Nerves. Stomach churning nerves. I had been nervous before, but this time was different. This time was a first.
Diana and I pulled into the parking lot with tempered excitement and bursting uncertainty.
As we got out of the car and walked hand-in-hand to the door where the team to interview us had gathered, we immediately sensed a warmth and even a strange familiarity.
Introductions. Exchange of pleasantries. Simple chatter.
We took our seats for the interview to begin.
Diana sat to my right. Around the tables formed in an oval, Brian Beasley sat to my immediate left. Shirley Davis sat on Brian’s left and the rest — David Routh, Amber Ward, Neal Hughes, Curt Whitley, Susan Marshall, and Robin Halsey — wrapped around the tables with Robin sitting next to Diana.
Prayer. The interview had begun.
As questions began to focus on Diana and me, and Pleasant Garden Baptist Church, I can distinctly remember my nerves settling. Question followed question. Our answers began to be more and more relaxed as we, almost imperceptibly, began to converse rather than interview. We laughed. At a few points, some of us even cried. I distinctly remember tears in David Routh’s eyes on a couple occasions. In Amber’s as well. Not so with Brian. The lawyer in him held his cards so close to his chest I had no idea what he was thinking or sensing.
The first of two moments when I knew that God’s hand had been all over this interview occurred when Diana began to share about her mission trip to India the year before. With zeal, joy, and passion she affirmed a church with a strong missions emphasis and exalted the God who guides our steps into difficult places. After she finished, Curt looked at her with a glint in his eye and said, “Diana, I’ve got just one question, why didn’t you apply for this position?” All of us laughed a joyful laugh of closeness, camaraderie, even friendship.
The interview moved on through other questions, conversation, dialogue. As we finished around the two hour mark, Diana slipped to the restroom with a couple others. That’s when the second moment happened. A couple of the ladies on the committee asked to see pictures of Joseph. As Diana returned and began to chat with them, showing pictures of our wonderful child, it occurred to me: if that hadn’t gone well, they wouldn’t have wanted to know about Joseph.
A few minutes later, Diana and I left. As we got into our car, with tears in the corners of our eyes, she said, “They felt like friends we’d known for a long time.”
They did. They sure did.
*March 26, 2019 marks the one year anniversary of the first interview Diana and I had with the Search Committee from Pleasant Garden Baptist Church.