An Introvert’s Guide to Freshers’ Week

Freshers’ Week: A week of strangers, small talk and strange places. An extrovert’s dream. An introvert’s nightmare. 

I have a confession to make. I was in bed before midnight four out of the six nights of freshers’ week.

Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m an introvert. Most of the time, that doesn’t cause me much trouble, and as someone who isn’t shy in the slightest, I never really get scared of large groups of people. But last year, I started university. And the idea of freshers’ week positively terrified me, and as it quickly approached, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through alive.

You will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that I survived. In fact, I almost enjoyed it. And I am of the opinion that everyone should enjoy freshers’ week, whether they expect to or not. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of boundaries. So, here are a few top tips on how to be the friendly local introvert during freshers’ week, not panic, and not end up burnt out before term has even begun.

  • Don’t panic
    I don’t know about you, but my default position when faced with the prospect of a week of strangers and small talk is to curl up in the foetal position, rock back and forth quietly and then eat my body weight in chocolate. Take it from me: this doesn’t solve anything. Take a deep breath, follow these top tips, and remember that being an introvert is a blessing, not a curse. Seriously, you’re going to be okay. But maybe have some chocolate on standby just in case.
  • Take it at a sensible pace
    Freshers’ Week can be an overwhelming combination of new people, new information and unfamiliar surroundings. While some people thrive off such things, it’s perfectly acceptable to feel a little bit out of your depth. So remember to take some time every day to breathe, have a cup of tea and assess your ‘people juices’ level. If you need to take an hour out of the frivolities, do it. No-one will mind, I promise.
  • Work out your boundaries before you go
    I decided, for a number of reasons, that I wasn’t going to drink alcohol during my first year at university. Working that out before I arrived meant that I could start as I meant to go on – sober. Often when you’re nervous you drink more than you mean to in the hope that the overwhelming feelings will go away. But this really doesn’t help anything, so know your limits before you go, and stick to them from the start. It makes everything easier in the long run.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone – Say ‘yes’ to three things you wouldn’t usually
    Don’t go into freshers’ week with the assumption that you’re going to hate every minute. You really won’t – it’s actually quite fun. If you’re not the clubbing type, that’s okay. But try and go out clubbing with your flat at least once during the week. If you don’t like playing drinking games, you don’t have to. But why not give them a shot (pun unintended) one night, and just drink water? Or if you can’t stand the idea of having your door open permanently for a week, why not just have it open for 2 hours every afternoon? You never know, you might surprise yourself.
  • Take a night off
    Seven consecutive nights of partying is a lot of nights of partying, even for an extrovert. There is absolutely no shame in taking a night off, watching a film and getting an early night. In fact, just by suggesting it you might give some other people who are feeling a bit overwhelmed an excuse to curl up in their duvets as well.
  • It’s okay to just go home
    There’s a hashtag that gets used a lot during freshers’ week: #gohardorgohome. Most people seem to take this as permission to go really really hard. Personally, I took it as permission to just go home. That’s how I managed a solid 8 hours of sleep most nights of freshers’ week. Take it from me: there is no shame in going home. If you know you’re going to be horrible company if you’re forced to be around people for a minute longer, do what’s best for everyone and go home. Have your favourite book on standby, and just go and re-charge your batteries for the next day. Trust me, you’re doing everyone a favour.
  • Invite people into your room during the day
    Some of the best conversations I had were at 3 o’clock in the afternoon drinking hot chocolate with a slightly hungover friend. At some universities, there isn’t much to do during the day apart from nurse your hangover and buy more alcohol for the evening, so use that time not only to re-charge, unpack, and get to know your new surroundings, but also to get to know people on a sober, personal level.
  • Phone a friend
    Sometimes all you really need is friendly voice at the end of the phone. So have a couple of friends from home on standby for a chat in case you need it. Also, see what the Christian Union is doing during Freshers’ Week and go along – I can guarantee that they will be friendly, and if you look hard enough, they shouldn’t be too far from free tea and cake.

