The other day I made a visit to a member of our church. She is in an assisted living facility after a number of months moving from the hospital to a nursing home to an assisted living facility then to the one that she is in now. Whenever I visit Harriet* she tells me about her husband that passed away a few years back. And each time, after she gets done telling me about this man and his many good qualities she says, "Clint, I wish you could have known him."
Recently, as I mentioned, I went to visit her. We had a brief conversation about her new home. I was there to check in on her and make sure she was doing alright in her new home. As I was leaving she was telling me how much she appreciated me as her pastor. Then she spoke about how she missed her deceased husband. After that she stopped moving her walker, she looked at me, and said, "I wish he would have known you. I think he would have liked you. I wish he could have known you."
I smiled and thanked her for what she said, and tried not to give away that I was deeply moved. She just changed a few words in her script, but it had really touched me. She valued me enough as a pastor that she wished her deceased husband had known me. I felt like when she had changed the directions of the relationship she was honoring me, showing respect for me, and demonstrating affection for me in a new way. I felt, in short, I had went from being the new preacher to her pastor. As I left, I took a deep breathe, made sure a tear did not well up in my eyes, and departed. Then, I smiled.