Little Wife and the Churchy People
Once upon a time, when Little Wife was married to her first husband Freddie, they decided that they should be going to church with their many beautiful children. It’s just not easy raising a family these days, and Freddie agreed that they should find a nice church so that the kids would grow up knowing that God loves them and that church people would also love them.
They shopped around for a few months for the perfect church home for their growing family. They went to large “seeker” churches, and smaller denominational churches; they visited local neighborhood churches where they knew some people and out-of-town churches with no familiar faces.
Finally, they settled on a smallish church just a few blocks from home where Little Wife knew a few ladies and Freddie could make some new friends, and the children would be loved and nourished in the Christian faith. And every Sunday morning, Little Wife would awaken the children and dress them and feed them, and out the door they would go to worship the Lord and attend Sunday school and prayer groups and Bible study groups.
Little Wife happily became very involved in churchy activities. Though she sensed the church “family” was cliquey and a little inbred amongst themselves, she still welcomed and even pursued every opportunity to fit in and help out. Little Wife has always wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself, and here was a great way to serve the Lord and advance His kingdom.
Here is a bit of Little Wife’s resume while she attended the Independent Bible church in the Deep Valley: Sunday School teacher, member of the Missions Committee, potluck participant for all church events, clean up person for all church events, snacks and treats lady for mid-week children’s ministry, quiet but loyal member of Ladies Bible Study, Meals on Wheels volunteer, weekly prayer partner, nursery caregiver and toy washer, organizer and catalyst behind the ministry to help the family whose mom had cancer and would be hospitalized for several weeks while awaiting bone marrow transplant. And along with Freddie, she attended couples counseling every Sunday evening in a nice group setting with other families. So as you can see, Little Wife really put her whole heart and soul into her new church. Everybody knew Little Wife.
As so often happens, while Little Wife was busy with her children and her church activities, Freddie was drifting slowly but surely away from her. They argued more and more. Freddie became controlling and manipulative and sometimes very angry at Little Wife. He watched strange videos on the family computer. She cried a lot. Though they tried and tried to work out their troubles, there was a certain shadow hanging over their relationship. They asked for prayer from their friends at the church. They tried to go to counseling to get some professional help.
Little Wife could sense herself growing smaller with each passing day.
It was certain that her children loved and needed her, but what about Freddie? Didn’t he see how sad and alone she felt? Was he truly so blind? She remembered the words to the song they sang at church, “I was blind, but now I see.” Why couldn’t Freddie see?
Well, sure enough then, along comes Trouble with a capital T.
And Little Wife was partly to blame and so was Freddie and so was Big Man, because he wouldn’t go away no matter what she said and did. He always found a way to jump over the fence. And pretty soon, Little Wife fell in love with Big Man.
Ooooops! Really big ooooops!
Freddie and Little Wife knew they REALLY needed some help now, so they went to Pastor Edward Ego at their church. They explained their situation. Mostly it was about Little Wife. Freddie never mentioned his problems with looking at “strange videos”, or his neglect of Little Wife, or his burst of anger, or his need to control and manipulate and gaslight in their relationship.
But Pastor Ego did hear the part about Little Wife talking to Big Man, and then he went to his church office closet where he kept all of his pastoring tools: Bibles of all various translations, shepherds’ staffs and rods, anointing oils and potions, and a special tool which he used for their situation.
Pastor Ego walked across the room to Little Wife and handed her a large cardboard sign. There was a scarlet letter painted on the sign and it was decorated with a satiny soft scarlet ribbon. As you may have already guessed, the letter was “A”, and Little Wife shriveled at the sight of it. She knew what this meant. Pastor Ego hung the sign around her neck and said to Freddie, “This should help.” They walked out of the office of the pastor and into the crowd of worshipers gathering outside his office door.
Little Wife wore her sign patiently for a few days.
Then one morning, Pastor Ego came to her home with one of the churchy elders to ask if the sign was helping. “Have you repented, Little Wife?” they asked her repeatedly. “Yes. Yes, I have,” was her reply. “I have shed many many tears of repentance.” Little Wife showed the pastor and the elder her Bible where her tears of repentance had fallen and crinkled the words and pages.
Then they asked her, “And have you forsaken all contact with Big Man?”
“Well,” she answered, “I have tried and tried to refuse his conversation, but he always finds me and wants to visit with me. And because I am quite small, as you can see, I have a great deal of trouble escaping from him. And what about the problems that Freddie has with ….”
But Pastor Ego cut her off mid-sentence. “I see,” he said, scratching his head thoughtfully. “I see it is time to move to the next level of church discipline. Please meet us at the church tomorrow evening at 6:00 with your husband and your children, and please bring your best potato salad to share.”
The Pastor and the elder nodded to Little Wife and drove away down the street.
Now Little Wife was no dummy, and she was very suspicious at this invitation. As she peeled the potatoes for the salad the next day, she mentioned to Freddie that she was very concerned about this event. Would he please stay home with the children and allow her to attend the church function alone. Freddie agreed it would be best for him to not get involved, and he stayed home with the kids per her request.
As Little Wife drove into the parking lot of the Independent Bible Church in the Deep Valley, she saw the banner over the door. She saw the tall pole stuck in the ground surrounded by all the firewood left over the youth group bonfire. There was a long length of rope and a gasoline can sitting on the grass nearby. She saw all the ladies carrying their potluck dishes, smiling and chatting as they walked under the banner.
Slowly, Little Wife got out of the car, mesmerized by the words on the banner. “Church Discipline Night.” As she walked slowly towards the church door, Pastor Ego and many elders came up alongside her. One elder took the bowl of potato salad out of her little arms.
“Thanks for coming, Little Wife,” said Pastor Ego. He put his heavy arm around her little shoulders and guided her towards the woodpile and the stake in the ground. “The church elders and I have discussed this at great length and have decided that this would be the best thing for your marriage to Freddie. Really it’s the only solution to your marital problems.”
Little Wife looked into the strangely caring eyes of Pastor Ego. She looked at the faces of the churchy people, the faces of the people she had known for a long time. The people she had served the Lord with in so many ways. They moved closer to her with the rope.
And then she listened in her heart, and she heard what they could never hear, the sound of hoofbeats, the galloping sound of a large horse drawing nearer and nearer. And then she saw the horse and the rider charge up to the crowd knocking churchy people down and sending them flying in all directions with their potluck dishes and lit candles.
Little Wife sighed, “Oh Big Man,” and fainted into his arms as they rode off into the sunset.
Please be sure to come back next time to learn: will she survive or did Little Wife jump out of the frying pan and into the fire? Does abuse make us more vulnerable to extramarital activities? Stay tuned…
It takes a lot of courage to tell a pastor about abuse in our homes and often we are not believed or even dismissed. Here at FOCUS Ministries, we believe you. We will help you through prayer, resources and referrals as well as counseling. God bless you.
I would like some information on training clergy to be more trauma informed. I am little wife, except I don’t have a big man. I’m currently in the process of divorce. I have an order of protection for myself and my children. My husband has manipulated church leaders and some members. My pastor is wishy washy and doesn’t want to get his hands dirty. He warned me that my husband could lose his job if I reported him. I finally did after twenty years of abuse. My husband now lives with the head of the deacons. The only reason I have stayed is because my 15 year old son is faithful to the youth group. Right now it is his life line, as he refuses counseling. I would like to speak with someone personally about this matter.