Post Author: Name Withheld
We continue our two-part series on the space between "single" and "married" with another young clergy woman's experience...
As I considered where I might go on vacation this summer, I knew it had to be somewhere tropical. Having visited some beautiful beaches before, I knew deep within me that this would be the most relaxing, rejuvenating and restful experience that summer vacation had to offer.
Right about when I was dreaming up this idea, I met someone. Over these last few months, I’ve had to adjust my independent and sometimes selfish life to once again include someone else in the constant push and pull of time and compromise that lives within a relationship. And to be honest, I’ve loved every minute of it. It seemed to make perfect sense to both of us that we would vacation together.
With my dream of beaches and his love of going anywhere to get away from work for a bit, we decided on a tropical paradise far from home. We booked the car, the hotel, our plane tickets to Mexico and off we went.
Somewhere in my dream vacation world, I forgot to consider that perhaps my church would be uncomfortable with this arrangement. In all seriousness, I didn’t plan on telling them. And as we all know, living in community and transparency doesn’t necessarily work that way. They have questions all the time like, “When are you getting married?” and “When will the engagement happen?” and “Do you think you’ll start having children immediately?” They do not know how to live with us in this dating phase.
When I was single, I received comments about “me not trying hard enough” or “being too picky” to find a partner. And now that I’m partnered up, they don’t know how to deal with the idea that I just might be a sexual being before I am married. Newsflash: I was a sexual being before I was ever in a relationship.
But back to vacation. As news trickled to a few that I was going away, just me and the boy, I received questions like, “Are you all meeting other friends there?” Translation: “Please tell me that you are so that I can possibly believe that you will be staying in different hotel rooms.” And “How many of you are going?” Translation: “Maybe I misheard and it’s not just the two of them going away together.”
My congregation is wonderful and they really do want me to be happy and in a good place. I must ask the question: why do they all think they know what is best for me? This stuck-in-the-middle between single and married isn’t an uncomfortable place for me to be, even though it appears to be for them.
In their minds, I might be in between singleness and marriage, but I’m turning the tables and asking the question of what my relationship means to the congregation and me. Maybe their intense questioning and curiosity is because now they are wondering how my relationship with them will change. I am now stuck-in-the-middle with them of re-negotiating boundaries and introducing them to someone I love and I have to figure out how to bring him into the crazy, beautiful world that we call church. I’m willing to live with them there in that tension.
The beach was beautiful, by the way.