By Christine Hoover
Sometimes when I’m sharing one of my many issues with my husband he breaks out his Preacher Voice on me. He will do his best Loving Husband with his masterful listening, nodding and reflecting and then, seemingly out of nowhere, his day job sneaks up on me. He throws out a reference to Scripture or, like a super-spiritual WWF wrestler, does a thinly veiled pastoral counseling move on me.
Ah, the Preacher Voice, you know it too? The deep, soothing, melodic speech that comes from a preacher when he is not in the pulpit, but feels compelled to “be the preacher” or have all the right answers. The prayers and exclamations filled with “Praise Jesus!” and “It’s a God thing” and “hedge of protection.” The accompanying soft pat on the shoulder, head tilt and empathetic nod.
Now before you think I’m anti-preacher or anti-hedge of protection or anything, let me tell you one thing worse than Preacher Voice: the Pastor’s Wife Voice.
My own, to be exact.
Pastor’s Wife Voice is less about the spoken word and head-tilts and more about the demanding voice inside my head. You might be familiar with Pastor’s Wife Voice:
I shouldn’t do that because I’m the pastor’s wife.
I should say that because I’m the pastor’s wife.
I have to do that because I’m the pastor’s wife.
People expect that of me because I’m the pastor’s wife.
I should never let people know that about me because I’m the pastor’s wife.
It seems that the moment my husband stepped behind the pulpit, someone installed a recording in my head that always ends with “because I’m the pastor’s wife.” The Pastor’s Wife Voice replays an endless and impossible standard of a role I must play. Funny, I often attribute that Voice to other people and what they must expect of me. Funny too, the Voice completely lacks any inkling of grace or freedom.
If I let it, Pastor’s Wife Voice makes me into a Stepford Pastor’s Wife, void of any personality or authenticity. It keeps me from connecting with other women on a meaningful level or in mutually edifying relationships. It keeps me caged in and makes me insanely bitter.
Thankfully, there is a third Voice calling my name. It’s just a whisper, really, and I must shove aside the blaring Pastor’s Wife Voice to hear Him, the Holy Spirit. He says things that contradict my Pastor’s Wife Voice, things that free me from perfection or pleasing people. He says things full of grace and truth. He reassures me that I am not playing a role with scripts and blemish-covering makeup, but that I am a woman who has been given an incredible opportunity to bring others to Him so He can quiet the graceless voices playing in their heads too.
I’m listening to one Voice these days, or at least I’m trying to. His is a lot like a non-annoying Preacher Voice, only He really does have all the answers.
Christine lives in Charlottesville, VA with her church-planting pastor husband and their three boys. When not breaking up spontaneous wrestling matches, she enjoys writing. You can catch up with her on her blog for ministry-minded women at Grace Covers Me.