I often find myself privy to the secrets of a woman’s heart. Simply because I am the pastor’s wife, women confide their secrets to me.
No one knows these stories.
• A woman whose alcoholic husband hides drugs in the house.
• A woman whose husband gives her a small amount of money to buy groceries.
• A woman stuck for years in depression.
• A woman who left home in the middle of the night, her face black and blue.
• A woman whose husband is addicted to pornography.
The reality of these stories is they only get told if there is miracle.
Until then, they are messy.
They are secret.
Often between her and me.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH DIFFICULT STORIES?
1. Hear her story from your own personal brokenness and loss. Satan is not creative. Circumstances in people’s lives vary greatly. There are degrees of harshness within each story; however, the tangled emotions and lies we find ourselves battling are incredibly similar – insecure, unloved, unaccepted, failure, anxious, depressed, and afraid.
2. Recognize she is grieving. We grieve what we’ve lost. She is grieving the loss of an expectation she had for a great marriage, a husband to love her, parents to accept her, or a dream that never happened.
3. Honor her story by validating her feelings. Her feelings may not be based on truth, but they are very real to her. Just like a child afraid of a monster; the monster isn’t real, but the feelings are.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions to help her unravel her emotions. There is more below the surface story she is telling. She just doesn’t know how to say it.
5. Gently speak truth to her. She doesn’t need a sermon, just simple truth. She needs to hear she is loved and not alone.
6. Don’t feel like you have to “fix” her problem. You may be the first place she has shared her story, but you may be the beginning of a process for her.
7. When necessary refer to a counselor. Be specific and give her a name and number.
8. Follow up with her. Not every day, but consistently.
9. Thank her for trusting you enough to share her story. Tell her you are proud of her courage to confide in someone. Let her know it’s good to bring darkness into light.
10. Be a keeper of her story. She may be a friend or assuming you are a safe place simply because you are the pastor’s wife. Protect her heart by keeping her story confident.
11. Pray for her and pray truth over her. At times we are solo fighters invited to step into someone’s battle. Prayer often is the only weapon we have. Prayer is not a tool we use to relieve guilt of not knowing what to do. It’s a tool we use to walk someone’s heart to the throne of the One who does know what to do.
There is freedom when someone knows our deepest burdens.
The woman at the well exclaimed,
“Come meet the man who KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT ME.”
Jesus knew her secrets,
And still she was loved.
A great book that gives insight into helping women is “Shepherding Women in Pain” by Bev Hislop.
Published April 21, 2014