The Pastor Dance

June 20, 2011

Tonight, just down the road from me, a pastor is loading up a moving truck.  He is the third one in 4 years to do so.  However this one is different.  This one is personal.  This one hurts. 

We first met Bret and Marie, along with 2 of their 3 daughters 26 months ago, and the connection was instant.   At the time our boys were playing t-ball on the church team of our former church and their practice ended just as Bret and Marie wrapped up their tour of their new digs, adjacent to our former church.  I was already VERY unhappy at that church and had prevously told J that I didn’t want to meet the new pastor, I was done with that church and would not be back.  I was forced by J to meet the new pastor that night, and I trapsed over to do so grudgingly.  

As I said before, the connection was instant, both among the adults as well as the children, who played in the yard while the 2 couples, along with our then-pastor, “shot the bull” so to speak.    We talked about how well our 2 boys and their 2 girls got along, and our former pastor even joked that they would be adding each other on facebook later that night.  I snuck a few pics of the kids playing through the window that night, and my suspicions about their connection was verified in the next couple of months, as my boys asked incessantly how many more days until they moved here. 

That day finally came, 2 years ago, and our aquintances, along with their new addition, another daughter, just a few weeks old, took up residence less than 2 miles from us.  Our 2 families quickly became fast friends.  We would get together once a week and eat, talk, and play cards or board games.  We’ve taken road trips, planned vacations that didn’t get to happen (stupid back surgery), attended birthday parties, reminissed on our youths, and even spent a few Sundays at the local skating rink!   We’ve helped each other out of babysitting binds, and been glad to do so.  I’ve come to love their daughters as the girls God never blessed me with personally.  We’ve laughed alot and cried a little.  When I had my convulsing crying episode at my old church, it was Marie who consoled me first.  When I left that church it was Bret who sat with me in my living room and listened to me rant about how deeply the church had hurt me.  It was our love for this family that led us to another church he pastored, where, over the last year we found everything we were wanting in a church home, and yesterday officially moved our membership. 

Our kids have an incredible bond.  The four of them play together wonderfully, and I have it on pretty good accord that my 5 year old and their 6 year old recently exchanged their first kiss at a church fish fry.  Our 8 year old and their 10 year old are kinda sweet on each other too, and I would not be surprised or at all disappointed if either girl, or even both wound up being my daughter in law one day. 

From the very beginning of our friendship, I’ve been dreading today.  With every step closer I’ve grown to them, I’ve wanted to pull back, because I knew it wouldn’t last forever, and I wanted to save myself the hurt.  Small church Methodist minsiters don’t stay anywhere long, and I knew Bret would be no exception.  They are even told in training to be cordial, but don’t make friends, which seems harsh, but I’ve come to understand.  Even though I’ve known all along this day was eventually coming, it still came as a blow a few weeks ago when I got the official word. The hows and why’s aren’t important.  What is important is that it’s in their best interest to move, and it’s God’s will. 

 A few weeks ago, at their, “baby’s” 2nd birthday party,  Bret’s mom, who I had only met a handfull of times, teared up as she hugged and kissed me goodbye, and told me how much she loved me.  And I knew that if it was that hard to say goodbye to their extended family, that saying goodbye to them would be brutal.   Part of me wanted to distance myself from them to make the transition easier.  Another part of me wanted to spend every moment possible with them, and soak it up while I had the chance.  The latter part of me won, and we’ve spent alot of time eating and playing together over the last 6 weeks.  Even tonight, I took them supper in disposable containers, as I knew they would be too busy packing to cook.  I guess you could say we were there till the end, and did all but help them load their moving van.  (And we offered to help with that). 

I realize they are only moving a hour and a half away, but an hour and a half is a whole lot further than a mile and a half, and knowing that I won’t be able to pick up the phone for an impromptu skipbo or sequence game makes me sad.   From our “last supper” Friday to Sunday’s final sermon have been sad, and I’ve spent much of tonight wallowing in self pity, and silently asking God “Why”?  Why would he allow us to become so close only to take it all away?  The answer has came to me in the form of a line from the Garth Brooks hit, “The Dance”.  “I could have missed the pain, But I’d of had to miss the dance”.  And I’m glad I had the dance.  A dance I woudn’t have had if J had not made me go meet the new pastor that I didn’t want to meet 2 years ago.   It’s all a wonderful reminder that God is in control.

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