Boundaries

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

We are honored to have Jelly Valimont, author and speaker, and leader of our private Facebook group: Silently Bleeding: Hope for the Pastor’s Widow, share this guest post with us today.

Being in ministry is difficult, challenging, and at times frustrating. It is even more so when people are involved! Seriously. Someone once told me that people will take everything you allow them to take and will then ask for more. That is why it is important for us to establish personal and ministry boundaries in our lives. When I was a young pastor’s wife, no one ever told me that I needed boundaries, so I established walls. Once I figured out that there was a difference, I was able to establish healthy boundaries that carried me through some very difficult times.

There is a difference between boundaries and walls. First of all, a boundary marks the limit of an area, a dividing line, lets others know how we feel, what we expect, and does it all with respect. Secondly, a wall doesn’t just point out a limit but it also protects and offers privacy. We need both in our lives: boundaries and walls. It’s when people do not respect the boundary then a wall becomes necessary!

Do you remember the old television show called “Home Improvement?” In the show, there was a neighbor, Wilson W. Wilson, who stood on one side of a fence, never showing anything other than his eyes. His voice was muffled and his face was obscured. Too often we face our church people over the top of a fence, never allowing them to see the ‘real’ us because we have put up walls or fences rather than boundaries. To be healthy and to keep this from happening, we should establish clear and concise boundaries early in our relationships, so walls do not become necessary!

How do we do this?
1. Determine what God has called you to do. Sometimes, due to the size of the church or the lack of volunteers, it is necessary to do everything. Or is it? Maybe we need to take a step back and determine if it is really you that God has called to teach the Sunday School class, lead the worship, teach children’s church, and be the church secretary too. Maybe God has called you to one thing rather than everything. I cannot determine what God’s call is on anyone’s life other than my own, but I do know that God said in Matthew 11:30, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If it is too difficult to pull the proverbial load, maybe it is not God’s load you are pulling, but man’s.
Once you have determined what God’s call is for you, believe in yourself and in your call. God does not call you to fail but He calls you to excellence. Do all you can to excel in your call: study, pray, deepen your walk with the Lord, and share what He is doing in your life.
2. There will be people who want to tell you what God wants you to do, simply because of your position or because they don’t want to do it. Be prepared to say, “No.” If that is not accepted, be prepared to say, “NO!” or “NO, NO, NO.” That’s a definite boundary.
3. Once you have said, “no,” don’t be motivated by guilt to change your decision. Don’t give in continuously or you will have established a boundary that can easily be crossed over. One of the things I found after 40 years in ministry is that people often expected me to do something that God has already spoken to them about doing. If I capitulated, it took them off the hook with God. One of the reasons why it is important to know what God has called you to do is so you can release others to do what He has called them to do!
4. If you or your husband are staff members, one of the most important things you can do for your ministry is to be supportive. You may not have a leading role, but the supportive role is just as important. This is especially true for young wives, moms. Remember that everything rises and fall with leadership. We need to also remember that everything we do sends a message. What message are you sending as a young mom? A young wife? If you do not go to church because you are tired, you are also giving other young moms and wives an excuse to stay home. If you do not attend church because your kids need to get in bed early, you are giving others the credence to do the same. While it is necessary that we do what God has called us to do personally, it is also necessary that we show support to our husband and our ministry. Romans 8:11 says, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.” That simply means that if you are weary, if your kids are weary, God can give you strength! Sometimes, we need the strength of God to put one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, we simply need to push through and sacrifice for the cause of the kingdom! Ouch.

By necessity, I established boundaries in the last church that my husband and I pastored. It was only when I drew a line in the sand and someone crossed it or kicked the sand around, that I built a wall. Remember, a boundary can be moved or adjusted. I did move and adjust some boundaries as it became necessary. However, necessary walls were built and often impenetrable, especially with some people. Allow me to give you some examples of boundaries. This is not a complete list and should not be considered as necessary for every woman. These are what were important to me at the time.

