My daughter’s getting ready for school today. First grader, at last.
She’s thrilled. And this year, we’re even letting her ride the bus with her two new best friends from next door. They moved in last week.
I rarely wish that I was six again, but I must say, I do admire the ease in which these children slip into friendships, like a new pair of fuzzy slippers.
It doesn’t always work, of course. Sometimes there’s bad chemistry with children and when they’re together, a world full of irritation and tears erupts–all those infuriating emotions that grown-ups have learned to suppress in their social settings, along with their openness. But, for the most part, my daughter makes friends quickly. A simple, “Hi. You wanna play?” usually does the trick.
I wish it were so easy with me. It takes me a good long time to feel comfortable with people, not as a pastor, but outside of the church. As friends. I’m good at acquaintances. But I’m talking about the call-in-the-middle-of-the-night sort of people or the borrow-whatever-you-might-need kind.
I was just becoming that kind of a friend to my neighbor (after two years!), but then she moved to Turkey. And now I’m stuck, starting over.
I’m not a removed pastor–one of those who doesn’t believe in socializing with church members at all. But, on my day off, I’m not thumbing through the church directory either. I like to have my closest friends outside of my particular church. I find that my life’s much more in balance that way.
I’m very lucky to have pastor/friends. The hard part about having pastor/friends is that they’re always moving (or I am). So, I have this tangled web of brilliant people that I’m close to all over the country. But that doesn’t always help, especially when I might need to borrow something extravagant quickly.
Seriously, it’s wonderful to have so many scattered relationships, but the physical presence of a good friend cannot be underestimated. Being fed by their smiles, and amazed at how witty comments come to them so effortlessly. An evening of reading blogs could never surpass a good dinner party.
I wonder, will we move around less when we get older? Will we be able to maintain our friendships longer? I hope so.
The other complicated thing about minister friends: Have you ever noticed how very difficult it is to share an evening meal with one? Nearly impossible, with our odd weekend and evening schedules.
But, I’m very lucky to have some pastor/friends here in D.C. I’ve served in isolated rural areas before, where I didn’t relate to anyone. I’d walk into Local Governing Body meetings and find a sea of blue hair. Then I’d go to the Local Minister’s Association and realize that it was completely made up of 50-year-old Charismatic (in every sense of the word) men. I would spend the next hour listening to how much God had blessed them and watching them compare their church sizes. It was not my idea of a good time….
In Messy Spirituality, a friend tells Mike Yaconelli that he just wants six pallbearers. At the end of the day, he wanted six people who were close to him, who would be there for his funeral, who could carry his casket.
That sounds good to me.