Since I last posted, a lot has happened. I’ve just finished my first “proper” week at Trinity College Bristol, and before that had a VERY hectic induction week. The week before that, I moved house. Last Sunday, I left St Paul’s Church in Newport (where I’ve been on staff for the last 3 and a half years), and then on Tuesday, I was commissioned in the inauguration of the Benefice of Bedwas, with Machen, with Michaelston-y-Fedw, with Rudry (I know, it’s a mouthful).
Things have been so busy and hectic, I’ve hardly had time to stop and think as my life starts to turn in a completely different direction, with new hopes and fears emerging, a putting down of an old identity, and picking up a new one.
To be honest, whilst it’s been really exciting with all the change, it’s also been hard, upsetting at times, and also stressful.
We were warned about the loss of identity that we will experience during our induction week. One of the staff said that Theological College brings people with previous lives together and puts them on a level playing field, starting off together. I understand this – but I don’t feel so strange about not having an identity in college – personally, I think it’s a good thing.
On the other hand, I’m glad the general theme of “loss of identity” came up. I knew it was coming, but one can never feel totally prepared for the feeling to actually begin to settle in. I feel the loss of identity most in the fact that I’m now in a different house, in a different church context.
The inauguration/licensing service was great, and people were so, so welcoming and friendly. Yet this is a completely different animal to where I was before. Single parish to multiple church benefice; low, Charismatic, Evangelical church (which I’m most comfortable in), into multi churchmanship set of churches, some of whom don’t know where they are in the “high/low” spectrum of Anglican churches. From a place of theology that I feel safe with to theologies where I’m not sure, where language is a barrier, and it’s all too easy to be misunderstood.
I guess it’s all to do with relationship. Three and a half years is quite enough time to mould and deepen a relationship with a boss, a Vicar, and a congregation, but less than one week?! It’s only natural that I’ll feel partly disconnected and unsure. Yet my first service is the 5th October, and then off I go. I can’t help but repeat the desperate prayers that I said at my selection panel.
The other worry for me at the moment is balancing study with my Church responsibilities, and my personal life; a question that’s being discussed by people at Trinity at the moment, so watch this space. It may need my DDO to have some input too, but I’m sitting on it for now whilst I wait to hear advice from Trinity College.
But all in all, despite the weird feelings, and the emotional drives to and from college which I use to have a very informal conversation with God, I’m happy, and I feel that I’m definitely in the right place. I wouldn’t be here if God didn’t want me to be, and if I’m here, it means that there’s work for me to do.
Am I in a desert place at the moment? I don’t think so, but equally, the fine detail of my future remains unknown. I have a general idea of where it’s all going, yet for someone who likes everything sorted, I can’t help but feel not knowing every step along the journey is like a thorn in my side.
Maybe this is a real life experience of what it means to count it as (and at the same time feel it as) joy when faced with all sorts of trials (James 1:2). I pray that God would give me the grace to continue holding all this lightly in order that he can take it from me freely, and also that I would be the best example for Jesus that I can be.
Same prayers are said today for all the new friends I’ve made at Trinity, whatever their trial, circumstance or feeling.
Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre.
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