1. NO ONE told me how to raise my children or were free to discipline them. That meant church leadership, church people or family members. That was a definite boundary. If anyone tried to cross over or remove that boundary, they found a woman dressed for war and not very spiritual. My children needed to know that they were protected and were not fair game for anyone who thought they might be misbehaving. In addition, the behavior of my kids was not up for speculation because they were the pastor’s kids.
2. NO WOMAN met with my husband alone, no matter how much counseling she needed. If she needed to tell him about her horrid sex life or unfaithful husband, she did it either in front of me or his secretary. Let me tell you, that cut down on a lot of unnecessary, trashy information being shared with him.
3. No matter what was going on in the office, if I called, my call was given priority and absolutely no one could tell me that my husband was unavailable.
4. NO ONE talked negatively to me about my husband or the sermons he preached unless they wanted to also share it with him.
5. NO ONE was allowed to share negative information or offenses with me about our church staff unless they were also willing to confront the issues with that person. Whenever anyone told me something (gossip), I quickly explained to them that they had 24 hours to address the issue with the staff person or I would. This cut down on a lot of conversations that could destroy the unity in the body of Christ.
6. My husband and I shared our passwords and pass codes with one another. At any time, Randy could ask to see my cell phone or computer and look at my text messages, my calls, my emails, or my internet searches. I could do the same with his cell phone and computer. There were times we would randomly ask for one another’s electronics and search through them. It was not that we didn’t trust one another but we wanted each other to know what was going on in the other’s life and that there were no secrets kept from one another. This boundary was established early in our journey through the electronic world. No secrets, no opportunity for failure.
7. Protecting our marriage and our home was very important to us, so we did not allow movie channels in our home. Too often, movie subscriptions include pornography, and we did not want the possibility of us or our children inadvertently stumbling across it.
8. If there was ever a person of the opposite sex that made us feel uncomfortable or unduly flattered, we shared it with one another. We also made sure the other person knew that we were unavailable for any type of indiscretion. There was one time that a woman in our church told Randy that she was attracted to him. When he responded by telling her would never be attracted to her, she was very offended. In all honesty, she was fishing but in the wrong pond. Randy immediately called me to his office, and I made sure she knew her fishing pole was broken. I then built a wall.

I could list many more boundaries, but I think you can get the gist of what I am saying: Boundaries are necessary for the health of you, your children, your marriage and your church family. When people know where they stand, there is less opportunity for confusion or unrealistic expectations being placed on you. Place a boundary so a wall is not necessary!

More from Jelly:

Feel free to check out her interview about Expectations of a Pastor’s Wife here: https://youtu.be/plUrEz9lGY

You can check out her latest book, Tapestry, on Amazon below:

https://amzn.to/3kCNzgE

    Jelly’s website: ValimontMinistries.org

    Jump Start

    Image by Boaz Park from Pixabay

    What is it about a new year that suggests the idea of change? There’s something in most of us that stirs a desire to do the thing…lose weight, start an exercise plan, read more, pray more, and the list goes on.

    Years ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions because they just don’t work for me. But I do use this time of year to reevaluate my life. As I’ve been thinking and praying about 2023, I am making a fresh commitment to the Lord and seeking Him for wisdom and direction in every area of my life.

    These last couple of years have been rough on all of us. We’ve faced things we never dreamed of. Many of us have suffered the loss of family members, friends, and congregants to Covid19, along with financial difficulties and more. We’ve all been living with trauma. So if you struggle with guilt for feeling like the wind’s been knocked out of you, you’re not alone my friend. Trauma brain is a real thing and I speak from experience.

    If you’re suffering with trauma brain, I encourage you to find a good therapist. Ask the Lord to lead you to the right one that is trauma informed. You may feel there is no way you can afford a therapist. If so, check with your insurance to see if they cover therapy. If not, think about where you may be able to cut back in your budget for a little while so that you can get the help you need.

    I trust with this new year, you will be able to move forward into all that God has called you to do, with His confidence. Don’t believe the lies the enemy whispers in your ear my friend. You are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus!

    I don’t know about you, but I feel like it’s time for a jump start in ministry. I am asking God to help me to see people through His eyes of love, to help me hear what they are really saying, and to be His hands and feet to the lost and hurting.

    What are you asking God to do in and through you this year?

    Behind Closed Doors

    What is your life like behind closed doors? Our congregants only see what we want them to see for the most part. Your life may look perfect from the outside looking in, but you know the truth. You don’t have an angel that shows up and cleans your home for you. (But if by some chance you do, could you send her to my house next?) That handsome preacher husband of yours, yep, he gets sweaty, dirty, and stinky, and even gets grouchy at times. Your “angelic” kids get bad attitudes and even say things like, “Why do I have to go to church today? I don’t want to go.” or “Why do I have to be a pastor’s kid? I just wish I was like everybody else.”

    What you and I both know is … our families are made up of ordinary people just like the Smiths and the Joneses. Some people seem to think just because we’re the “pastor’s family,” we are the exception to real life. If only that were true! Of course if it was, we wouldn’t really understand what our people are going through and we couldn’t minister to them on a deeper level.

