A Church Lady in Recovery

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used to be a church lady.

Almost like the well-known TV character that makes us laugh, but she also makes me very sad. Sad, because I know her. Sad because I recognize the fear that motivates her. She acted superior but she did not feel superior, she felt afraid.

In her mind, God was an extremely difficult and unreachable being who set up a series of unreachable standards that were requirements for entry into Heaven. The idea of a friendship with God here on earth was not even considered. Life was all about getting the points piled up by doing good here, so that we will be issued a ticket that said, “Well done, you may enter your reward.”

I too, have spent many years working for God. More than a few of those committees and Bible studies I was involved in had little to do with my friendship with God. They were expectations put on me by myself and by others. Wouldn’t God love me more if I did more for Him? Is that such an unreasonable motivation?

The truth is that God loved me long before I was introduced to Him. He thought I was amazing before I was a senior pastor’s wife who spent ridiculous numbers of hours on the phone getting the women’s ministry event organized. God delighted in me without taking into account all the wonderful work I did for Him.

But why? Why in the world would the great Creator of all things care about me just as much before I shivered at six o’clock every morning for two years praying in the church sanctuary? Didn’t He love me at least a LITTLE bit more when He saw that sacrifice?

You can be sure that the church lady in me wanted to believe  I was making some pretty big points on those mornings. Every minute spent on my knees or pacing and praying was definitely adding up in His big book of good deeds. What about missionaries? They give up the comforts of a civilized society and move to remote, dirty places to tell strangers about God. Surely missionaries will be hearing some extra hearty welcoming praise as they enter Heaven!

 I am no longer a “church lady”. The striving to be holy and pure is gone. The fight to appear perfect so that I don’t become a “stumbling block” to others is over. My mission to live by the rules to gain the love of God is done. Now I am basking in being His Beloved.

I am loved, accepted and delighted in by God. He is not waiting until I get it right. He is not looking at me with hope in His eyes for what the future-me will become. God is pleased with me today, now, in all my ordinariness and goofiness!

Are you a “church lady?” Have you ever been a “church lady?” Would you care to join me in recovery?

11 Responses to A Church Lady in Recovery
  1. Barbie
    October 18, 2013 | 12:40 am

    Love this Susie! As a staff member at a church, I fall into the trap of “doing” more than being or receiving far too often. I serve more sometimes than I attend church. I am learning to put up boundaries, and accept the fact that I am His beloved and that I do not have to do anything to earn that love.

    • Deb Holway
      October 18, 2013 | 10:55 am

      I can so relate to your story………after losing our daughter Bethany I felt that as a “Christian” I had a certain mask I should wear with a smile plastered on its face. After all…….others are watching to see how I handle “this!!”

      This was what I told myself………I felt like I had to perform so others could see our testimony and that we are survivors!!! I left the most important person out though in reality……….God! In those days I walked many a weary road in my own strength.

      We can be so hard on ourselves, can’t we? I am so very thankful for our friends and our Church for giving us full support in our time of hurt and wondering where God was. He was with us all the time in the form of friends and family.

      I love what you said…………”I am basking in being His Beloved!” AND I AM!!!

    • susie klein
      October 18, 2013 | 2:14 pm

      Thanks Barbie, yes the end result often leads to missing time in worship because we find ourselves running around “backstage” so much. Easy to get priorities confused when everything appears urgent. Boundaries can be a beautiful safety net and reminder of our true values.

  2. Melanie Wilson
    October 18, 2013 | 12:36 pm

    Susie, I am so glad you can share this testimony. I wasn’t a lifelong church member, so it was easier for me not to be a church lady. But there have been plenty of issues I’ve been church ladyish about. LOL I have to keep remembering what you said — God liked me before I had the church lady habits and in fact, everything I know, I learned from Him! There’s no reason to be uppity about it. 🙂

    • susie klein
      October 18, 2013 | 2:16 pm

      Hi Melanie! I love your “there’s no reason to be uppity about it.” Ha! Perfect!

  3. Dawn Paoletta
    October 18, 2013 | 6:41 pm

    Grateful to know you and have you as a friend with so much grace and truth to share…you are a blessing and I am glad that you are who you are. His grace is so evident in you, your writing and your life- even though I am only privy to long distance at this time. I see it. 😉

    • susie klein
      October 18, 2013 | 8:18 pm

      Hi Dawn, thanks for the comment and for always being so encouraging!

  4. Pam Steiner
    October 18, 2013 | 6:56 pm

    Oh Susie I can so relate to all of the above, having shared the same kind of existence as you for many of the same years. I guess I am still in recovery as well. Although I wouldn’t trade all the years spent in the ministry serving with my pastor husband, I would do some things differently if I had to do it all over again. My identity would no longer be in being “The Pastor’s Wife”, but instead it would be being ME, a daughter of the King of kings, beloved and precious in His sight regardless of my “job description”. This was wonderful.

    • susie klein
      October 21, 2013 | 12:16 pm

      Hi Pam! The job description thing is hard to stay away from. Especially when we truly love the job! I loved it all…almost. It is those moments when you feel overwhelmed that it is time to re-evalute the jobs taken on.
      My heart hurts for the young PW’s who feel even more pressure than we did, due to social media and the high expectations on the screen every day.

  5. Stacy
    October 18, 2013 | 7:48 pm

    I followed Dawn’s link to get here and oh, how I can identify with this. As a new believer I listened to all the voices telling me that it was what good Christians do, that God expects much from those he calls, that I needed to always be there, always do everything, do, do, DO! I did and I gave until there was nothing left because I was rarely getting ministered to or spending time with the Lord because there was no time. It has taken me years to come out on the other side and I will never, ever fall into that trap again!

    • susie klein
      October 18, 2013 | 8:22 pm

      Welcome Stacy! It is all about listening to what is motivating us to do a church job. If your heart pulled you toward it, this is good. But if a person begged and pleaded and manipulated you into it, not so good! step away!