And, one final tip based on my own personal experience:

If all else fails, find a friend with under-bed storage and hide out there for a little while.

On top of all these tips, I often find it helpful to have an extrovert’s perspective on these things, so here is a short message from my highly extroverted best friend:

‘Hey there Introverts.
I’m afraid that right now, we probably won’t quite understand why you’re hiding from us and don’t want to hang out 24 hours a day. But don’t worry. Give us a couple of months and we’ll cotton on that it’s nothing personal. And please don’t be offended if we keep badgering you to hang out and have no respect for your personal space. It’s just because we REALLY want to be friends with you.
Love, Extroverts x’

If you’re an extrovert reading this post, and are very confused as to what kind of people wouldn’t want to party and socialise 24/7, take a read of my ‘Dear Extroverts‘ blog, the no-fuss guide on how to love your lovely little introverted friends.

Good luck, fellow introverts, on your start at university. Remember: freshers’ week is not the be all and end all – you have three whole years to make friends. It’s not going to be the best week of your life, but you can do plenty to make sure it’s definitely not the worst. Take courage: you are not alone. Fellow introverts are closer than you might think.

Introverts...

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Out of the Ashes

You are running. Running fast, running free. Running like the wind, throwing off everything that entangles, all that inhibits. Running, the wind in your hair and smile on your face. Running with perseverance and with faith.

But then, out of nowhere, comes a rope. A trip wire. A word. A sentence. A doubt. An accusation. A memory. A flashback. A past pain, re-ignited. A former wound, re-opened. It comes charging out of the wilderness and hits you full on. Takes you down. Leaves you, winded and shocked with no idea what to do. Looking around, you are sat in the place you thought you left long ago. You are sat in the ashes of the grief of years gone by.

And the ashes are still hot. Still they burn your face and your hands as you lie, and you weep at the pain that still tears into your very being. Just one word, one memory, one conversation, one action, and you are back in the ashes. The burning ashes of past hurts. The anger of injustice. The resentment, the bitterness still burns as you sit, wailing, in the ashes.

The sun goes down, and thoughts run through your mind, sparking doubts, creating questions. Why now, God? I was doing so well. Why this? You know how much it hurts. You know that this still burns. Can you not hear my cries? Can you not see the pain, the anguish? Why, O God, did you let me fall?

The darkness has come, and all around you people are running, fast and free, but you are alone in the glowing embers, questioning, fearful, doubting. Hurt, angry and alone.

Hours pass. Days, months, maybe even years go by as you sit in the ashes of yesterday’s grief. Unsure of where to go next, dusty and dirty from the ashes that surround, it feels as if you will never be rid of the ash that clings to every part of who you are. You are helpless in the ashes. In the darkness of the night, there is only weeping, and all you can see around are the ashes of all that once was. It seems utterly hopeless.

 

But then, as you lament and question, ponder and weep, there appears a figure. Dazzling white, the brightness of His very being brings light into the darkness. Fearful, you shrink away. Is it really Him? So bright, so clean, so holy. You scoot back across the ground, trying to get away, to protect Him from the mess of your ashes. Such clean whiteness should be nowhere near such a stinking mess as the one in which you have dwelt for so long.

‘No. Stop. Please. Don’t come any closer’, You shun the brightness with words and actions in fear that your darkness, your questions, your pain and your ashes will overwhelm and overcome the pure beauty of the One who approaches.

But still He comes. He draws ever closer to the mess in which you sit, until He is standing right beside you. You look up, expecting to see judgement, disgust, anger for the way in which you have acted, the way in which you have burnt and destroyed all that was given to you to look after. But as you look up, you see Him kneeling down beside you, His pure white robe drawing close to you as He joins you in the ashes.

But there is more than that. As He kneels, he begins to sweep. With His robe, with His nail-scarred hands, He scoops up the ashes that surround. Those that are still burning, He takes without flinching. And as He does this, He looks at you in a way you cannot even begin to express. Love, joy, adoration. Forgiveness, acceptance, peace.

