December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)
This past year, someone crossed a boundary that was arbitrarily set between pastor and congregant. They invited us to their house when our power was out for a few days, let us crash there with two toddlers and a dog and add to their general chaos. Then they invited us to an intimate gathering of “their closest friends,” then they just invited us over to do nothing, just enjoy them and be ourselves. Slowly, we became more friend than pastor/congregant. Unbeknownst to them, I have spent many hours thinking about this relationship, worrying that I’ve done something wrong by acting more as “pal” than “pastor,” spilled anxiety over the invisible boundaries I seem to have crossed with them. But over the course of time, my heart has settled on it all. Over the course of time, I’ve realized that the most important thing is that I’m just me, transparent, honest, me. If something awful or amazing happened to their family, I would be there, as friend, as pastor, as whatever was needed in that moment. Meanwhile I cherish that friendship, cherish their family, cherish their place in our lives. And I cherish those friendships where it doesn’t really matter whether or not I’m pastor, or mother or whatever – only that I’m…me.
The perspective change is this, then, that as I begin to feel more and more comfortable in this calling, this clothing, this persona called “reverend,” the goal is not to feel different, but instead to feel me. That is to say, when I’ve finally broken down the barriers between the minister I’m supposed to be and the person that I am, and just accept that I am me, minister, mommy, irreverent and yet reverend. Then, it just doesn’t matter any more…and those friendships will come without anxiety or strain, but will just be.