog.

    How many of us attend church looking all good and happy, when inside everything is a mess. I pray that we will see each other as God sees us and be filled with the love we need each day. I have been in those places where I was alone and overwhelmed.

    Thank all of you for reminding me that even an eye roll at the “least of these” does no good for my walk and may make me miss an opportunity to share the “Good News”.

    I pray that this year we all learn how to hold each others hands through the tough times, to remember we are blessed to have the Giovannetti family all of them and that we have such amazing women who do so much for so many.

  16. Thank you Margi for the transparancy and for reminding me the heart of Jesus. I also appreciated reading the additional comments left. We all go through difficult times and we do need our sisters in Christ to come along side us and encourage us…without judging. Unconditional Love! 🙂

  17. Great post. I’ve thought about putting the following quote on a bumper sticker:
    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


  18. Margi! Not sure if you are still checking this post (loved the article – it is so you and it made me smile) but I would love to get in contact with you!! Mark and I have moved to Tennessee – lots of changes…miss you and would love to talk to you!


  19. I loved your post Margi, and the replies……there is something so refreshing as well as being comforting somehow, when people are transparent.
    Wow, wouldn’t it be a different world if we all extended grace to the mean and not so lovely. We certainly have that ability in our own corner.

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