Michelle Delves has been exploring her calling for the last 2 years. So what has it been like?
If someone had told me two years ago that this process was going to be one of the greatest experiences of my life to date, I would have probably laughed in their face. I was so unsure of myself and so sure that God had the wrong number.
But with encouragement and affirmation from some of my closest friends I decided to explore my vocation. I am so very glad that I did because the whole process has been a great source of self-discovery for me. I have grown in my faith and as a person throughout the discerning process. I am not saying it is an easy walk but that it is one that is exciting and life giving. It is simply a chance to explore who you are and what Papa’s calling is on your life.
I began the whole process thinking it would be about making me a little more Church of England and a little less me. In truth it turned out to be about becoming more of the me I was created to be. I was so unsure of myself during the initial process but with my DDO’s* support I began to feel my confidence in Christ begin to grow.
Initially when I was asked to write my Faith and Life Journey it was daunting to say the least. I have lived a wide and varied life (and that’s putting it mildly) so I was stuck on where do I start. After speaking with my mum I decided to start right at the very beginning and I’m so glad I did. That piece of work turned out to be the most life giving thing I had ever done. My faith, hope and confidence were reinforced in a way that changed my very character.
It showed me clearly how faithful, merciful and patient our God had been with me all my life and just as importantly, it left me with a knowing that I had not been called in spite of me being a gobby northerner but because of it.
I remember reading in one of the first books I read on ministry in the C of E that if you were a woman, working class or black it might be a difficult journey. As someone who is all three, I am so very glad to say that this outlook has definitely changed and I felt fully embraced and encouraged from the minute I was referred to my initial mentor.
I would encourage anyone who feels they may be called, to speak to someone about it and start the journey of discernment rolling. It is a journey that, if travelled authentically, cannot fail to enrich and expand your faith experience. It’s a journey that will bring you a renewed sense of who you are and who you belong to. It was a process that was difficult at times but with the support available from my DDO, the difficulties never failed to bring personal revelations.
I am ecstatic to say I have now been accepted for training so the adventure continues. The face of the Church of England is changing and I am so very humbled and excited to be part of that change.
*DDO = Diocesan Director of Ordinands