Over at RGBP Marthahas challenged ring members to "write a blog post about a woman who has been a positive influence on your ministry (whether or not she is/was a pastor),"
I have two women to write about. So here is #2:
May also served my home congregation at one point in time. But while that fact touches on this story, it is not the basis of the story, not the time she had the most impact on me.
After my first internship crashed 20 years ago (on this day 20 years ago I was getting ready to move to Edson for it) I took a break from studies of 4 years. One of those years I did a unit of CPE, which would later count as 2 course credits when I went to finish my MDiv.
May was my CPE supervisor.
During the CPE entrance interview we talked openly about the fact that we had a past history. She had served in my home congregation when I was 11 or 12, my father had been on the M&P committee at the time, and her pastoral relationship with the congregation had not ended well. We talked about if this past made it a good idea or a bad idea for her to be my supervisor. As she was at the time a provisional supervisor I can only assume she also had that discussion with her supervisor as well.
I think it was a good thing. More about that in a moment.
CPE was a challenge for me, as Pastoral Care was (and is) a challenge for my ministry gifts. And at that point I still had a LOT of personal work to do before I would be ready for ministry. I had little self-confidence, little sense that I had much to offer. I was uncomfortable with emotional discussion. So yeah, CPE was a challenge for me. I was blessed with a good group who were supportively challenging. And May was an excellent supervisor, both in the group discussions and in the one-on-one. She helped start me on a path that would lead to seeing a counselor and doing a whole lot of healing and growth. And I think that she was best able to do that because she knew a different me.
Quite frequently in our discussions May would look at me and say "that isn't who you are, isn't who you used to be, what happened". She was able to remind me of what had been true before the worst years of school bullying had changed me. In retrospect I think others had seen signs of it, had tried to draw me beyond the image I had taken on of myself. But May could provide her own testimony of who she knew me as. And that had more impact. I also think that because I knew more of her story, including parts she omitted when she told her story to the group (and called her on when we met one-on-one the next time) it was easier for me to be open with her than it wold have with another supervisor.
CPE was not a magic bullet. After that I still ended up going to a counselor (on the advice/instruction of my Presbytery E&S Committee) for a couple of years. But it started me on the road to health. And May was a big part of that.
Sadly May is no longer living. Rest in Peace.