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Chronicles of a Preacher's Wife -- II

This morning, I am delighted to sit here with a proverbial “pitcher of lemonade.” The sticky energy of it all—with which I was willing to do my own work—has evolved well enough. I even got to show up as a better “community elder” than I would have been in previous renditions of myself: collaborative, loving, firmly bounded and willing to let go, to surrender. Delicious lemonade, just the right amount of sweetness amidst the stringency of lemons.

Actually reminds me of an amusing afternoon in Paris with Brian.

I saw beautiful Parisian people ordering the coolest beverage—a citron presse. Squeezed lemon juice, a pitcher of water, some sugar packets on the side. So Parisian. I ordered one. He ordered a beer. When it arrived, I felt so Parisian. Until I nearly spit it across the table. “Battery acid!” I sputtered, which no amount of sugar was going to make palatable. Brian let me share his beer.

The lemon juice? I found myself pinched between my husband’s role as pastor and an enmeshed relationship of two church women, one of whom I had a circle-relationship with, the other I did not. I became the target of projections and fear, woundedness and their refusal to tend to any discomfort, let alone the ruptures around us. Battery acid, to use the image. Sticky energy for me, for months. Finally, when the seed was planted by the younger woman in a text to her pastor/my husband, I reached out to her for a cup of coffee.

One could argue there was no amount of sugar that would make this palatable, but I am genuinely pleased with how I stayed with the energy, who I was in the conversation, and the contributions to healing I was able to offer (regardless of whether they would be received). There were undeniable gifts in it for me, as me.

For one, I spoke my release of this woman, my being released, from any previous association. I needed to do that for me, to make ritually visible that our previous circle-relationship was concluded. I even named the possibility—probability?—that the sacred work between us was complete. I had no reason to be in relationship with her, directly, impossibly (in this situation as a preacher’s wife), particularly as her refusals of boundaries continue to make me and my husband vulnerable within congregational gossip.

I even mirrored the question that arose within me with the force of a Leading: “What is underneath the pattern for you, getting your emotional needs met by married persons—data set now of two instances?” It wasn’t accusation, but genuine curiosity and concern. She’ll never live into the intimacy she so desires that way, nor have her own life with another, in any fashion.

I left the conversation feeling lighter, like what had been Invited had been stewarded well. I arrived home to the gratitude of a pastor, also emotionally weary of it all. As we debriefed the conversation, the pastor could eventually leave the room, leaving me alone with my husband.

I poured him a glass of lemonade. Not quite as sweet as either of us likes it, but sweet enough to enjoy, while remembering Paris.

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