I lost one of my best friends recently.
He was older. His personality was changed by the stroke he had experienced. He’d become temperamental, irrational at times, and quite needy emotionally. He lived alone and had few friends. He came to my office almost every day for a few minutes for a visit.
He was frustrated that he could not be the person he remembered himself to be. I tried to treat him like a man and I was careful never to talk down to him, even if he acted childish. He in turn gave me his help, sitting with the children at Sunday school and helping with the simple chores—doing these things helped him feel validated.
I did things for him I never do for other parishioners. I gave him money although he never asked for it. I’d often pay for his lunch. I helped him with his paperwork. I stayed with him when was in the hospital, helping him through a couple of physically undignified ordeals (you don’t want to know).
He laughed and cried easily. He especially cried when I moved away and he cried when I came back to visit him.
People complimented me for the way I treated him. They said I went far above the call of duty as a pastor. That’s true, but there was a reason.
We were friends.
I don’t have many of those. You’d think with the thousands of people I have pastored that I would have lots. But I don’t.
Some might think our relationship was rather one-sided with me doing the heavy lifting. It might have appeared that he didn’t have much to offer me. But he did.
He loved me. And he didn’t want anything but for me to love him.
His heart finally quit beating one day, and I’m relieved for him because he suffered so much.
But I miss him. A lot.