Finding Meaningful Connection

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ ~ C. S. Lewis

I am an extrovert. I like being around people and I thrive on conversations. I’ve been accused of smiling too much and, obviously, talking too much. I remember in high school lounging up against my locker on the second floor finishing up some homework while waiting on the morning bell to ring. Some upperclassmen walked by and I greeted them as they passed. I had no agenda of gaining their attention but felt I couldn’t ignore them. The grouchiest among them turned back to me and declared, “You’re too happy!” I simply shrugged off the comment with another smile and went back to my book.

I never expected to one day struggle with that joy, but that’s exactly what happened after a few moves in ministry. Enter 2010. I was 30 years old with a one-year-old and a four-year-old and a husband pastoring in solo ministry in “the middle of nowhere” Pennsylvania.  I consistently hit up the library for Story Hour to meet some moms and find friends for my little ones but none of these ladies went to my church. In fact, I taught my own kids Sunday School because mine were the only ones who regularly attended. I was all alone. When you’re all alone you start longing for connection. I was at a loss as to where to start my quest for some kindred spirits (enthusiastic nod to L.M. Montgomery’s quotable lines from Anne of Green Gables).

My husband had sent me a link posted by one of the pastors he followed on twitter. LeadingandLovingIt.com was a website that had resources, blog posts, and hosted online conferences for Pastor’s Wives and Women in Ministry. I “attended” the online conference in my lonely dining room during nap times that week. I sobbed in my tea cup a lot. The conference kept referring to these online groups to join. I ignored those invitations telling myself there wasn’t a group I could actually identify with. I felt stuck, alone, and afraid to be real to anyone, thinking I would reveal how much I was lacking. Wasn’t I supposed to be content?

It took another round of online conferences a year later for me to actually peek at what online groups were being offered. I found myself simultaneously checking the groups and crossing them off my mental list of options as I read the descriptions. Scrolling, scrolling, crossing off, crossing off until I reached one that jumped out at me. It said something along the lines of being the spouse to a pastor who was the only staff at their church. Bingo! That was me! But the group was full. Of course it was. Instant plummeting of my hopes. I clicked on the leader’s name and went to her blog. I liked what I read. But the group was full so I dejectedly went and unloaded my dishwasher. A day or two later I decided to email the leader and tell her I was encouraged by her blog and that perhaps someday I would join her group should it ever open up.

Wouldn’t you know that sweet leader messaged me back and told me she would love to add me to a facebook group even though there wasn’t room to join the virtual chat. Gulp. I had already written off the need to pursue this group. I started second guessing myself immediately, but the Lord kept prompting me to reply back.

I was added to the group. Interestingly enough, not even a week later, another group member announced she was transitioning out in order to lead her own group and a virtual chat slot opened up for me.

So much more than a mere chat slot became accessible to me. I gained relationships that I value to this day. These ladies understood me before they knew everything about me! We laughed together, cried together, PRAYED together! I think it was the third monthly chat that I found myself telling them embarrassing stories about myself in one breath and sharing my flaws in the next.

One of the ladies ended up moving from Chicago to only 40 minutes away from me. We started exchanging messages and got to know each other while she was packing up boxes. The two of us met at a Chick-fil-A with our kids soon after they moved (side note: they moved to our closest Christian Chicken establishment so clearly it was meant to be). Both sets of families can claim relationship together now. I’ve moved away from this particular friend since then, but we keep in contact regularly. Why, just yesterday, her preschool aged son gave me a tour of his house via the Marco Polo app. He was a newborn when we moved away but he knows me. The hubbies Zoom chat once a week to encourage each other. Our kids are pen pals. These are the times I am most thankful for technology, but more importantly, I’m grateful for how the Lord has used creativity in the minds of His people to find a way to bring connection. That’s what we all long for, isn’t it?

You don’t have to be an extrovert like me to find connection. It takes bravery, though. I had myself thinking I had nothing worth sharing before those ladies on that computer screen showed me differently. None of us looked the same, but we found so much in common. We didn’t live in the same states nor all share common denominations. What we had in common was life in ministry and all the things that entails (which is a blog post for another day). We have shared baby showers, a spouse’s heart attack, births, deaths, ministry joys and transitions, and SO MUCH PRAYER for and with each other.

Pastor’s Spouse Connection has been created for this very purpose. To help us connect to each other. We don’t have everything figured out as to all the avenues in which to effectively connect you, yet, but we are working diligently on this task. If you have some great ideas, we would love to hear about them. You’ll be able to share with us in the comment section or on our facebook page. How can we help you connect? Personally, I can guarantee it’s worth the effort on your part.

 

Jessica Sheets is a lover of Jesus and a former elementary teacher turned SAHM who can be found spontaneously bursting into song while scaling Mt. Laundry or baking for the next life group. She laughs every day thanks to her favorite individual, her husband Stevan, and her wonderful kids, Ella (10 yrs) and Ezra (7 yrs). Jess has been a pastor’s wife for 12 years and is usually the first to laugh (or turn beet red) during a sermon jest. She knew when she was 12 that the Lord was calling her to marry a pastor someday but had no idea what that really meant! She’s still learning along with Stevan as they navigate this adventure of ministry.