So, in light of going to BAP, I thought it would be good to get a range of opinions on the whole thing. So, there will be 2 guest posts from people who have been through it. Todays is from the lovely Nicola Hulks, who blogs at 'Nicola Writes... The Next Step.' Do check out her lovely blog!
I agreed to write this post for Jules in a typical gung-ho Twitter moment and now that I am sat down at my computer I realise that this will be the first time I put my thoughts about my Bishop’s Advisory Panel, that was in March this year, to paper (or screen!) When I came home I found it difficult even to talk to people about it, not least because that answer was still in the post and I couldn’t bear to rehash it even one more time.
In many ways that is the hardest time of all, that final waiting. Because it’s not just a three day interview. It’s years in the making where you put your heart and soul on the line. For anyone who is doing that, opening themselves up to be analysed and critiqued by others, putting your future on the line – you are bloomin’ brave. Be proud of that. God is.
So what of the BAP itself? As I sat down to my last meal of the conference I couldn’t help myself but exclaim ‘I can’t believe anyone ever says they enjoy this!’ to the raised eyebrows of the selectors. And a lot of people do (or so they say…!) So it is possible (Hmmm…). That just wasn’t my experience. My experience was one of feeling physically, intellectually and emotionally drained. But lest I put you off there is an upside. The whole process of selection for ministry, yes, drags you over the coals but my goodness do you emerge better for it.
I am different now than I was before I began this process and I was different after my BAP than when I arrived at it. The selectors were astute and kind, they really did try to get the best out of me. The other candidates were a dream. I left feeling affirmed in who I am whatever result arrived in that envelope. And I think that is the key. Whatever the answer give yourself the peace that comes from knowing that you were yourself, that they had all the information there is to know about you and that you represented yourself as you truly are. If you can leave with that knowledge then you have done everything that can be asked of you or that you could ask of yourself.
On a practical note there were a few things that really helped me. The first was gin and tonic in a can. I kid you not. These were recommended by the brilliant Liz. Those bad boys got me off to sleep and for that I am eternally grateful. The next must have is a laptop and DVD box set, something to take your mind of things. There is a surprising amount of free time to be used up.
The next thing is a big warm jumper (my room was freezing) and some comfort food. We were fed so well but a comforting bag of cookies (yes, bag!) really helped me when I was feeling low. Basically taking anything that cheers you, comforts you and encourages you is a great bet. Lastly have a friend or family member on hand to hear your woes (or tribulations!) as needed. Sometimes you just need the ear of someone who knows and loves you.
Do what you have to do to be yourself in the interviews and group sessions. People told me I must have a drink at the bar to be sociable. I am usually the one who throws the parties but this time I just couldn’t handle it. I took myself to bed with my can of G&T and I’m glad I did. If anything I’d say drop the rules where you find them. Have I said it enough – be yourself!
And so the much anticipated envelope did arrive and I did get through to start training this September. I said I would cry whatever the result and believe me I did. There was joy that what I thought God had been saying to me had been confirmed. Celebration that I knew I had been selected for this amazing role for who I really am. That my interviewers had seen what I had to offer and ticked the box that said ‘yep the church needs that.’ And the quick realisation that the journey has only just begun and that there are no certainties on this journey, just faith.
So good luck, good on you and see you on the other side!