A Whole Person

Post Author: Kate Smanik-Moyes

black and white photos of different faces covering a large wall, with three women on a bench looking at them

Last night as we lay in bed, my husband Simon, who is a student at the college where I am the chaplain, mentioned that a fellow classmate had asked to “friend” him on Facebook. He asked what I thought he should do, so we began a conversation about his options and how he might handle the situation, knowing that there wasn’t really a perfect answer.

“There are consequences if I choose not to friend her, if I choose to friend her while locking her out of all the personal portions of my page, or if I choose to leave it all wide open,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I don’t want her to see the pictures from the last time we went clubbing or the ones of me in the wedding dress at my stag do.”

Three years ago we never would have had these conversations, but now that I am clergy, these conversations are a constant. We both must filter what we share with the people around us based on context, their confidentiality, and what we want the world to know about The Chaplain.

We all filter the pieces of ourselves that we share with others. Often unconsciously, we build up certain parts of the story and censor others so that what we have to share will flow easily into our listener’s mind, mingling with what they already know about us. Sometimes we choose to filter in order to avoid difficult conversations and truths. And sometimes we filter because we must, because jobs or relationships demand that our story fractures, so that some pieces may remain carefully reserved for telling in special circumstances only. As ministers this is a reality of what we do. Sometimes it is the work that allows us to minister in our context and to our people.

So when I think about my relationship with “the ones I love,” especially my husband, these are things that come to mind. Simon is the person who keeps me in check. He is the one who knows all of the truths about me, the things I share in my public persona, and, more importantly, the things that I don’t. It is in that knowledge and understanding that I see God’s love and omnipresence most often reflected back to me.

It’s Simon who reminds me daily of who I am when I have forgotten and provides the space where I can be my integrated self. He watched me grow through divinity school, has traveled with me from the UK to the USA, and together we have moved and grown in ways we never expected. Our relationship is sacred because of the covenant we made together before God and because of the ways in which God connects us and connects through us. And without Simon around, this work would make me crazy.

I suspect that there are some things that Simon doesn’t yet know, some truths and treasures yet to be excavated by our relationship, but I thank God daily for all he does know. For I am comforted by the knowledge that when I walk through our front door, I may leave my public persona in the dust and spend a few precious hours just being me.

The Rev. Katherine Smanik-Moyes is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and serves as the chaplain of Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Kate met her husband Simon while working with the Presbyterian Church (USA) in England and Northern Ireland.

Image by: gerald
Used with permission
3 replies
  1. Heather Culuris
    Heather Culuris says:

    It has been a challenge at times to find places to just BE…. In our first call, I tried a water aerobics class. Until the newspaper article came out welcoming us as new pastors to the area. Then all the women in class talked to me so much about their family issues and concerns that I was never able to exercise….. In small towns especially, one is always the pastor whether you are getting your hair cut, going to the beach, or picking up your mail. Thank you for writing about how we try to protect parts of our privacy!

  2. Ruth McCaughren
    Ruth McCaughren says:

    FB is a nightmare for this kind of thing ! Never before have clergy had to think like this surely?! I’ve gone for a limited profile with anyone at my church that just ringfences tagged pictures of me and one or two albums of holiday snaps.


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