Just a few old friends, a few new friends, and a road named after my hometown way out here in the mountains.
Our two year anniversary of moving to the Pacific Northwest came and went and we remembered but then forgot. We were pretty busy with the end of the school year, and having family visit for a week. And in some ways it’s kind of nice that it went by unnoticed as if to say life is normal now, this is home.
I was thinking back to the couple of years before we moved here. Those were very emotional years. On the one hand we were ministering with students and parents and I was loving the relationships I had built with teens, and with teens-who-had-become-friends. I loved teaching alongside Juan and I felt like a very real part of a community with friends inside and outside of our congregation. On the other hand things with some of the leadership were getting more and more difficult. It always felt like we were swimming upstream, I could see the writing on the wall, so to speak, and lived in crushing fear of being uprooted.
There was a very dark moment, when my pastor-uncle asked Brian and I what we loved about the church we were at. It was easy to answer; family, community. Then he said that’s what you need to look for in your next church. And I just couldn’t see the point. I felt like I was drowning, why the hell would I put myself through that kind of pain again? If God were just going to keep pulling me up and passing me around, why would I even bother with relationships?
It was still a while before we moved. A time of sadness but also a time where God kept bringing new people into my life, as if to say, “See this friend you just made even though you’re probably leaving soon, this is a good thing, and there will always be kindred spirits for you.” By the time we left I knew that God was telling me to risk opening up to relationships in our new cit.y He was telling me I couldn’t hide behind being a pastor’s wife, instead, I was to be an active part of community.
In the last two years I’ve learned that it takes bravery to be vulnerable and there are a million excuses you could use to avoid it. I’ve seen a lot of people in churches use serving as a way to pretend they’re connected. And while serving is great, and is a good way to get to know people, serving is not friendship. It can’t take the place of a person who sees your heart and loves you anyway. It isn’t a substitute for a friend who hears your fears about your growing adolescent, or your aging parents, or your struggling marriage.
Good things take courage. And friendship is a good thing. It’s a risky thing, where there is love there is risk for pain, but I believe it’s worth the risk. Have lived through pain to see that it will always be worth the risk.