In the last month I have changed my job, changed my mobile phone, changed my internet account and changed my working hours. In the same month our youngest child went to University so the house feels radically changed. Our shopping list is completely altered, the amount of washing and ironing has radically reduced and the house is so quiet. Matt is a piano playing, sofa-surfing, fridge emptying 19 year old so you know when he’s around!
The new job is as a Lay Minister at our church. This is the first part of my training towards ordination. A better description of what I do would be a curate. It’s full time and I’m combining it with part time study at Theological College. So also in September I went back to being a student for a week, complete with living in a student bedroom on a study corridor and having a whole new set of people to get to know. My training will be one of constant change for the next four years because I will go to college residentially for two five week blocks each year so it’s going to feel like I am constantly shuttling between the parish and college.
Changing the mobile phone and the internet account were the two changes that almost pushed me over the edge! Mega stressful. The change in my working hours means I’m now often out in the evenings and in during the day so when do I see my regular 9-5 husband? Also even if I’m in at home, when am I at work and when am I off duty? I’m not really very sure.
Change is bewildering and yet all the changes I’ve described are actually positive ones. They are changes we have planned for. Even so, three weeks into the new situation I found myself lying awake for hours in the night too worked up to sleep and then in the day-time I’d be frantically writing lists because I was too tired to keep anything in my head.
How much more devastating is it when change is sudden, unexpected or when it feels like a body blow: an illness, a betrayal, a broken marriage, redundancy.
Two things are helping me through my time of change. Someone said to me ‘Big problems are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions. Thinking ‘small steps’ starts to shrink the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be. So, for example, I said to myself ‘I don’t have to understand all the clever things my new phone does, for the time being it’s quite enough to be able to make calls and send texts’.
The other thing that I learnt that when we go through a change we often start out with hope and end up with more confidence than ever at the end of the process but the bit in the middle can feel very difficult. So for me there is the hope and joy at being recommended for Ordination Training followed by the reality that I have to do a Theology degree. At the end I as I emerge, I hope I will feel positive and confident again. Someone renamed this valley in the middle as the ‘valley of insight’. I found that helpful. It’s not the ‘slough of despond’, it’s not a deep overwhelming pit and it’s not a black hole. Faith, time and the love of other people will carry me through all these changes but while I’m here it’s a ‘valley of insight’, I’m learning to depend on others, I’m learning to say how I’m feeling and I’m learning that I will never, ever reach the end of my ‘to-do’ list by the end of any given day but that’s okay.
If you’d like to reply to this article, it would be great to hear what kind of changes you have experienced, how have you coped with them, and what have you learnt.