I agreed to write this post for Jules in a typical gung-ho
Twitter moment and now that I am sat down at my computer I realise that this
will be the first time I put my thoughts about my Bishop’s Advisory Panel, that
was in March this year, to paper (or screen!) When I came home I found it
difficult even to talk to people about it, not least because that answer was
still in the post and I couldn’t bear to rehash it even one more time.
In many ways that is
the hardest time of all, that final waiting. Because it’s not just a three day
interview. It’s years in the making where you put your heart and soul on the
line. For anyone who is doing that, opening themselves up to be analysed and
critiqued by others, putting your future on the line – you are bloomin’ brave.
Be proud of that. God is.
So what of the BAP itself? As I sat down to my last meal of
the conference I couldn’t help myself but exclaim ‘I can’t believe anyone ever
says they enjoy this!’ to the raised eyebrows of the selectors. And a lot of
people do (or so they say…!) So it is possible (Hmmm…). That just wasn’t my
experience. My experience was one of feeling physically, intellectually and
emotionally drained. But lest I put you off there is an upside. The whole
process of selection for ministry, yes, drags you over the coals but my
goodness do you emerge better for it.
I am different now
than I was before I began this process and I was different after my BAP than
when I arrived at it. The selectors were astute and kind, they really did try
to get the best out of me. The other candidates were a dream. I left feeling
affirmed in who I am whatever result arrived in that envelope. And I think that
is the key. Whatever the answer give yourself the peace that comes from knowing
that you were yourself, that they had all the information there is to know
about you and that you represented yourself as you truly are. If you can leave
with that knowledge then you have done everything that can be asked of you or
that you could ask of yourself.
On a practical note there were a few things that really
helped me. The first was gin and tonic in a can. I kid you not. These were
recommended by the brilliant Liz. Those bad boys got me off to sleep and for
that I am eternally grateful. The next must have is a laptop and DVD box set,
something to take your mind of things. There is a surprising amount of free
time to be used up.
The next thing is a
big warm jumper (my room was freezing) and some comfort food. We were fed so
well but a comforting bag of cookies (yes, bag!) really helped me when I was
feeling low. Basically taking anything that cheers you, comforts you and
encourages you is a great bet. Lastly have a friend or family member on hand to
hear your woes (or tribulations!) as needed. Sometimes you just need the ear of
someone who knows and loves you.
Do what you have to do to be yourself in the interviews and
group sessions. People told me I must have a drink at the bar to be sociable. I
am usually the one who throws the parties but this time I just couldn’t handle
it. I took myself to bed with my can of G&T and I’m glad I did. If anything
I’d say drop the rules where you find them. Have I said it enough – be
And so the much anticipated envelope did arrive and I did
get through to start training this September. I said I would cry whatever the
result and believe me I did. There was joy that what I thought God had been
saying to me had been confirmed. Celebration that I knew I had been selected
for this amazing role for who I really am. That my interviewers had seen what I
had to offer and ticked the box that said ‘yep the church needs that.’ And the
quick realisation that the journey has only just begun and that there are no
certainties on this journey, just faith.