With the robe that He wears, He wipes the ashes from your face, from your hands and from your body, until He is filthy and you are clean. He looks away and towards the pile of ashes in front of Him, the ones He lovingly swept up at the expense of His own cleanliness. He looks at them, and gathers up in those wounded hands the dirt and the mess and the burnt up pieces in which you have been sitting, which you tried to hide, over which you lamented and questioned. In which you were angry and bitter at the very One who now takes them onto Himself.

And then, from the ashes, from the dirt and the grime, the smelly, sticky, dirty fragments of all you have done, and all that has been done to you, all the pain and the questioning, the lies, the fears and the wrongdoing, He does something incredible. From the ashes He creates a masterpiece. A crown of the utmost beauty. The utmost splendour, fit only for the best of the best.

Holding the crown before Him, He gazes upon you. You, dishevelled and snivelling. You, shaking and confused. He gazes upon you in complete and utter adoration. And gently, ever so gently, He places the crown upon your head. He places the crown upon your head, and takes another pure white, dazzling robe, and with it He covers your trembling form. The ashes of yesterday are gone, and a crown of beauty adorns your head.

Undeservedly beautiful, unjustifiably pure, you get up off the ground, and stand next to the One who took your ashes, and who gave you a crown in the place of them. Wholly and blameless, you stand with the One who came to you in your wailing, in the darkest night, and brought hope to the hopeless. He turns, and offers you His hand. And there, in the place in which you sat, dirty and alone, wailing and burning in the ashes of grief, it is there that you dance. You dance with the One who took the ashes you had made, and replaced them with a crown of beauty.

And as you dance, joy fills you. Incomparable, incomprehensible joy overwhelms your soul. You have been crowned as royalty by the King of Kings. The dirty, smelly ashes in which you thought you would remain have gone forever. Helpless and hopeless, you were met by the One who saves. The redeemer. And He redeemed what you thought was irredeemable. And not only did He redeem it, but He made it beautiful. Through His sacrifice, the dirtying of Himself with the filth of your ashes, you have been made clean, and you have become whole.

‘To provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’ – Isaiah 61:3

‘You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy’ – Psalm 30:11

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Art of Letting Go

It hurts. Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t tell yourself that it will be fine, that it will all be okay if you just ignore the fact that things have changed. Do not believe the lie that friendships are static, that they will always remain the same. Do not think that if you change, you will lose everything.

No matter how much it hurts, take the time to listen as they ask you, ever so gently, to set them free. Listen to the voice of the friend who intertwined their life with yours, who became as family, who laughed with you, cried with you, and who has taught you more about friendship, about love, about life, than you ever thought possible. Listen as they ask you quietly, gently, lovingly, one of the hardest questions you will ever have to answer: ‘Will you let me go?’

But this friendship, it is safe where it is. Where it is you understand it, you can make sense of it. This is how it was given to you, how it came. You have invested in it, cared for it, watched quietly as it grew into something beautiful. And you, you have loved it. Oh, how you have loved it.

But now, now you are being asked to learn to love in a different way. A way apart from yourself. One far away. One that stretches miles upon miles, one that embraces other people, one that learns to love those they have chosen to love. One no less important, no less significant, but one that hurts. Oh, how it hurts to let someone go. Oh the fear that paralyses as you clutch and grasp at what you so desperately want to keep a hold on. And yet, as you hold on, you know that the place they need to be is away from you. You know that away from you they will flourish, away from you is where, for now, they are called to be. You relinquish the control, you relinquish all that once was, all that you love, and you commit to learn to love in a new way. A way which empowers, which sees them reach their full potential. Where they will learn to be the person they have been created to be, the person they are called to be.

