Today, I got a text from a good friend I’ve lost contact with in the past two years. I don’t think either one of us meant to. Each of us had our own stuff going on and were accustomed to presenting to the world our classic front of smiles, hugs, waves, and black church blessings that shielded us from honesty about our reality. It gets harder to keep up appearances when life starts eroding so we both chose to keep more to ourselves rather than reaching out and hoping someone would reach back without pointing fingers.
Initially, she told me that I should go back to preaching, effective communicator that I am. I’ve been dreading this conversation, in particular, with this person and her sister. We all went to college together and they used to tease me for being a “fake psych major” when I was really a “bible major in denial”. It was all in good fun and, to a degree, they weren’t wrong. Most of my friends were either science/engineering majors or bible majors (although, going to a bible college with an incredible science program, that was typical of most people). We would all laugh at the joke because most of our guest chapel speakers (who often ate lunch with us) thought I was a bible major, too and were profoundly confused when they learned I was not studying to be in the ministry. This had been our favorite joke for about 15 years.
So, when my friend, her sister, another college friend, and I started a ministry together, it was like life had finally delivered the punchline. When I preached my first sermon, all my college lunch buddies were there, “I told you so”s over uproarious laughter, and all was right with the world. Except it wasn’t. What we started never fully got off the ground and to this day, I couldn’t be more grateful. I can’t imagine trying to pull myself away from a ministry had it actually started to thrive like we once hoped it would. Still, I’ve known that eventually, I’d have to be more up front about my lack of belief to the people in my world. For the most part, they haven’t completely figured it out. I think they’re all hoping that this is another stage in the process of my grief over the lost of my best friend (who was essentially my sister). But, these questions predate our meeting, so that theory doesn’t hold up.
At least today, I didn’t have to be worried. My friend had some questions, too, and our experiences, though vastly different, had led us down a similar path. I’m as excited for her journey as she is for mine. For far too long, I’ve had to hide from the people I care about because being honest seemed incompatible with being in a relationship with them. Clearly, as my life changes, that will have to as well. But, hopefully, I’ll be able to take more people with me than I’ll have to leave behind.