    Is it tough being a pastor’s family? Sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I know God has called me to this and the older I get, the more I realize that I just need to be me and allow my family to be a real family. Besides, our people are looking for authenticity.

    I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts on this?

    The Problem with Assuming

    Image by Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay

    Have you ever assumed something about someone later to find out you were wrong? Me too! I’ve read that statistically, most assumptions are wrong. You might assume that a lady in your church didn’t text you back because she doesn’t like you and later find out she never received your text. Something similar happened to me.

    A few months ago, I texted my neighbor about two different things and she never texted me back. One day I stopped by to chat and we were talking about the subjects I had texted her about and come to find out she hadn’t received the texts and had even sent me one that I never received.

    Assuming things about people and/or situations can take you down into a negative pit. Our enemy, Satan, loves to confuse us and he will use whatever tactics he can. Even something as simple as a text.

    When someone walks past you and doesn’t speak to you, don’t assume they are stuck up or don’t like you. They are most likely in their own world trying to figure out what they need to do next.

    If someone looks right past you, chances are, they don’t see you. There is no telling what they are going through. Maybe they are just too busy. Maybe they need to work on their people skills. But can I encourage you my friend, don’t take it personally.

    Guard your thoughts. They will determine where you go and what you do. When you start feeling down, encourage yourself out loud. I created my own mantra after hearing something similar from Pastor Craig Groeschel many years ago. It begins with, “Because I know God’s Word is true, I am a faith filled, life speaking, God honoring, fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. I can do whatever I need to do, because the joy of the Lord is my strength. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I choose wisely who I spend my time with, etc.” It really does change my focus and mood. Try writing your own. I think you’ll be glad you did!

    When you don’t understand why someone is acting a particular way, instead of assuming you know why, pray for them. Do the hard thing and have an honest conversation with them. But do it lovingly. You could say something like, “You seem to be lost in your own world today. Is everything okay?” Isn’t that so much nicer than “You didn’t even speak to me”?

    If we are going to assume, let’s assume the best about others. This is an area I am continually having to work on. What are your thoughts on this subject?

    Designed to Need Each Other

    Are you feeling lonely? Feeling like no body understands what you are going through? Girl, I get it. You aren’t alone in this. In fact, many of us pastors’ wives feel this way or have felt this way at some time. I think it’s one of the biggest tactics the devil uses to distract us. So what’s the answer?

    Ask God to give you a pastor’s wife that you can become friends with. Pray for that special lady that will love you right where you are. Ask God for an “iron sharpening iron” kind of friend. Maybe a pastor’s wife that has a few years on you that will have great wisdom to share with you. Then, you be that kind of friend to her and to someone else.

    We pastors’ wives need to stick together. It’s time we realize we aren’t in competition with one another. We are on the same team. If each of us would be real with other pastors’ wives, I think it would give them permission to be real too.

    What are we afraid of? That someone might actually find out we are human? Hello! We are stinky flesh and blood just like our congregants. We need Jesus too.

    What if I reach out to a pastor’s wife and she doesn’t want to be my friend? Then she isn’t the right one for you, at least at this time. Keep praying and seeking God for just the right friend. Consider reaching out to pastors’ wives in your community. They don’t have to be of the same denomination as you. Let them know you don’t sell anything, you just want to get to know them.

    If you are on Facebook, feel free to look us up and join our private group. It’s a safe place that is drama free. We share funny things, prayer requests, and encouragement. Look for us at Silently Bleeding: Hope for the Pastor’s Wife. We have plenty of room for you!

    Want to hear more on this subject? Click here to listen to this video.

    Do you have suggestions on how to connect with other pastors’ wives? I’d love to hear from you!

    When God Disappoints

    Have you ever prayed desperate prayers and felt as though God wasn’t listening? I know I have. Today I want to share with you a little of Esther’s story. Esther has a Master’s in piano performance. She is a piano professor at Drury University and her husband is a college and young adults pastor.

    In 2012, right after getting her Master’s in piano performance, Esther was diagnosed with Lupus. All of a sudden she couldn’t move, let alone play the piano. Esther said she saw God amazingly show up in her life day after day. She knew every morning she needed Jesus in order to be able to even get out of bed. Esther said there is no logical reason her hands can do what they do on the piano except that Jesus does a miracle every time she plays.

    Esther knew what is was like to see miracles in her life and she knew how to hear from God… until she didn’t.

