I missed the 7:25 a.m. bus today. By two minutes or so. If I had made the last stoplight, I probably would have been fine. But I didn't make that last stoplight and I sat there, watching the time click away and no cars go the other direction and knew I was going to miss the bus. The light changed, I turned and saw the bus, turning out of the Bus Center and sighed. 20 minutes til the next bus or drive to work? It was raining, traffic would be heavy, K works down the street from me today, I had a ride home...20 minute wait it was.
I pulled into the Post Office, dropped off some mail and headed to Star$. Of course, there was a line. I looked at my watch, making sure I had time to wait and get back to the Bus Center. I looked up and at the head of the line was a former youth group member. To be fair, he only came to youth group a handful of times in 8th grade, but still. Now, this could have gone one of two ways. He could have looked at me and looked way pretending to not know me (be honest, we've ALL done that!) but he didn't. He smiled. I smiled and waved Hi. The next thing I knew he had paid and was heading back to my place in line to say Hi. A semi-stilted conversation began (give me a break, introvert, 7:30 a.m., I rarely want to get into conversations before 10 a.m., I despise small talk, stilted was the best that I could do). The conversation was interrupted as I ordered and paid and still he stood there, waiting. So I tried again and then, then, conversation began to flow. By the time his coffee order was ready we had been laughing and relating to each other like adults. The shift had happened. It wasn't former youth director and former youth group member, but adults talking about life, about work and about our days.
I've been waiting for this. It's hard, oh so hard, to let go of trying to shepherd and care for the flock that God allowed to wander near me for years. I gather with them and still feel like I'm supposed to keep them safe from wolves and lead them to, well, something. Part of it is my natural instincts and gifting but part of it is them, not being able to, maybe not wanting me to let me put down the shepherd staff and just join the flock. They've done an amazing job at including me and I am beyond blessed and honored to call them friends but still, there are times when I sit there and realize, I'm still in the shepherd role. This journey has been challenging and there is a long road still ahead.
So, today I missed the 7:25 a.m. bus. I had an appointment in Star$ and wound up being a 1/2 hour late for work (rain+windy road=bad traffic) but it was an appointment I needed to keep. I just didn't know I had made it.