We had dinner with some friends last night. F-R-I-E-N-D-S. Our kids became friends first, but then we had an immediate bond over Mexican folk art. Strange, but true. We both have homes filled with masks, hammered metal, woodcarvings, and books. She walked into our oddly familiar living room, looked at me and said, “What are you doing Friday night?”
That’s what I miss the most about being a pastor. Having friends.
My husband and I are very social people, and over the years, we’ve made a lot of our friends at work or at church. Now that our church is our work, we don’t do that so much. I have friends in my congregation, of course. I mean, the church’s pretty amazing, filled very fun and interesting people. But I usually don’t hang out with them on my days off.
Since we often need to be available when others are done with their business hours, between the two of us, we have meetings almost every night, and we work on weekends. Our house is rarely clean, so other than a constant stream of neighborhood kids, we don’t have people over very much.
We have wonderful clergy friends, but they have the same nutty schedules, and it’s impossible to get something on the calendar with them.
And then we have to move a lot. And if we’re not moving, then our clergy friends are moving. So just when you find another pastor who’s not utterly work-oriented, and can squeeze in a movie every once in a while, then they move away. Or you have to move. And the whole friendship-making process starts all over again.
Our lives get so busy, and we’re public figures, we’re surrounded with people, and so we hardly realize that we have… no friends. Pastors are usually introverted and being around people takes a lot of energy. But we can easily slip from that comforting solitude to distressing loneliness.
So, in every place we’ve moved, we’ve had to figure the friend-thing out. We have friends who are far away, but we need friends who are close by. It’s important. Otherwise we become isolated, our view of reality becomes distorted, and we start living in that really strange church-bubble.
We’ve found friends in our neighborhood and in art communities. Now, most of my friends are at my daughter’s school. Other moms and dads. I actually didn’t realize that they were that close, until I got in a bind one day. Someone died and I had to have a babysitter. So I called about ten other parents and neighbors, explaining the situation to the various cell phone answering machines. And then, when I was in the shower, my answering machine became flooded:
“Of course.” “No problem.” “Bring her right over.” “That would be great.” “Anything for a friend.” “Anytime.” “Please, call me if you need anything else.” I let out a deep sigh of relief. Because it’s just so much better when we have some friends around.
So, what do you do? Do you find it difficult to make friends? How do you stay connected?
photo’s by m o d e