The Art of Being Illustrated

The other day I was sharing the following story with some friends, and their reaction prompted me to share it on here. I thought this was one of those stories that would stay a little bit underwraps, but my heart’s desire is to be transparent, so why not tell it like it is? And no, this story is definitely not made up-this is “real life.”

A couple of years ago, I was preparing to head overseas for the summer and was at a leadership retreat for training. It finished on a Sunday afternoon, and that evening I had plans to meet a guy for coffee. Simultaneously, I was also helping lead a youth group (perhaps we’ll talk about that experience one day…) and had naturally developed close bonds with my students. At the end of the retreat, I checked my phone as it received several text messages at once, as it had been without service in the middle of nowhere. The majority of them were from my youth, along with some others from different church members. To my shock and horror, I read the words in the messages I received:

    “Dang. Your dad really threw you under the bus this time.”

“YOU HAVE A DATE TONIGHT? DETAILS NOW!”

“So um, that coffee shop at 8? See you there?”

“We are SO coming to see you tonight at 8!”

You get the picture. Not only had my dad “illustrated” me, he had given the details of my whereabouts that evening, conveying that I was meeting with a young man. Um, what?  And without me there to even answer the questions face to face that were soon to follow?

Panic ensued as I prepared mentally for that little coffee “date.” I never told the poor guy that the police cars driving by were very likely to be some of my dad’s personal friends. Or that when I kept saying I just enjoy looking around in the evening, I was actually scanning the parking lot for familiar cars and mentally thinking through an escape plan. Fortunately for this poor guy, noone ever actually approached us, though some have come forward as being conductors of “drive-by’s.”

Did other young girls in our church family get so much attention from simply having coffee with a guy? Didn’t think so.

In case anyone is wondering, nothing ever went beyond that coffee chat, but as the Lord would have it, I did do some learning through the experience.

1) If I ever do feel uncomfortable meeting someone for the first time, I know that I can have police officers scouting out the area for me.

2) I will never be quick to share information about my personal life with certain people when it comes to relationships, as rumors will fly and it’s only a matter of time before the search party is out.

3) The root of the problem: Why did it bother me so much, other than being slightly embarrassed?

To elaborate on #3, I was faced with the reality that I had once again fallen into the trap of living for people’s expectations and pleasing others, as opposed to living for an audience of only one: my heavenly Father. I am an extrovert, with a few introverted qualities, but it wasn’t being out in the open so much that bothered me in that moment. I wanted people’s approval- will they think “she did good?” Will they think my outfit is okay? Will they think I’m too flirty? Will they think I’m awkward? What is appropriate for a PK in this situation?

I think all PK’s can probably relate to these thoughts in some form or fashion, regardless of the situation. While others have unfortunately contributed to these circumstances, at the end of the day a decision must be made: Who do I please? I’m reminded of Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” What a tragedy and shame it is if we fail to strive for obedience and submission to the One who created us?

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Image Confrontation, First “Spotlighted” Moment

Note: The following semi-developed entry is actually from a journal I wrote in 3 years ago.

Stereotype: a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group (From dictionary.com)

Image.

Growing up in the house of a pastor you learn pretty quickly that there is a certain image associate with being a pk. You’re not born into this environment by choice, yet God chose this family for you. Hmmm….a life that exposes a child to malicious gossip, high expectations, and living under a microscope? Definitely doesn’t seem fair, yet I do believe that God is sovereign and as I’ve heard before: If we understood EVERYTHING there was to know about Him, He wouldn’t be as worthy of our worship as He is.

I will never forget being a 5 year old in “Miss Sue’s” Sunday School class. Of course I was wearing fancy clothes, because even 16 years ago I was crazy to think that I would wear anything but my “Sunday best” to church. Pants were out of the question. Image. Anyways. I remember Miss Sue going around the room asking each of my little friends about a particular Bible story. Nobody knew the answer. I do not even remember what was being discussed, ironically, because last time I checked Sunday School was about teaching children in the Word and Truth. Instead, I clearly remember what Miss Sue said to me, while pointing a finger in my face: “Sarah, your dad is the pastor of our church. I can’t believe you don’t know this,” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when I realized I wasn’t in a normal household.

Each person is their own worst critic, and yours truly is no exception. So, while I can’t remember what was being taught out of the Bible that day, I certainly remember feeling worthless, frightened, and stupid. Image. There was an expected image that I was expected to maintain. A stereotype of being a “goody-too-shoes” and without error.

I think every PK must have a moment like that. When we realized that we are often known more by the calling our father has to serve the Lord, things suddenly changed for us PK’s. What do you do with that? More importantly, how do you trust in the sovereign King of the entire universe in that moment?

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A Beginner’s Guide to PK Terminology

I thought it may be helpful as this journey begins to have an understanding of some slang terms and words that have potential to be tossed loosely around this blog. This will hopefully help those who have never been inside a church building (who just so happen to be some of my dearest friends), or who have various perceptions of to-be-used-terminology. I also do not claim to be an affluent English major, so I will straight-up admit that much of the following information is created by yours truly.

Sermon Illustration- A sermon illustration is exactly what it sounds like: a pastor uses a specific story or example to convey his message. To tie into this term, we’ll call the involvement of a PK in an illustration the act of being “Sermon-Illustrated.”
An example of being “Sermon-Illustrated”- 4th grade. Good Friday served as the day I would find my dead cat in the road, having been ran over. I was distraught and devestated, as she had been my friend during a recent move to a new town. I wanted to grieve in private as a 9 year old, but that would simply not happen. Easter Sunday I was sitting in the pew, when I got illustrated. “This past Friday, I was heartbroken because I saw my daughter in pain..” OH NO! Is dad really bringing this up? In front of everyone? Now? I buried my head in the shoulder’s of my mother, not wanting to see anyone. “…as we discovered her cat had been killed.” There it is. I shoulda known it was coming. I don’t remember the point that was made, but I do remember this memory along many more, of the feeling that takes place when one gets “illustrated.” I guess you could say that this is an inevitable part of the job description.

