False intimacy

False intimacy January 5, 2010

My children don’t have grandparents they really know that well or even remember, they are only able to see them a few times a year.They see their Great-grandparents even less. We don’t have Aunts, Uncles or Cousins that live any closer.

In Ministry, you usually live a long way from family, yet you are surrounded by people that you love and take care of.

The church is really the only extended “family” my children have. If we have any birthday parties, the little kids from church will be attending. If we get any Christmas presents, they will probably be from someone at church. If we visit someone, it will probably be a church member. These are the people my children know.

This church has really sought to embrace us and try to fill the family gap, and on the one hand its a great thing. Without their attempts to include us we would never go anywhere but the grocery store and church.

But as I watch my 1 1/2 year old daughter climb into the lap of her little friend’s Grandpa and give him a kiss, it makes me uncomfortable. I’m glad these people are friendly, but my children should be able to have this with their own Grandparents. How old will my children be when they realize that even though these people are nice to them, they are not their real grandparents? My children will never mean as much to them as their own grandchildren do.

And what happens when we eventually move on? The average church stay is 3-7 years. My children will lose everyone they know.

I actually asked my husband about it (since he grew up in the parsonage) and he remembered this. He said that when they moved it was almost as if everyone had died, and yet you couldn’t grieve them because they were really still alive, they just weren’t a part of your life any longer.

Families with kids who have game nights with your family, exchange babysitting on a regular basis, you have sleepovers with their kids. Now you never see them again.

Grandparent figures who throw you birthday parties and give you gifts. Now you never hear from them again.

And that’s not even counting all the people who pretend to be friendly so they can try to influence the Pastor to change something about how the church is run.

My husband said that he learned not to get to close to anyone, since they eventually they would be gone. This has even affected his ability to make deep friendships and trust people.

I’m not sure how to handle this dilemma of false intimacy. On the one hand I want my children to be friendly, I am glad they have safe people they can be with and feel loved by.

I understand that many times when people live far away from family, they don’t have the instant feeling of closeness that ministry creates. Since we are the Pastor’s family, everyone in the church feels as though they know us, creating this atmosphere easy affection.

But it isn’t really that deep.

I know that they care about us, they want to be there for us. But we are not family, so it is not the same. I know this, my husband knows this, but do my children?? And how do you explain something like that?

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