Who are You?

Words to remember no matter what the stage of life we may be passing through as minister's wives.

Shirley writes from the Cape Conference where she serves as Church Ministries director. Her husband, Dave, is the president of Heiderberg College in Somerset West. Capetown, South Africa.

I remember, with a smile, growing up in a warm friendly church. I was the only member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in my family. Each week as I attended Sabbath School and church, there were many people who took an interest in me and my welfare. Their friendly enquiries as to how my week had been always helped me to go home encouraged. I was "Shirley Giles" that little girl with a mass of curls—you know—the one who comes to church on her own.

Then came the day when my parents were invited to Sabbath School and church for a special program. It was thirteenth Sabbath and I was dressed in a national costume along with all my friends from Sabbath School. Each one played their parts to encourage the members to give so that the missions offering could reach the target set. During the church service my parents were welcomed as "Shirley Giles' parents."

It was not surprising that many years later, on my return visits, after my parents had been baptized for several years, that I was introduced as "Jim and Eve Giles' daughter." There were new members in the church who didn't know me. I had to giggle, I thought it amusing.

As we go through the different stages of life, we may get to wondering who we really are. It may be interesting, amusing, frustrating, or even hurtful the way we are introduced.

The day I was married was a very happy experience and one I have never regretted. However, with the change of name to "Shirley Allen" came a change in lifestyle.

A few years later I immersed myself in raising my two extremely energetic sons. They took all my time and energy. In a way I lived my life through my children because they occupied my time and thoughts just about all day long. Who was I at that stage? I was definitely "Sheldon and Darren's mother."

When my husband became a minister after having been an educator for many years, I again had a change of name. This time I became the "pastor's wife." Team ministry lends itself to the minister's wife being seen as an extension of her husband and not a person with individual spiritual gifts and unique contributions to make. Those of you who are administrators' wives may find that this trend continues. Even though you may have speaking appointments at different churches, you may find that you are invariably introduced as the "president's wife," etc.

I am sure that you must also experience the mix of emotions that go hand in hand with other people not knowing exactly "who you are." There are times when you may not even know "who you are."

The good news is that God does. He knows who you are. He knows your name. Isaiah 45:4 says, "I call you by name." Each one of us is an individual, created by God in His image. We have our own unique characteristics and ways. God knows every intimate detail about us even down to the numbering of the hairs on our head.

Whatever stage of life we may be passing through as minister's wives we need to remember, "There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12 NRSV).