Dear Pastor’s Wife: She Struggled To Grow…But She Did Grow

Dear Pastor’s Wife,

Last week a  friend shared something on Facebook that really grabbed me. It’s been tumbling in my heart ever since, and I’ve needed to write you another letter to share what I hope will spring hope into your heart. Here’s what she wrote:

“6 1/2 years ago, only a couple of days after my dad’s funeral, we moved to Wyoming. Before we left Idaho, I went in my dad’s backyard, dug up and brought starts from the lilac bushes. These bushes were such a huge part of my growing up years and such a part of my dad- I had to have some at my new home in Wyoming. They have really struggled growing and adapting to the harsh Wyoming landscape, but this year for the first time in 6 years, there are lilacs on them! Beautiful reminder of my dad and uncle who I miss so much.”

This is the photo of my friend’s lilacs that lay dormant and bloomess for 6 years.

My heart made an instant parallel to pastors’ wives…to women…to our lives.  I commented underneath my friend’s post with this simple phrase:

“It struggled to grow.

But it did grow.”

And then my heart re-wrote her post for my own life and the life of so many pastors’ wives I know who live and struggle with transition for much of their lives in ministry. I also re-wrote it to reflect the times of deep struggle through trials that last for years and seem to cut us down and destroy us instead of grow us:

“10 years ago, we moved to Canada. Before we left, I dug up my heart from North Carolina. North Carolina (and Pennsylvania) were such a huge part of my growing up years- I didn’t want to leave that behind. I replanted my heart in Canada, and I’ll be honest- it has gone through some deep valleys, devastating losses, and heartbreaking trials in the harsh climate of life and ministry. But this year on our sabbatical (and the first time in 10 years) there are new buds on my heart. There are signs of life. There is evidence that all those years of pain and struggle were actually working something beautiful deep inside. And now the growth isn’t just known by God- it is known and seen by my own heart…and by others around me. It’s a beautiful reminder of the heart work that God is constantly doing in the lives of His dear daughters.”

I struggled to grow.

But I did grow.

I get many emails from pastors’ wives like you who tell me stories of being transplanted X number of years ago to a new country or  state and town and house and ministry. They tell me how hard the adjustments have been, how much they long for friends and family to be nearby, how “outside” they feel, how the re-rooting has taken its toll on them and they really don’t feel rooted at all. How they think they are stagnant and no longer growing- just struggling. Life has become the epitome of struggle, and it feels like a dead end.

{“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Isaiah 53:2} This was Christ’s growing process- a tender, vulnerable, humble shoot. Coming not out of rich fertile soil, but out of dry ground. Small chances, humanly speaking. Nothing desirable about that Plant…..yet. And no one was eagerly waiting for Him to spring up and grow. But wait- the beauty of His Person is on its way, to be revealed in His time, His way. We have salvation, a personal relationship, and eternal life from that unlikely shoot. His earthly path was strewn with sorrow and trouble and struggle. But He did grow. And beautifully.

What we need to be reminded of often is that the struggle IS the growing process. Growth doesn’t happen without struggle. In the struggle you are growing, even though it feels as if you are being uprooted and are suddenly exposed and gasping for air and soil and sunlight and fertilizer.

If you’ve never moved around, this may be a foreign concept to you. But some of us seem to experience constant transiency in life, never really getting the feeling that we’ve put roots down and are settled. The moment we begin to feel that, we are uprooted. By God.

What? Um God….we just did this transplanting thing a short while ago. Don’t you WANT me to grow? Don’t I need to be in the same soil for a long time in order to establish deep roots and bloom? Doesn’t my soil need to be free of weeds and rocks and my leaves free of pests and the air free of storms and damaging hail? Don’t I need a fence around me so the animals don’t devour me in the darkest of nights?

You know, from birth through childhood we never know or perceive that we are growing. We can only look back and see the evidence that we have. As we receive nutrients, we grow, though unnoticed by us. By the same token spiritually, we go through long seasons where it seems we aren’t growing, aren’t progressing in our spiritual lives, aren’t being sanctified. But IF we are deep in the Word and are submitting to the Spirit of God during these times, our belief that we aren’t growing or changing is myth.

{“Can the papyrus grow up without a marsh? Can the reeds flourish without water? Job 8:11}

{“Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; They shall be revived like grain, And grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.” Hosea 14:7}

{“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” 1 Peter 2:2}

{“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7

If we are rooted in Christ, rooted in His Word, we ARE growing. One day, maybe months or years from now- on the other side of the storm- we see that we WERE growing, we HAVE changed, and that the struggle was the avenue for that growth and change.

Suddenly, 6 years after we’ve been transplanted, we are able to push out a bud. Wow! And what a beautiful budding heart you will have, dear pastor’s wife. Maybe all you are doing now is pushing out leaves, keeping the roots sucking up what they need. Just feels like you’re staying alive. Ah, but so much more than YOU can see is happening deep within. God is doing the growing- that’s why you can’t see it until it’s grown. That phase finished. Buds popping out.

Trust that God is facilitating the process, and that all you need to do is stay rooted in the soil of your precious Christ. He does the work in you!

{“Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.” Psalm 147:}

If the God of heaven works to grow grass on the mountains, why will he not work continually in you, His precious daughter? Selah.

Someday soon you’ll be able to look back and say:

I struggled to grow.

And others will say of you:

But she did grow.


A Kindred Spirit

Join me this fall for an intimate gathering of pastors’ wives. You will leave encouraged and hopeful! Register here.

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About Leah {Embracing Grace}

Leah Highfill accepted Christ as her Saviour and became a child of God at the age of 18. Originally from the USA, she and her husband moved to the mission field of Canada in 2005, where she served in full time ministry as a pastor's wife for 10 years. During their tenure there, they became dual citizens. Leah and her family recently returned to NC and are currently enjoying a much needed sabbatical for the year of 2015. She homeschools her children {Small Son is 9 and Tiny Daughter is 7} and teaches private piano lessons on the side. She can be found reading, writing/blogging, playing the piano and violin, or ice skating. A friend to ministry wives everywhere, Leah has a passion to inspire hope and to encourage women in their walk with God. Her first book, Expecting Grace, was published in 2013. Expecting Grace is the story of Leah's experience and survival of a life threatening pregnancy, and of many medical and financial miracles along the way. Her second book is currently in process. Join her grace-filled journey right here at Embracing Grace!

10 thoughts on “Dear Pastor’s Wife: She Struggled To Grow…But She Did Grow

      1. I needed this TODAY! I thank you for your constant encouragement and your confidentiality! You’ve been such a blessing to me and I’ve never seen you face to face! Maybe someday!!! ❤️✝️

  1. I am not your intended audience, but this is such a sweet, sweet post. I struggled to grow, but I did grow. And though the little seedling that I am sometimes looses branches as I grow, there are seasons where I can see the change. Thanks for your sweet spirit and tenderness to God. Love you, my friend.

  2. This is my story. Thank you ? Our enemy wants us to think otherwise and we tend to believe his voice. Clinging to the Word of God is key .

  3. I have been a Pastors wife for 28 years, and loved so much of it! We have lived in 8 parsonages and I have raised my kids in parsonages. I started out very timid and shy. And I did grow.

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