Worrying over things

I haven’t posted anything significant for a while because I’ve been overwhelmed and now I’m actually sick. My voice doesn’t sound great but the fever/chills/body aches are gone. If I could just get the stuffy nose coughing part of this bug to go away life would be much better.

I’ve had a lot on my mind; some of it has literally been keeping me up at night. I would appreciate your insight/advice on a list of things:

1) Computer Guy has signed up to take the LSAT and is really and truly going to apply to law school in the area where I’d like to go to seminary. Has anyone done the grad student thing at the same time as your spouse? How did you manage to eat? Will we ever be able to afford to travel to see parents or anywhere else ever again? I am a little freaked out by the prospect of going from a dual income household with great benefits courtesy of Big Prestigious University to no income household crammed into a student apartment. I know there’s supposed to be something liberating about simplifying but frankly it is kind of scary.

2) How long did it take you to feel like you actually had a clue at your first field placement? I LOVE my internship congregation dearly but I wish I could get more on the ball with their worship style, their names, etc. Every time I think I’m finally making progress I make another mistake…

Also, should I get something for Christmas for my supervising clergy at my internship? Knowing who to give gifts to is always so awkward and confusing. These women have truly been patient and kind and gone above and beyond for me…

3) This is the one that really has me on edge. There has been a bit of friction over some things recently at my home congregation. I think a lot of it is just growing pains – they are in the process of moving from a pastoral type congregation to a program type congregation. Some people are resisting, questioning the clergy, etc. The most upsetting thing is that people I am close to are among the most vocal of those who are complaining.

When I was still there my husband and I were part of many of the changes – bringing in a new youth curriculum, encouraging the use of technology, wanting to get a 20s/30s group going, wondering what we could do to make things easier for newcomers, etc. Things got a bit cranky over the 20s/30s group idea – some baby boomers couldn’t understand why we couldn’t just hang out with their group- but generally things were okay.

Anyway, it’s pretty complicated but this church has a history of problems. Lots of people left, clergy resigned, etc. I guess I had believed that the congregation had finally overcome all this under the patient leadership of the current rector. I’m afraid there’s trouble brewing again.

Maybe I am making a mountain of a molehill. Maybe I am just gun shy because there was so much trouble in the past, but this is very scary. It seems like the congregation is poised on the edge – if it goes one way it will be an exciting and dynamic flagship church, if it goes the other way it will gradually lose all relevance and disappear.


~ by Sophia on November 11, 2005.

6 Responses to “Worrying over things”

  1. OK, I can’t help with the grad school thing but I can offer some advice on the present thing and the controversy thing. Yes, I would get them something small that they can use. You don’t have to go overboard, but you’ll feel better getting something for them then later feeling awkward at Christmastime if you haven’t (if you’ve interacted with any of the other staff, I would gift them as well). I’m talking gift certificates, small Christmas ornaments, etc.)2) I’ve seen people in the ordination process terribly hurt by controversies in the congregation. I think you’ve been given a blessing by being some distance away at the moment. You probably can’t fix the situation, and controversies are never helped by more people involved, so this is a good time to keep an eye on the larger picture–the ordination process. If this is really where you’re headed, you’re going to be leaving your congregation anyway, so now’s a good time to let go.Hope this is helpful, and of course, you have to make your own decisions in the end.

  2. Grad school: as I approach seminary, we go from an income of n to 1/3n (PH works for a nonprofit) and it is very scary. We are actually looking forward to selling the house, although we won’t move into an apartment, we’ll move into a townhouse (the apartment thing would be too traumatic a change). I would think that both of you in grad school simultaneously would be a challenge (would he be going full-time or part-time?) but not absolutely impossible. I chatted with a woman at the seminary I plan to attend who is a middler and her husband is a middler at the seminary, too. I asked her why they had come so far east (they’re from the Corn Belt) and she said our seminary had provided them with the most financial aid. They are managing it (with two school-age kids)so it can be done. I do understand how scary it might be, though.Presents: something small and useful or homemade food (cookies, something like that). A sweet gesture, not a big gift, I think.Congregational conflict: yes, it can flare up again even years after you think the parish has healed. I agree with Emily: you can’t fix it, and it might cause you some problems in your ordination process. Let the rector and the bishop handle it, if it comes to that, and enjoy being in your internship church. Don’t let your parents draw you into their conflict/issues. I’m not sure this is the time I’d take a stand with them, but you’re the one who has to walk in your shoes, not me.You’re in my prayers, Steph.

  3. Thank you both for the very good advice. I especially appreciate the encouragement to take a step back from the possible problems as my home congregation. I will take that advice very seriously. It’s possible I may be over reacting anyway. I would absolutely not get involved in the conversation in any public way. I just feel like since they know from experience how badly these situations can hurt everyone, and since their daughter is something like 3 months away from (maybe) being named a postulant, maybe they should try to tone it down a bit. I guess I thought that with me going through the process they’d have a bit more of an appreciation of how hard it is for clergy. Instead I get comments like “when you’re a priest, you should never…” Ugh.

  4. On the grad school thing: I have several friends who have done it together, and they’ve done fine. Most of them have lived off loans, piling on top of their undergrad loans, never having had incomes, and they’re still making it. In fact, I have two friends who have set up housekeeping on loans and no incomes, and still manage to eat, feed the cat, clothe themselves, and enjoy life off their loans and their tiny work-study stipends. My hunch is that if you’re coming from two incomes (especially if you’re selling a house), you probably have more than $100 in the bank right now to start you off, so while it will be very strange and somewhat difficult, you will manage. 🙂

  5. In my experience, law schools are accomodating with financial aid, even if what you wind up with are loans. (Not ideal, I know, but it makes things managable. Just make sure you’ve got lots of copies of your tax returns.)Law students are also expected to have “real” jobs over the summer. If you work for a firm, this can be *a lot* of money, i.e. $3,000/week if you’re working for a good firm.Good luck!! (And tell Computer Guy I am waving the moral support banner for the LSAT.)

  6. My Love and I did it – the intership payments helped, and we each worked between 2 and 5 jobs at a time. It can be done! Loans are a really big part of it – embrace the debt! 🙂Call me – we can talk about it.BTW, what’s a MEME?

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