It’s a question I have spent a lot of time with.  It’s a question the ordination process is designed to make a person ponder and challenge.  It’s a question I’ve wrestled with before and after each surgery.  It’s a question with a fluid answer.

Some things are constant in their label but mutable in their meaning.  Daughter, Sister, Friend, Priest.  These don’t change.  But the things that are asked of me as a friend are different depending on where my friends and I are and what we are going through.  Being a priest is new and sometimes challenging just for that reason.  And, I have learned, it is a unique challenge to be both a priest and a daughter, sister, or friend.  Which calls for it’s own boundary balancing.

To be sick–chronically ill, is another identity, one that keeps changing on me.  And unlike all of my other identities, all of the other parts of who I am, most people don’t seem to understand either that this change happens to me or what it means when the details of my illnesses change, as they do each time I have surgery.  Some of this is people can’t see anything, so they don’t know to ask.  And if I mention it, people are uncomfortable.  (Which isn’t a reason not to mention it, but is a reason to have a good reason to mention things.)

Which means that when being a sister (for example) and a priest and chronically ill all combine into a problem of boundaries or what I can and cannot do, it is nearly impossible to untangle the problem for someone else to understand.  Because sometimes it’s not being a sister and chronically ill, or ordained and chronically ill, or a sister and a priest, but because of all three.

These answers are fluid.  Sometimes a confluence of events will be a problem and sometimes a similar confluence won’t be a problem and sometimes I don’t know until it’s too late.

Most of the time I’m still looking for the words and the manner to discuss why my life is so complicated.  Because I know that people are uncomfortable when I do, because so much of it is new to me.

But I’m trying, I’m learning, and eventually I’ll be much much better at it.