It's been a long road to travel, and I won't lie, at times it's been really hard going.
The journey to the wonderful world of vicardom is not a particularly quick or easy one. I should know - I've been on it for about three years already, and I figure I've got another few years ahead of me before I'm fully cassocked-up. First as a curate (a sort of apprentice priest), then as a priest in my own right, with responsibly for 'the cure of souls' in my parish. Quite a responsibility, hey?
They call it 'hearing the call', and for me, that's language I can relate to.
The time between my initial hearing the call to pursue the possibility of training for ordination, and doing something about it, was relatively long. I began my journey whilst I was living and working in Cambridge. I had, at the time, a number of friends who were studying to become vicars at one of the ordination colleges, in the same city. Every time that I would speak with them, their words resonated loudly in my head. Their stories and desires, their hopes and dreams, these were ones with which I could easily relate, and which seemed to overlap with my own life. Something was being birthed in me. A passion and excitement at the possibility that my life may take a similar course. Yet for the time being, I did nothing about it.
Circumstances changed, I changed. Yet the call wall still the same. The unavoidable message being voiced through new conversations and new friendships, was the still there: "You'd make a great vicar", "Have you thought about the possibility of getting ordained?".
I had, of course I had, yet life seemed like it was presenting a different route to me now. I was excelling in a new occupation, thriving in a new location, loving in a new relationship, and I was happier than I had been for a long time. Why would I want to rock the boat? Why would I want to change things now? Why, when everything seemed to be going so well, would I possibly want to consider becoming ordained?
Yet the call was too strong for me to avoid. I knew that I had to do something about it. So I did. I made contact with the appropriate people, and I began meeting with them at regular intervals. For the past three years these people have stood by me, challenged me, advised me, prayed for and prayed with me. I have laughed, and cried. I have known times of happiness, and sadness. I have thought long and hard about the route my life has taken up to this point, and route that it may take in the future. I have learnt a lot about myself, the church, this world, and those who live in it.
You see, I've come to realize that it's not about me, it's about God. It's about traveling in the direction that He wants me to go. It's about being in the place that He wants me to be, and doing the things that He wants me to do. It's about responding to His call. For me, I believes this is a call to ordination.
So this blog isn't about my story, well it is, but it's really about me playing my part in His.
In a few weeks time I will find out whether I have been selected by the Church of England to enter theological college as an ordinand. This blog is going to aim to focus on my journey of transitioning from secular employment through to training, and then from training through to ordination. Who knows where it might go from there? You'll forgive me if I get distracted along the way and blog on a tangent. I hope to convey, with honesty and emotion, how my journey is going, and the effect that it is having on my life and the life of those closest to me. I hope you'll consider journeying with me.
And so we begin...
Follow Joel Mennie on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joelmennie