Here’s the fourth guest post on young vocations, this one from Hannah Barr…
Come Forth As Gold
A few weeks before I went to BAP, all I wanted was for people to stop giving me BAP advice! Everyone I spoke to gave me well-meaning, but conflicting, advice. One person would say, ‘only talk in five out of the seven discussions and make sure you’re first to speak in one of them’, only for another to say, ‘make sure you speak in all of the discussions, but never be first to speak’. Someone would say ‘big yourself up,’ another ‘tone yourself down’, and others ‘just be yourself’ (FYI, the latter is the best piece of BAP advice).
The discernment process, no matter what age you are, asks a lot of you, challenges you, scrutinises you. And if you are young, sometimes that scrutiny feels all the more intense. The early months of my official discernment process were characterised by my never feeling enough. I wasn’t good enough, holy enough, missional enough, experienced enough, clever enough, old enough, Church of England enough, certainly not ‘priestly’ enough – I wasn’t anything enough.
In that place of overwhelming worry, I felt a bit like Job when he looks in every direction and can’t see God but still proclaims ‘[God] knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.’ (Job 23:8-10). In the work God has done on me through this process, which has at times felt like open-heart surgery performed by my (wise and wonderful) DDO, I was able to shift my perspective and enjoy the communal process of exploring my vocation.
It looks something like this: God hasn’t called a sinner, he’s called his redeemed child. He hasn’t called someone inexperienced, he’s called someone bursting with potential. He hasn’t called someone who loves too little, he’s called someone who longs to love more. Don’t apologise for your age, your church tradition, your naivety or enthusiasm, only apologise for doubting that the God who went to extraordinary, death-defeating measures to unite you – then look at that cross and know you are forgiven.
You are enough. God loves you and has called you as the person you are, not the person you want to be. Formation is important and never-ending, but who you are right in this moment is the person God has called. He has called present you before he has called future you, with more experiences, more mistakes, and more wisdom. Because who you are, right now, is enough. This process will test you, but you will come forth as gold.
Hannah will begin training for ordination in the autumn at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford, where she’ll be working on a doctorate on theological ethics, looking at sexual consent. She tweets at @HannahE27, blogs at ablazeoflight.wordpress.com, and has just spent an extraordinary and transformative year as a member of the Community of St Anselm.