The frustrations of freedom

 Dave Walker CartoonChurch.com

Perhaps I'll have a little more time to prepare!!

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What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain understanding must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die...
(Kierkegaard: Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing).

Actually that is a little dramatic.

My situation is simply that I could extend my ordination training so that I have two more years to complete it, rather than one.
This means I have two years to complete a Masters in Theology rather than one year.

At the end of this academic year, I will have completed the equivalent of one full time academic year in two years because I began studies a year before ordination training as an independent student. Once I was through BAP, to begin training for the Church of England, I had already completed some of the modules required. I have had fewer deadlines this year as a consequence.

So perhaps it makes sense to complete another academic year over two years again.

I am never too sure against the example of the self-emptying of Jesus, (Phil. 2:5-11), how much we should suffer and sacrifice or how much we should seek a kind of shalom for our lives. Does the suffering and sacrifice bring a kind of shalom, it can I suppose.

All this makes me pause to wonder whether it is my own selfishness that quests for a life with these elements in it.

In no particular order: Family, friends, worship, prayer, study, reading, newspaper reading, blogging (which fulfils my need to write and reflect), voluntary engagement in the community.

I am slightly alarmed there is no need here for the outdoors or exercise. Give me a library that is at the same time filled with chatty and gregarious people who are debating engagingly (I know, unlikely) where we can worship to the North, access the internet to the East, welcome new people to the West and be served tea and toast to the South and you have my idea of heaven.

So if I take two years rather than one, there is more of a chance of me doing these things, less the imaginary heaven, more those things above. I will not be looking for a curacy yet. I will not be ordained in 2011 but 2012.

I will not be trying to find a job, complete 8 more modules, write a Masters dissertation, work at church, sell our house and find a new school as well as just live and serve, and all before next June.

So perhaps I should say yes if the diocese get back to me with the go-ahead in a week's time (they might not).

Perhaps I say 'no'. Suffer for fifteen months. "Get in, get on and get out" - to use a phrase of my dad's, hand in mediocre assignments, function as best I can, get out there to do the real job?

Perhaps I have to think about what it is I am defining to be 'real'. What does it mean to be 'real' with God and other people? My friend, knowing nothing of my dilemma had a picture whilst he prayed for me. He said the picture was of a cherry or meat pie and that the word was that it was the inside of the pie which needs exploring for the sake of God's people, not the shiny crust, no matter how attractive. I think that there might be something in this. Quite literally!


What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know...

I know what I need to know: I need and desire to know God a little better and his plans and purposes, the people around me, their plans and purposes and my own purpose.

What I really lack is to be clear in my mind what I am to do....



Jane said...

you write so much taht I have problems finding time to keep up with it but I appreciate you vivacity, honesty and sheer pleasure in faith and theology. If you can afford to remain to do your remainging studies over two years rather than one I'd really recommend it. You are already getting so much out of the study and you have been so much in ministry even before starting the study itself. There will be so much time to "get out" there afterwards but it will be hard to be with the books once you are.
Thinking of you you - and thanks for all you write.

I have more questions than answers said...

Rachel, I've found reading your Blog very interesting - referred here by a friend of mine (fibrefairy).

I'm in my second year of three in part time training. On one hand, I'm envious of those in full time theological training, but on the other hand, having the ability to combine my studies with the practical element of continuing my 'day job' and taking these elements into the secular environment has taught me a great deal - and something I hope that I can take into my ministry.

I can understand the inner struggle in respect of your training. I have a desire to be 'let loose' into ministry NOW. However, I recognise that there is still much to be done with my formation and more to learn. I think that possibly in your situation I would err on the side of continuing whilst I could.

However, you decision, I am sure will be shaped through conversations and reflection with others, prayers and God given guidance. I wish you the best in reaching that decision.

Tessa said...

Hi Rachel
You've probably decided what you're doing already, but if you'd like to meet up for coffee and a chat about the "joys" of the slower route let me know.


Rachel Marszalek said...

Thanks Tessa
Yes, i would love to

Rachel said...

Decision made - leaving next year - looking for a curacy? Any offers for September 2011?


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