They will not go until you let them, you see. They care so deeply for you that they cannot bear to leave if you will not let them go, if you will not embrace the change that so needs to happen. They will leave a part of themselves with you unless you give them permission to take themselves, and begin to grow fully as they learn. You must take a deep breath, relinquish control, and trust. Trust that, just as they will leave, so they will return. Trust that as you let them go, they will one day come back and nothing will have changed. They will be the same person, but they will be a better version of themselves. They will be fulfilled, and free. Trust that as you let them go, you are not letting them fall, you are not abandoning, you are not forsaking, but you are loving. Empowering. Freeing. Trusting. For as you let them go, you know that they are safe in the everlasting arms. The God who has asked you to let them go is the same God who created them, who knows them intimately, and who loves them more than you ever could. And with that knowledge, you can trust.

It hurts to let people go. It hurts to set people free from the grasp of what you thought would remain for ever. It is hard to learn a new way to love those you care most about. And yet, as you do, you will not only see them find their true potential, their freedom, but you too will find yours.

There is, you see, a time for everything. A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away. And so, we must let go of those we love, for they are worth more than the love we alone can give them. They have far more potential than that which can be reached from our control over who we desire them to be. They have more lives to impact than ours alone. We must practise the art of letting go, in the knowledge that the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, but ultimately, we can only love them because He loved them first.

Girl-with-a-Balloon-by-Banksy

Posted in Musings | 6 Comments

Easter Sunday: Risen, Redeemed, Restored.

Good Friday, darkness reigns. Easter Eve, and there is but silence. A seemingly never-ending silence. Mourning. Weeping. Frustration. Confusion. More Darkness. And ever more silence.

But with the morning comes joy. Confusion, despair and weeping all become joy as the truth dawns. He is not here, He is risen. And so, the world is flipped upside down. Everything has changed.

Today changes everything. Death becomes life. Dark eclipsed by light. Mourning turns to dancing. Ashes into joy. Heaven victorious over hell. Captivity into freedom.

Without today, you see, everything is rendered meaningless. Without today, all who proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour are fools. For there is no point in Jesus taking the world’s sins upon Himself on the Friday if death eventually wins anyway. But that is the true beauty of today. Death has not won. For three days, we have waited in darkness. For three days, we have sat in mourning, in silence, and in agony, and we have waited.

You see, it is only when we understand the darkness of the Friday that we realise the utter jubilation of the Sunday. The contrast between the two is close to incomprehensible. It is through the Sunday that the Friday becomes Good. It is through the Sunday that the Friday makes sense. Because if it were not for the resurrection, there would be no hope. But Christ is risen. Death could not hold the author of life Himself. And therefore we have hope. One which goes further than all the world can throw at us, one which not even hell can eclipse any more. For Jesus lives.

And as He rose triumphant from the grave, He brings with Him redemption. The debt of sin, the wages of which are death and eternal separation from God Himself, has been repaid. In full. The slate has been wiped clean. Death is trampled underfoot. Darkness is eclipsed in the light of His glorious resurrection.

As Jesus collapses into death on the Friday, as He descends into utter God-forsakenness, He takes our sins with Him. Death swallows Him as He bears our sins, the very ones which have ripped Him apart, which tore Him from God and led Him to be forsaken by His own Father, His own self. But as He rises, He rises free. The debt is paid, and that which chained us no longer holds us down.

Through His death and glorious resurrection, we are restored to where we were created to be – in relationship with God. The barrier of sin which had prevented us from even coming close to the holiest of beings, to God, has been broken, smashed, obliterated, with the blood of Jesus Christ, with His death and resurrection. Atoned for. Paid in full. Accomplished. Beaten. The love of God triumphant over the power of sin, death and hell.

And so, out of the deepest darkness comes the brightest light. Still bearing the scars of the Friday, Jesus Christ rises and walks out of the tomb. He walks out of death and straight into life, inviting us to follow Him, out of the darkness and into His marvellous light.

‘My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed thee’
Charles Wesley

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Friday: Forsaken, Finished, Forgiven

I struggle to speak honestly of Good Friday. I struggle because, so often, I long to see it only in the light of Easter Sunday. And how magnificent it is, to see the darkness overcome by the light. To see death overcome by resurrection. To see sin defeated, and forgiveness prevail.

