The Preacher's WifebyPTBzzzz©
My name is Amy. I can't believe how stupid I have been. I only hope I have not destroyed my marriage and killed the love of my husband and soul mate.
We met when he came to our small town, fresh out of the seminary. Our church needed an assistant pastor as, the current pastor, Reverend Miller was getting on in years and his health was failing. The church could not pay much but his housing was included in the deal. The national body of the church would pay off part of his school loans for each year he stayed. All 53 of the church's families signed up to have him to dinner in order to help as well. A car was donated for his use on church business and the local department store was eager to have him part time to help him financially.
I was 8 years old when Thomas, excuse me Reverend Johnston, came to town. He was 22 years old at that time. I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen.
As the years flew by he remained with the church and when Reverend Miller finally retired he was asked to become our full time pastor. The entire congregation loved him and he loved working with us. He was a good leader who was dedicated to our needs.
I remained infatuated with him, that's what my mother called it. I knew I was in love with him. My older sister thought I was silly.
Out of respect for Mom's and Dad's wishes I dated boys my own age through high school. Many of them would have made good husbands, but they were not my Thomas.
My senior year I was lucky to get a job waiting tables at the local diner. The pay was low but the tips were good. Reverend Johnston, or as we all now called him Reverend Tom was a frequent customer. He said he had never found the right person to marry and did not cook for himself. Many evenings he was still invited to dine at the homes of the congregation, when he was not busy he came to the diner.
We would chat when time allowed and became close friends. One evening I let slip that I thought he was special; I regretted it half way through the statement but it still came out. At the time I was 18 and he was 32. I did my best to avoid him for the next month and when I couldn't the conversations were short. He still smiled and talked as though I had not spoken about my feelings.
One evening after work I was walking home when we met. He asked if we could walk together since he was going my way. As we walked we talked about the weather, the bugs singing in the park and other things.
When we got to my house he said "I know you are embarrassed about your statement about how you think I am special. I want you to know I think you are special too. I love to see the way your eyes light up when we talk. Would you consider going to dinner with me one time?"
I nodded yes and almost ran into the house. Halfway up the walk he called out and said he would like to take me to dinner after church on Sunday afternoon. I nodded yes and barely squeaked "OK" and then ran into the house and up to my room.
My mother heard me come in. When I did not speak to her she came up to see how I was. She knocked on my door and asked if we could talk. I wiped the tears off of my face and told her to come in.
She could see I had been crying and came over to hug me. She asked "Would you care to tell me about it?"
I just hugged her for the longest time and finally spoke Reverend Tom asked me if I would like to go to dinner with him on Sunday after services. I said yes."
She hugged me even tighter. "I know how deeply you have cared for him and how it has become stronger as you grew older. He and your father and I talked the other day, and he asked if it would be acceptable to ask you out. I told him you were a big girl and could make your own decisions; but that I could not say no."
He spoke about how he has become very fond of you and would like to get to know you better. "I gave him my blessings." Your father agrees.
"You are a good young woman and he is a good man, I have raised you right and do not think I need to tell you how to behave."
Dinner on Sunday was wonderful, I picked at my food as we talked. I spent a lot of time blushing over little things, he did too. Finally we went for a walk around the lake in the park. We sat on a bench and talked until the sun started to go down. Then he walked me home. He held my hand at the door and thanked me for a wonderful time.
I kissed him on the cheek and said "I have never had such a good time in my life."
He asked if we could go out again. My smile was all the answer he needed.
We went to dinner 1 or 2 times a week, sometimes it was just burgers and cokes, sometimes at our house and other times we went to a restaurant. Many evenings he walked me home after work. The word around town was that we were quickly heading toward being a couple. There were those who thought it was disgraceful due to the age difference, most people knew it was meant to be.
Soon Christmas was upon us, being a busy time in the church we saw a little less of each other; we exchanged simple gifts on Christmas Eve. On New Years Eve we went to dinner. Thomas held my hand for the longest time when we were through; he looked like he was lost in thought. As we walked from the diner to the church; we walked through the park and sat in the pavilion in the middle of the lake. He held my hand again as he stuck his other hand into his pocket, he kissed me on the lips for the first time and looked into my eyes and asked me to marry him. As his words sunk in I closed my eyes, when I opened my eyes he was holding the most beautiful ring I had ever seen.
I could only nod yes, very enthusiastically. The tears flowed again. He placed the ring on my finger and we kissed again. I felt something wet on my hand and looked to see him crying too. We sat there and held each other until we were almost frozen, and then we walked to the church.
We were barely in the door when someone noticed the ring and gasped, "When did this happen?"
I smiled and said "...about 20 minutes ago."
Soon everyone wanted to see the ring and offer congratulations.
We had a prayer service that evening; the idea was to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming year. Someone offered a prayer for our happiness and well being as we prepared to become husband and wife.
Thomas and I talked often about what we wanted. We also talked about the many obstacles facing our marriage, he was careful to mention that there would be challenges because of our age differences and even more because I would be under a microscope as the preacher's wife. We decided on being married the last Sunday in May. The ceremony would take place at 5 in the evening; the bishop was expected to preside since Thomas was clergy.
