“Shelter Friends” was my very first post…written several years ago.
The truth is that, while so much of my words still ring true to me now, much has changed…even since then. And now, I would add something else to this, if I were to write this today…
And that would be to say that having friends in the church where you serve – especially as the Senior Pastor’s wife – is even more challenging than I ever imagined.
But it’s also easier than I imagined back then…
The reason is that I believe my focus was on the wrong thing. Today, I have learned to focus more on being a good friend to everyone than focusing on who is being a good friend to me. I’ve learned that more than having “best friends” among my congregation, I should just be the best friend that I can be to…everyone. And then when people do whatever they will do for whatever reason, I’m at peace because that’s just not my focus.
My value is not determined by how many people I can feel are acting like a “best friend” would act, but instead it is determined by how well I reflect the true nature of my true best friend: Jesus.
So, here’s where I was…there’s a lesson in every moment of life:
“My parents just returned from Switzerland (after a mission trip to India). I’ve always wanted to go to Switzerland, and looking at their photos reminded me of why–the sheer beauty of the mountains, the land, the water… all of it. I was especially drawn to the snow-covered mountains–the colder looking, the better.
This is kind of ironic because anyone who knows me knows I’m a Florida girl thru-and-thru. If it’s below 70 degrees, I’m pulling out the sweaters (Byron doesn’t mind this-he really likes me in sweaters). The truth is, in my imaginings of the swiss mountains there is always a quaint chalet nearby complete with a roaring fire, wool socks and hot chocolate (or Starbucks). I love my idea of snow-capped mountains because it’s comfortable and safe. I can see the snow outside, even play in it if I want to.
But when I get too cold I can run to my beautiful shelter…
Ministry is a lot like my dreams of Switzerland…
…breathtakingly beautiful from a distance or at least in a controlled environment (preferably a Swiss chalet), but when the freak-blizzard crops up and there is no shelter (or Starbucks!), it may not seem so beautiful.
Any ideas I may have had about doing ministry in a controlled, safe environment have been shattered lately. This may sound horribly traumatic, and there’s some of that, but mainly it’s a blessing.
Leadership can definitely seem like a cold mountain with no visible shelter, but it can also give you the gift of knowing who your true friends are.
How many people really know who will weather the blizzards of life with them (not just the ones who will visit the chalet and drink your hot chocolate)? How many people can name their true “shelter” friends? Byron and I can.
God has allowed this blessing thru suffering.
Tonight I had band practice at the church. Of course, Byron went because he loves to be a part of the worship ministry even though he can’t sing (although he says that when he’s alone in the car he sounds just like the Big Daddy Weave guy!).
So, I got to praise God surrounded by some of my best friends in the world — People who I know will go through the fire with me (I know this because they have), and as we sang “Came to the Rescue” I was reminded again of my blessings, even in the blizzard, even when my dreams of a Swiss chalet seem so far away from reality.
I was reminded that there are worse things in life than having a handful of “go to the wall” friends: having a zillion “friends” who disappear when the hot chocolate runs out…
I am blessed in my sorrow and loss. And Sunday, when we sing “Came to the Rescue”, I’ll smile to myself as I think: Byron and I may feel, at times, that we can count our true friends on one hand (couples counting as one, of course),
but at least we can count them and count on them.
To all of my true friends: Thanks for the shelter (and the Starbucks!).” – 2007
Reading this makes me thankful for God’s patience and mercy…and, certainly, for all the friends that I have in my life.
And it reminds me of a quote that goes something like this:
“I’m not what I’m gonna be, but thank God I’m not what I was!”
Here’s to learning and moving forward…ever pressing toward the mark!