But if I look at Good Friday solely through the lens of Easter Sunday, I fear that I am missing something. I fear that if I do not sit in the darkness now, I will not fully understand the radiant light which is to come.

But I am scared. I am scared to look at the darkness of Good Friday without thinking of the hope of Easter Sunday. I am terrified to think of the pain of loss without the promise of redemption. I shy away from the uncomfortable reality of death winning, if only for a few days. I struggle to live with the knowledge that, on that first Good Friday, there was utter God-forsakenness.

I’m scared to feel the true agony of Good Friday, because I know, were I to do so, it would come close to ripping me apart. A life without God, without hope, without light, is one of which I dare not speak. The thought of even a moment without God rocks me to my very core. For all the good things in the world are from God. Anything that is good is God, for God is good. And therefore, without God, there is no good in the world. But it is that on which we must dwell for today.

It is on this day, you see, that true darkness is revealed. True darkness is experienced. The utter depravity of a world without light. Jesus Christ, fully man revealing the fullness of God Himself, hangs on a tree. Naked, and ashamed. Broken, and dying. Forsaken. The man who is Himself God, is ripped apart as He is forsaken. God Himself, cursed by God. A paradox like no other, and one which rips Him apart. Torn right down the middle, as judgement is poured out upon Him. As justice is served… to an innocent man. To God Himself.

The unfairness of it all makes me long to ignore it. It makes me want to fast-forward to Easter Sunday when I can sing ‘Thine be the Glory’ at the top of my lungs and celebrate Christ’s victory over death. But for now, it is finished. It is accomplished. Christ has done what He came to earth to do. He has looked death in the face, and embraced it with his very being. He has taken all the darkness the world could throw at Him, and swallowed it up into Himself. And it has overcome Him. Death and darkness, for now, reign victorious.

And so, in the darkness of Good Friday, we wait. For this day, we remember the darkness. We feel despair, seemingly victorious, revelling in our misery at the broken body of Jesus Christ, hanging on a tree. We hear death, gloating over the defeat of the Son of God. We sit in mourning, in silence and in agony, and we wait, quietly, for the light to dawn.

Three Crosses - Lee Abbey

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

On Being Human

There’s something I have to tell you, something I think you need to know. I don’t really know how to say it, but it’s important that you hear it. It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to turn your world upside down. But I promise you, it will make things better. People have been telling you the opposite for years upon years upon years, but it’s time someone told you the truth. And so, here it is:

You are not super-human.

Actually, no. Stop. I won’t let myself talk down to you as if I know something you do not. As if I’ve got it sorted and everyone else hasn’t. I am no better than anyone else, and I will not let my words convince you otherwise. This is not a lecture, this is me coming clean. Let’s start again…

 

I have a confession to make. It’s quite a big deal for me to say it, because I’ve been trying to deny it for as long as I can remember. It’s something I never wanted anyone to know, because I thought that if I believed it, everyone else would as well. Except I can’t keep up the façade any more. It’s just too much. So here it goes, my confession:

I am not super-human.

There, I said it. It’s almost a relief to get it out in the open. It’s been weighing me down for so long, the realisation that I’m not all I feel I should be. What a burden it has been.

I’ve struggled, you see, in trying to be the best at everything. I’m a perfectionist. A chronic high-achiever. The world was my oyster, they said. The sky’s the limit, or so I was told. I could do anything I wanted, if I put my mind to it. I saw opportunities wherever I went. Opportunities to prove myself, to make myself better in the eyes of those around me. To get one step closer to becoming the person I’d always dreamed I’d be. To earn love, affection, praise and acceptance.

I wanted to be the best, you see. And to be not just the best, but to be recognised as such. For the world to see and hear and know just how good I was. Just how I managed to do brilliantly in everything, have it all, and still be in control. ‘I don’t know how she does it’, I wanted them to whisper as I passed. I wanted acceptance, I wanted accolades, I wanted the world at my feet.

