Welcome to Ryley Writes, a collection of thoughts, stories, and work from deep in the heart of Texas.

Pastor's Kids: The Ugly

Alright, so before we begin the last post in our little PK series, I need to make one important clarification.

Generally, the phrase "the good, the bad, and the ugly" essentially means "the good, the bad, and the badder." But guess what? We already had a bad post. You can read it here. And it's about all the bad I have to offer you.

So for the purposes of this series, "ugly" is going to sub in as a synonym for "awkward."

And it really works out, because as I've written these posts, it's brought up a ton of stories and talking points within my family, most of which we've agreed aren't necessarily good or bad but fall somewhere in the uncomfortable/entertaining middle. This last post is going to be some of those things — aspects of being a PK that don't fall in either extreme category, but that you might never think of if you're not a PK yourself.

Shall we?


  • Faking conversations. I was walking in downtown Austin with a friend a few months ago when I heard someone yell my name. I turned to see a couple walking towards us, exuberant, and I proceeded to dole out hugs and hellos and how-are-yous. We probably talked for 10 minutes about my parents, my job, how much the city has changed in the last few years, my sisters, etc. We parted ways, beaming and waving all the while.
    "Who was that?" my friend asked.
    "No idea," I responded.
    "What-" he stopped. "Are you serious? You just had a really, really in-depth conversation with two people and you legitimately have no idea who they are?"
    No, but they knew who I was, and they thought I knew who they were, and that's all that matters. When your dad has pastored literally thousands of people over a span of three cities and 20-some years, I am destined to lose the People I Know versus People Who Know Me battle. In an effort to avoid making others' interactions with me some discouraging reminder that they are just one fish in a big pond, though, I instead opt to just wing it. The only time I admit to not knowing someone is if they ask ouright, "Do you know who I am?" to which I always answer no, on principle, even if I do know who they are, because I do not appreciate spontaneous game shows. Otherwise, I just fake my way through. And you know what? I am fabulous at it. I really am. I go, Glen Coco.
  • Faking identity. While we're already being shady,  let's take it one step further: Reagan (my 20-year-old sister) and I get mixed up a lot, and nine times out of ten, rather than go through the uncomfortable "actually, I'm the other one" thing we just go with it. She accepted a lot of congratulations for her (my) college graduation, I ensured a lot of people that I was adjusting to my (her) freshman year at Liberty really well; you know, just saving everyone some face and time and stuff. This worked out okay for the most part while we were in college, because we were in town for a few days at a time and then mostly we lived on the other side of the country. Now that I'm actually living in Katy and going to Kingsland, though, I constantly wonder how many people are really confused by the fact that they had previous conversations with me... as Reagan.
  • This video. And all the we-asked-the-church-to-do-this-thing-so-now-we-have-to-do-this-thing-first-because-it-was-our-dad's-idea moments it represents. Sadly, we didn't keep the outtakes, which would have included us rearranging specifically so that Reagan's back was to the camera, multiple lectures to each other about not making eye contact, our media pastor referring to the juice glass as a "goblet" at one point which for some reason was extraordinarily humorous in the moment, and an increasing look of regret on my dad's face. Very holy experience for everyone.
  • The crickets after I answer the question, "What do your parents do?" Everyone: *pauses to mentally review every word they've spoken to me thus far in the conversation, conceal their alcohol, consider their sins.*
  • Others' fascination with our normalcy. Mention of my family doing otherwise normal things is regularly met with awe. This was especially true of friends in middle and high school. "Your dad watches Parks and Recreation?" one of them once asked, full of wonder. To which I responded with a hasty gymnastic series of "yes, but" statements to make sure I hadn't jeopardized his ministry or something by association with Leslie Knope.

So. Now you can say you know the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a pastor's kid. It's been fun letting you guys step inside the fishbowl for the last couple of weeks, and I hope we can all still be friends even if now you have zero trust in me and aren't sure which sister I am and have seen my eighth grade bangs.

Regardless, this is your official PK series peace-out. Let me know if somehow after several thousand words I missed any of your burning questions; otherwise, see you guys at church or something, probably.

High-Five Friday: Manna & Magazines

Pastor's Kids: The Bad