    Esther and her husband walked the difficult path called infertility. After 15 years of marriage and still no children, she said, “God, I need you to show up again.” She went through surgeries and a lot of poking and prodding. Esther was on fertility meds and they began to mess with her hormones and she became so depressed. Every single month she was disappointed. It became harder to pray because the disappointments kept mounting.

    In the midst of this, when they started the process, the doctor told Esther had little to no chance of getting pregnant. After her last surgery, she had a slight chance. The doctor said, “If this doesn’t work, we can keep going and try other things, but I don’t want to keep subjecting you to this forever. So you will need to determine your cutoff point.

    They decided to do six rounds of a specific treatment. On round six, Esther prayed all the faith-filled prayers she could. Her body began to show signs of a possible pregnancy. Ladies at her church had shared their miracle baby stories with Esther and told her that God was going to give her a miracle baby too. She had high hopes.

    Early one morning, a few days before Mother’s Day, Esther took the pregnancy test, and it was negative. She crawled back in bed and told her husband she wasn’t pregnant and wept and wept. It felt like God didn’t show up. She asked, “God where are you?” Esther said it felt like a sick cosmic joke.

    Esther determined to be strong and go to the Mother’s Day event at her church. They had a guest singer and she shared Psalm 84:11 about the Lord not withholding any good thing from those who’s walk is blameless. Can you imagine how confusing that must have been for Esther? She thought, “God you have withheld good from me.”

    Esther began to question if she had done something wrong. She was a good Christian girl and had always tried to do everything she knew to please God. And yet, she didn’t get her miracle baby like many told her she would. She determined to be strong and hold on to the scripture that says God won’t withhold good. In this, Esther suppressed a lot of emotion and she didn’t bring her true feelings to God because she wanted to be reverent. In doing this, it became very hard for her to pray and read her Bible. She went months where she would even try to touch her Bible and it was too painful. A good prayer for Esther was, “God, I just can’t today.” There were some Sundays that she couldn’t even go to church. She felt she was failing as a Christian.

    After several months of being fed up with feeling the way she did and being fed up with God, she woke up one morning and said, “I want a break through today, I don’t care what needs to happen, I’m getting my breakthrough today!”

    Esther began to pray and read her Bible that day. Finally, she gave herself permission to tell God, “God, you disappointed me.” She told Him over and over. She also told him how He had disappointed her husband and all the people that had prayed for her miracle baby. She let God know about all of her fury, her anger, and all the dark thoughts she had been harboring in her heart for all of those months until she had nothing left to say. Then she sat in silence. For the first time in a long time, she began to feel God’s comfort, not His anger. She was afraid God was going to reprimand her. He spoke to her heart to reread 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. These scriptures talk about God being the God of all comfort and how He comforts us so that we may comfort others. That day, Esther not only found comfort from God, but He gave her a plan as to how to move forward.

    Does God really disappoint? At times, He does. If you are walking through a dark and desperate time, you are not alone. Tell God exactly how you feel. He already knows, but it will help you to express your thoughts and feelings to Him. His shoulders are big enough to handle whatever it is you tell Him. And He won’t reprimand you. He will comfort you my friend.

    If you would like to listen to the video where Esther shares her story, click here.

    For more from Esther you can check out her blog site at: estherguy.com

    Depression and the Pastor’s Wife

    Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

    I will never forget a particular Sunday I was feeling so anxious and peopled out. At the time, we only had one car so I asked a young lady to take me home. I know she had to be wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I am usually the social butterfly and I couldn’t wait to get out of there!

    Nothing major had happened. I didn’t understand what was going on. I wanted to crawl in bed and die. Literally die. I am not one that struggles much with depression so this really took me by surprise. I had suicidal thoughts and this went on for several hours. Finally, after many tears and crying out to God, I asked Him to please take this feeling away. Finally…peace came.

    I realize many struggle with depression for days, weeks, and even months on end. What I went through was nothing compared to those that struggle for long periods of time. I asked God why He allowed this to happen to me. He spoke to my heart and said it would give me a tiny glimpse into what others that really battle depression might face. I won’t pretend that I understand all that you may be going through, but I really do care.

    If you’re a pastor’s wife and you are struggling with depression, you’re not alone my friend. You and I both know that being a pastor’s wife doesn’t keep us from facing struggles in every day life. We all have struggles from time to time.

    Your depression may be caused from a recent loss of a family member or close friend, conflict in the church, a big change in your life, a reaction to a new medicine, a chemical imbalance in your brain, or many other reasons. Sometimes it doesn’t even make sense. Depression doesn’t make you a bad person. You don’t need to feel shame. Give yourself the same grace you would give the lady in your church that is struggling with depression or some other difficult issue. God has given us doctors and therapists for a reason. There is no shame in getting help.

