When You Can’t Do It All
By: Rebecca Holloway
With the office of pastor’s wife comes a list of expectations. We’ve all read articles on the internet or books about how to meet those expectations. But what if you CAN’T respond to those expectations? What if it becomes humanly impossible for you to serve? What if you are sidelined by a serious illness?
In the past three years of my life, my ability to serve has become limited at times. Between my son Evan being born with Down’s Syndrome and various health issues of my own, I have missed some Sundays. But nothing prepared me for what happened this past Christmas.
After playing in a piano concert the first Sunday of Advent, I noticed I wasn’t feeling well and hadn’t been for most of the week. I couldn’t figure it out. I wasn’t congested, my ears weren’t hurting, nor was I coughing. I just felt unwell. I was sweaty, achy, I had a constant headache, and I just did not feel normal. After about five days of this, I started running a fever. I prepared my husband Stewart for the worst (what to do in case I had the flu), yet I woke the next morning, which happened to be Sunday, feeling decent. No fever, just extremely tired and a little achy. So on to church, I went. It’s Christmas, and I was to play a piano special again, so there was no choice about what I was going to do. I was going to church.
This cycle repeated itself all the next week. Pain, fever, nausea, lethargy. The kids had to be shuttled and fed. I still had to prepare for a party at our house. I still had Christmas presents to be bought. Stewart, as always, was my hero and did tasks that I simply did not have the strength to do. He would come home after a long day at work to a sink full of dishes, half-done laundry, kids that needed bathing, and he did it all. He is such a gift.
I went to an event after event feeling horrible. If I had managed to get myself and two children dressed, by the time I got there, I was worn out. But I was there. Finally, I came to the place that I just could not do anymore. I had to drop out of choir and praise team and only attend the events that were absolutely necessary.
After multiple doctor’s visits and numerous sticks in my arm, it was determined that I have a virus in the same family as mononucleosis. There is no medicine for it. I just had to rest and wait it out. Rest? What is that? I’m a wife and a mom. I’m a pastor’s wife, for goodness sakes! I have to attend stuff, right?
Wrong. I finally came to the point that I had to stop. Just stop. And it took the Lord giving me a rare virus to make me realize it. A friend recently posted a meme that said something to the effect of you either take time and rest on your own or God will make you rest. I now know that to be true! Even the Almighty, All-Powerful, Word Become Flesh had to rest (Mark 6:31).
It took me a while to get back into full swing. The virus was no joke. Even a couple of months later, I still hit a wall from time to time and had to take a day to rest. An infectious disease doctor advised me that the lethargy may stick around for some months.
Sometimes we have to let go of the expectations of others to do what God expects of us – to rest in His presence so we can learn from Him. That is so hard to do when people around us expect us to leap tall buildings in a single bound! But we must, if God ordains it. For me, the whole thing was a time of refocusing and evaluation. There has been growth in my life that wouldn’t have come otherwise. My priorities are back in order. Yes, the expectations of others can be a huge burden to bear, but ultimately, if you are not able to meet them, then you have to just not meet them. The only expectations that matter are God’s. Make it your goal to please Him first; then the rest will fall into place!
Rebecca Holloway is a pastor’s wife and mother of two boys; Zachary, 6, and Evan, 2. When she’s not busy with her boys, Rebecca ministers through the College and the Music Ministries of First Baptist Church Pineville, LA. Weekly, she shares her life experiences and lessons through “The One Minute Blog.” Rebecca holds a Bachelors in Music from Louisiana College and two Masters Degrees in Christian Education and Marriage and Family Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Find out more about our writing team.