Hey everybody, it’s Joanna! Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me in this blog.
I was born and raised in the ministry. My father was a well-known pastor of two churches, one in the small town of Jones Creek, TX and the other about an hour away in Houston. I spent every Sunday of my life in church, and I don’t remember ever complaining about it. I actually enjoyed going to church every Sunday morning in the country then leaving there and stopping at Texaco gas station for snacks before driving to Houston for the second service. Nothing like a strawberry kiwi Snapple and a bag of Combos (the blue bag) to hold you over until you can get to Luby’s!
Because my dad was so well-known, everyone knew my family. It felt like I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing, “Are you Pastor Daniels’s daughter?” Then, when my dad died, my mom picked up the torch and became the pastor. From birth until I graduated from high school, there was a spotlight on my life that I could only hide from when I moved away for college.
Living outside of the spotlight didn’t last very long. I came to Austin to attend the University of Texas (HOOK ‘EM!), found a church home, and got involved. I went from being known as “Pastor Daniels’s daughter” to being known for my own gifts and abilities. One would think that my childhood prepared me for the current life that I live, and it actually did…for the most part. I knew what to expect when marrying my preaching husband who is now a staff pastor. I knew what to expect when I chose to become a ministry leader. I even had a good idea of what I could expect when I accepted my call to preach, especially as a woman. I knew that all of these things came with a new level of responsibility, accountability, and an expectation to love on people even when you don’t feel like it. I was ready for all of that. And as God began to elevate me in my church and more members began to know who I was, I felt like I was back in Jones Creek as people I’d never seen before called my name in HEB.
As a praise and worship leader, minister, and the leader of the mime team at my church, I have spent a lot of time on stage in front of the congregation. Because our church is so big and we have multiple services, of course there are a lot of people who “know” me, but I don’t know them. Some people whose faces I’ve never even seen. On top of that, my husband is an associate pastor on staff so not only does EVERYBODY at our church know him, he’s also known at surrounding churches from preaching throughout the city. But being known and loved by people who I do not know was never a problem…until I became pregnant.
Once people discovered that I was pregnant, quite naturally, they wanted to congratulate me and show their love. Man, the love that they showed was so overwhelming, in a good way. The hugs and kisses, the encouraging words, the shared wisdom, the gifts for the baby as well as myself, it all made me feel so special! Then, one day it became overwhelming…in a bad way. Once my belly showed up, I no longer had a right to my own personal space. While some moms enjoy having people rub on their stomach, I. Did. Not. If you were not family or a friend of mine, it legit made me feel violated.
But because people see me on stage singing and they hear my husband’s good preaching a few times a year, they now feel as if they “know” me (which is to be expected) and see nothing wrong with rubbing on my body without warning or permission (NOT to be expected). I struggled with trying to figure out how to tell people not to touch me without offending or hurting anyone’s feelings. Sometimes, I just suffered in silence for fear that I would offend someone and tarnish my reputation. I even tried to be proactive and took preventative measures by expressing my feelings about the belly rub on Facebook, in hopes that church folks would see it and respect my wishes moving forward. That didn’t work. While some people don’t have social media accounts, others just didn’t care how I felt.
When you minister to the hearts of people, to those places that have been broken, they feel connected to you. They may never get a chance to actually talk to you or meet you, but there’s a part of them that loves and appreciates you for being a blessing in their life. It is a humbling feeling to be used by God in this way, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! But the difficult part for me is that people (not all but some) whom you do not know feel entitled to the intimate parts of your life, and while I have always been a people person, I also appreciate my space and privacy.
Once, I had a person come up to me as I was talking to someone else (rude action #1) and rubbed my stomach without permission (rude action #2) while saying, “I’m sorry. I know you don’t like that.” RUDE ACTION #3! So you KNOW how I feel, but your desire to touch me trumps my personal boundaries and expectations around MY body??? This was one of those people who actually had social media and saw my posts but did not care enough about my feelings. This individual felt entitled to this part of my life because of my role. The amount of anger that I felt in that moment, I feel it all over again as I type this. BUT…I’m a minister and a ministry leader and my husband is on staff, and I don’t want to do anything to make myself or him look bad so I have to just suck it up and take it and suffer in silence (and now my eyes are welling up. UGH!!!). So I started disappearing before the end of service. When I didn’t feel like being touched and rubbed on, I would leave out during the offering and stay gone until the crowd died down. I was literally hiding from people who loved me because they didn’t know how to appropriately express that love in a way that I could receive it. Then it happened. The baby arrived…
I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of my blog. If you did, you’ll definitely like Part 2! In the meantime, drop a comment below and share your thoughts. Have you ever been in a similar situation? Let me know!