A few nights ago, I had an itch to write. However, so much has happened and developed recently that I couldn’t quite remember where I last left off. And so I read back through my last few posts instead. And wow… I got a shock! Things got a little dark back there, huh?!
I am pleased to say, nay relieved to report that actually, presently… things are pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that I wondered if it would be a little too insensitive to write? I mean, I know people. I know people, friends, clergy spouses who are having a really tough time right now. And here we are… at the other end of the spectrum. (Rub it in, why don’t you?!) And yet, on the other hand… I really do feel that I owe you my highs! You faithful, regular-reading lot have had to put up with some serious wallowing over the last two years. I mean, we’ve really covered the depths of some pits together, haven’t we?! The ache of moving; the crisis of identity; the complications of pregnancy; the trauma of childbirth; the jealousy ,frustration and loneliness of this walk of life; the heavy schedules and difficult holidays; parental self-doubt and marital ruts; not to mention the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual need to just escape… to name but a few!
So, here we are. I owe you the good bits too.
Since the retreat I last wrote about, things have really changed. I mean obviously, the New-Year’s-Resolution type stuff about running and healthy eating and switching my phone off and reading ten chapters of the Bible first thing in the morning and last thing at night have all died a quick and painless death… naturally. The kids still aren’t sleeping well, they’re energetic as ever and we are still very much outnumbered. However, we are as excited as we are exhausted. As fulfilled as we are fatigued. And that is a rather beautiful place to arrive at, when travelling hand-in-hand.
See, taking time out and finding space really was life-changing. My energy has since shifted. My focus and my vision have been renewed and regular life has taken, dare I say it, something vaguely resembling a routine that even balances family life and ministry really rather well!
I am using my gifts. I feel utilised, energised, creative. I am building relationships, seizing opportunities; planning, writing, teaching, storytelling; navigating the choppy waters of pastoral care. I am, finally– and rather surprisingly, at this stage- everything that I imagined I would be, three whole years ago. I look at my week ahead with anticipation and think, this is the life I “trained” for. In the meantime, Date Night remains, largely, protected. A year after resorting to extreme measures of romance-rescue, our marriage and all things related to it (ah-hem), is the best it has EVER been. We’ve taken holidays, switched off phones, stolen one-to-one dates with each of our children, and every week I protect a day where they get my full and undivided attention. It won’t always be this way. I know that. I fully appreciate the fact and am almost waiting for the catch! But right now, it feels like this is the way things could and should be; that this clergy spouse lark can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding at times… and that’s worth writing about too!
So… how did we come to this? I think a lot of the new little habits and routines that have paid off probably warrant a separate blog in their own right. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, (and for the sake of encouragement); I think a further step towards permanence and the opportunity to settle has gone a long, long way towards enabling my personal engagement in Husband’s- sorry, our– ministry here.
See, for the last few months Husband has successfully covered his Training Incumbent’s Sabbatical. During that time, he took on a third church, covered shortages, and managed all of the things in such a characteristically Husband kind of way that it left everybody shocked except me. I mean, I don’t know what they were expecting, exactly, but they got precisely what I knew they would, and what they now appreciate they need to keep! Conversations are happening, things are moving swiftly, and he has not stepped down from any of the roles he was supposed to drop last month when his T.I. ever-so-briefly returned. In short, a very public promotion for his T.I has left a very obvious Husband-shaped hole that everyone from the PCC to the school-gate parent fully expects him to fill! And so, whilst it’s really not very Anglican to talk about these things, his intentions to do so are the worst kept “secret” in the diocese, and therefore pointless to exclude from an anonymous blog!
Our intentions to stick around here have had an enormous effect on my relationships and my engagement with the community and the ministry here. I have allowed myself to make friends- real ones! It’s been worth starting things. I’ve invested more of myself than I ever realised I was holding back. I have a sense of belonging that I never imagined I would get within this time frame.
Besides which, this man of mine has barely resembled anything like a Curate for a good while now, and is yet an attentive husband, present father and faithful friend (to me, at least!) I am incredibly proud of him; who he is, what he does and how faithfully he continues to grow into each role that God has given him. I am delighted that he has been given the opportunity for others to see it too. (I mean, I’m also seriously worried about his coffee intake but that is another matter!) None-the-less, watching how he continues to put us first and to encourage and support me as I find my feet, no matter what this “job” throws at him, makes me all the more keen to support him and to join him and to do this thing together. As I said before, it won’t always be like this. But, hey… I’ll write about it while it’s true!
So there you have it. Nothing is set in stone. We think we know where we’re (not) going. But whatever happens… we’re not alone.
“Many plans are in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose which prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21.)