Over the next months we met with the bishop for pre-marriage counseling, he made sure to cover the demands of being married to a pastor, the last session was with him and his wife together. She wanted us to know how difficult it was to be watched, from her perspective.
The ceremony was like a dream; my father walked me down the aisle, it seemed the ceremony had hardly begun and it was over. The reception lasted well into the evening and was still going strong when we had to leave.
We made the 2 hour trip to a cabin in the woods in about 1 ½ hours; getting there about midnight. We each brought in one suitcase and promptly fell asleep when we hit the bed. We consummated our marriage the next morning as dawn broke over the lake and forest. We would fall asleep and wake to continue our explorations a number of times. When we finally awoke for the final time it was almost noon.
About 12 months later we were blessed with the most wonderful little boy I could ever imagine. We named him Thomas Michael Johnston Jr., we called him Mike. He was healthy, strong and incredibly handsome; just like his father. I counted the fingers and toes 3 times to be sure they were all there. Life could not be any better.
Then my hormones started to go crazy, I started to get moody and cry and yelled a lot at Thomas. Afterwards I would cry some more and apologize.
He was called out of town for a bi-annual church conference, when he got back we were going to go to a specialist to figure out what was going on.
The day before he went away I saw a new fellow in town; he smiled as he walked by. I thought nothing of it. The next day as I walked Mike around the lake I saw the same guy again, as we passed he spoke. Ted knew all the right things to say and soon had my undivided attention. He asked me to have dinner with him the next evening, before I could think I had said yes. When we parted and I got home I realized what I had done; I was married and a mother, I dearly loved my husband and son. I did not know how to contact him to cancel the dinner.
The next afternoon I asked my sister to watch Mike for the evening. When Ted came around I would tell him I could not go. I was convinced I could do it, until he opened his mouth and his silver tongue went into gear again. Finally I agreed to go, but it had to be outside town. We drove about 45 minutes to a town where I was not known. When we got back from dinner my sister was waiting on the front steps. She had taken Mike to Mom and Dad's, there were 2 suitcases packed and waiting in her car. I tried to go into the house, my keys did not work. She handed me a note from Thomas, I was only starting to realize how badly I had messed up.
As I read I knew that he was aware of all that had gone on; up to the point where we had driven out of town. Part of the way into the note I read:
"We talked about the rigors of being a pastor's wife, how you are place on a pedestal and under a microscope. You have grown up in this town and know how people talk about every little thing. The first time I need to go out of town for a week you take up with someone else. This is not acceptable.
You will be living with your parents until I get back, I need time to think about how we can deal with this. Do not call me or send messages, I will contact you when I am ready.
Tell our son that I love him and give him extra hugs and kisses while I am gone."
It was just signed "Thomas"
I was devastated, my life was worth nothing, and I had to get him back.
I went home to my parents'; they were not nice about it at all. I took Mike and went up to my old room and cried my eyes out. They called me for breakfast the next morning and lit into me again. I barely ate anything and then went back to my room and cried some more. I stayed there almost all the time, except for meals when I was required to be there, until Sunday morning.
Thomas was due back on Saturday evening; I would at least get to see him. WRONG! The service started and 2 deacons were there in place of my Thomas. After the first hymn Deacon Schmidt stood and announced that Reverend Tom had asked for and was granted a leave of absence for up to a month.
I had dressed in my best and sat in my usual place; now all I wanted to do was shrink into the pew and hide. My dreams of seeing Thomas again were crushed. When the service ended very few people spoke to me, most that did were not too nice. I ran home to my parent's and cried all over again.
I went to the doctor appointment, on Friday, without Thomas. They gave me medications to help with my problems. I had to stop nursing Mike as one of the medications was not good for him. I noticed that morning that I was losing my hair in chunks too.
The next Sunday it was the same. No one had any idea where Thomas was, or they were not telling me. I felt even lower than before. The medicine was just starting to work.
The next Sunday was a surprise; the bishop was there to run the service and hold communion. As I returned from the table, tears were pouring down my cheeks, I looked to the back of the sanctuary and saw Thomas leaning in a corner. I tried to go to him but the ushers would not allow it. I sat down and wept myself dry. When the service was over he was gone.
The bishop and his wife came by to talk that afternoon. I looked and felt like Hell. They stayed for supper and we talked into the evening. I would love to be able to tell you what they said but for the life of me I don't recall much. I do remember there was one point when his wife told me they had gone through a rough patch early on in their marriage. It was resolved and made them stronger.
Just before they left I was told to pack a bag and be ready on Wednesday to be picked up. Starting early Thursday they would be counseling us together for the next 3 days, longer if necessary. As they left that evening they said that Thomas still loved me.
I thought I was cried out, I was wrong again.
By the time Wednesday got there I was a nervous wreck. I had gone over and over what I wanted to tell him.
