My husband and I are in love and we are best friends. It is easy for us to become insular and feel complete with just the two of us. As I began to think about the ramifications of this, the benefits of friendship got clearer in my mind. The truth is, I wondered how many people would come to my funeral if I died. I could only come up with eleven people and that sounded pitiful. I started going to a ladies Bible Study at my church to develop more relationships. When I went to seminary I made life-long friends. Being on staff at Saddleback opened the door for me to build wonderful relationships with other staff, but also allowed me to make friends in the congregation as we shared life together. When I cry it is over these people. It’s not like I am moving, but it’s not the same.
I have had remarkable kindnesses shown to me since I was laid off. A close friend who is terribly busy with her own work and ministry just picked up an armful of clothes to alter for me. Alterations are expensive and take time. For her to do that is a blessing.
The man who takes care of the graphics in our Traditions Venue read posts I wrote on Facebook about the apricot tree in our backyard. At church on Sunday he handed me a bag of apricots he bought for me. That gesture spoke volumes. What love we share!
Many members of my worship leader training class and members of the Worship Musicians Association gave me a get-together where we sang, played, and worshiped together. They expressed their appreciation to me. I think it gave them some closure, and assured them of how God is leading in this situation.
The reactions to Facebook posts and this blog have been remarkable. It is like a giant hug that comes from all over the world. Universally, they speak of the plans God has for me.
The Holy Spirit empowered me to make a difference in their lives. I sowed, by the grace of God, the Spirit watered, and the fruit is beautiful. When I first started at Saddleback I was not a true “people person.” Actually, I am an introvert. Given the choice of going out to a group party or staying home and reading, I would pick reading most of the time. I asked God to help me become a “people person.” I wanted to be aware of those around me and to pick up cues about their needs. Through my mentor and through feedback I received while I was getting my doctorate, I was more aware of my weaknesses as I related to others. I tried to respond positively and make changes to be used more effectively by God. Really, it was more about recognizing that it’s not about me, and that a minister serves others. Often, all I had to do was listen and offer a hug.
I love my husband with every fiber of my being. I am in awe that in the surplus of his unconditional love for me I became a minister. And that's worship in real life.