We were friends. Good friends.
Our daughters played together and enjoyed sleepovers. We laughed at the same jokes and sent each other encouraging texts. I loved seeing her face as I walked through the church lobby … she simply warmed my heart. I loved her entire family. We weren’t BFF’s, if you want to categorize it, but we were good friends.
Then, one day, she and her family decided to attend another church. Knowing it might be awkward for her, I called to put her mind at ease. Go where God is leading you, I said. We aren’t sisters just at church … we’re sisters in Christ, I said. We’re friends no matter what church you attend. And, I thought we were ok.
Then she un-friended me on Facebook.
Thinking it was a mistake, I checked in with her. Uh, no. It wasn’t a mistake. She gave me the party line about looking into the “un-friending thing,” but she never added me back as a friend. That hurt. I spent a few days wondering what happened, and yes, I cried a few tears. Did she only like me because I was the pastor’s wife? Was our friendship more one-sided than I thought? Were we only friends because she attended my church? Did she sever ties with me because she attended another church, or was there something deeper? I may never know.
What I do know is this: friendships don’t come easy in ministry life. Rick Warren once said we (ministry leaders) preach to a parade of people—people who come in and out of our churches and our lives. I can attest that having close friends in my church (as the pastor's wife) is tricky, yet I desperately want a meaningful relationship with a girlfriend or two. Since my unfortunate un-friending event, my friendship strategy has changed.
Rather than seeking one or two close friends, I invest into many friends at different levels, i.e., some I laugh with, some who make me think, some I lead, etc. Some friendships will be more casual; others will be more meaningful. And, if along the way I find the perfect BFF who can be all of those things, I’ll grab her up and treasure her! But even if I never find the perfect BFF, at least I'll have a treasure trove of friends to enjoy.
In addition, I work hard to cultivate relationships through websites designed specifically for pastors' wives. Talking with other women in ministry often puts life in perspective. That’s why Flourish is such a great resource for you and me! As we read the stories of other pastors' wives, we’ll know we’re not alone … that we have a friend. If you’ve hit a speed bump or two on Friendship Lane, don’t give up. Keep fighting the temptation to pull inward and protect your heart. Reach out! Get busy being a friend to lots of women. And, if you get un-friended along the way, try again. I am.