Spotlighted- This is the act of being put on the spot, especially in a large gathering, as a result of being a PK. This act manifests itself in a variety of ways, including being quizzed on obscure Bible passages, called on to pray when noone else wants to, and just being expected to possess an odd amount of information.
An example of being “Spotlighted”- 19 years old. Working at a well-known Christian bookstore in the area. It’s my lunch break when I am asked by my manager to name the 12 tribes of Israel. I freeze, and within 10 seconds I hear the familliar phrase that has followed me as long as I can remember: “Shouldn’t you know that? You’re a Pastor’s Kid!” And sadly, in case you are wondering, this was definitely not a joke.

Pew- Most are probably familiar with this word, which is a long bench in most traditional church buildings. They are padded for comfort, and more modern church buildings possess comfy chairs to sit in lined up with one another. For those of us who have grown up in the “church world,” this is a no-brainer definiton, but I’ve met people who aren’t so sure what a pew is, prompting this definiton. As a PK, there is quite a bit of observing that has occured from the pew, making it an object that should not be neglected in its significance.

Altar Call-Ever seen a tv show or a movie in which an individual walks swiftly down an aisle in order to pray with the pastor or make a life-changing decision? That, my dear friends, is an altar call. This occurence is likely to be mentioned multiple times throughout this journey, considering that many PK memories have stemmed from said altar calls. The reason for this is that growing up, one usually learns that during this special time of intentional response and prayer calls on the bowing of heads and closing of eyes. However, as children often mimic what they see their parents doing, I would always keep my eyes open because I believed I was the exception. Of course, now I realize my dad the pastor had to keep his eyes open so that he could greet people responding to the message, while my mom kept her eyes open in an effort to readily be able to lend a hand to women who came forward.

Sunday School-This is a time set aside for children and adults alike to grow together in their knowledge of God and the Bible. Children are split into age groups pretty much until they graduate high school and adults are seperated in various ways in order to meet their spiritual needs. Sunday School took place most of my life before the main service on Sunday mornings and was the setting for moments of laughter, community, sorrow, and pain alike. Confrontations were had about my identity as PK, as well as some of the most solid teaching a child could ever receive.

While the preceding terms may seem a bit insignifcant, they do coincide with one another as collective forces in my journey as a PK. Undoubtedly, as this blog evolves by the Lord’s will only, there will probably be more additions to this list. For now, however, this is a foundation for what is to come.

To any potential PK reading this: I know this blog may seem a bit like a monotonous concept and that what you are reading is like beating a dead horse, but please bear with me. I truly desire to give an honest insight into this crazy life we have been set apart for and to allow these posts to serve only as a testament of God’s grace. I value transparency, and I am committed to being real with people. This blog is real, not fluffed up, and honesty is what anyone can expect to find here.

Thank you, friends, for reading this and your sweet words of encouragement. You are treasured more than you know.

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Filed under Introduction, PK Terminology

Hi, this is __________, she’s a pastor’s daughter….

The title for this post is basically what has inspired this crazy journey of creating a blog to give a transparent look inside the life of being a pastor’s kid, commonly referred to as a PK. I find it fascinating that so many times to people who are both inside and outside the walls of a church building consider the most salient part of my identity as being a PK. I have a dear friend who happens to be the daughter of a teacher, but I don’t hear the people around her saying, “Hey this is _____, she’s that teacher’s daughter.” Or, I have a friend who’s father happens to be a dentist, but I have never heard goofy introductions that immediately disclose the exciting secret that his dad works on peoples’ teeth! How scandulous!

So, who is the writer of this blog? Allow me to disclose a little bit about myself, as I hope that you are willing to embark on this journey with me of processing what it is like to grow up in the front pew. I am a young woman who has been exposed to the ugliness of people, the incredible beauty of people, and blessed beyond my wildest dreams with supportive friends and family. I am a soon to be college graduate and a maker of lattes as a part time job, which allows me the chance to interact with people from all walks of life. My part-time job is important, as it has played a fairly large role in the inspiration of this silly blogging venture. That’s probably all you need to know for now about me. Oh, and yes, I am “that pastor’s daughter.”

I consider myself to be one of the “lucky ones” because of where I am in life and acknowledge that it truly is not luck, but the immeasurable grace of God’s deliverance from expectations and titles in this life that has led me to this point. My desire in the creation of this blog is twofold:

1)  to connect with fellow PK’s and share stories that convey the fact that noone who was born into this unusual situtation is alone. You are a survivor, and your story is far from complete. God has helped you make it this far, and He’s not finished with you yet.

2) to allow the global Church to see what it is like to be a PK in order to encourage the Body of Christ to understand better how to invest in PK’s and interact with them. PK’s are people, after all. My prayer is that this blog allows more understanding of who we are and where we come from.

About #2) Some people are confused when I share my desire to see the Church possess a genuine love for PK’s, as it is a common belief that PK’s get all the attention and poured into by everyone. This is one of the greatest misconceptions I have run into throughout the years, and even recently. Prime example: recently I was sharing my heart for connecting with PK’s when a friend interrupted and said, “Why would you invest in PK’s? They get poured into all the time by everyone.” Unfortunately, it is typically the complete opposite situation and PK’s are neglected more than their peers in the church world.

I think that is a decent set up for the beginning of this journey, and if you are reading this, welcome to the life of “that pastor’s daughter.”

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