I'm honored to say the least, to have the pleasure of interviewing Deidra from jumpingtandem.com. After reading her blog for more than two years and getting a chance to meet her and her sweet husband, H, I can without a doubt call her a sister friend.
1) You're a wife, mom and so much more. In your always honest way of expressing yourself...who is Deidra?
I am a dancer, an ocean seeker, a book reader, a writer. I miss the mark every day. I am overwhelmed by grace and thrilled that God keeps loving me in spite of me.
2) How long have you been married to H? How did you meet and was it love at first sight? Do you believe in love at first sight?
Harry and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in August. I always tell him that he should put being married to me on his resume as an acquired skill.
We met at a Commodores concert. It’s a fun story and I wrote about it on my blog. Neither one of us wanted to go to that concert, but we each had a friend who begged us to go with them. Looking back, I’m sure it was some sort of divine meeting. Who knew God liked the Commodores?
Love at first sight? I don’t think it was love, but there was certainly something special going on.
3) Was H a pastor at the time that you met? Did you dream of being a pastor's wife?
Harry was not a pastor when we met, and it was not my plan or even remote desire to be a pastor’s wife.
When I was growing up, my family went to church every Sunday. We went as a family, and I remember that we sat together as a family. Church was part of our lives. And faith was a big part of my parents’ lives. I played along because it was all I really knew. So, when I started thinking about the type of man I’d want to marry, I knew I wanted a man who would go to church every Sunday. That was all I was asking for. But, I guess since I was open to having a church-going man, God thought he’d do one better and call my man into the ministry.
It was a surprise for both of us.
4) What is the most challenging part of being a pastor's wife?
Early on it was the expectations, and not just the ones that other people put on me. I had my own silly ideas of what a pastor’s wife should do and say, how she should dress, what special privileges she should have, and how perfect her house and hair and children and pets should be. I was my own worst critic.
I was young when Harry became a pastor – just 24, so some of that silliness was a factor of my inexperience. Now I know that all I can really do is be me and that means facing up to the fact that I don’t always want to get all dressed up or play the piano in church. It also means recognizing that we are here for one another and God sees us all the same. My house gets cluttered and dishes go unwashed and sometimes I wait too long to get my hair done. My children are human and my pets are…well…pets. That’s just the way it is.
These days the biggest challenge is balance. I work full-time and find it hard to figure out just how involved I can be at church. I don’t think that’s unique to my situation, though. Women everywhere – single, married, divorced, widowed – are each trying to figure out how to make it all work.
5) Growing up in the church, I've seen pastors and their families looked at as "perfect". Do you ever feel like you're being scrutinized or watched to see if you curse, make mistakes or do something that others would consider, un-Godly?
Well, if people are looking for me to mess up, they won’t have to look too long. I am constantly messing up. Seriously. What I really think people are looking for is to see how we handle our mess-ups. Do we rationalize or do we own up? Do we apologize or do we place blame? Do we try to justify or do we humbly ask for forgiveness?
6) What is the most enjoyable part of your day?
Almost every night, when I lay my head down on the pillow and pull the covers up to my chin, I say to Harry, “You know what?” He obliges and says, “No. What?” And I say, “This is the most comfortable bed.” Sometimes Harry laughs and sometimes he says, “You say that every night.” To which I reply, “I know.” That is my favorite part of the day.
7) What seems to be the most compelling part of your ministry?
Love. It really is that simple.
But love is complicated, isn’t it? Especially when it’s love in action and not just a word on a page. Loving people who won’t love you back. Saying “no” as a form of love. Lovingly releasing people to let them make their own mistakes. Loving people whose politics or lifestyles or hygiene make you uncomfortable. It’s radical, but when love is done right I truly believe it’s a miracle.
8) How do you make time for "you"?
I schedule it in. Truly. If I don’t make a point to take time for me, I will run myself into the ground and wonder how I got there. I have a calendar – an actual book – that I carry around with me. I write down things like “read” or “watch Modern Family” or “go to the gym.” If I don’t write it down and check it off, just like the laundry it won’t get done.
9) Is there a huge difference in being a pastor's wife in 2011 from when you first began? If so, what are those differences?
Well, first of all I’ve changed. I talked a bit about that earlier. Growing older and being able to be more comfortable in my skin has helped me not to take the whole thing too seriously and I think that’s made a difference specifically in how things have changed for me.
Generally speaking, however, I think the role of a pastor’s wife is still a bit mysterious. There was a season when Harry worked as a consultant for a denomination. During that time, he wasn’t the pastor of a church so we joined one and – for the first time in a long time – we had a pastor and a pastor’s wife. It was interesting to watch them navigate their roles. They started the church - first in their home, then in a movie theater (which is where we first met them), and finally in a brand new building. The bigger the church got, the less accessible the pastor and his family became.
10) Is there a book or a special project that you're working on?
Harry and I are really drawn to a life of simplicity and community. For now, that’s our project. We’re trying to figure out how we will downsize and what that will mean for how we live our life together and in the world.
In my head there is a book. One day I may write it down.
11) I have had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with both you and H, face to face. You are without a doubt, the most beautiful and encouraging person to spend time with. Do you ever had days that you doubt your place in ministry?
A few years back I experienced a journey through depression. It was not good. It was triggered by some setbacks we’d experienced in ministry. These setbacks made me question everything and left me wondering what was the point. It was more than a funk. It was what some theologians call a crisis of faith. I wasn’t sure what I believed anymore. I wasn’t even sure that I believed. I was completely lost and utterly hopeless.
Eventually I made my way to a therapist and then to my medical doctor who prescribed an anti-depressant. And let me just say here - to anyone who may be feeling lost and hopeless – that being depressed does not mean that God doesn’t love you. God loves you so much that God gave people the skill to ask the right questions that help you find your way and to create the medicine that will open the door so that the light can get in. There is help and it’s OK to ask for it.
When I came through that journey, I was stronger and more confident in every way – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Still the same me, just better for having taken that journey.
And your journeys are also the journeys of your readers and friends. I am inspired by your words of wisdom, inspiration and love. Thank you for sharing straight from your heart to mine. Your words always bring tears to my eyes.