I did not want to like you. True that could be taken as a horrible statement, but it’s the honest truth. I did not want to open my heart to you. I did not want to let myself grow any sort of attachment to you. There is absolutely zero that you did to cause these feelings. My feelings are not because of you, but because of those that came before you.
One of the more challenging things that I am learning to deal with as I live this close to my father in-law’s ministry, to his (now our) home church, is the attachment to his staff. Oh, over the last eight years I have learned the many similarities between "corporate America” and “church business”. I have also seen and felt the many differences.
I feel almost uneducated when I say, “I did not realize people would see their position in a church as ‘a job’. Something they would leave to pursue advancements, something they would leave because it wasn’t working out.” Why I thought people would stay in their positions as an Associate Pastor or Director of a Christian Education or a Social Media Coordinator at one single church for their entire career is beyond me.
I think this level of stability is what I wished for like a child wishes that it was their birthday every week, the way we wish for Summer to be here (or in my case for summer to END!).
I have been so fortunate to have family style connections with the staff at our church - to love unconditionally and to receive that love back, to lean in, get close and be so attached.
So attached that a few years I sat in agony across the table from my dear friend thinking, “how in the world am I supposed to compact what she has meant to me into a 30 sec blurb for her going-away video?” I am attempting to avoid the overdramatic, but it was crushing. She fell into the friend group I call, “I loved you before we moved here”, those are the people who loved on us, who we were bonded to before we came to live in Northwest Houston almost five years ago. Some of them are there because they loved on Matt as he lost Nici, some are there because they welcomed Shelby before they even met me. I am so blessed with an amazing church family and that’s why when one of my loved ones leaves to pursue amazing callings and new positions that are so deserved it is still so hard.
It was hard to see my teenager’s face crumble when she learned her youth leader and longtime family friend (again, who we connected with before we were members) was leaving to plant a church. Then, like dominos my dear friend (mentioned above) left for an amazing position in a state district office. More recently, someone who Shelby grew very close to and I just adored left for a great position at the national level doing exactly what God called her to do, but man did it hurt. I feel almost selfish now sitting her (in tears) worried about my feelings and how much it hurt me (and Shelby), but I feel like I need to express those feelings - as crazy as they may sound.
I did not want to like you because I made a vow to myself that I would not get attached to any more staff at my father-in-law’s church.
Let me clarify - any more NEW staff. I am stuck with the love that I have for the ones that were there before. I have even turned to my closest friends and said, “If you say the word ‘call’ or ‘move’ I will most definitely die!” Yep, dramatic I think is one of my gifts.
Also, feel like I need to say that I have heard countless times that while my father-in-law is human and might have “some moods” as Morgan would say, he has been called “the best pastor I have worked for” by multiple staff (current and former). So it’s not JAGdad running off his staff.
After our last dear friend left our church I said, “I will not get attached to anyone, again. I will be polite, kind and smile, but I don’t want to know them. I don’t want to hear their story, I don’t want to let myself love them.”
So a few Sundays ago after you spoke to Matt and I, with that smile that is so hard to resist, I turned him and said, “Damn it, I like her. Ugh, I did not want to like her!” Ah, yes, I cussed inside the walls of the church, but softly and just in front of Matt.
This was not my plan! I resisted the urge to help you move into your new home, I’ve kept my distance, but ugh you pulled me in time and time again with your ability to be so real, so understanding, so dang likable!
And now I am this crazed woman thinking, “I really want to know more about her. I think we could be friends. I wonder if she and her husband want to come over for dinner?” The me from months past (you know Dana January 2018 version) is so irritated by my eagerness to make friends with you!
Moral of the story: God’s not going to let me not love those he wants me to love. If He has a plan for me to connect with someone then stand back because He is going to make it happen no matter how much I fight it.
I feel like God has to remind me that I did not lose Jon, Rhonda or Meredith and though I can’t just walk into their office to distract, I mean chat, them on a weekly basis they are still in our lives - Rhonda and Meredith especially. And though all of the feels flood back when I run like a fool across the worship center to hug one that showed up unannounced those feeling give me the opportunity to say in person how proud I am of them and how much they are loved!