what it means to be a girl friend… and a pastor

This past weekend, I got to hang out with a ton of my friends from college. I felt almost like a completely different person while I was around them – even though I had a “pastor” hat on for a bit of the time.  I had the honor and the privledge of marrying two of them while we were gathered… but at the same time, I was also just one of those crazy college roommates. 
All of those people knew me before I was “Pastor Katie.”  They knew me as a friend and as a girl who likes to giggle and while I was the religious life council girl back then, I was also the one who… well, what happens at the PAC house – stays at the PAC house.
But what happens now that you become a pastor?  Where do you find good friends?  Where do you find people that you can go to and talk about all of your problems and struggles and be really, really stupid with? Who do you stay up until 3am with? 

For the most part, I have solved that dilemma because my husband gained some friends through his brother who then became my friends.  Completely unchurch related friends.  I can hang out without having to be professional, or worry about what might come up next. I still have to cut festivities short on a Saturday night so I can get up and preach the next morning, but I get to experience with them what I used to remember as a “normal life.” 

But I think even with that bunch there is something missing, because aside from being the “pastor”,  I’m also the only girl… or at least have been for a long time. 

And I think I really miss the kind of companionship that a best girl friend offers.  And I know that I have been lucky enough to have found some amazing best friends in the past… and right now, I really wish I had someone to shop with, and watch crappy girl movies with, and talk about girl stuff with.  I miss the circle of friends who gathered every Tuesday night in seminary to have pizza.  I miss the estrogen that radiated out of the upstairs of the PAC House or Bubbly Manor (the names of our in-famous college abodes).  I miss the crazy antics of teenage girls… that somehow are rekindled when JSTACK has the chance to get together every year or so.

But what happens when that person doesn’t live next door to you anymore?  What happens when the nearest girlfriend lives an hour away?  And how do you get yourself to a place where you can find someone like that in your neighborhood, when you live in the parsonage in a small town? How do I find people my own age to hang out with… without also thinking about how I can get them involved in my church or what I might need to ask them to help out with next?  How can I be a friend when pastors don’t make friends with congregation members? 

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