I really love people.
I adore being around them, observing them, caring for them, giving to them, and being there for them. I’m not perfect in my love by any means (that is sure and certain). I’m sure I irritate more people than I realize. But I do love people anyway.
Yet ever since my husband was in seminary, I’ve heard a rather shocking piece of advice:
“Don’t get too close to other women in the church. Those sorts of relationships always seem to come back to bite.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told not to have close friends as a pastor’s wife, I’d be rich. Well, maybe not rich. But I’d be able to take my husband and I out for a 5-star dinner. Shun the sheep when they get closer than arm’s length? I’ve come to believe this is an awful modern ministry maxim. I don’t recommend anyone follow this line of thinking – especially a pastor’s wife.
To be clear, I’ve been very hurt in ministry, ignored, left out, gossiped about, and misunderstood. A great degree of risk is involved with opening your heart and home to women within your husband’s flock.
But does that mean I shut myself away literally and figuratively? Never open up again? Let me tell you, sisters, I’ve been far more blessed with the beautiful and the encouraging rather than the few who have mistreated me.
God always calls us to the uncomfortable and counter-intuitive. Authentic community directs us away from the comfortable confines of self and toward one-another. As the writer to the Hebrews reminds us:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:24-25)
We won’t know how to inspire others to love and service if we never let them in.
Living transparently in our Western world of emotional plasticity is always worth the effort. If we’re never down-to-earth with those we’re called to love and serve, then they’ll think (with good cause) that our heads and noses are always flying in the clouds.
Now I’m not saying to let go of boundaries or share all the dirty laundry and the kitchen sink. But letting them in – near your heart and into your home – is what we all need.
Genuine, grace-filled friendships are part of God’s package for the abundant life in Christ.
Life together is what we all need. Take the risky step of faith and let them in.
“…encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” (1 Thess. 5:11)
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)