Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Like Living in a Goldfish Bowl (11/07/13)
TITLE: In Full View
By Janice Kelley
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I never planned to be a preacher’s wife. When I went to Bible college for a year’s study THAT end result was the furthest from my mind. Two and a half years later found me walking down the aisle into the arms of….yep….a preacher. In the mid fifties my husband had his ministerial degree and we were off to our first full-time ministry. In those days most preachers lived in a parsonage, a house provided for the minister and his family. There were lots of comments and jokes at Bible college, when meeting with other preachers, and even from the church family, about life in the parsonage,
Our first parsonage was a nice, new, one story, brick home just across the parking lot from our rural church building. We enjoyed getting to know our church folk and the many activities and responsibilities of our new work. Though we lived close by, we had few who just “dropped in.” It had been a long time though since they had had a baby in the preacher’s family and our little daughter became the center of attention at all the church meetings as arms reached out for her and she was passed from one to the other admirers. Then….it stopped! I asked one of the older ladies what had happened. She told me the church family saw that their attention to our daughter was causing us problems in disciplining her and they had all agreed to stop….and they had instructed their children accordingly. What a wise and gracious observation and decision.
The next church family we served was in a small village in a northern state. That parsonage was a short walk from the back door of the church building to the neat, square, two-story, nine room, frame building. With the parsonage we acquired a Granny. One of the widows from the church family rented three of those nine rooms from the church. She walked through our living room and past our bedrooms to get to her upstairs rooms. Wow! We had the church family LIVING with us. It was an unusual arrangement and we were a bit skeptical, but we had no need to be. Our live-in Grandma was a wonderful blessing. Not only did we have Granny with us, but hardly a day passed by that some one from the church family did not drop in for coffee or spiced tea that steeped in an orange pot swung over our blazing fireplace. While we lived there our third and final daughter was born and we lived there long enough for all three girls to be in school. Once in awhile someone would comment on how well behaved our children had to be because they were the “preacher’s kids.” That comment always gave us a chuckle. We were quite confident that no one in the church family wanted them to be as good as WE did.
In time we moved on to our third and final full-time ministry which lasted thirty years in a large metropolitan city. Our girls were moving into their teen years, a scary, uncertain time for many. My husband wisely said, “I can hardly wait to have a teenager in the house. It will be wonderful.” And it was. There were three graduations, three daughters off to college followed by three beautiful weddings. The church family rejoiced with us on these happy occasions. Then, tragedy struck. Our youngest child went to the personal care of our Heavenly Father on a glorious summer day in July. It never occurred to me that anyone was looking at me so lost was I in my thoughts. Sometime after the funeral one of our ladies commented that she felt sorry for us because we had to “hold up” and “be an example” because we were the preacher’s family. If I hadn’t been so sad, I would have laughed. We were just trying to survive. Did the statement bother me, hurt me? No. I knew that person had not been where I was and I was grateful.
Over sixty years have come and gone, most of them lived in that proverbial parsonage “fish bowl.” Was I concerned about what people thought of us, saw in us? Not really. When our girls left the house in their teens we would often say, “Remember whose name you carry.” They knew we meant the name “Christian.” God was watching us and it was He for Whom we lived. And so it is today.
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