When the car rolled to a stop I saw we were at the lake where we had spent our honeymoon. I was escorted into a cabin to wait for Thomas. When he walked in, he looked almost as bad as I felt. I tried to rush to him but he stopped me. We just looked at each other from a distance, and then he indicated that I was to sit down. We just sat and stared at each other for a while. I did not want to speak for fear he would leave.
The first thing he said was "I need to hear your side of this mess."
I told him the best I could that "There was nothing but having dinner with Ted. We had met in the park, he had said all the right things and made me feel pretty and special and before I knew it I had agreed to meet him for supper. When I got home I knew it was wrong. I intended to back out of it, but he talked me into going out anyway. I had told him over supper that this was the last time I could see him. We never kissed, held hands or had any form of sex." I really made a mess of the delivery. That was not at all how I wanted the conversation to go.
Thomas said he knew all of that. The reports had covered it all.
I asked "What reports?"
"We live in a small town, if you sneeze at one end they know at the other end almost immediately. You above all should know that."
He floored me with his next question "Did you really love me?"
"More than life itself, I have loved you since shortly after you moved into that town."
He was astounded by my answer. "That long? Are you sure you are not in love with the idea of being in love with me?"
"I was never complete until I knew you, I always felt like part of me was not there. As I got to know you better and better I became more aware of just how deep my love for you could be. While you were gone for those weeks I was not a complete person. I was an empty shell just waiting for you to return. I can not imagine my life if you were to leave me. It would be very difficult to continue."
I continued to talk, "What I did was the most stupid thing I can think of to do. I will be eternally sorry for the hurt I have put you through. I hope and pray that I can prove to you that it will never happen again."
I got out of my chair and looked out the window for a while and waited for him to ask me whatever else he wanted to know. I felt him move behind me and stop a few feet back.
Thomas spoke "I, too, have loved you since you were young. At first I tried to convince myself that it was love for a member of my flock. As we got to know each other I became convinced that the love I felt for you was real. The only reason I ever went to that diner was for a chance to speak to you. You don't know how hard it was to see you and hope you loved me as much as I loved you. I could not take a chance that I would scare you away. I have also felt like a shell of myself without you."
"You do not know it but, the only way I made it through those weeks was to come by while you slept and hold our son. I did not dare to look in on you for fear I would loose the battle to keep from crying. The last few weeks have been the worst of my life. I have spent most of my waking hours trying to convince myself that our marriage was a mistake."
I burst into tears at that remark.
He reached out and put his hands around my waist and held me tightly. "I just could never make myself believe that, I knew it was false."
I slowly spun in his arms and hugged him back, my tears soaking through his shirt. When we parted he looked like he had run a marathon.
I looked at him and asked "Where do we go from here?"
"We need to work on rebuilding the love and trust and the respect that was the foundation of our marriage. Then we can move forward. I forgive you for your part in this and pray that you will forgive me for my part."
"Your part? You have done nothing wrong."
I abandoned you in your time of need, when your body was trying to make you believe things that were not true."
"You only stayed away so you could figure out how to bring us back together. If you had stayed we could have possibly said things to each other that were hurtful. The time apart will only make our love stronger over time, because now we realize how much we need each other."
We sat on the sofa and held each other until we fell asleep like that. When I awoke he was staring into my eyes, the look of love was back in his. We got up and ate supper and talked until we were too tired to go on. We lay down on the bed and were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
We awoke just before dawn and re-consummated our marriage. We had to be ready to go to see the bishop at 9.
That Sunday the bishop was there for the services again. His first words were Reverend Tom will be back in the pulpit next Sunday. The applause was deafening.
Then Thomas and I walked in and sat in the front row. The whispers and murmurs started almost immediately.
He spoke of the importance of love, of forgiveness to yourself and others and the need to communicate clearly.
At the end of the service the bishop asked us to come forward to the altar.
Halfway there we turned to face the congregation. I spoke first, "I did something that was very stupid. I betrayed my love for my husband and set aside my vows. All that happened was I went to dinner with someone, but that was more than I should have ever considered doing. I publicly apologize to my husband and ask for his forgiveness."
Thomas spoke next, "I have already forgiven my wife and pray that we will always be together. Further, she has done nothing of harm to anyone else in this congregation or town and expect that you will all treat her with the same respect and dignity that she has always deserved."
We turned and walked the rest of the way toward the altar. We restated our wedding vows, turned and kissed then walked back down the aisle. The bishop announced there would be a reception on the lawn of the parsonage immediately following the service.
Things quickly settled down after that, there were a few rough patches but we made it through them.
Eleven months later I gave birth to a baby girl, we call her Rebeckah Faith. I counted all of her fingers and toes; but only twice.
When the bishop was ready to retire Thomas was asked to take the position. He declined, preferring to stay in our town.
We eventually had another boy and another girl.
We now have 4 grandchildren and are ready to retire. We plan to live with Mom in the house I grew up in. Mike is now the pastor of the church; he is well trained and well thought of.
Life has been good to us and we pray it will be good to you, too.