One of the ongoing issues that I need to deal with as a probationer is the fact that much of what happens to us is out of our hands. It is a very uneasy position for me to be in, particularly given my current family situation, and it would be really nice if the Church could give us some sort of indication as to what is expected of us - in particular, whether we are definitely going to be sent to the new Seth Mokitimi seminary in Pietermaritzburg in 2010, and if so, whether it will be for one, two, or three years.
Now many may be wondering why I am stressing about this when we have barely scratched the surface of 2009, but it matters a great deal since the length of time will determine whether I will be able to be reunited with my family or not. Since relocating my family will involve the sale of my house in Johannesburg, one can appreciate that this is not a decision that can be taken at the drop of a hat.
So I'm feeling very scratchy about decisions that affect me at the moment, especially when they are of the "no discussion will be entered into - just live with it" variety.
One such decision was the rather terse e-mail that I received from EMMU in response to my request late last year to register for four subjects for 2009. I had discussed this matter with TEE College last year, and the idea was that if I could do four this year and three (plus the academic report) next year, I would be able to complete the BTh qualification at the end of the year. But EMMU said no, only three, and there was to be no discussion on the matter. While I can accept that many a Phase One buckled under the workload in previous years, necessitating the reduction in the number of courses, all I wanted was the opportunity to state my case, bearing in mind that I already have nearly 12 years of part-time university study under my belt. Even if the final decision remains unchanged, I would feel much better being part of the process rather than being shown "the hand". I am after all turning 40 this year, and do not take kindly to being treated like a child.
So why is this issue bugging me, when my fellow Phase Ones seem relatively unaffected by comparison? I must be honest - I don't really know. Maybe I'm too much of a "control freak" and not putting my trust in God. Or maybe part of it is that for most of my life I have always wanted to understand the reasoning behind a particular decision. I may not like the outcome, but at least I would understand where the decision-maker is coming from.
Now what does this have to do with the title of this post? It was something to do with the mild meltdown that I had today over something relatively insignificant - the question of whether our sacraments examination would be "open book" or of the conventional variety. The 2006 and 2007 papers were explicitly stated as open book examinations, whereas the 2008 paper was unstated. Now my experience of open book examinations from my accounting studies is that when an examination is of the conventional variety, they can only test you on the material given, whereas if it is "open book" you can be expected to study additional material and answer the questions in greater depth.
However, when I asked our College co-ordinator the question, and he indicated that he was not at liberty to say, something in me snapped. All my frustrations at not understanding the full process of probation, the heartwrenching loneliness of being apart from my family, and the reluctance of EMMU to enter into any discussions with me concerning my 2008 letter, all came welling up in a volcano of anger. As a result, I made the type of comment that one regrets immediately the words have left one's lips - while it was not foul language or anything like that, it was certainly not the sort of comment becoming of a future minister.
Rev Nyembezi, I know that I apologised to you earlier, but the need to make my apology more public is acute, hence this blog post. Please forgive me for the stupid, hurtful, and unneccessary comment that I made earlier today.
Now if only I could deal with some of the feelings I am having at the moment. Don't get me wrong - I love ministry, and I know that God has called me. The Circuit work is challenging yet exhilarating at the same time, while the college experience is one of growth and development. Preaching the Gospel is one of life's great delights. But I feel like a pawn on a chessboard at times, some days I feel as though my heart is tearing in two, and the Church seems unable to help me ease the pain at the moment...
Falling on grace - *"If I stand, let me stand on your promise: when I fall,let me fall on your grace."* - Common Prayer - A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals This one line hol...
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