In my very first article for this column, in October 2007, I wrote the following statement: "In my better moments, I remember to choose not to be defined by absence. I choose to be defined by presence: by my own full presence in the world, by the presence of those who love me, and by the presence of God within and around me."
Wow, was I wise or what?
Frankly, there have been times in the last three years in which I should have been reading my own writing, or paying more attention to the thoughts of some of the other wise women whose work I have had the pleasure to edit and post for Fidelia's Sisters. So much of what has appeared here has been, as the column's title suggests, a guide – but perhaps more than that, a voice whispering in my ear, at just the moment when I have thought that I am the only person on earth who has ever felt like this, "You know, I feel exactly the same way!"
Next month I will move on to editing the column Christ and Creativity, leaving the Single Rev's Guide to Life in the capable hands of Leah Grundset. However, before I go…I have learned much from editing this column about how to navigate the peculiar waters of being a single minister. Perhaps some of you learned with me. For my final article as editor of this column, I thought I'd share a few of the things I have learned.
1. Other people will define you by your singleness. You can't change this, so it's best to accept that it will happen.
2. That doesn't mean you have to define yourself that way.
3. Living alone is wonderful, scary, freeing, sometimes the best idea ever, and sometimes…not.
4. It is entirely possible to buy/rent/build/decorate/nurture the home you want whether or not there is someone else living there with you.
5. It's okay to keep the details of your love life to yourself, no matter how often your congregation asks.
6. It's also okay to share some of the details (appropriately, of course). Your congregation likely wants to know you, and that's a part of you.
7. Embrace the prying; it makes for good stories later.
8. Friends with whom you can be absolutely, totally, unfilteredly yourself are a necessity.
9. There are many reasons why this column has the largest number of authors who choose to remain anonymous, and these reasons are the same as the reasons we must speak out – even if it's not always safe to put our names above what we've written.
10. No matter how weird, scary, crazy, shameful, or freakish you think whatever you're going through is, chances are, one of your clergy sisters has gone through something very similar.