I am on a flight to Dallas so that I can hop in a car to Oklahoma to see the lovely Lela get hitched. I am kind of in awe of this moment, not just because Virgin America and Chrome gave me a computer to use and free internet. (It is fun and all, but nothing compared to the weekend ahead.)
You see I remember Lela when she was moving into the residence hall where I was a Chaplain. I never would have guessed that this girl with a shamelessly offensive sense of humor and a heart of gold would have ended up being such a good friend. In fact the rules of healthy boundaries in relational work almost forbid it. If I had know at 24 what I know now about how I am supposed to love people from a tiny bit of a distance, because I am a helper by profession, I am fairly certain I would have never cuddled on the couch with students, and woken poor Lela up before her morning class to complain about my wretched boyfriend. Most significantly 6 years later I wouldn't be on my way to see her on one of the happiest days of her life. Losing all those things would be highly disappointing.
It is odd how my profession works. It is my vocation to care for people: to coach, to guide, and to love. It is also part of my vocation that I am not a dear friend. I am: a chaplain, a teacher, a case manager. I am whatever title might be at the job I am in. Still, as I go on this trip I am realizing the need to be careful to not be too connected to that boundary.
Somehow or another people trust me to care for them, and they often care for me in return. As I have been reading Henri Nouwen's Creative Ministry I have been struck by the need for the teacher to be taught by the student. Lela is far from being my student these days, but she once was, and she has taught me a great deal. Lela has taught me patience, love and forgiveness. She has shown the strength of a young woman willing to make huge changes in her views on the world and than acted on those changes. It has been a few years since I was her chaplain and I see her entirely as a peer. Nonetheless, she treats me with such care and respect I cannot help but remember the role I have been trusted with and it has be in awe.
All this to say: I am on my way to Oklahoma and I am thrilled to see this lovely lady get married. I cannot wait to meet her future husband and I am overwhelmed by the joy of this moment. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
I plan to document my trip with fun photos, get excited.