It’s a big week for both LC-MS seminaries–Vicarage Placements and Call Nights are here!
That means it’s been a year since I anxiously waited to hear where God was calling my husband. Life looks drastically different for us now than it did then. We faced so many unknowns: What sort of church would we go to? What would life be like with our unborn child? Where would we live? How far would we be from family? Would we have to buy our own home?
Now we have significantly less known unknowns (because despite our best laid plans, we never fully know what life holds in store for us). Babykins made her grand entrance 7 months ago. We are slowly settling into our life in a small town and looking forward to having more than a year to adjust. Best of all, we never again have to go through the drama that is known as Call Night–a.k.a. The night you receive life-altering news during a church service in front of a couple hundred people.
Instead, I’ll watch this year’s service online and excitedly/nervously wait to hear where God is calling dear friends. Prayers for peace for all of you awaiting placements and calls!
Click here for more information about watching Concordia Theological Seminary Fort Wayne’s Vicarage Placement and Call services.
Click here for more information about watching Concordia Seminary St. Louis’s Vicarage Placement and Call services.
I’ve been feeling sympathy stress this week. Many of my friends at the seminary are waiting for Vicarage Placement Service and Call Night next week. I feel this stress for two reasons: I remember how terrible I felt last year at this time and I know that a year from now I will be feeling just as stressed as my fourth-year friends. While I’m looking forward to my husband getting a call (God willing), I am not looking forward to the wait.
To be clear, the climax of the waiting period is not the day before the service, nor is it the morning of the service. The climax of the long wait for vicarage placement and a call is during the service. Most of the students and their families have no idea where they will be going until the seminarian walks across the front of the church as his congregation is announced. Of course, that is after sitting through an entire church service. Consequently, this is what many of the students and their families only hear this inner monologue during the sermon:
|Inevitably, the pastor opens his sermon saying that he knows that
we’re all anxious to hear our placement and calls, so he really should keep the sermon short.
25 MINUTES LATER, he finishes his “short” sermon.
Please keep all of those receiving placements and calls next week in your prayers–it’s an exciting but emotional time at the seminary.
For some dumb reason or another, I thought the final weeks before the vicarage assignment service would be easier than the previous 6 and a half months of waiting. The end of waiting is near, T and I will soon know where we will live for the next school year. I thought of the last two weeks before the service would be like my beloved cross country races in high school–the final stretch would give me a new burst of energy and I would finish stronger than I started.
Life lesson for this month: Not everything in life is like a cross country race. Rather than facing the final two weeks with excitement and while losing the concern about the future, I instead discovered that with every passing day the anxiety has heightened. Not only that, unlike the previous six months, it is now impossible to put vicarage out of my mind. It looms in the future as a big blank space waiting to be filled with the wheres and whens (and a little bit of hows and whos). People are becoming more and more inquisitive about where we are going, to which we can only respond, “We really haven’t the slightest idea.” Throw on the fact that assignment night is not the end of the “Waiting for Vicarage” saga since we still actually have to move (again), and I’ve become more worried and melancholy then when this first started.
However, regardless of how I have felt the last two weeks or so, time has marched forward in its orderly fashion and we are almost there. Only three more days!
The kids I nanny have realized that my husband and I will soon find out where we are moving. While I’m still trying to emphasize that I still have some time with the kids before we move, that emphasis is quickly loosing its comfort as time draws closer and closer to the end of the school year. However, the children went through this process last year with their former nanny, so they have a little experience with a seminary family’s transition to vicarage. They seem to be handling it okay and the youngest has already begun to refer to the next school year as “When the new nanny is here.” However, he is still a little befuddled by the events leading up to placement day. When he overheard me talking to his mom about placement, he asked where we are moving. I replied, “Well, we won’t know until T. and I go to the special service. We could go anywhere.”
“Not to Colorado,” the 5-year-old asserted.
“Actually, we could go to Colorado,” I explained.
His eyes widened at the thought (although I’m not sure what thoughts of Colorado fluttered across his mind). Then he gave a self-confident smile and said, “Well, you wouldn’t move to Michigan.”
“Well, we could move to Michigan,” I stated.
Looking very serious for a moment, he said, “No way, it’s too cold in Michigan for people.”
I’m going to be very excited to tell him where we are moving if we get placed in Michigan. Which could happen. Or not. Either way, we’ll know for sure in 15 days.
