Dear Shepherdess: Janie Pleasants, editor of "Shepherdess Scene," the newsletter for Potomac Conference ministers' wives, wrote last January of the post-holiday blues that came to her after the happy, love-filled season. I would like to share some of her thoughts with you:
"I found myself standing at the window, trying to swallow the lump growing bigger in my throat, and waving goodbye to loved ones I knew I would not see for another whole year. The special days I had so greatly anticipated had come and gone, yes, too quickly. I turned around to get the house back in its usual order—you know, taking down Christmas decorations, putting away the "special dishes" that had held all the goodies I'd baked for these very special days, and washing all the towels and sheets everyone had used. That let-down feeling began to creep in.
"As ministers' wives we find our selves in many different places, often making it difficult to feel as though we have any place to put down our roots. While in the ministry we do make many friends, they are not always in the same place at the same time. So, our families often become that "constant" factor in our lives. This makes it even more special to us when we are all together.
"I decided that I could not let the new year start off with a let-down, lump-in-my-throat kind of feeling. So I drew up a mental plan of handling my particular situation.
"First, I prayed for a little extra-special insight into what the constant factors should be in my life. While my family is extremely important, I realized that God should be where we really have our roots.
"Second, I started saying great big Thank You's to God for all the blessings in my life. I was thankful that we were all alive, well, and able to be together. "After those two thoughts I found the lump gone and my spirits beginning to rise. God had solved the two most important issues in my dilemma."
We all have times of discouragement. Yet we know, too, that those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. During the new year, when you come to dip from the well of living water, will you bring a widemouthed jar or a tiny teacup ? Will you take a gulp or a sip?Personally, I need to be filled every day—to be kept so near to God that in every unexpected trial my thoughts will turn to Him as naturally as the flower turns to the sun. With this knowledge, every day in 1979 can be a success.
Our constant prayer should be, ' 'Lord, help me to do my best—my best for Thee in 1979. Teach me how to do a better work. Give me energy and cheerfulness. Help me to bring into my ministry the loving ministry of the Saviour. Help me to be loyal to my minister-husband, or as an office secretary or worker, to be loyal to the one for whom I work.
Goldie Down writes about loyalty from Australia. I was delighted to meet this wife, mother, author, and most ardent church worker while I was visiting "down under" two years ago. I want to share her experience with you this month.—With love, Kay.
It had been a hard month. My husband's series of public lectures on Biblical archeology was in its second week, and still the telephone rang incessantly. For four weeks, while he was busy with the multitudinous tasks of an evangelist, I had manned the telephone and dealt with the seating reservations for the hundreds of people who called in. There then were lists of this and that to be typed, and the interminable envelopes that had to be filled, addressed, stamped, and mailed. And thousands—literally thousands—of handbills to be folded.
Besides all this my own show had to go on. Children had to be sent off to school with lunches made and home work done. Meals had to be ready on time; washing, ironing, baking, and cleaning all had to be sandwiched in between helping him with "his work."
By the time I'd weathered a whole month of constant rush and tension, self-pity was beginning to build. If friend husband lingered meditatively by the fire for a few minutes, I inwardly resented the fact that he had time to spare while / must still answer the telephone and rush, rush, rush to get my work done.
It took a Monday-morning caller to get my perspective back into line.
The insistent summons of the telephone sent me running as usual to answer, wiping soapsudsy hands on a hastily grabbed dish towel. The caller was a complete stranger, a woman who began by telling me at great length how much she had enjoyed my husband's lecture on Egypt yesterday.
"I'm so glad," I murmured politely when I managed to get in a word. I wished she would hurry up and get to the point.
No, she simply had to tell me how wonderful the lecture was. She'd really enjoyed it "because [dramatic pause], you see, I've been to Egypt."
"How interesting," I murmured, adding to myself with my hand tightly over the mouthpiece, "so have I. So have thousands of other tourists."
"Yes," the voice continued, "I thought Mr. Down would like to know that." On and on she gushed while my thoughts strayed to the dozen things waiting for my attention, but my caller apparently had plenty of time.
I changed the earpiece to the other hand and the other ear. It was impossible to say anything as she chattered non stop, but eventually she wound up with a final burst of enthusiasm.
"I think your husband is a wonderful man and you are a lucky, lucky woman to have him."
My jaw dropped. I was glad we didn't have a "see-through" telephone. Lucky! That poor woman would have been shocked if she could have known what I had been thinking. Me lucky?
I was too dumbfounded to reply, and perhaps sensing that her enthusiasm had gone overboard, she added, "Of course you must be wonderful too. It takes a wonderful wife to produce a wonderful husband."
There was much, much more along similar lines, but my sense of humor had surfaced and I was able to break into her conversation to say loyally, "Yes, he is wonderful, and I hope you'll be along next Sunday to hear him speak."
As I let out the now-cold suds and prepared to start washing all over again, I thought of the matter of loyalty.
No matter what we think of our husbands or their work feind what minister's wife, however dedicated, has not at some time become disenchanted with her role), we must be loyal.
There is nothing more damaging to a minister than a complaining, dissatisfied wife. In rare cases, like John Wesley, such a wife might lead the husband to become intensely dedicated to his work to the exclusion of all else, but it is far more likely to create strife at home and discord in the church.
If as ministers' wives we take for our motto the immortal words of John the Baptist, who was never greater than when he humbly declared, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), we will accept humbly our God-given role as wife and helpmate.
My unknown caller was right; behind every wonderful man there is a hard working, loyal, "wonderful" wife, whose reward will be great in heaven.
Prayers from the parsonage
by Cherry B. Habenicht
People were always asking You difficult questions, Lord. Sometimes Your response was devastatingly honest. On other occasions You hid the truth deep within a story. Often You turned the question so that Your interrogators dis covered their own insights.
Questions bombard me, too. Questions by meddlers, hoping to use my opinion on problems that they have created. Questions by skeptics, wanting to debate issues that will not be resolved. Questions by reformers, expecting to improve areas that are insignificant.
Some ask for facts I will not share. Others seek approval I cannot give. A few poke for criticism I do not harbor.
''Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Col. 4:6).
My own words can be so easily edited or exaggerated. My caution may be interpreted as evasiveness.
Please give me gracious answers for the tactless, and sympathetic answers for the discouraged. I need calm answers for the defensive, and wise answers for the sincere. Speak through me, I pray, or gently put Your finger to my lips when silence is the best answer of all.