But did He?
Something I have yet to talk about on this blog, especially in any detail, is my journey of exploring my vocation. In the last month I have been accepted to train for ordination after 2, somewhat intense, years of exploring what this vocation means and I wanted to document some of my thoughts of the journey.
Being called by God was not quite how I had expected it to be. There was no mysterious phone call in the middle of making tea, followed up by an email from God with all the particulars in it. It was messy. Not the skipping along the yellow brick road kind of journey but more of the kind of journey where you have been picked up by one of those flying monkeys and you have no idea where this journey is going to lead you.
God’s timing wasn’t convenient. My husband was being ordained when I first felt the call and at that point we faced a year of uncertainty with a very wriggly 6 month old. If I had ever got the choice on timing this isn’t when I would have picked but then the likelihood is I’d have avoided it forever.
You see it wasn’t exactly what I wanted from life. I didn’t expect it. I was at a crossroads for sure but I was determined that my journey was heading in a different direction. One where I would feel safe and secure in the knowledge that I had the skills and the gifts.
But God called and I answered why? I seemed like the last person this would happen to. Only 6 years earlier and I would have barely said boo to a goose, never mind getting up in front of people and speaking. I surely could not be the right person for the job. Doubts have continually littered my thoughts. Damaging thoughts despite knowing what I can overcome.
And yet… He called me by name. So I faithfully begin the journey. I took baby steps forward. I met someone; we chatted; I reviewed; I wrote some things down; I doubted; God called: and the cycle began again. I’d like to say that my journey was constantly affirming but my humanity continued to seep through in questioning myself. Why God, why?
The exploring continued with God, at points, stepping in and guiding me gently, although once quite forcibly, back to the path I am meant to be on. Eventually I got to the dreaded BAP. The BAP I was determined I was never going to do. If you are unsure what a BAP is and are interested to know more I have popped some links at the end some of the ones I have found useful. Knowing lots of people who have been through BAP can both be extremely useful and simultaneously terrifying because the horror stories start to come out. It is almost like when mothers try to explain to soon-to-be mum’s the pain of labour. Every bit that could go wrong or has seems to get highlighted into a great magnitude until there seems very little to enjoy about the dreaded BAP.
He called me by name. But did He? As the months turned to weeks and then days I’d expected myself to get into a frenzy about it but I couldn’t quite find myself doing so. Don’t get me wrong there were moments where the idea seemed inconceivable but I used the notion that I was too busy to think about it to help. And so I arrived at BAP feeling woefully unprepared and less spiritual than I would have liked. The people I met were lovely but that first night I faced my first barrier… I was allergic to chapel. Well, not quite allergic but it set off my asthma whenever I went in there. Not exactly what I needed.
But it wasn’t chapel that God entered the picture. God was, of course, to be found in the unexpected places. He was in the peacock I felt compelled to sit with before my first interview. Giving me the peace I needed until I almost felt high off it. The simple peace that lingered with me. A deep-seated peace like I had never felt before. Drawing me out until I became the person I always thought I could be if I was just more.
The peace hasn’t remained with me. God was there in such intensity that a few weeks later, long after I found out my result, I began to doubt once more. Was I really up to the task? I craved that feeling, that peace. But I know, deep down, I am on that journey to become that person I glimpsed at BAP. The one God sees in me. The person I have always meant to be.
So I wanted to document this journey. I wanted it recorded in black and white to always remind me of that feeling, for days where it feels too hard and for days when I just want to quit. But I also wanted for anyone who is reading this to take away that vocation journey (all vocation journeys, not just ones to the priesthood) are messy, and inconvenient, and at times inconceivable but even through the doubts God is there.
May the peace of the Lord be always with you for He calls us by name.
Some BAP blogs: