"We don't want to be completely paranoid, but we do have to remember that the congregation is full of sinners." (Susan)
"I learned as a pastor's kid that the people who were the nicest to us when we moved there were going to be the first ones to betray us later on. As a pastor's wife, I now live a life of distrust, fear, anxiety and paranoia. But then I ask, if everyone really IS out to get the pastor and his family, is it paranoia? The reality is, Satan is after the one who distributes God's means of grace--the pastor. His family is fair game too. Our problem is, how do we deal with this reality without going nuts?" (Kathrine)
"We've been here almost 7 months, and we haven't had anyone accuse us of anything we haven't done, spread lies to try and undermine [my husband's] authority in the church - heck, even try to be underhanded with each other! There are some really good churches out there - I'm praying you have found yours. I know finding ours has gone a long way in healing my kicked and beaten up heart." (MamaOnABudget)
Clearly, a lot of pw's find this tricky territory. I can relate to the paranoia Kathrine describes. That's precisely how I felt in the midst of the conflict at our last church. We had been so deeply hurt and the feeling that my husband was under constant threat put me on guard with everyone in the church. In retrospect, I can see that it was a very small group of people that had any grief with us. Let's say there were 500 people in the church -- 10 were angry with my husband, 100 were very supportive of him, and the other 400 had no idea what was going on in the church office.
Like Kathrine, I felt like those 10 people were "out to get" us. Now it doesn't seem quite that way. In fact, I believe now that they felt threatened by us. Somehow we posed a threat to something they considered essential about the church. They weren't out to get us; they were trying to protect themselves.
Susan is wise to point out that the church is full of sinners - including us and our husbands. I'm praying to be part of a church where we all freely acknowledge our sinfulness. That's one thing that was clearly absent in the leadership of our last church.
MamaOnABudget, how blessed I would be to live among a group of Christians who trust each other and their pastor! Perhaps we will. It has lately occurred to me that the goal of life is not to escape suffering. I want to escape it, and I will exert tremendous energy to avoid pain, but I am beginning to understand that when I cannot see past the misery God is still trustworthy.