    If you want to learn more click here. Teri Herndon shares her experience with depression and how God brought her through.

    Check out the Christmas devotional that Teri wrote by clicking on the link below.

    https://amzn.to/3mAduUT

    ——-DISCLAIMER——-

    Amazon affiliate links have the potential to earn me a small commission which is what helps to keep the channel running and helps me have the opportunity to continue making videos such as this one. Thank you so much for your support.

    Overwhelmed

    Image by Peter David from Pixabay

    Are you struggling my friend? Me too! There is so much going on in our world between COVID, world crises, natural disasters, you name it. How are we supposed to handle all of this? Some days it feels too much.

    The Bible says in Psalm 61: “1 O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!
    2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, 3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!”(NLT)

    I am so thankful that no matter what you or I face, we can go to God. He is our safe place. And the Holy Spirit is our Comforter. I’ve experienced His comfort more in 2021 than ever before. God has given me supernatural strength as I faced the death of my parents in January and in July when we lost my sister-in-law and niece in a car accident. I never dreamed we would have two double funerals in our family.

    What are some practical things we can do when feeling overwhelmed? One of the things I purposely choose to do is walk away from social media and anything that might cause anxiety. I replace it by playing a game with my husband, or watching a light hearted movie, reading a fun book* or simply soaking in the tub.

    I have to be honest though. Sometimes I feel a little guilty for walking away from all that is going on. I bet you can relate. However, I’m learning if I don’t take time away, then I’m not much good to anyone. So let go of the guilt my friend and take some “me time” so that you can be there for your family, friends, and church family when they need you most.

    Another thing I do, is tell God how I really feel. Just this week I said, “God, I don’t understand why You’re allowing so many pastors and their families to suffer and die from COVID. I don’t get it! You can stop this! But God, no matter what, I choose to trust You!

    God’s shoulders are big enough to handle our doubts and questions. I am so grateful He allows us to be real with Him and He still loves us and comforts us.

    My prayer for you today is for God to give you supernatural strength and peace as you navigate through this difficult season.

    What are things you do to take a break from the stress of the world? Weigh in on this subject in the comments below!

    *A book that I recently read (written by a friend of mine) is The Sahar of Zanzibar by Shirley Gould.

    —DISCLAIMER—

    Amazon affiliate links have the potential to earn me a small commission. Thank you so much for your support.

    Letting Go of Offense

    Image by PublicDomainPNG from Pixabay

    If you’ve been a pastor’s wife for very long, chances are you have had some hurtful things said to you. Sometimes it may feel as though you’re a target for people to tell you what they really think. I’ve had women criticize my clothes, my children, you name it. I even had one lady tell me that I keep my house too clean. Imagine that!

    I will never understand why some people feel it’s okay to say whatever they feel like to the pastor’s wife and she is supposed to be fine with it. I’ve often thought to myself, “Honey if I talked to you the way you talk to me, you’d leave the church and never come back.” As a pastor’s wife my friend, you get it.

    We must choose how to handle offense so it doesn’t handle us. Have you ever seen a duck go under water? What does it do when it comes up out of the water? Yep, you know it! It shakes the water right off it’s back. That’s what we need to do when someone says something rude or uncalled for. Refuse to own it. Don’t dwell on it. Let it go my friend. I’ve found one of the best responses to give someone is simply, “I’m sorry you feel this way.” If we try to defend ourselves, it can make matters worse. When we refuse to entertain their rudeness, it’s like throwing water on a fire.

    In this video, I share a few more thoughts on what to do when someone says or does something that is offensive.

    How do you handle when someone is rude or criticizes you or your family? Weigh in on this subject in the comments below!

    It’s Almost Our Birthday!

    Although God laid the idea on our founder’s heart many years ago, it didn’t come to fruition until last year. In April 2020, Silently Bleeding: Finding Hope for the Pastor’s Wife was born.

    We still have a lot of room to grow, but we have already come so far!

    Our Facebook group has over 250 members, our Instagram account is up and starting to gain momentum, and we have over 40 videos on our YouTube channel.

    Here at Silently Bleeding, we know that if we aren’t growing, we’re stagnating. So as we prepare to celebrate our first birthday, we wanted to reach out to you.

    What drew you to Silently Bleeding?

    What videos have blessed or inspired you?

    What topics would you like to see us cover?

    Feel free to leave any other suggestions in the comments below.