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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Process Stories

Friends, I talked to many people this past week who are in the process of figuring out what to do next in their lives. Discernment is not just for those of us who are clergy (or prospective clergy). I remember quaking as I prepared to meet with the Committee on Ministry. I took their input seriously and expected they took their responsibility to God, to me and to our denomination as one of equal gravity.

But there are some people who just seem to want to get in our way as we move along the path, aren't there? (In my case, it was usually me!) What is the resistance all about? Is it a valid test of call? Or something negative that seeks to disrupt what is right? Or some of both?

If you have a process story that might be helpful to others on the path, I hope you will share it in the comments here or link to your blog if you post one there.

13 comments:

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  2. I learned that the barricades are sometimed there for a reason. See my blog for more.

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  3. I am so at that point, of trying to figure out what's next. And feeling resistance, from so many fronts.

    I've posted a couple of times how nerve-wracked I am about discerning my vocation. I know I am a writer, but is that what I am called to be, or is that a talent that I am called to put to better use? I know I am a mother, but is that a biological fact rapidly waning as my son (now living with his dad) hits adolescence, or a vocation for life that will take many forms regardless of whether I have more children with my fiance?

    There are a great many things that I know I am, but I don't know what I am called to be. I worry that I am still looking for the normal life I've never had, even though I know deep down that normal is a quintessential thing that no one attains.

    I have a certain amount of que sera going on, but I have lived the kind of life wherein things don't happen unless you plant the seed. Now I have all these seed packets, and a lot of soil, water, sunlight, and plant food, but only so much of each for all these seeds. Which do I plant?

    Sigh!!!!

    Thanks to anyone else who shares.

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  4. I'm going to talk about this a bit tonight on my blog

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  5. I am going through a very rough patch with this too.

    All of us are called! The point is to build up the body of Christ and make disciples. why? to bring His love to a broken people who have lost connection with Him.

    God needs us all.
    But some are called to be Revs (pastors, priests)and religious (nuns, monks etc)

    I believe I am one of those who are called to be a pastor.

    Yet there are doubts

    How do I know I am called?
    How is the calling confirmed and re-confirmed?
    What about the character flaws I have?

    I wonder how can I - and how do you - hang onto the God-given vision when the circumstances around seem just the opposite. etc.

    it's easy to self doubt
    "who do you think you are that God could use you as a pastor?"
    it's also easy to fall prey to the doubts of others (esp committees!)

    I wonder - How did you know you were called to be a minister? (or religious /lay leader etc)

    What were the ways this calling was confirmed?

    I've been really discouraged this week :( and then God fills me with little signs of affirmation. It's wonderful - but really a roller coaster ride right now.

    Prayers appreciated

    I don't feel I can blog about this right now - but will write more about this as I can - but I would really like to hear how others (have) cope (d) with this.

    If someone would prefer to do this by email - I'd be happy to do that too -

    lorna AT heavenlytrain DOT com

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  6. This has little to do with the topic at hand, except it does involve a process. I would like to personally thank all of you for the gift of "A Light Blazes in the Darkness" which I have used and thoroughly enjoyed this past Advent season. What a wonderful thing to be able to work together to compile such a very lovely gift for others to enjoy. Thanks to all of you for your commitment and your talents. It was a special Advent for me because I had your meditations to consume daily.

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  7. samtzmom, thank you for your kind and appreciative words.
    Lorna, my passionate sense of a call to life in the church came as a child, was really always there. I just happened to be situated where I never knew a woman could be a pastor. As a young woman I attempted to project my call onto a young man in my life, until a cousin who was an Episcopal priest suggested that the call might be mine instead. I still had no idea that a woman could be ordained (I had grown up Southern Baptist), and I guess I wasn't revolutionary enough to imagine myself as the one to bring about change of that magnitude.
    It was some year later, after I had married and started a family, that we moved to Maine and I began to meet clergywomen everywhere. The seed my cousin planted all those years before began some tentative sprouting at that point, and I began to look into academic possibilities and to learn more about the denomination in which I had landed here through an encounter in a grocery store. (!)
    We all have character flaws. The important thing is to be aware of them so they don't sneak up and bite you in an interaction with those with whose care we are charged. The same is true of our griefs and losses. I know that ill or dying babies are hard hospital calls for me, so I gird myself to get through it and cry later. Therapy of some kind, spiritual direction, Clinical Pastoral Education have all been important tools for self-understanding and discernment.
    If a committee has given you negative feedback, find someone you trust to hear what they said and give you a reality check. They may be wrong, or they may be right for the wrong reasons. In other words, they may have given you some very important information if you can see past their awkwardness or lack of understanding of the process.
    I hope to blog about this later over at my place, particularly about my own resistance along the way.

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  8. I'll blog this....my journey here was so rocky and the road blocks felt almost insurmountable, but I know that I'm where I need to be now.

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  9. I've posted the beginning of my story on my blog. I'll write more later.

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  10. I have posted my comments on my blog. Hope to include my full story of my process in a future blog.

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  11. Kathryn, your posts were really helpful and encouraing for me where I am :)

    thank you

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  12. When I came back to the church in my mid 20's, I had a strong interest in going to seminary. Particularly the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest (www.etss.edu)in Austin.

    I was so convinced I needed to go there, that I made an appointment with the Dean of the Seminary and went to talk to him during Spring Break. He asked me, "why do you want to study here?" I said, "Because I want to know what you teach!" He said, "Do you feel a call to ordained ministry?" I had not even considered that! I did so then, and the answer was clearly NO, though I wished I did have.

    I still dream of it. But I feel certain that God will call me if God wants me there.

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