It’s been a lovely weekend here. Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. The weather’s been beautiful. I’ve had a couple cups of coffee. Lisa’s gone to work for the day. Feeling a bit lonely as well as a residue of sadness.
Can I be super vulnerable with you guys today? I trust you. So I’ll give it a shot.
Last night in our secret Facebook group I shared that I’d run into an old friend at a wedding and how different he treated me. I told you I’d tell you about it today. So I want to share this story that, for many of you, is your story.
Many years ago there was a young adult in our church, but he left during a massive church split we had and went to another church. Over time he became its pastor. Eventually, we renewed contact and we would meet frequently for lunch or for coffee. Because he was a new pastor, he would look to me for encouragement, support and advice. I’ve been through a great deal and have lots of experiential wisdom that he appreciated. I shared my struggles with him as he did his with me. I’m that way anyway– I’m an open book.
When I left the ministry and the church, though, I abruptly lost all contact with him. In my naiveté I presumed our friendship would continue. I tried three times to get together with him. After the third try I ran into him walking through a shopping center. You know that professional ministerial voice that many pastor’s have? The unemotional eye? That’s how he talked to me. It was obvious he had no intentions of maintaining our relationship. Fine. When it rains it pours.
Last night Lisa and I went to a friend’s wedding and reception. This guy was the preacher who married them. He did a fine job. After the wedding we ran into each other again and he said that maybe we could chat at the reception. Okay!
So when we were at the reception and I noticed he was fairly alone I took the opportunity to go over and talk with him. But he had that professional persona switched on. Still. The minister’s voice. I knew within 3 seconds that this was going nowhere. We talked about superficialities for a few minutes. I tried to engage on a deeper level but when I lost eye contact and he got fidgety, I saved him the discomfort. I politely moved on to chat with complete strangers who were warmer.
It’s moments like these that remind me of the cost of change. I changed. I admit it. I really did change. It wasn’t overnight. I changed over time, evidenced by my progressively honest blog posts. But I suppose, like an elastic band, I stretched it too far and it snapped. I think it snapped when I quit being a pastor and left the church. I mean, people watched me stretch and stretch and stretch the elastic, testing the limits of my freedom and independence, until I wanted it truly. Then it snapped. I would have kept stretching it as far as it would go. I claim it snapped at their end. Or they cut it. Or maybe it was mutual. I accept the blame for wanting to be independent and achieving it. I don’t accept the blame for ending relationships because of it.
Last night I also posted on Facebook that when you change it forces those around you to change. I must change. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind! So I renewed my mind. I changed my mind. And its ramifications were transformations in my life. And it forced people around me to change. Including my closest friends and even family.
I’m not angry with him. I don’t think he was being mean or cruel. He just didn’t know how to relate to me anymore. He lost the sense of who I am. Sure, if he cared enough he could find out and rediscover that sense. But that would require more of him than he is willing to spend. Or maybe its requires more currency than he possesses. Like the book I always recommend for relationships, Passionate Marriage by David Schnarch, a relationship is like a crucible. You can’t enter into it without both parties changing. But if one is unwilling to change, then it will break or at least dramatically diminish its quality. One will bail… emotionally and ultimately physically.
Could I go back? Sure. But I won’t because I must be true to myself first. Experiences like this remind me about how important and necessary change is.
But with these kinds of costs, it must be a pearl of great price.
Thanks for listening my dear friends.