Reflecting over boxes…


IMG_20160613_123252

So, I’m just emerging from the cocoon of life that has been no wifi for over a week. I know, total #FirstWorldProblem but I think we’d all agree that life without the internet is actually quite difficult…

So hence, the blog has been quiet for a few weeks which has frustrated me as so much has gone on that I want to write about, but actually I’ve really needed that time to just focus on family and home, as we have moved house, I’ve finished my training and left my job and as a family left the church we have been part of for the last 6 years.

As part of the series of posts for ‘The Curate’s Journey’ I wanted to write about the emotions of this time and how you might expect to feel but that’s actually really hard as I’m not really sure what I’m feeling. It’s fair to say there have been a lot of tears in the past few weeks but there have also been highs and joys, moments of just sheer exhaustion, and now, well now all the endings are done and it’s just a period of waiting in which I feel a bit numb really, not sure what to feel.

The hardest part is what you’d probably expect – leaving behind close friends. At home this has meant friends we have made over 10 years living in the village we loved, some very good friends in our neighbours who we shall miss dearly, and for the younger kids, leaving behind friends they have known since they were babies and on whose door they could knock for a quick kick about, chat or play without pre-organisation. That village home had a lot of freedom for them as it was a safe bubble in which they knew themselves and were known. For the oldest of course she is at uni, but I think she was yearning for the stability of a home to return to that she knew would be there for her wherever she went, and now that has all changed.

There is much learning to do for all of us.

And at church? well I don’t know where to start really. It is a place that has become home, a family to us, that has embraced us and loved us (as I spoke about in my preach last week) nurtured us, tended to us and prepared us to be sent out. It has been a truly wonderful place to be part of and of course the friends there too are those that I think we’ve found a new level of friendship with, as we have learned to pray and support one another spiritually. Again we are all leaving behind dear friends with whom we have shared huge amounts of our lives.

At college too, I find myself realising that I have grown to love those I’ve spent the last 3 years with. An eclectic bunch as we are, we have bonded over mutual learning, community forming and of course in the bar. I love to learn but I will really miss the company and conversations of fellow learners, as we debate and bounce thoughts and ideas off each other.

But in all that it has been a wonderful season of reflection too as we recognise the amazing things God has done in and through us in the last 6 years, the true friendship we have known and the journey we have been on. The blessings God has given us in that time are too numerous to list and it is with those ringing in our hearts that we step into a new future.

IMG_20160610_150251

St John’s Sub Castro, part of Trinity Church where I will shortly be working…

And as we reflect (currently over unpacking boxes – I am sure this could be a spiritual exercise as memories are unearthed, treasures found and in some cases rejected!) we look to the next step. Here too are blessings as we have a gorgeous new home, and an exciting town to explore. The South Downs within 10 mins walk one way and the shops 10 mins the other. The joy of finding a corner shop open all hours within 3 mins walk is an immediate and simple pleasure of town living, and even better a lovely local just down the road (with a menu of 50 craft beers, husband is well pleased with that one). And what’s more whilst new friends are being made the ones we know, and love, and rely on are actually only 20 minutes away.

I know we are meant to be here and whilst the differences remain and the heartache is still there, the boxes stacked up, huge amounts of house admin yet to be done, no gas or wifi, there is a wonderful peace upon us. God has brought us here and he will sustain us. For a short while it feels like we need to huddle as a family, share in the pains and sadness that only we know, and find our new ways together.

IMG_20160610_150108

View from one of my daily prayer walks around the area. Love the colour of the garages against the downs!

 

The Battle…

20160412_151228

There have been lots of prayer walks in all this too….

So, it’s fair to say the last few weeks have been a total emotional roller coaster. I wrote a few weeks ago about being in limbo and how I was not facing up to how I was feeling. Then God had other ideas and took away all my self enforced deadlines and it all came crashing down. I just had to start to process it all, and that was where the spoken word piece came from. I love writing and I often find it is a way for me to sort out my own thoughts and feelings, it’s cathartic. And this was possibly the most cathartic thing I ever wrote. Because I just couldn’t work out why I was feeling so emotional, I mean I had known I was leaving for ages, I was prepared, or so I thought and writing that just helped me to take the next step…

I finished that piece with the image of me standing in my armour and ready to face whatever I needed to. That actually meant facing some stuff from the past and some stuff I had believed about myself. I’m not sure I am ready to write about all of that but the bottom line is that for the first time in my life I realised I am in a place where I am truly encouraged, affirmed and loved. It’s been quite a revelation for me.

That has partly been about being in an amazing church that has nurtured us, helped us to grow in our faith and embraced us into the family. But more than that, for me, being part of the staff team there has been like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It is a team that has great bonds, that looks out for each other, that supports each other, that cares for each other and that encourages each other. 

I’ve also had a great boss, my Vicar, who has allowed me to be me, and helped me develop into more of the me God made me to be. He has always listened to me, even when he didn’t agree, given me freedom to try new things, take risks and get well and truly out of my depth, all the while gently nudging me forward and giving me encouragement.

I’d never been part of a team like this. I half wondered if all church teams were like it, but I mentioned that to a friend who put me straight on that! So perhaps this one is just special. That isn’t to say it’s all been wonderful, of course there have been ups and downs but even in that we have found mutual support, help and encouragement.

And it’s because of that, that I now find myself feeling good about myself, recognising that I am capable of doing some stuff and that I am both loved and lovable.

That might sound a bit lame, but it’s actually taken me 42 years to really recognise that.

So, why am I sharing all this? because I think it shows how being planted in the right and nurturing environment, can change a person. Totally. I actually don’t recognise who I am half the time!

And of course none of this takes away from the fact that I couldn’t of course do anything without God anyway, but that is the thing, I finally see me as God has made me to be. I can see the gifts he has given me and recognise them as God given. I can understand why he has put me into ministry, when I’ve not really been a Christian that long. I am able to walk in the path he has put me on with confidence, but confidence really, in him.