A Letter to my Future Self – 6 Months on

Hand writing a letter with a goose feather

Hand writing a letter with a goose feather

Dear Claire,

How’s it going? I hope the whole, “easing back into work” thing has been going ok. I’m writing this at the end of April, as I’m just about to start easing back in – a Phased Return. It’s almost May, now, so when you read this it will almost November. You’ll be somewhere between Harvest and Remembrance, with a very pressing awareness that Advent and then Christmas are beginning to loom rather large.

While I’ve been off work, I feel like I’ve learnt quite a lot of stuff – about myself, about God, about what it means to be a Vicar. But I’m afraid I might forget all this. That once I’m fully back, I’ll get busy and fraught again. Then all this good stuff will go out of my head and I’ll get overwhelmed and go back to my old habits of thinking. I’ve tried those out and they didn’t really work that well, that’s partly why I’ve been off in the first place.

So, I thought I’d write you this note, as a bit of a reminder. I hope you’re ok with bullet points, rather than proper paragraphs. Yeah, I guess you will be!

    • Relax. It is God’s church, not yours.

    • Don’t fall back into comparing yourself with other clergy. That’s a really bad plan. You compare their good bits with your weaknesses and always end up feeling rubbish.

    • You found some helpful ways of praying, while you were off, and some helpful ways of dealing with all the thoughts that go round and round in your head. Don’t forget these. Make them part of the structure of each day. Build everything else around that.  Mindfulness is good, so is walking, writing and imaginative prayer

    • Be Claire-shaped. God made you as a one-off. You are a gift from him to your church and those who know you. Don’t try to be a Typical Vicar or a Super-Vicar. Be a Claire-shaped Vicar. That’s why God made you and called you, after all.

    • Make space, plenty of space, for the bits of ministry that you find most life-giving. These are essentials, not self-indulgent luxuries for when everything else is done.

    • I am only Mum to 2 people in the church. I don’t have to be mum to everyone else, and make sure they “play nicely together”. They are grown ups, more or less.

    • Keep Writing. Whatever you do, Keep Writing.

    • Look out for warning signs of depression making a return. Are you still knitting? Are you still laughing? How much dread do you feel when you wake up in the morning?  How irritating are you finding your family members??

    • Look after yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself.  You would gladly tell someone else they should do this, so listen to your own advice.

    • You are actually rather wonderful. Really. Full of good questions and insight and love. Don’t forget that.

    • Keep first things first. Stay close to God. Everything else is secondary.

    • There are people in the church, and friends near by, who really care about you. Don’t keep them at a distance.

Smile. I reckon God does, every time he looks at you.

Lots of love,

Claire

PS. How did we get on with persuading Tim we needed a dog? Good luck, if that debate is still on going!

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3 Responses to A Letter to my Future Self – 6 Months on

  1. LevyRector says:

    Lovely to see you back, Claire. And what a brilliant letter you’ve written to yourself. I’ve taken the liberty of mentally rewriting it with Caroline replacing Claire. Like you I’ve been working some of these things out through a difficult month or so post-Easter. I began this new month of June yesterday resolved to keep my priorities in order, so it’s brilliant to read this list this morning. I do hope you are able to return fully to ministry in better shape and with a more sustainable pattern for all of life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim Leach says:

    Claire, I just sat reading this and I love it. You are a wonderful, precious, beautiful, gem and incredibly talented daughter of God. This list is a real encouragement to anyone in ministry. I hope you are reading it everyday and that you are enjoying life to the full. Sending you loads of love at this special time. Kim xx

    Like

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