The Cardinal Sin of the Pastor’s Wife (Apparently)

There seemed to be a sense that no pastor’s wife worth their salt could possibly find hospitality hard.

Note well, she didn’t say, ‘I don’t do hospitality.’ Nor did she say, ‘I don’t like people.’ Neither of those things are true. In fact, her husband was clear that she does hospitality well. People are always dropping in, stopping over, being fed and whatnot. No messing, no complaining, and – by all accounts – she does it well.

 

I was chatting with a pastor’s wife some time ago who told me about having committed the cardinal sin of pastor’s wives. She admitted – in a room full of pastor’s wives no less – that she found hospitality hard!

Note well, she didn’t say, ‘I don’t do hospitality.’ Nor did she say, ‘I don’t like people.’ Neither of those things are true. In fact, her husband was clear that she does hospitality well. People are always dropping in, stopping over, being fed and whatnot. No messing, no complaining, and – by all accounts – she does it well.

But the cardinal sin as a pastor’s wife (apparently) is to admit that you find hospitality hard. Which is odd given that I am fairly sure I’ve heard plenty of people affirm essentially that. And whilst I have no doubt there are people who thrive on whipping up dinner for 50 people who all to turn up on your door step without a word of warning and love doing it, I just don’t believe everyone does. In fact, I’m confident there is a lot of frazzled, behind-the-scenes fretting and stress which is quickly papered over the moment guests arrive at the door for a great many people. I am equally sure the moment guests leave, more than a few folk crash out exhausted and breathe a huge sigh of relief. The longer folk are staying with you, the harder and more exhausting it all becomes.

But this lady made this admission and said she was made to feel like she had two heads. There seemed to be a sense that no pastor’s wife worth their salt could possibly find hospitality hard. Hasn’t she read Rosaria Butterfield’s books? Her husband is as good as disqualified from ministry because of her lack of natural inclination toward hosting people, surely?

Truth be told, I suspect if this pastor’s wife were having this conversation one-to-one with a trusted friend, the reaction would have been different. I have experienced something similar in the midst of fraternals. There are ‘admissions’ that hit a sweet spot; what we might label ‘acceptable struggles’ that are lauded for their honesty and with which some folk sympathise. But there are other ‘admissions’ that, rather than generating support, lead to suspicion. A lot of what passes as acceptable or suspicious depends on the particular culture of the church, fraternal or group in which you’re sharing. But it happens far more than it ought.

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