Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Authentic and Awkward

Our church has been praying for me every week during my chemotherapy. I am thankful for their prayers on my behalf, though it has been uncomfortable to see my name on the prayer list every week for as long as we've been here. I feel like I get so much attention just because I'm married to the pastor that I don't need any more.

On Sunday the prayer was altered to thanksgiving that the treatments are done. Lots of people spoke to me afterward to express their happiness for me. I was asked several times, usually with a mood of eager optimism, how I am feeling.

You'd think that would be a simple question. A year or two ago I'd have told all those kind people that I'm feeling much better, thank you. They all want so much for me to be well, for my life to be happy. I'd hate to disappoint them.

I'm trying to teach myself to be considerately honest and sometimes that's uncomfortable. When people asked how I'm feeling I told them I'm relieved to be done, but I don't feel very well.

Every time I felt a little like I was hurting their feelings. We'd have a very brief awkward moment in which we all took in the disappointment that happiness and ease has not yet arrived and then we'd part.

Being honest is awkward. We are all in a hurry to be done with pain and living alongside other people's sadness is hard. It is also much more helpful to all of us than polite lies. Now those people know me a little bit.


  1. I would appreciate that honesty. It seems when people lie about how they are doing, they are robbing me of an opportunity to help them or sympathize with them. I hate feeling unneeded.

  2. I totally support being honest. I wish I could be honest. Just in my experience, everyone expected and still expects me to say that I am doing good or even great. Nobody understood why I didn't just bounce right back (almost immediately) to peace and serenity after my husband (a pastor) died suddenly because I of all people (the pastor's wife) should have perfect comfort in the knowledge that Matt was safe in Heaven. In their minds, I had/still have no reason to grieve or miss my husband because he is where he is supposed to be. I admit that even now, I lie to people to make them feel better because that is better for me than being judged and told how I should really feel and act. Honesty is a tricky slope.

  3. Seems to me that people are happy that you're done with the chemo and finished with that blast against the cancer. But it also seems that people would understand that you need to recuperate from the chemo. I hope no one will be too disappointed when they are reminded that, yes, fighting the cancer is done, but it takes a lot for a body to recuperate from the fight. But we all learn more about cancer and illness and God's strength in weakness as we encounter those things in the real live people around us whom we love.

  4. What thoughtful comments. I appreciate them all. Thank you, Kathrine and Susan, for the insight on how helpful honesty is in creating community. And Stacey, how I long to hug you and lecture the people around you about respecting your grief. I'm glad you are *here* with me.


  5. Jane, you are my hero! Like Stacey, I have a terrible time with honesty vs. expectations (both mine and other folks') for the pastor's wife. I have to keep reminding myself that real relationships are based on REAL feelings, some (most?) of which are uncomfortable. At least they are for me.


Thanks for using this space to share your encouraging words.