Ever since I was little, I knew my Dad didn’t have a “normal” job. He was not a businessman who spent his days away from the home, selling some ridiculous product or service to naive consumers. Nor was he a physician who was constantly on call, catering to the needs of others while being much too busy to cater to the needs of his family. No, my Dad was a pastor, a pious man who spent his working hours comforting the sick, consoling the brokenhearted, and going up to the pulpit each Sunday to preach another good ol’ Methodist sermon. My Dad’s occupation not only benefited him by giving him the flexibility to spend time with my sister and I, but it also benefited me. By being the offspring of a preaching man I learned many life lessons at an age younger than most other children. I was exposed to death on a regular basis and was forced to learn how to comprehend what death truly was. I also learned the power of empathy and communication across multiple age ranges. Honestly, being a pastor’s kid has made me a better person, but becoming a better person doesn’t come without a price.
Being a PK (aka “pastor’s kid”) is a lot more difficult than one would think. I was forced to grow up in the church under a constant spotlight. Everyone in the congregation knew my name and probably knew just as much about my personal life as my parents. Now I know a lot of kids in the PK community who thrived off this attention, but I certainly was not one of them. For those of you who regularly read my blog or see my YouTube videos, you are probably well-aware that I am literally the definition of a black-and-white thinking perfectionist. As you can imagine, the mix of perfectionism and limelight was something very toxic for me. I felt like not only had to meet the strict standards of my parents, but also the standards of every single member of the congregation. And so, I did all that was expected of me. I worked hard in my academics, played an active role in church activities, and regurgitated biblical stories in Sunday School like nobody’s business. I also obsessed on something more dangerous – my weight.
My unhealthy fixation on pounds wasn’t directly caused by the church, but it certainly played a big role in exacerbating my disorder eating behaviors. Congregation members constantly commented about my appearance, even at a young age. I definitely could count on the older women of the church to tell me if I was filling up or thinning out, and though this didn’t effect me immediately, the comments began to accumulate in my heart. By the age of eight, my heart and had become saturated with these incredibly insensitive remarks and when my Dad told me we had to move to a different church, my heart broke and all those comments that I had held on to over the years spilled out, poisoning my mind, body, and soul.
I don’t think you need me to tell you how that story ends.
Now before I head on out, let me remind you that my story is not unique – not at all. Despite the fact that there are many happy and healthy PKs, there are also a plethora of PK’s who are struggling with eating disorders and other mental illnesses as the result of being under the microscope of the church. So many people think we PKs have it all together when in reality, most of us are just trying to keep ourselves from falling apart.
If you are apart of a congregation of any denomination or religion, please avoid focusing all your attention on the PKs. By putting them under the spotlight with your constant comments and remarks, you are slowly killing them from the inside out. Don’t be the cause of a child’s suffering, please just treat the PKs like you would treat any other child.