We were ordained in June and started work the next day, 6 months ago to be exact! I look back and think about how far I’ve come in that time, and I’m amazed!
I’ve been doing some reflecting and here are some of the things I’ve learned so far.
Loving people happens much faster than I thought. I come from community of which I had been a part of for 20 years before I moved to Formby. I love them dearly, but I had assumed that was because I’ve known them for so long. I was, therefore, really taken by surprise when it took just a couple of months for me to look around church during the final hymn and think ‘I love this lot’. Truly, the congregations I work with are great. They’re lovely and funny and quirky, and in some ways I’m still working them out. But I love them, and it happened a lot quicker than I ever imagined.
It’s the little things. No, it really is. Bringing thousands of people to Christ is a calling and gifting that very few people have. The most rewarding things in my job are the little things. A confirmation candidate who jumped up and down as I presented her with a youth Bible. A card from a family who thanked me for making them feel welcome as they starts coming to church. Good feedback from a funeral which I thought was going to be tricky. Learning to watch for God in the small, everyday moments is a joy and it brings a new perspective.
Sunday lunch. It’s ok to be too tired to cook on a Sunday, and to not want to spend a day off (Saturday) prepping veg!
I can be more flexible than I thought. Within a month of arriving at college, we did a day on Myers Briggs and I came out as ISFJ. The only one of these personality traits that was particularly strong was J. A ‘J’ person is organised, plans well in advance and like to have things categorised. I’d got into the mindset that because I was a strong J, I couldn’t blag things, prepare things last minute or live not knowing exactly what was coming in the next week. This is untrue. Working in a new environment has shown me that I can be flexible and that, even though it’s not my preferred way of working, I can prep things last minute and do so well.
Context is vital. Understanding where you’re ministering and what that place is like is so important. The history of the church and the people are really important when working out how to lead people and why people are responding in a certain way.
Sermons. There is no longer time to stress for a whole week over each sermon. A bit of adrenaline is good, but preparations need to be more effective than worrying the whole time!
Professionalism. I think that in some ways this is an unhelpful phrase in the Church. But the fact still remains that what we do, we do as our jobs and most other people in our churches are there in a recreational sense of some sort. It seems to me that this is a really complicated dynamic at times, and I’m still getting my head around it.
People. I have met many generous, kind and hospitable people. Their faithfulness to the church and God is remarkable. I get to work with some very inspiring people!
The curate’s spouse. This is weirder and more complicated than I imagined. But what surprises me most is how I feel about Nathan’s church. I never felt called to be the wife of a cleric. It’s still a shock that I am. But there is a part of me that would love to know his church better, and I could absolutely see myself being a part of their community there too. The thing is, his lot are fab as well! I wouldn’t change a thing about our situation, but I do find a small part of me being sad that I can’t be more involved in what they’re doing. I suppose it’s a case of ‘too many lovely people, too little time to get to know them all’!
Prayer makes all the difference. If you followed my old blog while I was at College, you’ll know that I got to a point where I really struggled with prayer. But since leaving Durham and starting curacy, I have found praying so much easier and I really value it in all I do. Prayer, more than anything else, prepares me for any day or task and I definitely feel the benefit of it.
There’s so much more I could say, as the job seems to have no limits sometimes. But these are some of the first things that spring to mind when I look back over the past 6 months.