If one could capture nervous energy and utilize it as a fuel source, seminarians and their families at this time of year would fuel the nation. With vicarage and call services almost a month away, the campus is chatter with talk of were we would like to go and what we hope to get from our upcoming experiences. Likewise, families begin to think more and more about packing and moving, as well as facing the bewildering truth about how much stuff they have. Most of us haven’t the slightest clue where we are going but the need to do something in preparation for the moves is strong. Mingled the constant talk of where, when, and what will happen this summer is the hushed voices of fear: What if there isn’t a place for us? What if we don’t like it? Worst of all, what if we fail and all this work is for naught? Yes, tension, nerves, and excitement are at a high this time of year.
Meanwhile, I am learning how to delicately answer the question of “How do you feel about vicarage?” I have decided that sarcasm is not the way to go (I don’t know about you, but I just love not only having a limited say about where we will live this coming year but also having no freakin’ way to plan how our life will go beyond July 1!). Likewise, brutal honesty is probably not the answer either (I don’t like it, uh-uh, not one bit.). I think I’ve settled on understating the obvious with, “Well, I’m a little nervous about it.” Yeah, that’s only a bit of an understatement.
Today we flipped the calendar over to March, which means we are two months away from Vicarage Placement Day. *cue dramatic music* Now, I have plenty of insights about being only two months out, but I’m very tired tonight and don’t feel like writing them down. I just wanted to share this meaningful moment in the countdown with you all.
One of the strangest things about seminary life is the constant state of transition. We spend second and fourth year anticipating where we will live the next year and what our husbands (and we) will actually do when we get there. Consequently, the calendar change for the new year also solidifies the fact that our anticipation is so much closer to fruition than we ever imagined with the old calendar.
So where does that leave me? I’ve readily admitted my fears and worries about this grand adventure that is the vicarage process, so it would be easy to assume that with the flip into January I would go into overdrive mode and pretty much explode (*insert image of me sparking and then bursting into flames*). Surprisingly, this isn’t the case. While my concerns haven’t shifted into faithful trust of God’s will (I’m working on this), nor have I restrained my urge to make a face whenever people mention the placement process (okay, okay, I’m not working on this), I’ve observed a different phenomena throughout December and into the new year–my husband’s increasing excitement.
In the midst of my worry and stress about what vicarage will do to me I often forget that this is more than a necessary step for my husband to become a pastor. It’s a year where he gets to do the things he enjoys most about the seminary on a daily basis–preaching, teaching, and caring for God’s people. Despite my anger at the seminary system and the pressure it puts on families, I could never ask my husband not to do this because of his evident joy as he gains more responsibilities at church. To ask him to leave the seminary and not become a pastor would pull him from his aspirations and abuse the gifts that God has given him. So with the beginning of 2012, better known as the year we go on vicarage, I begin to feel opposing emotions. The fear, worry, and anger remains, but among those feelings is the smallest flutter of excitement of what vicarage will bring for my husband.
Well, today’s the day of the vicarage informational meeting, kicking off the vicarage placement processes and opening up the opportunity for a whole lot of worry about the future. My husband and I actually started the process last year, so I feel adequately prepared to ask my husband the right anxiety-filled questions:. When is the placement service? How much will the congregation help with the moving expenses? What will happen to our things if we receive a furnished vicarage? Will the congregation help me find a job? What will I do all day if I can’t find a job? What happens if I can’t make any friends? What if I dislike the congregation? What if the congregation dislikes me? What if the church basement ladies invite me to a craft night and I admit that I don’t craft and don’t really care to learn and they go tell the supervising pastor that the vicar’s wife is snobbish and uppity in her ways and therefore the pastor shouldn’t pass the vicar because he wouldn’t make a good pastor with a wife like that? How many more questions can I bombard you with before my neurotic tendencies drive you completely crazy?
Next, my husband will spend the next several weeks trying to convince me that the vicarage placement is fun. “We can be placed anywhere in country and if we don’t like it, we’ll come back at the end of the year. It’s a chance for an adventure,” he’ll say.
I’ll reply with, “I don’t want to go anywhere in the country and I don’t want an adventure.”
“We could go to Florida.”
“I don’t want to live in Florida.”
“Because it’s Florida.”
And then he’ll try to tell me that vicarage is meant to be a learning experience and stretch our comfort zone. I’ll tell him that I think getting married and moving to different towns four times in five years will be enough of a learning experience without trying to get placed in Timbuktu and the last time I stretched my comfort zone I completely snapped.
Finally, when the wives get together the topic of vicarage placement and calls will inevitably come up and many wives will be like me, fretting and worrying. However, there will always be that person telling us that we shouldn’t worry about the future because God is taking care of us and fretting about what will happen won’t help anything. Then I get to deal with guilt about not having enough faith on top of fretting and worrying about what will happen next year.
So you see, I have this whole second-year wife thing all ready to go. I should take notes this year on how to be a fourth-year wife so I’ll be set when we come back from vicarage.