Perspectives, Part 2: The relationships of women

This post continues our Q&A from yesterday, with your questions and the input of my local women.

We begin with the tricky topic of relating with other women in the church.


Do pastor’s wives have a responsibility to do friendship differently than others in the church?

“Absolutely Not! The belief that the pastor’s wife (or *gasp* the bishop’s wife) is somehow ‘different’ from every other woman in church is killing our pastor’s wives emotionally.

I deeply believe that a large part of why our own church is what it is is because of our pastor’s wives inability to lock themselves down and walk the tight rope. That inability may have seemed embarrassing, shameful, or whatever else at times, but I believe it is the saving of them. And our church.”

By Amy Herr
Businesswoman, Elder’s wife

As a pastor’s wife, how much do I share with others the things that may burden or concern me?

“I am an open, honest person who does not keep secrets about myself. I easily talk about my joys and sorrows, without being selective about who it is. At the same time I am not a big talker, especially in a group. But if it is something in church that burdens or concerns me, I try to leave that for the men to handle, while I am not shy about talking about it with my husband. But I do have a friend I can and do talk to so it doesn’t come bubbling out at the wrong time. I do not like to feel out of control with my words.”

By Gladys Graybill
Retired midwife, Pastor’s wife

How do I combat the high and lofty expectations and/or prejudices and animosity towards pastor’s wives without losing my sanity?

“The capacity to change this dynamic belongs to you.

I understand that some are ordained into a tradition of hierarchical leadership and consequent disdain from their laity. I am sorry if this is your situation.

As a pastor’s wife, you have the opportunity to work at reversing this dynamic by being a completely humble, honest, and transparent woman.

I encourage you to be gentle with the expectations you place on yourself as a pastor’s wife. Give yourself permission to be a normal human being, because that is what you are, after all. ???? Remember also to extend this gentleness to your sisters.”

By Shaunda Stoltzfus
Pastor’s wife, Mother of seven


How do I separate my friendships from my children’s?
What if my child is experiencing conflict or bullying from my friend’s child, and my friend doesn’t seem to be seeing or addressing the problem?

“If an ongoing conflict between your child and a friend’s child is causing you to pull back from the friendship, be honest. Talk kindly to your friend about what’s happening and how it’s affecting you and your child. In doing so, you honor your friend by taking a risk in speaking the truth. She may respond with gratitude or defense. Either way, you have offered your heart to her and so valued friendship over self-protection.”

By Carla Zehr
Elder’s wife, Teacher at heart

How do I reclaim a friendship when I don’t know what broke it? What if I can’t?
If the other person doesn’t want it… is it a dead end?

“If the other person isn’t willing, Jesus still calls us to be loving and patient with that person. Whatever the situation, we are still called to have a Christ-like spirit.

It seems it would be wrong to try and force/beg for a close relationship if the other doesn’t want it. You need to love and be able to freely release. Don’t be the controlling person that feels you must, must have a close friendship with that person.

Still being friends is possible without being, can I say ‘close friends.'”

By Ruth Hershberger
Pastor’s wife, Mother

What is the secret to not being dragged down or consumed by broken relationships?
How do I know when it’s time to let go?

“The secret to not becoming dragged down by broken relationships is to embrace relational ebbs and flows. Our eyes must become fixed on God’s goodness and not on our pain. This is difficult because we are wired for relationships. So, we must remember that we can go on because life is not about us. It is about loving, submitting, and trusting God to work good in our heart amidst deep pain. Hearts can heal from pain because of God’s redeeming power.

I don’t know when it’s time to let go. This takes prayer and submitting to God’s timing.”

By Irene Bontrager
Bachelor of science in counseling

How do I befriend someone who doesn’t let anyone get close to her?

“Pray for her and yourself, show yourself friendly time after time after time, and let God do the rest.”

By Cynthia Brubaker
Instructor, Grandmother


Am I the only one who is pretty sure that everyone else has more and better friendships than me?
How do I deal with the question – I really like her but I don’t know if I rate on as high a level with her?

“Loneliness is part of the human experience and something women share in common. Maybe it should bind us together—but it often keeps us apart, mutually sure that the other has life by the tail. And if no one makes a step, everyone stays in the dark with private assumptions. Brené Brown uses the metaphor of twinkle lights: when we reach out and share ourselves, we create small sparks of connection. Strung together, small encounters can become something beautiful. Vulnerability won’t magically make a friendship, but I know no other way to grow one.”

