Last month in Dallas during the boot camp, many wives attended the Wives’ Track hosted by Acts 29 church planter’s wives. We’ve been posting audio and transcription portions and continue the Planter Wives Answer series today on friendships.
Q&A panel, Stephanie White (Ft. Worth; wife of Rick), Susan Wesley (Houston; wife of Bruce), Lauren Chandler (Dallas; wife of Matt) and Kara Bruskas (Albuquerque; wife of Dave).
Q: How do you cultivate gospel friendships? What advice would you offer for women who have to do this long distance?
Kara: Since I am the relationship junkie of the group, I am definitely praying through doing it the right way. I see myself as having a few, rather than just one best friend. That’s helped. Of course, getting the deep friendship need met by Jesus and then by my husband. I really made that mistake. Your husband should be your best friend. I really encourage you guys to do that and to be really honest and transparent with your husband. And then your girlfriends are your girlfriends. Right now, I have a few friends in Albuquerque, but I do have some friends in Seattle, and I’ve kept those up through phone conversations. It’s been a really great thing, and it can work long distance, so that’s a hope for anybody who needs that.
Susan: I never considered not having friends in the church, and I know that some of you have really experienced some brokenness in that. I think that friends can hurt you, regardless of what your husband does. Don’t always attribute it to being a pastor’s wife; realize that’s just life for all women.
…There’s really not much that substitutes for friendship that is eyeball to eyeball, holding your hand, praying with you, crying with you. I think that [long distance friendships] help, but you’ve got to have someone that’s looking you in the eyes, that’s right next to you, that can tell if you’re spiraling, or if you’re not doing well. I’ve got some really close friendships, gospel-centered friendships, people that tell me the hard truth, people that I tell the hard truth to, and they’ve also hurt me. I don’t know how we get away from that. We confront in love. We need to stop being so nice sometimes. Christian women can be really nice, and then stab you in the back. So let’s just be honest with each other; kindly and gently tell each other the truth out of love. Sorry, I’m preaching now.
Q: How much do you share with other wives in your church? Are there things you don’t share because of your role as a pastor’s wife?
Lauren: There are about nine other women that I meet with weekly. I don’t lead the group. There’s a woman that’s a little bit further down the road in life and in experience that leads it; some of the women in that group are pastors’ wives, then some are members, and some are on staff. They know a lot about me and a lot about Matt. I think having Matt from the pulpit be transparent helps me in that because he doesn’t let them think he’s super man and that he’s got it all together, so it won’t come as a surprise. It probably comes as a relief that he’s not perfect, and I’m not perfect, and we’re struggling. But we’re wanting more of Jesus in our marriage, for our family, in our lives, and so I share a lot. I mean there are definitely things I’m going to be discrete about that I might not share here, but I’ll share with those women. There are women in my life that know almost everything. Like it was said, you need someone eyeball-to-eyeball that can call you out and see you in the context of your life and not what you just let them see via phone or e-mail.
Susan: I’m trying to think of a context in which there would be something that I would not want to share. I think that we have to be careful if we share something that would put our husband in a bad light or our children. When we share something about our own struggle and we implicate them, even other women sharing, that’s really not fair to our kids or our husband. It’s okay if I share about my own garbage going on inside me. I think that sort of goes across the board for anything.
Stephanie: That’s exactly what I was going to say. You can confess your own sin, but I don’t confess Rick’s sin or my children’s sin. Frustrations with the church, that does not go out. That goes first to my Heavenly Father, and then it goes maybe to by husband if the Holy Spirit lets it get that far, but usually these thoughts go pretty quickly.
Q: What’s the best way to respond when a friend comes to you with a frustration with the church or with your husband?
Kara: Smile, ask Jesus to give you the words, and then run away. You should not listen to them. I listened to way too much. It can be from your family, it can be from your best friend, I don’t think you should listen to that. It’s wrong, they shouldn’t have dragged me into it, and I don’t want to be a party to it anymore.
Susan: I think that we often foster the DNA where women think, “I can come to her and I can just tell her anything and she’ll just absorb it, whatever it is that I have to say.” I was that way for a long time. The stories Bruce told yesterday about the woman poking me in the chest at church and sitting on my couch saying, “I could run you out of town if I wanted to” — those things happen. I wouldn’t let those things happen today, twenty years later.
Lauren: I had a situation recently happen. It was probably one of my closest friends, and it wasn’t that she said anything bad about my husband or the church; it was just a hard situation. It was sticky. This is one of my closest friends who I would pour my heart out to, and she would pour her heart out to me. And it was just a place where…if I listened to what she had to say, I would feel like I had to defend Matt and the church, but then I would bring it to Matt and ask him questions, and I would feel like I had to defend my friend. I would just keep finding myself in this really sticky place. And my friend is so wise and loving. There was a meeting that was going to happen. She and I just agreed, “This is hard enough as it is, know that I love you, and I’m here for you, and I’m praying for you, and on the other side, we’ll be able to talk through some things, but right now we can’t.” We just agreed on that. That we love each other no matter what and we do respect each other’s husbands, but we had to wait until this meeting because none of us had all the information. It was tough, but it was very sanctifying.