Dangling Carrots

Last night I was at a prayer meeting. Wild, I know. But seriously. I love it. It’s my thing. My one thing in the week where I get to go out and plug in, whilst Husband sits out and stays in. Ordinarily, of course, it’s protected. He rearranges meetings and blocks out Thursday evenings because that’s my night.

However, his TI is currently on Sabbatical; the other Vicar in their team is set to leave at the end of this week and the other sort-of team member was re-shuffled to a needier parish a couple of months back. Without going into the complicated details of our particular situation, I guess it basically means that he’s currently flying solo on the collar front; with 2 churches, 2 church schools, a church plant and the accelerated process of taking on a third church and associated school at the end of this week. Again, however, without going in to it, our particular situation does involve lots and lots of wonderful lay people who are sharing the load and helping to move away from the Vicar-does-all model; but still. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, at the moment, Husband is doing ALOT.

I suppose this is partly why I’m feeling so unsettled. It’s a temporary foretaste of the not-so-distant future; the one we’ve been preparing for but haven’t quite lived yet. The one in which Husband is busier and I am more housebound. The one in which he is more stretched midweek- with more assemblies, more meetings, and more pastoral visits- and so his “light” Saturdays become more actual writing days, his Sundays become more eventful and our weekend becomes alot less weekend-ish. Currently, he’s still protecting Fridays (hallelujah!) and we’re still squeezing in our date nights; but anything else, for the next couple of months it seems, is pretty much fair game.

So… what’s this got to do with my prayer meeting?

Oh yes!

This meeting, “my ministry”, the only thing I feel particularly called to on a personal level here, has been pushed aside of late. I hadn’t been able to go for a good 5 weeks and yet, finally, there I was last night.

In the zone.

Sitting. Eyes closed. Nodding. Saying Amen. Whilst also painting my kitchen.

Sorry?

I should be.

I was praying. I was interceding for our town and nation. I was also imaginatively, internally, painting our kitchen.

No, not even our current kitchen.

Our new one.

The one we haven’t seen yet.

The one that exists, somewhere, unaware of the personal pronouns I’m attaching to it.

The almost-hypothetical one.

The one I imagine we might have at that elusive, approaching time, somewhere between now and 2021, “when we move house.”

Ridiculous.

I shake my head and try to refocus.

Yes, Lord! Revival! Hallelujah!

I really do think I’ll introduce blue, you know.

Stop it.

Not blue, exactly, maybe teal. It’s a push for me, I’m always for warmth, but I really think it would compliment the orange. Modernise it a bit, you know? Mmmm.

Oh pants, where are we up to?

Sorry, God. Yes, Climate Change, brexit…

I quite like the idea of yellow and grey in the lounge as well you know, but I think that might be a bit too far outside of our box. I mean, I want to go brighter, but I’m just not sure I can fully cheat on red. Depends on how light the room is I suppose….

Stop it. In the Name of Jesus, sort yourself out, woman.

Of course the photo wall is practically hanging off these days and if one more spring goes on that sofa we’ll all be on the floor. But I’m not finding a new one now, no way. Not “until we move house”.

Aaargh this is not important! FOCUS! Homelessness .. homelessness, Lord…

In fact, I think I’ll disband the photo wall altogether to be honest and just have lots of photos all around the house. Is it wise to have personal photos all over a Vicarage though?

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done…

I mean, the other issue is the bedrooms. I’ve always said we’ll have another crack at our disastrous ministry of hospitality “once we move house”… but these kids keep waking each other up! How can we host/foster/adopt/be a “safe family” if we need to split them up?

Great. Now my head is a jigsaw of beds.

Amen? Amen?! Are we done?

Oh crap, I’m such a sinner.

My head is a mess. A painted, framed, jigsawed mess, set in the British Heart Foundation furniture shop, to the sound of Tom Walker and set to double speed.

But I blame the carrots.

The Curacy carrots.

Curacy, you see, can last anything between two and four years, depending on the dioceses and the role each Rev feels called to next. Officially, our diocese gives three years. However, with plans to reduce that in the future, Husband’s cohort have been actively encouraged to start looking and applying for their next vocation.

Which is a carrot in itself.

And in what feels like no time at all, just like that, the vegetables start rolling and one by one, other carrots begin to dangle.

A conversation here; a meeting there. A lead on one thing, with a very large other thing, eventually leads to nothing. A sniff of this, a whiff of that. I ask, “how was your meeting?” But what I really mean is, “what new comment or snippet of information have you gathered today, which may directly effect our lives and the future of our family?!”

In the meantime, other Curate friends and spouses start to whisper, “don’t say anything, but…”

The carrots are out.

The uncertainty returns.

We’re back two years ago, in the liminal space; waiting, discerning and imagining again.

For the first time in my life, I am looking enviously at our professional, home-owning friends. They’re selling their property-ladder-houses and upgrading to life-houses. They’re knocking down walls and building extensions; replumbing and re-aligning; creating the homes they want in the ways that they want to. And even though I’ve never ever desired to do any of it, (and would never have afforded to or even wanted to afford to anyway!), I suddenly find myself uncomfortably… jealous.

Of the houses? Maybe. (Though I’m very much aware that one perk of this role is the opportunity to occupy homes well above our paygrade!)

Or… of the choice and the freedom and the control? Definitely.

Hence, I think, the paint.

The desperate, creative personalisation of an imaginary home that “they” may or may not move us into next.

So… where’s my faith?

It’s here, dangling like the carrots; trying to overcome the anxiety and struggling to centre my active mind on Christ. It’s trusting in the right place, at the right time; trusting that God will guide and align all things, like He has been doing our entire lives.

It’s hoping for news, preparing for change; banking on forgiveness and thinking it probably needs to fast Pinterest (again!). It’s reading and reminding that this stuff doesn’t count; that the colour of my walls is not what this life’s all about! (I mean, come on?! Really?!)

It’s trying so hard to remember that God is in control. It’s failing. It’s saying sorry. It’s letting God and letting go.

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