At the final service of the year at the crumbly old Parish Church in the village I found myself a little teary. Looking around that church I felt deeply content and yet so aware of how I felt when I first sat there nine months before. Walking in excited, yes, but also with a deep wondering if this was something I could actually do. As I've written about before my journey into the glittering world of full time ministry hasn't been conventional. I've not harboured dreams of working under a beautiful spire my whole life or even set foot in a church voluntarily until seven years ago. Rather than creeping up on me, this whole thing jumped out of the darkness and it scared me half to death.
|Pretty lovely college|
Being not exactly what springs to mind when you think 'Vicar' combined with having to learn my way round 'church stuff' as an alien in new lands has, at times, made me feel deeply under confident. Believing somewhere deep down that, at some point, someone might just walk in and say 'What on earth are you doing here?' and send me back to where I came from. When the first set of essay titles came through I couldn't even imagine understanding the titles let alone writing several thousand words on any of these subjects.
This year, more than anything else, I am deeply grateful that I have realised, really realised, what utter tosh all this is. The pile of essays on my desk, all penned by my own fair hand, attest to this. The services led, the confidence bubbling up, the feeling of contentment and satisfaction all point like neon signs to the same conclusion. I always suspected, but now I know it to be true, that each one of us has come to this place exactly because of who we are rather than in spite of it.
The only thing to lament is when we fail to live up to who we really are. That is all that is really asked of any of us. Being accepted for who I am, mocked a little (!) and encouraged a whole heap has made such a big difference to me. I have never been shy in coming forward but now I feel so much more able to do this with all I am rather than attempting to present a version of myself that is so much less than I have to offer.
I am really, really REALLY tired and very, very, VERY aware that there is so much more to come but nonetheless this year has been wonderfully encouraging and deeply satisfying and it seems right to celebrate that. To push yourself to the edges of all you are is something I would heartily encourage. It is there that we really begin to grow and that feels simply brilliant.