Out of Place – Kari’s Story
Moving to a new town is always a challenge, but moving to a town to pastor a church whose previous pastor was staying on staff was harder than I could have imagined.
The church was moving from a video venue to an autonomous church, and they needed a lead pastor to make the transition. Reading the job description made me realize without a doubt my husband was created for this job. I wholeheartedly embraced saying yes to this new place and jumped in with both feet.
Until the first gathering.
As I got in the car after it was over, my husband turned to me and said “well that was awesome! I just met so many great people!’ and I burst into tears.
Because it wasn’t awesome for me. For 2 hours I was pounded with question after question peppered in with some well-meaning critiques that made me realize finding my place to belong in this new context might be harder than I had imagined.
So while my husband thrived and met tons of new people, I became this symbol of confusion among the women in the church. The sideways glances. The whispers as women tried to figure out if I was going to be similar to them and what they’ve always known. The hesitation in saying hi wondering if befriending me meant betraying our predecessors.
The blame game
I started questioning my personality, my giftings, maybe if I was just more like _____ I could belong in this context better. As I allowed the insecurity to push to the forefront of my mind, my ability to smile and embrace this new normal began to disappear. Where once I had flourished in transitions and conquering new challenges, now I started to hide and question every word that came out of my mouth.
And at every turn, women gently reminded me “that’s not what we do here” or “your husband won’t ever be my pastor”. Though the words were spoken in gentleness, they pierced my heart and created a plexiglass shield of protection around my emotions.
Blaming “them” for the tension became my mode of survival. But blaming just made it more awkward to start conversations.
My husband would gently tell me as soon as I put people into a category of “them”, it would be hard for me to come back. But I was stuck in this desire to belong but the fear that I never would.
Reminding myself daily that God had called us to this place and he would sustain brought comfort, but the isolation at times was overwhelming. Where once I had at least had my children home with me while we homeschooled, this move brought the decision to put them in school and so I sat with nothing to do and nowhere to belong.
I longed to jump into conversations but eventually, I stopped trying to engage. The unease of seeing people try to navigate loyalty to their previous pastor with acceptance of me was more than my fragile lonely heart could handle.
Because I too had just left a life I loved and a job I adored to move to this church. I wanted to scream “don’t you see what I’ve sacrificed? Can’t you just embrace me knowing God called us here?”
But that was unfair. We were all going through a transition, and transitions are hard to navigate with grace.
Waiting and trusting
For 9 months I sat in my house by myself having been turned down for lunch dates or afternoon coffee from those I thought I could befriend only to meet with those who had an agenda they wanted me to fix.
I would take day trips back to my old stomping ground just to be around people who accepted me and liked me. This path that God had given me was lonely and exhausting.
As I cried out to God, he reassured me my time for belonging would come. Eventually, I would find my place and he would use me and my giftings, but until then my job was to press into him. To learn that belonging in the family of God was enough.
9 months of waiting led to the beginning of new friendships. 9 months of trusting God and asking him to give me a place to belong. 9 months of asking God if this truly was the place we were called to. 9 months of doubting if moving was actually God’s great plan for our life or if we had heard him wrong. 9 months of me learning contentment with simply belonging to God.
But really 9 months only feels long in the moment.
As a pastor’s wife, there will always be times I don’t quite fit into a conversation or that people look at me a bit differently, but those 9 months taught me valuable lessons I never want to forget. Those months of not knowing my place forced me to understand in new ways my identity in Christ. Where relationships and fun activities had previously filled in the gaps of my time, those first 9 months at our new church gave me an abundance of time to turn to God and allowed him to refine me in new ways. Those 9 months were HARD, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong, this series is for you! Every Monday, we’ll hear from someone who has also struggled to belong. Be sure to subscribe below to get The Scoop so you never miss a post! As a thank you, you’ll receive access to these scripture cards and adult coloring pages in the free for you library!
Meet Kari Minter
Kari Minter is a pastor’s wife and a mom to 3 teenagers who love to keep her on her toes! While “mom” is her favorite job title, she also is a Bible teacher who loves speaking at events/conferences and writing Bible studies and Christian content. She desires to help women understand the beauty and value of God’s Word and speaks and writes with that focus in mind. You can find her at www.kariminter.com or follow her on Instagram or Facebook.
*Feature Photo by freestocks on Unsplash