She experienced loneliness in different stages of her life: Minister's wife, Missionary Wife, and Widow.
She starts off the chapter minding us to remember what our Lord and Saviour went through while he walked on earth.
Being misunderstood, Being busy, Called upon by countless numbers, Being scrutinized, having to be a companion to many, and so forth. Jesus was sad, alone, surrounded, needing to withdrawn, needing to minister. He did it all, he experienced it all, and through it all.. NO SIN. All we can do as pastor's wives is try to follow his example for us.
Loneliness will be discussed under these three headings: Causes, Cures and Comforts.
- Isolation: Pastor's wives are often advised to keep people at arms length, don't make friends, protect your husband's ministry. But that isn't the example of Christ. He lived with his people, he made friends, he talked, he laughed, he cried with his people. Be a friend to your people.. be friendly...you don't have to BE a friend to everyone, but you can act friendly and caring. Be wise with whom you share life details with.
- Perfection: Be transparent, not trying to make yourself look perfect, be able to show some of the areas you are still working on in life.
- Burdens: Ministry life can be hard, your husband (the pastor) can be called away at a moment's notice, or people may stop by uninvited. It can be hard when you need your man and you just can't have his attention when you most want it. Don't hold it against him because therein lies the start of loneliness.
- Change: Change can be hard...needing to meet and get to know new people, leaving friendly faces behind. People might be set in their groups and find it hard to include someone new.
- Rejection: When your husband comes under attack. It's a hard one to deal with. You need to be mindful not to become bitter and hold yourself apart (and thereby become lonely).
- Loss: illness can keep you apart from fellowship.
- Thought Patterns: Watch your thought patterns. They can be poison to the building of friendships.
- Rest in Christ: See loneliness like storm tossed waters, and Christ as your lighthouse guiding you to safety... focus on him.
- The Word: Study the scriptures, know God well, hide him in your heart.
- Prayer: talk to your Saviour, have daily times of prayer
- Good Theology: Know the Lord, study him.
- A Strong Marriage: A good marriage is worth it's weight in gold. Guard it and nourish it.
- Godly Friendship: pray over your friendships. Be wise about who you associate with, seek a good mentor.
Loneliness doesn't always have a quick fix, but you need to fix it. to work at it and not let it consume you. Find a way to connect with GOD first and then with others. Remember that God is the God of comfort. He minds you full well.
Well...I don't know.. I can't say this was my most favourite chapter read thus far. Perhaps because I have lived it. I have felt VERY lonely in our current pastorate until I did something important... I started looking at the hearts of the people here. Seeing how they care about my hubby, even if some push and prod at him. I've learned to look past the "we want you to change to meet our standards" to see a people who care enough to genuinely ask "How are you doing?" to see their giving hearts and caring conversation. It matters and it changed my heart. I also learned to find MY way in this small town community. To find a spot where I am at home, and this is good. God has been an aide even when I wasn't expecting it. So loneliness can be beaten back, our heart attitude makes a huge difference in the battle.