But as I clawed my way through life, I began to realise something. I learnt, step by step, that if I tread on people to get to the top, I will find myself frustrated and alone with no-one to share my apparent success. That if I place my value in how well I do compared to those around me, I will never be truly satisfied. I realised that I was shutting down my humanity in order to succeed. Emotions became dangerous weaknesses. Control became my god, and perfectionism my lord and master. Trust was the first step towards failure. The thing was, you see, that no matter how well I did, it was never enough. Never was I good enough for my own high standards. Never was I satisfied. There was always something missing. There was always a hole left unfilled. Empty. Desolate. A quiet longing, a yearning, for something more.

It’s because I’m human, you see. I was created for something more than this world. I was created for more than degrees, and promotions, and human relationships. I was made in the image of the Most High God, and created for relationship with Him. It is there, in my Father’s arms, that I will find ultimate fulfilment. It is there that my brokenness becomes fullness of life. It is there that my wastelands will become like the garden of Eden. It is there that the pain I feel in the darkest nights of my life will turn to joy as the sun rises.

Trying to be super human doesn’t work. I do not, and I cannot, keep the world going through my very existence. It can, and it will, destroy me. I am not invincible. I am not immune to pain. Emotions are not signs of weakness. Control is not something to hold onto, but something to relinquish. Trust is not the first step towards failure. Trust is the first step towards freedom.

And so, not just a confession, but a declaration:

I am not super-human. And that is okay.

Why is it okay? Because I am hidden with Christ in God. I am a new creation. I am joint heir with the Son of God himself. I do not have to earn, or prove, or achieve anything, for it is only by Grace that I may enter. By the Grace of God, I am who I am, and I am fully satisfied within that. I am allowed not only to be in the presence of God, the very creator of the Universe, but I may talk to Him. I can boldly approach His throne, walk up to Him, sit next to Him, and talk to Him. Ask for things. Tell Him everything I’m thinking, everything I’m feeling.

That confusion? I can talk it out with Him.
That pain? I can weep with Him.
That anger? I can rant at Him.
That anxiety? I can cast my burdens onto Him.
That fear? I can see it be eclipsed by His perfect love for me.
That weakness? I can see His power being made perfect through it.

I am not super-human. But I am best friends with the King of the Universe. It doesn’t get much more super than that.

 

Want to find out more? Try Alpha.

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Home Truths

I feel as if I should begin this particular piece with a personal note, because there are many who read this blog who do not know me or my family. This is a piece of writing about how it can sometimes feel to be a clergy child, not only from my own experience, but from the experiences of follow clergy children with whom I have spoken and journeyed. This is not a post about neglect, or my parents’ failures. My parents have been brilliant, and have taught me the most important lesson of all – one of a God who loves me and fulfils the needs that they as humans could not. And they have done all this on top of loving, pastoring and leading 100s of others.

But the truth is that there are those whose parents are in ministry for whom this truth is not yet recognisable, and so this is written for them. It aims to serve as a reminder to us all that clergy, and clergy children, are human too, and sometimes, ministry hurts, but that God remains faithful through it all. So, with that in mind, here are some home truths…

It is a truth universally acknowledged that clergy children tend to go one of two ways. Either, they are ‘good’. They may have a few rocky patches as they grow up, but they have their own faith, they are well behaved and well mannered, can talk to old ladies and small children alike, and will most probably end up in some form of ministry themselves. Or they rebel. They go off the rails. Completely and utterly. Turn their back on God, on religion, on their parents’ advice and on the lessons they’ve been taught. They get to a point where they know everything so well that they can argue with any point presented to them, but belief is non-existent, and God seems so very far away.

It can seem strange how such polar opposites can come from what is seemingly the same kind of upbringing. But actually, it makes perfect sense. Because these two different ‘types’ of clergy children are fighting the same battle. They feel like God stole their parents.

