I was alerted to some very interesting statistics via The Ugley Vicar and Maggi Dawn which pose an equally if not more interesting question. Why is God calling younger men and older women? I urge you to read the blogs above for a more eloquent response to this question, however I thought I post this as my personal point of view. As if it is God's will I may be part of similar statistics at some point.
To make this topic personal I need to ask the question a little differently: Why did I get to thirty without exploring my sense of call in any serious way (despite the fact that I have sensed God wanting to use me for His service in some way since I was mid to late teens)?
- I was always aware of my need for God, I was unaware of his love for me until mid-twenties. When I say unaware, of course knew God cares how I lived and behaved and my need to confess my misdemeanors and receive absolution of them. I was aware of a loving God but it didn't hit me that God LOVES me.
- I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. Although acutely aware (usually after the event) of God's presence in each and every part of my life good and bad, I was waiting for that final push. A bolt of lightening and the national lottery "It's You!" advert happening directly to me. I focused on making enough money to live on but never career driven at all, hated the cut-throat aspects of business and could never be an apprentice for Lord Sugar. I focused on doing the task I was given to the best of my ability whilst simultaneously trying to make it as straight forward for everyone as possible. A stressful approach in retail but one I consciously chose. I also spent as much if not more of my time helping volunteers who worked with me and my paid colleagues with their personal problems/difficulties as I did my actual work. I wanted to help. I wanted them to have some idea of this unfailing love and acceptance I had found in God through me.
- I had many many great clergy role models, people for whom Christ really shines through, but only a couple of these were female and all were a couple of generations (at least) ahead of me. Although both my parents supported the ordination of women the actual lack of evidence of women as priests in my day to day church life had an impact on the discernment of my own calling.
- As a clergy child, I also spent most of my time worshpping in churches where the president at the Eucharist was my Dad, that also affected my idea of the CofE and my place in it, both positively and negatively.
- Times and circumstances. I married young with the full intention of starting a family and continuing to produce children until we felt our family complete. By the time we realised we were going to be going down a different route to children my darling husband was actively discerning his own call. I talked a lot during that time about supporting his journey (including to the DDO) and it was privately difficult for me to talk about "him" and God all the time but not even the Curate knew that. My support was and is sincere in the truest possible sense, but I am no longer limited by it. I do not need to keep quiet for fear of "stealing his thunder" in some way. However as things stand I am aware that I will continue to play "second fiddle" to a certain extent and I am content with that. I wish to add as a response to the comments posts that second fiddle in this context is not meant to be negative. If it is God's will I would wish for a joint ministry in which my husband and I could offer our own unique gifts. I feel that the Church of England is still getting to grips with married couples in ministry and suspect a reasonable amount of give and take will be required for us to fullfil joint and individual callings. This is in no way suggesting that it should be so for all/any other clergy couples. Neither does it suggest that men should automatically take the lead. However as God has seen fit to lead us to one another and we gave ourselves to each other in marriage, I would see fit to defer to the sure and constant guide for the next stage of my journey.
- I needed a nudge, a direct nudge from God that was too difficult to ignore. No lightning bolts or pointing fingers though, just God saying "You are good enough, I want you." On Maundy Thursday this year I heard that and have seen our Vicar and the DDO.