There are many kinds of clergy spouses. The presbytera particularly Sees a side of parishioners that, usually, the rest of the parish may not see. Our privilege to be with them in their struggles, as we stand by our ordained spouse’s side, often offers a glimpse of their prayer needs. So we pray!
Today’s readings from our sister-Church, the Moravians:
But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands. Psalm 10:14
Jesus saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. Mark 6:34
I do take this into my hands. It’s the kind of clergy spouse– a presbytera– that I am.
A Gift that has served me well– and hopefully serves our Lord’s Kingdom even better– has been the capacity to bear hurtful words, to pray about them, to seek any lessons they hold, and to offer a blessing in return. Sometimes this process takes more time than I would wish, but in hindsight I find that He has used this Gift in His own time.
That Gift was given and then developed in a PTSD childhood loaded with verbal and physical abuse, and schoolmates’ behavior that, nowadays, would be considered actionable bullying. I have a different understanding of that phenomenon– about the ways abuse trickles down the power ladder, faster than the thinking-mind can control it. In Discernment, we learn to put everything we have done or been to His use. As discernment continues, hopefully we are formed in how to do this.
So these days I work on forgiveness, as well as offering a blessing to the agent of abuse. A good friend tells me that if we do not forgive, we block God’s action in their lives until we do forgive.
A 2010 comment on my blog was one of these opportunities to use that Gift (forbearance), and to practice the forgiveness that is His next step for me in developing the Gift for His Kingdom. I re-read it every time I need to be reminded to be more humble. I’m going to paste that late-2010 comment into this post, now that I have gleaned as many lessons from it as I could. Then I will close this post with a comment that offers a teaching, as well as the blessing. Please know that any comment I receive back will be held where only I and my own priests can see it.
But first I want to thank God for the thyroid disease diagnosis I have waited for doctors to spot since 4th grade….. which, now that treatment has begun and the diagnosis is getting further refinement, has resulted in my effortlessly losing 13 pounds. It was never about the food. What allowed that diagnosis to finally be made? Two things– (1) I am a better patient and health-history-giver as I have worked though some of the PTSD, and (2) medicine has begun to catch up with my smarts. By His grace, I have clarity enough to respond now to His reminder to address that old comment.
In light of that reality, here is the portion of the hurtful comment that applied only to me, which no longer hurts:
Submitted on 2010/12/28 at 5:57 am: Still fakin’ them out there in Wellsboro, Sooey? Why don’t you tell them the truth about yourself – foulmouthed, dirty minded mental case who can convince herself that she’ll turn into a fat burning machine if she eats four thousand calories a day. Your writing is even more scattered and daft than it ever was…. … God, you people still make me sick – living proof that do-nothing charlatans can find a place and paycheck in the world. Waste of skin. (From “Whatzit Tuya, email@example.com”)
I know the person who posted that comment. God, who you mention in your post, has used me very well– potty mouth and all– even as thyroid disease fogged my mind and damaged my health. I don’t think He heard you address Him quite the way you might have thought He did. :~)
He has blessed me with long life well past the doctors’ predictions. That God– who I hope you come to know, and who I hope you hear responding with compassion to your cry– does not waste what He creates. He does not even waste your hatefulness, for I have profited from it… no matter whether you posted it to inflame, to annoy, or to utter a cry for His help. And I also can assure you, He heard that cry and has sought to respond to it.
The blessing I offer you is right out of the Book of Common Prayer used week in, week out for worship, in the same parish your comment slandered (in a portion I did not include above).
That parish prays for you each week. Although we do not see you in the pews very often– I encourage you to use the BCP for your own development. Only our Lord can help you be the person He created you to be, and who He wants to develop.
I’m referring specifically to a passage in Form II of Prayers of the People, which I have often prayed thinking of you:
I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper
knowledge of him.
Pray that they may find and be found by him.
I can pray this for and about you sincerely– because I forgive you.