Saturday, January 31, 2009

"How do you do it?"

This question stopped me in my tracks as I was leaving the women's lobby area in the restroom at church. I was already at the door, pulling it open, when the quiet voice behind me wearily whispered these words, "How do you do it?"

At first, I wasn't sure the woman was speaking to me, but as I turned around, I realized there was no one else in the room.

"Excuse me?" I said.

And she repeated, "How do you do it?"

"How do I do what?" I asked, genuinely not knowing what she was referring to.

"How you do it all? How do you get up and get here every Sunday, looking all put together, with good kids and a good marriage? How do you get it all done and do it so well?" she asked.

If she hadn't been so sincere (with a sigh of hopelessness in her voice), I would probably have laughed out loud and said,
"Are you talking about ME?" because I couldn't for the life of me figure out how she thought that I had it all together. Although I knew this woman as an acquaintance, we had never had a true conversation. She looked at me and compared herself and her struggles to who she thought me to be.

"You don't know me very well," I said,
"because if you did, you'd know that some days are a struggle. I don't do "it" very well much of the time."

We women have a tendency to compare ourselves to others. This woman mistakenly believed that because she sees me sitting in the front row of church with Dave that she knows what my life is (and has been) like.  She did what so many of us do; we assume everyone else has it more together than we do. We think we just don't measure up.

In case you were wondering, just because I'm married to a pastor doesn't mean that I have it all together, and I'm usually the first to try to dispel that notion. Sitting in the front row on Sunday mornings with my husband doesn't give anyone a true picture of who I am and what my life is like, just as seeing others at church doesn't give me a true glimpse into who they are. Seeing me at church for one hour on Sundays might make it easy to believe that my life is perfect and that I can't understand where others might be coming from.

Pastor's wives can find it difficult for people know who they really are because they can't always personally know everyone who goes to their churches.

I can't get up and spill each and every detail of my life every Sunday just so people won't make assumptions about me.

This topic came up a couple of days ago when I was at lunch with a friend of mine. We don't know each other all that well, and something came up that she didn't realize was an issue I have had to deal with. I shared that I don't keep those things secret, but I wonder, how do I let people know that I understand pain and struggle without wearing a sign that tells everyone up front what issues I have faced or am facing? 

Don't get me wrong; I am a living testament to the goodness, power, and love of God and the life-change that He makes possible, and I thank Him for the many, many blessings He has poured out on me, my marriage, and my family in spite of me. But...... my life isn't (and hasn't been) perfect. I am definitely not complaining, but I regret that people may look at me and think that I don't understand how hard life can be, that I can't sympathize with where they are, and that I have it all together.  

My dear friend, I am just a fellow traveler on this journey.  No one has "arrived" and we are ALL becoming.  

How do I do it? Well, I'll share some things in next couple of posts, but for now, this was the suggestion of my friend....

You should just show up at church with your hair all ratty and uneven. :-)

Is that all it would take? If so, perhaps I should try it sometime.


Kim said...

Gena, I love you openness. You are true blessing. I love for others is great. Thank you for being you. Miss you. Kim

Kelly Rae said...

Gena, I think your sweet and caring spirit goes a long way to the perception others have of you.
Yes, you are there every Sunday morning, and we CAN see you supporting your husband and loving your kids, and your beautiful face and spirit. Of course, we can't see all that went into getting you there, although if I judge by how crazy my house is, I'm sure you worked hard. I believe we women are so much harder on ourselves than we are on each other. We assume that because someone looks "put together" that she had an easier time of it than we ourselves do.
One thing I hope you realize is how you mean to those of us you greet. You always have endless hugs and "hellos" and it is apparent that you truly care for our church family. We don't all know you very well, but we are blessed to have you and Dave as part of our family. We can feel the love!

Gena said...

I am so blessed! :-)

Awwwwww, Kim,
I miss you, too, and I thank you for your friendship. Thanks for taking the time to comment, but more importantly, thank you for allowing me to be me. It is a gift to me, and your openness encourages others to be who they really are around you. What a great gift you are to this world!

And dear Kelly Rae.....All I can say is that I am completely humbled by your comment, but I am encouraged that you say you" feel the love." I sometimes feel as if my heart will break when I think of and pray for our church family because my heart is so full and thankful. And yes, getting to church with the kids on Sunday morning can sometimes be hard work, but it is much easier now that they are older and I'm not getting them ALL there by myself! :-) That day will come, my friend, much more quickly than you will want it to.

Love to you both!