Shannon had just begun working at Rockwell Automation so she was not able to go. Going from college student to pastor’s wife in an unfamiliar area had its challenges. I would say Shannon has only really been homesick once during our 15 years of marriage and the summer of ’97 was it. Her not being able to go with us back to her home church and instead being alone for a week back in Crossville didn’t help. Little did we know when the youth group and I headed for Charlotte on Monday that Shannon’s homesickness would be the least of our problems.
Many people don’t realize that pastors and their wives are people. Like everyone else we deal with things as husband and wife just like everyone else. However, when you go into the ministry you sign a contract that whatever you are dealing with, however big or small, will have to wait for everyone else. Most of the time your turn never comes and no one ever asks. Statistically speaking, many pastors and ministry marriages never make it. I would say there is a myriad of reasons that become contributing factors. Entering the ministry is high stress and low pay. A CNN poll found clergy to be among the worst jobs in America. I love what I do and wouldn’t ever want to do anything else. CNN didn’t ask me, but I get it. What makes ministry more difficult is that you marry it and so does your spouse. You parent your kids, but so does the church. This is probably why most pastor’s children become maniacs. There is an external pressure to it all that is unfair. Church people read your mind, your wife’s mind, and your children’s mind. They project an image of you that is your alter ego and you are never allowed to write your own script. I may not get rave reviews for saying this, but in 15 years of being a pastor one of the most difficult aspects of it all is that I have had very little time to be Brian. Shannon and I often struggle with the fact that no one really knows us. I think it scares people to know you are real. It scares them more if you say what you feel. If you ever fight back, you never win.
We were having a great week in Charlotte. The kids were responding to the gospel. Though it was mid season for baseball, New York Yankee’s pitcher Andy Pettitte made a surprise appearance. It was his rookie year. I got to meet him in the back hallway. All I remember is that he was a very nice person with huge hands. We were having a great time in Charlotte. Shannon was struggling to stay in Crossville. What happened that Wednesday made it even worse. Shannon was about to experience the dark side of being a pastor’s wife. Her struggles were about to be overshadowed. No one ever knew. She was the first one to feel the turbulence. I thought things were great at LRBC. She was first to find out otherwise. Because she did not want to diminish what the Lord was doing in our group in Charlotte, she kept everything to herself until we returned 2 days later.