When the Pastor’s Wife Suffers in Silent Depression

Sometimes when the pastor's wife is dealing with depression, she suffers alone. This is one pastor's wife's story that will shed light on this issue.

Sometimes when the pastor’s wife is dealing with depression, she suffers alone. This is one pastor’s wife’s story that will shed light on this issue.

Every counselor begins with the question, “So how long have you suffered with depression?” The truth is that I am not sure.

At times it seems like a lifetime. As a child, I was always told that I was melancholy, and that description is true. I was a very quiet child. I tended to sit, listen and observe others; I still do that.

However, I tend to slip at times into a different kind of darkness.

My first major bout with depression came my freshman year in college. My parents were divorced and had been since I was three. However, I was feeling a new pressure in my relationship with my dad, and I was not sure how to handle it. I became very discouraged when I realized that I was in a situation in which I could not make my mom and my dad happy no matter what decision I made. So, I went to counseling.

I cannot remember most of what that counselor and I talked about, but I do know that God used that time to bring me to a deeper level of brokenness and a greater realization of my dependence on him. As I look back at my time in college, I can clearly see times where God met me in very real ways.

I Became a Pastor’s Wife

Then I got married. My sweet husband knew that at times I struggled with discouragement and being down, but usually I rebounded quickly.

We had been at the church for three years when I hit my next major bout with depression. My youngest child was born a month early and we went through a year with various health issues with our children that ended in several different surgeries and hospital stays. To the point of exhaustion, I tried to care for four children, my husband and our church, homeschool, and go to a bazillion doctor’s appointments.

I was overwhelmed with my life and felt like I was failing in everything I did.

No matter what I did or how I changed my schedule, I just could not do it all. After a year of struggling (yes, it took me a whole year to finally admit I needed help), I came to a place where I had to share with my husband what was going on. I was depressed, not just down, but depressed. I was in a place of darkness where it seemed there was no hope, happiness or joy.

Back to counseling I went; only this time, my husband came too. He had noticed my struggle, but he was not sure how he could help me deal with it. Counseling was helpful. I saw how much I try to earn God’s favor. I struggle with perfectionism and am frustrated with myself when I am anything less than perfect. I tend to dismiss the encouraging comments from my husband and from other church members, and I tend to replace them with self-loathing thoughts like, “If only they knew the thoughts I had, or if they knew how I really was, then they wouldn’t say those things.”

I was choosing to believe lies instead of believing God’s truth about who I am in Him and how he sees me.

After several months of counseling, the darkness lifted. I experienced a joy that I had missed for months. I experienced peace and a renewed love for God and his word. I found a joy in serving my family and my church that had not been there for a long time. I found freedom in not having to please myself.

But the battle did not end. Please understand that I still had the thoughts creep into my head that I wasn’t good enough or that I had failed again. However, I also had God’s word to remind me of the truth of my freedom in Christ.

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Cara Croft
In their book, The Pastor's Family, Brian and Cara Croft identify the unique challenges that pastors face as husbands and fathers. They also discuss the difficulties and joys of being a pastor’s wife and offer practical advice on raising children in a ministry family. In addition to addressing the challenges of marriage and raising children, they also highlight the joys of serving together as a family and the unique opportunities pastors have to train their children and lead their families.

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