I recently read this article about solutions to the loneliness of pastoral ministry, and it hit home, particularly the advice given to find friends who are a) not clergy and b) not part of your church. Reflecting on my own pastoral experience, I've found that to be fairly challenging. When I was in Danville, everyone I knew was either a pastor, married to a pastor, or a member of my church. Seriously. I had no clue how to meet other young professionals in their late 20s/early 30s, and there weren't that many people who fell into that category, anyway. On top of all that, I was in a small community, so too many people knew me as "the pastor of St. John's." Anonymity was difficult. We did have some friends who lived about 70 miles away, and would get together with them from time to time. But local friends? Did not exist.
Now that I'm planning on going back to the parish, I'm struggling with the prospect of experiencing that sort of loneliness again. There are a few things that give me some hope. First, I have children, and I have found that they can be a bridge to potential friendships with fellow parents (play dates, preschool, school, and other interactions). Second, if I am appointed in this area (please God please God please God) then it is large enough, diverse enough, and has enough to offer that meeting other young (under 40) people shouldn't be a problem. Third (and this is also dependent on me being appointed in this area), we already have a few friends here, and those relationships can help support us. Specifically, we have a husband and wife who are probably our best friends, whose son is in between Nora and Walter in age, and who we have known for almost a decade. Since they've known me before I was "Pastor Patti", they see me as a normal person, and I feel perfectly comfortable being transparent and human and knocking back margaritas with them.
However, I do worry about how I'm going to make new friendships in the community. I guess I'm just not the sort of person who makes friends easily. I'm friendly, and can carry on a conversation very well...and I can certainly have many acquaintances. But true friendships, where both parties feel comfortable letting their guard down and being themselves? I don't have a whole lot of those, and struggle with how to make the bridge from acquaintance to friend.
So...how do you typically meet non-clergy, non-church friends?