For all but the first three weeks of my marriage to the dear one I have been a clergy spouse. The dear one was ordained deacon just after we were married and then we moved into our first parish setting. Thus began our married life.
Being a clergy spouse is an interesting position to be within the church. You are not clergy, which no one has problems reminding you, and many of the lay folk out there do not think of you as regular laity either. So neither fish nor fowl. You end up having very little power or control, which is a great lesson in discipline but can be difficult if you are a natural leader. You end up, on occasion, on being criticized if you do take up volunteer or work positions within the church.
I need to back up here a bit. I am seminary trained and was in the process of going forward for ordination. Then we had a family – a decision neither the dear one or I regret by the way. It was at this point that I began to realize that I may have a different sort of vocation. Not an ordained one at all. More precisely as an active lay person living out her baptismal promises. I learned that I could live out my calling by being creative in other ways.
I learned that I am gifted as a Christian educator of children, young people and adults. I learned that I am a good communicator. I learned all of these things in spite of being a clergy spouse.
There is a thought out there in parts of church land that if you are married to the ordained person that you should take your God given gifts and stuff them in a box and pretend like that don’t exist. Why? Because there are some in church land who think that if a clergy spouse is living out their God given gifts that must mean that they want their spouse’s job. Well let me tell you I don’t want the dear one’s position. I never have. I don’t have the stomach to put up with much that he has had to put up over the time of his ministry.
What I want to do and have striven to do over the years is to live out my life the way that I think God has been calling me to live it out. I want at this point to give thanks to those in the church who have recognized my gifts and given me opportunities to share those with others. I have been privileged to share those gifts with Anglicans across Canada in a variety of ways and in wonderful places.
I will continue to live in this place of ambiguity of being neither fish nor fowl. It seems to be the place that God has led me to be. I will also defend to the end the right of all clergy spouses to make their own way in the church, however they choose that to be. I hope those that read this that are either clergy or laity will find a way to support the clergy spouses that are in their lives that allow them to live out their God given vocations as the dear one has done for me over the years.