I have tried my hand at sales a few times, in seasons of desperation.
It was not pretty.
There was a month-long stint of peddling lotion and makeup products, back when our first son was an infant, after I had lost my job as a nanny.
Jon and I were young and brightly hopeful, pushing the stroller through our apartment complex, knocking on doors, and dropping off catalogs to women of all ages. I began apologizing before I had even extended my arm with the brochure. I am so sorry to bother you, and I apologize for interrupting your day. It was abysmal. I simply did not care one whit about the products I was offering, which was problem number one. But on the upside these lotions and perfumes were affordable, and as I studied my chunky, blue-eyed sweetness perched in his stroller, I knew in the depths of my thudding heart that I would do almost anything to stay home with him.
Honestly? No job could cut across the grain of my natural disposition more than sales. Except perhaps auto racing. Fast cars and curvy curves make me queasy–such wretched motion sickness. I am also opposed to risk.
So naturally I married a salesman turned pastor who adores Corvettes. It all works out splendidly, until he is taking a sharp corner as I white-knuckle it from the passenger seat.
Next up was my brief season of basket selling. Those were back in the olden days when friends held parties to sell dishes, candles, jewelry, you name it. I joined the throngs, showcasing baskets, tossing out practical ideas: stuffing tissues into this one or serving hot, crusty bread in that one, or perhaps hanging this slender beauty on a dark, wrought iron hook for decoration. Those baskets were pricey and lovely, but it was all too much. I preferred to display one, maybe two, not twenty-two.
Also? The sales part of the equation.
Another round of apologies, plus finding myself talking people out of buying more. My speeches were poor, uncomfortable, and rushed. Let’s get this over with type affairs.
Clearly, earning an income from sales was not to be.
I guess you have to enjoy mingling with throngs of people, and fully believe in the something you are peddling.
Which is exactly why, after giving birth to four children, I told my husband that I felt it my high calling to sell epidurals. I was quite serious. We had taken a few childbirth classes prior to our first baby, and we also skipped a few more. I did not want to discuss the intricacies of labor with perfect strangers (is anything discreet?) and was as happy as a clam to read the finer details in the book What to Expect When You are Expecting. I knew myself well enough to know that I would not require a natural, drug-free birth. I was missile-locked on the end result of labor and delivery: a sweet and precious little bundle wrapped up in bits of soft blanket. I favored whatever birth experience that would permit me to endure to the end without shameless screaming.
When the contractions began in earnest and I assumed that I was perhaps dying, I begged my husband to order the epidural. Now. The hospital was bustling that sunny April day, and it took far longer than expected for the anesthesiologist to show up. By the time he eventually sauntered into our room, hours later, I took one look at the size of that lengthy needle and simply closed my eyes while exhorting him to hurry up.
The relief was so fast, so delightful, that I was now able to focus on clutching the living daylights out of my husband’s hand as I delivered our baby boy.
Two years later, on another April morning, our second little beauty entered the world, and again, the epidural worked its magic. Ditto for precious babies three and four.
And that is why I felt called to sell epidurals, which of course never happened.
Several months ago I received a call from a friendly woman at the SBC of Virginia, asking me to speak at a small breakout session during their annual gathering this fall.
I wasn’t sure what to say, since I would be more inclined to draft a 1000-page paper. But then she spoke the magic words, enticing me by way of choice: I could speak to women in general, or to pastor’s wives.
Bingo. Epidural take two.
Yes! Pastor’s wives! I accidentally hollered, scaring her, I am quite sure.
It stirs a passion. I might not be a salesperson, but I have a fire in my bones, a longing to offer tired pastor’s wives real encouragement. In fact, I am so excited to offer them hope and truth based on God’s good purposes and promises from Scripture, that it feels much like waiting for a dear baby to arrive. There is preparation and work, but oh! The joy of sharing truth and love with these dear women deep in the trenches of ministry. I will share true stories of my lack, and of God’s faithfulness pushing me to persevere through adversity while burning to know Christ and love him most.
So that is what I am preparing for this fall. Through Hot Fires and Deep Waters is the title of my efforts.
My dear husband doesn’t quite understand that I cannot stand and deliver with ease, speaking with scant notes, as he does from the pulpit. He is gifted in this way, passionately pleading with people to be reconciled to God.
Clearly, I remind him, not everyone is a gifted orator. I am living proof.
One of our sons hatched a perfect plan, encouraging me to fully write my message and simply read it, which is exactly what I will do.
My spiritual mother, Elisabeth Elliot, often shared of the most common way God prepared her for any public speaking. Whatever topic she prepared; God permitted her to be tested repeatedly in that very thing. I have heard her say this time and again on podcasts, and I have thought to myself How wise of God to have refined her in this way.
Which is a sweet thought until you are the one being primed.
Most recently, God has dipped my husband and me into suffering, singeing us in the hot fires, and drenching us in the deepest of waters. (I type that sentence and sigh, realizing how anemic it sounds. In fact, this current suffering has been so awful that I am pretty sure a future book will be born from such adversity. A book to encourage pastors and their families, a book to open the eyes and strengthen the spiritual backbones of Christians seated in the pews.)
But more importantly? God alone, through his Word, has seen me through.
He is my lifeline, and the Bible is my compass. My map leading me to obey God.
So yes, God is preparing me to speak in November, teaching me, showing me endurance by way of sharp pains that feel as painful as childbirth.
This baby is not a helpless little wisp wrapped in a soft blanket, however. What has been born is a stronger, more resilient faith. A heap of perseverance, character, and hope birthed from suffering. God is chiseling me to become more holy, and it is both incredibly painful and deeply good.
My life motto holds true: God is always working and he is always good. This truth blazes throughout Scripture, and this, this, is what I will share with pastor’s wives. I might have scars, battle wounds, but God is unchanging and working all things for his good purposes.
I will say this: being married to your pastor is a little like being strapped into a flying race car while dodging bullets, curves, motion sickness, and on the worst of days, criminals. Not always, mind you. But often.
Be kind and gentle and supportive of your pastor and his family. They are shouldering a weight you cannot always see, and the spiritual warfare is dark, oppressive as they stand for God, fighting for the welfare of your souls.
Most of you are probably not in full time ministry, but the same truths apply for all true believers. Life is painful, difficult, filled with trials aplenty.
2 Timothy 3:12 tells us: Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. In other words, if your heart is swelling to love and obey God, buckle up.
I write not as a salesperson trying to peddle anything. But I do long to point people to Jesus, our only Hope. I believe so deeply in walking in complete submission and faith to God, that I am willing to stand and deliver. I will offer my deepest fears up to God, allowing him to birth whatever he desires.
Be encouraged today, Christian. Whatever adversities befall you, know that God has ordained every single one for your good. Trust him. Repent of your sins. Strive to be well with God. He is forming you into the very image of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
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