On the eve before my ordination, one of my best friends was proposed to by the man of her dreams. They share passion, enthusiasm for life and a lovely dark sense of humor. She said yes. There is a beautiful ring (not that rings matter). And they are happy as can be. This might actually be a secret, not the engagement but instead how they met. I'm not sure how public she makes this. I don't know if she tells people, but they met on Match.com. Sssh. I'm not sure why that is something we don't want to confess. But, we do. We are nervous about admitting the truth. So, I will tell the truth. My best friend and her new fiance are one of two blissfully happy couples that I know that met through an online dating network. And how beautiful is that?
So, I came back to Maine and I decided that I would give it a shot -- again. I've done online dating before. I'm not really embarassed by it. But, I'm dating. I'm dating like dating is going out of style. There are three guys right now -- and another four emails that I could reply to but I can't date the entire city of Portland at the same time. There need to be limits.
I confessed this truth to a group of my clergy friends earlier this week. I didn't explain the Match.com part, but the fact that I'm dating. I said it. I'm dating. And it's fun. It's exciting. I even told my colleague at church. It felt good to tell the truth. But, the minute that I told this group of clergy friends I realized something that I had not really thought about before. My colleagues have not wrestled with what it means to be single in the parish. (This is not entirely fair to one person that will read this post. Forgive me. I know you understand.) My clergy friends were all married when they accepted the mantle of ordination. They all had serious relationships. They were all settled so that having kids in the church was the issue, not finding Mr. Right.
I'm not sure that these experiences are all that different. Each exposes something very intimate and very personal -- especially for women who become more and more visibly pregnant in front of the congregation. I can hide this part. Nothing about my dating life shows, unless perhaps a big ol' hickey appears on my neck. (But, really, that's just tacky. C'mon.) But, I run the risk of being found out. My church could realize that I'm a vital, sexual young woman and all hell could break loose. Ok, that's a huge jump. But, it makes me nervous.
In seminary, we talked about this a lot. There were several women that I shared the turmoil of the harsh reality that I was going to be dating in the parish. I was going to have to face the staff member that wants to set me up with her son (true). I am going to have to deal with the congregant that found out from her son that her son's best friend was dating a young minister in Portland and have her ask me about it on a Monday morning (true). But, most of my girlfriends from seminary seem to have gotten married. I'm thrilled that they met THE ONE. But, I haven't. I am still dating. And it sucks.
No, that's not true. It's really fun. But, I feel guilty and I feel guilty for feeling guilty. I feel silly for feeling guilty. Someone, somewhere, tell me not to feel guilty. Please.