Wednesdays with Jenni
It’s usually scrambled eggs on paper plates. Or oatmeal with bananas. I get fancy sometimes and poach the eggs, pairing them with a fruit salad. But a lot of times, she picks up Egg McMuffins for us from McDonalds on her way to my house and, bless her, I really love those delicious, calorie-filled sandwiches. I set out the food while she gets two mugs from the cupboard. We do this while chatting, or even in silence, having settled into a routine: every Wednesday morning, at 7 a.m., for the past year.
We pour our coffee and find a spot, maybe on my couch with TV trays, or in the laundry room where there is good light, sitting around a red, retro-awesome, formica table. She never minds the piles of crafts or books or boxes. My house doesn’t have to be clean. I don’t have to be “put together.” We chat while sipping our coffee, yawning, and waking up. We talk about church, or work, or the thing we realized we want to change about ourselves. We hardly ever finish a thought before moving onto the next one, and I didn’t even think to pray for a friend like her. God just gave her to me.
Church ministry can be lonely. You are surrounded by the needs of others, but rarely in a position where true vulnerability feels safe or even welcome. This is not the fault of congregants or leadership, it is just the nature of the job. John Donne famously said that “no man is an island,” but it can sure feel that way, which is why Jenni and I have coffee every Wednesday morning. We both understand island living.
She is a pastor’s wife, and a pastor’s daughter, like me. We share many of the same burdens and passions for the Church, our homes, our marriages, and our work. And even though getting out of bed while it is still dark outside is a little painful for both of us, we know we need these breakfasts. These times to lay our burdens down, share our ideas, funny stories, and podcast recommendations, setting aside leadership and mentorship and all the other ships, just to be friends. To be human. To sip coffee and laugh.
A couple weeks ago she did her makeup in my bathroom while I fried eggs, shouting some morning conversation through the wall. It reminded me of being back in my college dormitory. I smiled, thinking about how rare friendships like this are, post-college. I have someone in my life who gets up extra early before work once a week to eat McDonalds with me on a TV tray, and I think God is so gracious, to give us gifts we don’t think to ask for. To answer prayers we never prayed.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
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