Today I welcome guest blogger, author, and journalist Christina Ryan Claypool of Ohio. Above, she reads a portion of her new work of fiction, "Secrets of the Pastor's Wife: A Novel," available on Amazon, where excellent reviews are coming in. I added mine to the mix, giving it five stars. Maybe you'll check it out. It would make a lovely Christmas gift. Please also check out her website, listed at the end of this post.
The two of us met a few years ago waiting in line for coffee at a writing conference. We connected instantly, as we discussed so many things in common: our work in newswriting, fiction, and that both our husbands' careers are in public school administration. (Mine is now retired, hers is a school superintendent). Anyway, here's Christina.
By Christina Ryan Claypool
It was our last lunch together. My friend Kimberly had an aggressive form of cancer and
knew her time was short. I hadn’t accepted the fact yet, because she was only in her early forties
and had a loving husband and three children to finish raising. But she couldn’t fight anymore.
Preparing for my friend of almost two decades to visit that fated day six years ago, you
would have thought royalty was coming. I brewed a pot of piping hot flavored tea, and set the
dining room table with the good china, candles, and prepared a lunch feast, even though there
would only be the two of us.
Usually, lunch together meant going to a restaurant, but Kim had wanted to come to my
home. It was our custom to bless food wherever we ate. Truthfully, I can’t remember who said
grace, but I vividly recall her tell-tale prayer at the end, “And God, please give Christina a
Now, wait just one minute, Kimberly. I don’t need a friend, I have you. This thought
raced through my mind denying the reality, she had already accepted. A few weeks later, she was
Those of you who have also lost a close friend, empathize with how painful this loss can
be. It’s a rare gift to find a faithful friend, although many folks have an ardent desire to
experience intimate friendship.
But is friendship becoming extinct? One of the reason’s I wrote my new book, “Secrets
of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is because I’m worried about friendship. I’m concerned it might
soon be as outdated as last year’s technology, and I’m pretty sure technology is the culprit
deserving most of the blame.
To explain, recently a school bus filled with adolescents passed me when I was driving,
and I noticed a lot of their young heads were in a downward position. Many were probably
listening to music, texting, or checking their social media accounts on their smartphones. This,
instead of taking the opportunity to be social with the kid in the seat next to them.
Having a social media connection isn’t like having a faithful friend. A recent article on
www.healthline.com, “Social Media is Killing your Relationships” reports, “What if every like,
heart, and reply we give to someone on the internet is actually taking away from our energy for
offline friendships?” The article’s writer Jennifer Chesak appears to believe we might be,
“…unknowingly draining our social energy for in-person interactions.”
“Research shows that good friendships are vital to your health,” according to the
Heathline article. “More specifically, having close friendships correlates to functioning better,
especially as we get older.”
That’s why my recently released novel is about the friendship between an early 40s
pastor’s wife and a sixty-something widowed coffee shop owner. I chose to make the main
character a fictional minister’s mate, because there’s often an unrealistic stereotype for this
supporting ministry role, even within Christian circles.
I empathize with the difficulty these precious women can have when trying to find a
confidential friend to share their current issues or even past heartbreak. Since often we place
ministerial families under a microscopic lens of scrutiny, and have the unrealistic expectation
their lives should be perfect. Quite frequently, the needs and even existence of a pastor's wife can
also be overlooked, especially if her husband is an in-demand dynamic leader.
Plus, during my years working in broadcasting, I was asked to host a TV special, where
pastors' wives shared about their lives. One ministerial spouse was concerned about me
interviewing her, apprehensive over my understanding of her situation, so only minutes before
the show was to be recorded for broadcast, she anxiously asked what my husband did.
He's a public school administrator, I answered nervously, unsure of how she would view
But instantly, she visibly relaxed, smiled a wide smile, and teasingly joked that it's the same thing.
This wise lady understood whenever you are married to a man in any kind of leadership role,
it can be isolating and most challenging to find a trustworthy confidant, fearing you could
jeopardize your mate's position simply by being a flawed human being.
If we’re truthful, all of us are flawed, and burying our pain and problems forces us to
wear a societal mask. And masks can become a type of prison that morph into a lifestyle of
pretending everything’s perfect when everything’s a hot mess.
The bottom line of what “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” is about is the desire
most women carry deep within to experience intimate friendship. The kind of friendship that
allows us to take our mask off, sit down with a steaming cup of coffee or hot tea, and pour our
worries out to someone who won’t judge us, and to be a listening ear in return.
Of course, if we’re married, our spouse should be our best friend, but as women we need
other females who will walk this crazy journey of daily living with us. We don’t require
hundreds of friends, not like on Facebook where friendship is created by clicking “confirm.”
Instead we need someone with skin on to put their arm around us or to pick up their phone at 2
am to be present in our time of crisis or heartbreak, and we should be there in return.
A friend like Kimberly was to me or like Katie in my novel. The widowed coffee shop
owner is a trustworthy confidant for Cassie, the pastor’s wife. I hope the book is an entertaining read. Yet at the end of the day, my desire is for this novel to provide comfort and encouragement
for everyone who needs emotional or spiritual healing or support, the kind of support friendship
provides. After all, that’s what friends do, they let us know, whatever we’re going through, we
are never alone.
Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an Inspirational speaker. Her
book, “Secrets of the Pastor’s Wife: A Novel” was released fall 2018. Her website is
10/21/2019 09:39:40 pm
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