I have had a rather charming, and challenging, conversation with someone who has supported their spouse along the road to selection and had to pick up the many fragments that scattered the route back after they received something other than a resounding 'yes' at conference.
They highlighted the pleasure and the pain as doors were opened and then, in one final and dramatic act, apparently slammed shut. The frustration at the time it took to reach the endpoint and the ways in which the news was communicated and them feeling abandoned and betrayed. The upset that having looked for a job near to the intended college the plans were not only dashed at the 'possibly going to' end but caused issues with the 'possibly leaving end' too (telling your head that you might well be leaving and then not and finding they have already tentatively found a replacement apparently goes down quite badly).
The preparing the children for a change of home and then having got them excited about going, having to tell them you're staying!
I don't know how we can do it better. Perhaps we need to ensure that successful candidates at selection are given a year's shadowing their home church clergy before college to provide a naturtal gap should selection fall apart. The fact that the candidate feels abandoned is something that we, the church, must get to grips with; the support for the spouse and family of a candidate who returns with altered timescales or direction is equally (perhaps more) important too!
I've started a new section on the cavedwellers forum (goes live tonight) for people to share, explore, discuss and bleed over the issue of discernment, calling and selection. If anyone would like to come and contribute please feel free to either go to the forum and join or mail me and I'll set them up with a login and password.
We need to discuss and learn from our mistakes so that we can provide a positive and supportive environment for those exploring ministry (in all its forms) and those whose direction has changed as the process progresses.
'No one get ordained alone if they are married and it's not just the candidate that feels the pain if it falls.'
Thank you to the person who gave me that thought - may God bless you and yours as the process to be in the right place continues.