Three years ago as I was sitting in a church council meeting, our pastor told us about a CBF program that we had been asked to participate in. This new program paired graduating ministers with healthy churches in a two-year internist learning program. As Ronnie was talking about it, I got chills.
Let me pause here and say that that doesn’t happen to me very often. In fact I can honestly say it’s only ever happened twice. Is this God’s way of talking to me? I don’t know. I do know that both times it’s happened, something really important has followed.
After the meeting, I told him I felt like this was a program we must participate in and that I felt very strongly about it.
I had no idea who the young minister would be.
Fast forward about a year. It was summer and we had a young child. We weren’t getting to church super regularly because, well, we had a little kid. On a Sunday in June when we were there, Ronnie introduced Rachel Luck to the congregation. She was tall and dark-haired and she seemed shy. I wondered if she was so shy, why she had decided to become a minster. Sometime after that, I got an email from Ronnie asking me and about 10 other families to take Rachel under our wing. To intentionally invite her into our lives since we had played some role in getting her to our church.
I asked her to come over for dinner one night. I don’t actually remember the first dinner. Or the second, or the fifth or the twenty-fifth. Yet over the past two years, Rachel has become an honorary member of our household. When she is here, she acts like she is home. She loads the dishwasher after dinner. She has a toothbrush in the bathroom. When Stephen is away on business trips, she spends the night so I won’t go bonkers here by myself. She has become a very good friend. We have bonded in a way that is unusual for me in so short a length of time.
Now the two years have gone by. Rachel has found her first job. She is moving to North Carolina tomorrow. She is coming over for lunch today and it’ll be the last time we see her for probably a long while.
I’ve known a day like this was coming since she got here. This particular day has been looming for several weeks. I have intentionally not thought about it, pushed it out of my mind so that I wouldn’t start feeling the pain of loss too soon. Regretting the hole she will be leaving at our table. Eli doesn’t know life without Rachel. Will she be the first person he remembers moving from his life? And Liza will not know the comfort of having Rachel around.
I am so excited for Rachel. She has found a church that seems like it will fill something in her as she fills something in it. A good match. It’s in a town where I have some college friends and I hope to get in touch with them so she can touch base with them. Geof has a long-time friend at the church where she will be working. Rachel has already met and had coffee with her. A small world moment that made me realize that this was a good move for her, that it was the right path. I can’t wait to hear how her new life takes off, even as a mourn the loss in my life.
I hope it won’t be long before I get to see her again. I hope that these past two years are not all we will ever spend together. I hope her new life is exactly what she needs and her new church is exactly what will help her grow. I hope her new church realizes what they are getting in Rachel.
This is what church is about. Spending time with people. Helping them grow as they help you do the same. Being open to loving someone you know from the beginning will leave. Being open to love a church you know from the beginning you will leave behind.
Best wishes on your journey, Rachel. I can’t wait to hear your new stories even as I’m jealous of your new church home.