I've been writing or avoiding writing this blog for weeks. If you blog, you know what I mean about avoiding writing... it's in your head, on the tips of your fingers, but something prevents you from putting it down for others to read.
One of my closest friends and my boss, Julie Reid, resigned her leadership position in order to keep our ministry team in tact. I could easily have blogged about this... how our team is not in tact without her... it's her team... STOMP... but that's not the point of this blog. I understand and fully respect her decision, even if I don't like what it means. Really.
You know how when sociologists or linguists discover a new language and they find that there aren't words for certain things, because there's no frame of reference in a particular culture. This is how I feel. I have been so impacted by Julie I cannot find the words to express her impact on me personally and on my development as a leader. I have served nearly 9 years under her influence day in and day out, knowing that we were working toward the same goal. Thus no blog written yet.
Yesterday, though, was her last day. So the time has come. We of course, had lunch together as a team.
I finally began to collect my thoughts and find a few words during her final hours as my boss. She wanted to complete my annual review and a section of the review included the following question: What do I do as a manager that keeps you motivated in your job/ministry. I could have easily put in a n/a here since it was her last day. But, somehow this question helped me to find words for what I have been feeling and what I will miss desperately. Here is what I wrote:
encourages (gives courage) advocates for the vision and mission and me personally, is wise, thinks bigger, refocus/changes my narrow perspective
Julie and I are nearly opposites. She's delicate and gentle and quiet and thinks before she speaks and is a tender warrior. I'm a tomboy and an impulsive, aggressive engager. In many ways we could have had one of those relationships where i say black, you say white; I say up, you say down. But she, has stretched and grown me to see life and people from a totally different perspective and she's right (too). I say right (too), because a conversation with her was rarely a changing of my mind, but rather a broadening of my thinking, a reframing, a refocus. She made me better.
A Julie'ism is that we should respond to people out of spirit of good will. This is true, of course, but in ministry, which is SO relational, it has been transformational for me. What if when someone shared a concern, dislike, criticism, general observation, I responded out of a place of good will rather than defending, explaining, criticizing in return. Sounds simple enough, but pay attention to your day, how do you respond? This thing alone, good will, could pretty much change the world.
One thing I'm afraid of is the knowledge that her leaving work will redefine our interaction. I am terrible at maintaining relationships which are not in my path. Horrible. People I adore, are ignored. By me. As I write this I am reminded that a year ago this week, Julie had a heart attack and then open heart surgery. This got our attention. It has changed her in ways that she is only now beginning to understand. It changed my relationship with her, as well. It helped me to cherish every moment and hard conversation, to listen more, to let tears flow and to relish every laugh with her this year. It was a year of holding nothing back together and I'm so grateful for it.