By Marlene Stoltzfus
Newly licensed pastor’s wife

Why are we as women so easily offended?

“I feel like easily offended is a bit strong to put on ALL women. Touchy is a more apt description for myself. I don’t necessarily get offended a lot, but I do feel like I often overthink my interactions with my friends and feel insecure and fearful. Underneath are questions like, ‘Do they still like me? Can I really trust her? Am I a likable person? Did I have anything to offer?’ etc.

We women are sensitive creatures. And I think a weakness of that sensitivity can be fear.”

Do I even know myself in relationships?

“With some friends, I feel like I lose my sense of who I am. I am much more on edge. Much more self-conscious. Again, I feel it’s fear based and too focused on myself and how I’m feeling.

There are times when I’m with my friends and I remember, it’s not just about me and how I feel. And that I’m Jesus’ daughter no matter what people may feel about me. That puts me at rest and frees me to think about other people’s good. But those times are fewer than I wish they would be.”

By April Coblentz
Shari’s sister-in-law, Youth leader

What is wrong with me if she doesn’t like me?
What does she say behind my back?
Why am I always the instigator?

“It’s taken over 40 years for me to realize that if she doesn’t like me, it says more about her than about me. Her response to me and my imperfections reveals her own insecurities and brokenness, which I care about, but they’re not my responsibility to fix. Friends don’t fix friends. Friends hold friends with open hands, free to come and go. Friends don’t demand friendship. If I always have to be the instigator and always wonder if I can trust her, I need to keep my hands open and let her walk away. I might ask myself some questions though: Why is this bothering me? Am I trying to prove something, and what is it?”

By Anita Yoder
Full-time Communicator

With greatest thanks to the godly ladies in my community for their contributions, and their friendships.

I told you they were smart women. What are your thoughts and questions in response?

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4 years ago

I needed this.

4 years ago

This is awesome. Thank you for this wisdom!!

4 years ago

Love the photo! It says it all..friendship, closeness, safety, sharing, love, kindness, security. It’s inherent in each of us, waiting to grow and develop. Enjoy your insightful writings.

4 years ago

I love that I know most of the women who shared, and I can “hear” them when I read their answers. ???? This has been a delightful topic.

4 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

Thank you, Shari. Today’s Q & A have given me lots of good food for thought.

4 years ago

Thank you Shari for sharing these Q & A with us! I found the questions very intriguing and the answers were super good. Relationships are so much a part of who we are as women that we tend to forget to keep them in their proper perspective. One question I need to ask myself in every situation is, How can I add value to this person? Instead of focusing on what I want out of this friendship, focusing on how i can bless them or add value to them, brings value to my own life. I too have struggles with being fearful of what others will think of me and feeling alone. Isn’t it a matter of pride if we feel alone? We are so scared of being real and vulnerable! You are an amazing woman Shari and I love your honesty, openness, and transparency. May you be blessed!

4 years ago

I will be back to read this again! (And again) Shari, would you and your friends compile a book on this? You wouldn’t even need to add to the text. Just a small coffee table style with some photography. I’d buy a dozen for starters! I needed this.

In the vicinity of 40
4 years ago

I have not been commenting, but I have been reading greedily! Thank you, Thank you! This last post, especially has put into words what has been rolling around in my mind for a very long time, but I struggled to put it into words.

4 years ago

Thank you Shari for this series. I’ve learned so much from the sisters here and I think for me the take away is not to be “me” focused but try to be a blessing to other women even if we don’t agree with everything.

4 years ago

I’ll add another dozen to the coffee book order! I appreciate this series so very much, Shari. I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer the last year over a few female relationships that were dead end; not going well, no response to my efforts and requests to repair damage of which I had no idea of the origin. The questions were mine in the survey (and from a number more women, I’m sure) and the answers were spot on.

I’m learning that I am only one side of a relationship and that there are no guarantees. That I will never really lose if I’m kind and patient and take the risk to love anyways. God’s been so good to bring two of those relationships back to a good place…..He cares about us and truly answers prayers!!!

Kendra Sensenig
4 years ago

“Friends don’t fix friends.”
That was a clarifying statement for me. I have a tendency to go into troubleshooting mode when someone shares a problem with me, and likewise, I often feel insecure and pressured when I feel someone is trying to fix me or my problems.
Friendship is sharing life, walking together, and supporting, but not controlling.
Good thoughts here!

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