Frankly, ten years ago, I was a bit of a judgemental cow. As we were finishing Bible college, I would sometimes look at older minister's wives and wonder why they weren't doing more. Why weren't they doing more hospitality? Running more women's groups? Looking after their staff wives more? Why didn't they seem keen to be involved anymore?
Oh dear. If only I had, like, a small, tiny clue. But I had very little.
In the past ten years my girlfriends who are minister's wives have dealt with the following:
Parents dying, babies dying, miscarriages, depression, their children's mental health issues, children with significant/long term disabilities, husband's health issues, broken friendships, their own chronic health issues, hurtful/ unresolved conflict with church members, moving suburb/city/country repeatedly, infertility, loneliness, and more.
So when I look at these friends, I now think, wow. You keep going. You are still married. You are still a Christian. You still let your husband out the front door to do his job.
What I hadn't allowed for in my young assessment of productivity was LIFE. Life is messy and painful and hard. Life leaves scars. Life teaches lessons. On how to cope. How to stay sane. On limitations. I had no idea what those women had been through and what they had learnt about the best way to stay faithful to their marriage, their family and God.
Ten years on I've learnt - well, you never really know what is going on for another person. Be slow to judge and quick to love.