God stole their parents. You see, ministry is a vocation, and the calling is clear to those who are ordained – that is their life’s work. And often, those who are called feel an overwhelming duty to fulfil that calling. This is an amazing thing, and something which changes lives and blesses people and furthers the Kingdom of God. That must not be forgotten. Except it means that ministry can become all-encompassing. Ministry cannot, by its very nature, be a 9-5 desk job, no matter how much you might want it to be. No matter how hard you might try, ministry is not something that can be ‘left at the office’. Your home is the place from which the ministry takes place – there’s a reason it’s called a ‘Vicarage’, and not just a ‘house where someone who happens to be ordained happens to live’!

Except clergy children don’t really have a choice in the matter. They are sucked into ministry whether they like it or not. Some thrive, but others resent. They, after all, were not called to be ministers. But it often feels like that’s what they have to be. And on top of that, it can frequently feel as if they are in competition. Often, they end up having some kind of strange sibling rivalry with their parents’ church. They feel as if they have to compete with 100 other people who are far needier, far louder, and far more demanding than they could ever be. And, because vicars are human too, they often end up listening to the one that shouts louder, and forget to hear the quiet voice of their child, just as needy, but drowned by the din of parishioners’ pastoral problems. Then, because children are also human, they remember only the times when their parents put other people first, and never see the incredible sacrifices made by their parents for them over the 100s of others.

And so, clergy children turn away. They stop asking for their parents’ attention because they think they will never be able to compete with 100s of others demanding it. And as they stop asking, they start believing the lies that are whispered to them in the darkness of the night and the silence of the doubt. The lie that their parents care more about their ministry than they do about their children. That God cares more about the church than He does about individuals. That God’s ‘call’ on their parents’ life was a calling away from their children. That God stole their parents.

But there is something within them which fights back. No, it says, God is not like that. There is more to Him than His call on your parents’ life. He cares about individuals. He made individuals. He loves the church, but He also loves individuals. He is father to the fatherless. He calls every person to Himself, and provides for all that He has made. He has plans for each individual, regardless of who their parents are, or what they have done. He leads with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. He is not only the creator, but the sustainer of all.

And so, the battle rages. The truth and the lies, round and round, competing for attention, for belief, for investment. Competing for the very core of their being, for their devotion. There are days when the truth wins, and there are days when the lies dominate. For some, it is far more of one than the other. When the lies dominate, acceptance must be found elsewhere, and God is a monster. God is shrouded in lies, and they want nothing to do with Him. So they run, and hide, however they can.

But the truth. When the truth wins, there is freedom. There is liberation from the lies. There is the ability to see their parents as human beings, and love them anyway. To acknowledge that yes, their parents have not always got it right, but they’ve tried their best. And God’s grace fills in where their parents have failed. God’s grace goes further. It covers not only their parents’ mistakes, but the lies they have believed as well.

And then comes the choice. The choice between the truth and the lies. The choice between acceptance and rejection. Choose the truth and reject the lies, or believe the lies and forget the truth? Some choose the former. Many, sadly, choose the latter.

But the beauty of the truth, you see, is that it prevails. It remains the truth, whether or not you choose to accept it. And there is always a way back to the truth, no matter how long you have believed the lies. There is grace, there is redemption, and there is freedom. You need only to look to the truth, and the truth will set you free.

To any clergy children out there, God has not stolen your parents. The lies have. God has called your parents, yes, but not away from you. You as their child are a key part of their calling. God is faithful, and true. The lies are not. God loves you, and protects you, and wants the best for you. And so do your parents. They are called not only to be vicars, but to be your parents too. Do not believe the lies that tell you otherwise. And when your parents fail, which they inevitably will, because they are human, God will not. He will never fail. So lay your burdens, your pain, your anger and your lies at the foot of the cross, and look to the truth of God’s love for you, as an individual. A beloved child of His, redeemed, forgiven and looked after. No matter what.

As aforementioned, this post is an amalgamation of many different stories and experiences, not necessarily reflecting my own. To read more of my personal story, check out these posts:

Clergy Child’s Lament
Family Ties

And for any clergy parents out there:
Being the parent of a clergy child

Posted in Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments