Shook Me To The Core!


I received an overwhelming email that I am about to share with you. It shook me to the core. Why? Because I try my best to open my heart and share what is going on in my life even when it’s hard. I try to show people my humanity because it is SO there. I try to show people the joys in my life and the struggles I face. As a matter of fact, I posted recently about the number one thing I go through in ministry; the thing that if I let it could put me in a corner and keep me closed off. It is the feeling of being misunderstood at times. I have seen this so much with pastors and their wives and honestly, the blame can be placed two places. First on people who place unrealistic expectations on us that we feel we have to live up to. Second, ourselves for even thinking we can or should live up to them. Pleasing God is the much better option but when you are designed to love people so deeply, it does hurt when you are misunderstood. There is no way around that but I will share with you probably the most mature email I have ever received. It addresses the very misunderstanding I was alluding to. Here goes.

“Just wanted to send you a note of thanks for your blog and your Facebook posts. I feel like I have finally gotten to know you better. This was something I sooo longed for 4 yrs ago when we first came to FHC. You see we were very close with our old Pastor and I had an expectation that was how it was everywhere. Through unbelievable teaching we have come to understand our relationship with God is what you and Pastor Troy desire. I think you are both the MOST likable, dynamic people in the pulpit. You are so warm, funny and real that a lot of people EXPECT you to be that in every one on one conversation with everybody. How unrealistic and selfish of us. This led to many silly cases of offense and for that I truly apologize. Thank you for ALL you have done for me and my family. Our understanding of sooo many things has been from the Holy Spirit directly through your mouths. THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! When we 1st came to FHC we only believed the “red” parts in the bible. We were so full of yuck. Are we “fixed” yet? Not hardly, but we sure are not who we were. Thanks for not giving up on us. All my love!” xxxx

So after I received this, I asked if I could share this email on my blog and leave the name off of it. I always think real life examples are so much better to share. Here was the response. It shook me even harder.

“Of course you may share. People have such high expectations of you both and this must be draining. You both have what EVERYBODY wants and in your presence we as a congregation try to get close to you both, in the belief if we could just get close enough some would rub off on us. We need you often 2 much. A lot of us who are “damaged” feel “less than” if we don’t feel liked or valued by the both of you. This IS OUR insecurity, not your fault. I am so very proud to call you my leaders. Where you go we will follow. What hurts you hurts us. I hope and pray my friends and family will never do anything but love and support you on all levels. I love you both more than you know and I am forever in you debt.”

I was in tears by the end of the email. If I ever wanted to rate FHC on its fruit, this was it: people maturing in their walk with God! To see someone handle themselves in such a mature way blew me away, especially since they had not been saved for a long time. This kind of maturity, the ability to recognize that which we don’t want to recognize, is rare. You see the truth is that being a pastor does not make you more spiritual or have less flaws, it just makes you more accountable to get help for them. Just read James 3:1 if you want a big, fat example of that. We all have flaws and areas where we feel damaged by life. All of us have the opportunity to heal. This woman amazed me. The things she realized were profound. She also helped me to see some things too and gain some perspective that I did not previously have. You see I don’t see myself the way she described. I see myself as just a girl in love with Jesus.

Oh and by the way, I shared this email with other pastor’s wives and they all teared up as well. Seems it hit a soft spot with all of us. We all want to be godly examples to the people we lead, but we are not able to fill every expectation placed on us. We are just like you, wanting to give this life our best shot and give it all for the Lord. The only thing special about any of us(including you) is the fact that we were all bought with an amazing price. Stages don’t make people special. A Saviour who has redeemed you does.

Now do you see why this email really shook me to the core? And the other pastor’s wives too? I love real people! I can do church with real people! I can do LIFE with real people! This woman was and is real!


~ by pennymaxwell on November 12, 2009.

8 Responses to “Shook Me To The Core!”

  1. Wow! That is beautiful. Thank you for sharing and thank you to the person who wrote it. That takes real vulnerability! Gave me some things to think about too!!

  2. Love the post and love you and Troy- real authentic people.

  3. How encouraging! Isn’t it great to watch us all grow up? 🙂

    BTW when ya gonna start posting the yummy holiday recipes? Any chance you know of a good recipe for gluten-free stuffing? OH, and I’m sooooo looking forward to making your famous Shrimp Corn Chowder! (In consideration of our arteries, I only allow myself to make it between Thanksgiving and Christmas.)

  4. Thanks Rich, you guys have always meant the world to US! You have never been anything but an inspiration!

    Me too Dawn, it has given me a lot to about too.

    Nickie, I am glad we ALL get to mature together. Like I said, I can do life with real people, real, flawed people! We wont escape that this side of eternity. And yes, at your request I will crank out the holiday recipes soon. Don’t blame me for the extra pounds though! 🙂

  5. Thank you Penny it is this quality that allows people to remain at FHC knowing that at times you have looked into our very soul known our failures and continue to love us I have been with you guys almost as long as the church started I was in a very bad place at the time you guys gave me the courage to keep my head up and my heart open I love you guys BTW am I still flawed yes I will be til heaven as will you but love covers those flaws thank God love you both

  6. That was really great Pastor Penny and thank you for sharing!!!
    I truely feel for you and all Pastors because people expect so much and I cannot even imagine how that feels. Also, to be watched the way Pastors are gives us under your leadership so much reason to hold you all up in prayer daily! I will continue to pray for you and Pastor Troy and in is an honor to be under you both! I thank GOd for you and your family you are all wonderful.

  7. Wow! Penny, thank you so much for your blog! It has been such a blessing to me! Thank you for your openness, honesty, and transparency but , most of all thanks for being REAL!!!


    Mary Meyers

  8. Pastor Penny, thank you so much for taking time to share the email with us and your heart. As women, we wear so many faces; child of God, wife, mother,sister,daughter, friend. Sometimes keeping it REAL and AUTHENTIC can be challenging. I am so glad to know that other women including yourself always strives to be better the next day than the day before. I was told by my husband when we first met, each individual generally has 3 different facets of themselves 1. who they really are 2. who they want to be and 3. who they want others to think they are. Over the past 3 years attending FHC and having you and Pastor Troy as my leader, I havc found that those 3 facets in me have come closer and closer because I have and continue to be REAL. To the individual who stepped out on faith to share her heart with you. I admire you!

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