Below is an excerpt from a long letter written by Lynne Hybels to her husband on their 40th wedding anniversary.  Bill Hybels is the senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in IL, an evangelical church.  It contains many relevant truths that we as clergy wives and couples can identify with, even though we may not agree with everything. 

“Thank you, Bill, for embracing the messiness of my spiritual journey, even when it was so different from yours. We are opposites in so many ways; it figures our spiritual pathways would diverge a bit. But seriously? There we were, entering the decade of our forties, living very public ministry lives—and I basically lost my faith! (Not an exaggeration.) It was obvious the Christianity of my childhood was inadequate for my adult life, but the journey beyond my childish faith was not easy. It led me through much uncertainty and many doubts and questions. It was frightening. And did I mention, messy?

I made that journey quietly, but you knew what was going on. Yet you never said, “Get over this, Lynne. Move on. I can’t afford to have a spiritually messy wife.” On the contrary, you said, “I’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work in you since we were seventeen. I think we can trust the Holy Sprit with this. Don’t shortcut this journey. Don’t move back to what seems spiritually safe. Move forward into an authentic pursuit of God.”

You even told the elder board I might not be around Willow for a while, but that it was okay. “She’s working with a wise spiritual mentor,” you explained, “and she just needs a little space.” This freedom allowed me to move authentically toward the words and way of Jesus—and to discover a Christianity I could truly believe in. I tell this story often to pastors and their wives, and they are always shocked. Your response to my spiritual messiness was so brave and so loving. I will be forever grateful.”