She was a pastor’s wife.
It had been her dream. What church girl didn’t dream of one day marrying a preacher? He had been so handsome. She couldn’t believe he wanted to date her. Soon he proposed. Before she knew it, they were in ministry together.
But, then she had a miscarriage. It wore on her physically, mentally, and emotionally. If she was honest with herself, it wore on her spiritually as well.
Her husband didn’t grasp the hurt she was suffering. She had tried to talk to him, but he was young and busy. He had a church that depended on him. He would hug her, giver a quick kiss on the forehead and say, “You’ll be okay, Honey.” Many nights she cried silently into her pillow as her husband dreamed peacefully beside her.
Each morning she got up, made his coffee, pressed his shirt and kissed him goodbye. Once he left, she would read her Bible and then pray, begging God to lift the heavy sadness from her. She pushed through each day, cooking, cleaning and entertaining missionaries and other guests as needed. Before walking into the church building on Sundays and Wednesdays, she would hold her breath as she prepared to mask the anxiety and fear that had taken hold of her life. She would smile and greet the church members—no one noticing the emptiness behind her eyes.
Eventually she became pregnant again. Finally. A reason to celebrate! Only, she was desperately ill—every single day of the pregnancy. No one from the church seemed to detect how fatigued and sickly she felt. Or, if they did, they didn’t care enough to offer help.
Their baby girl was beautiful in every way. Healthy. Happy. The pastor was as proud as any dad around. His wife knew she should feel overjoyed—but she couldn’t feel anything. She was hollow.
She will ever know what triggered it, but one day she just stopped. She didn’t feel alive. The baby was crying, but she couldn’t move. She laid in her bed, tears siding down her cheeks and resting in her hair.
Hearing his daughter crying, the pastor checked to see what was happening. He picked his little bundle up out of her bed and walked to his bedroom. As if really seeing his wife for the first time in months, he was suddenly alarmed by her pale skin and sunken cheeks.
She turned to him and whispered, “Help me.”
You see, while she had what many looking in thought was a fairy tale life, reality wasn’t so pretty. Her parents had never once told her they loved her. They didn’t hug her or tell her she was special.
She was brought up in a church that taught if you just prayed enough and followed God’s commands, you would have a happy life. No one discussed depression or anxiety. It was church taboo.
She had thought that marriage would bring her happiness, but he couldn’t heal the hurts in her heart. And, when he disappointed her, her wounds became deeper. Each hurt heaped on top of the previous one until her heart and mind just couldn’t bear anymore.
I’m guessing that there may be a few of you who can relate to every word I’ve written. You may not be a pastor’s wife (or maybe you are), but you understand her pain. You understand hiding what is really going on inside of you. You understand putting a smile on your face during the day and falling apart at night.
Depression. Anxiety. God’s daughters are not immune. We suffer too, often in hiding because we are afraid of ridicule. The church is supposed to be a place of healing. It’s supposed to be a place where we find support and encouragement.
Ladies, we need to love each other enough to reach out to one another.
Do you see that newlywed struggling to make the transition to married life? Reach out.
Do you see that new mommy, exhausted and scared? Reach out.
Do you see that mom of teens who doesn’t know what steps to take next? Reach out.
What about the grandma raising her grandchildren? Reach out.
See that teen mom over there? Reach out.
Guess what? Pastors’ wives can often be the loneliest women in your church. Reach out.
And what about you? Are YOU the one suffering? Reach out for help. Reach out for support. Do not suffer alone any longer.
Depression and anxiety are real and Satan loves to destroy God’s people using them as his tools. But, the Bible says, “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.
And, in Romans 8:37 it says, “ Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us].”
Women are Strong
Women of God are Mighty
With God’s help, let’s defeat depression and anxiety in the Church. Let’s be Jesus to one another.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].
Lisa Bull sees her life as a journey along God’s divine plan. While considering herself an expert on nothing, she enjoys laughing and has made “choosing joy” her motto. Lisa has experienced God’s unfailing love and grace in her life and wants nothing more than for others to enjoy that same gift in their lives.
Lisa is the daughter and granddaughter of ministers. She has multiple relatives in ministry on both sides of her father’s family including several pastors, pastor’s wives, and missionaries. In fact, ministry in her maternal grandmother’s family can be traced back several generations. She loves being a wife and mother of two terrific young men.