I’ve never been in any vice-captain role in school, I was either the captain of the team/class, or much more often than not, a regular member. My leadership positions were actually based more on sports ability, coupled with the inability to respond/reject when peer pressured, as opposed to actual ‘leadership skill’. To me, a vice-captain is more like an understudy, the next-in-line to instruct should the captain/chairperson fall sick.
While I wasn’t in the core team in my community for a long time, I was so bummed I didn’t ‘win’, I took comfort and pride in calling myself the non-core (my inner emoticon was a girl with arms crossed saying “HMPH. Fine.”). Probably a result of being rejected from school programs like OBS (I really wanted to go!), I was just looking for affirmation that I am a worthwhile investment, I wasn’t actually looking to help anyone else out. Well, I’m quite glad God didn’t allow me to serve the community in that state of mind, since I took a while to learn and register what it meant to support others instead, especially as a ‘leader’.
Have you watched award shows before? Where people are given awards for best TV show, best actor/actress, best director or just for being famous artistes? There are no prizes for best background dancer, best backup singer or sometimes even best producer. The category of ‘best supporting actor/actress always felt a little ‘redundant’, who really wants to win it? It is almost as if the competition for best actor was so stiff that they had to create a secondary category for ‘tier 2’ actors. The nominees in this category, felt familiar and reliable, but altogether lacked a certain shine to them – the less impressive.
I know actually giving them an award is a step in the right direction, but from a consumer perspective, it’s not very clear what really goes into being the best supporter? Is it about being a great character in a subplot? Do they bring out the best in the main actor? Are they comic relief? There are so many ways to be supportive. The word ‘support’ has been surfacing quite a bit, especially in my role as a wife and in my work at church.
As Shaun and I discuss our own discernment journeys to study overseas, I can’t help but wonder if my own storyline is secondary just because he was called ‘earlier’? Or maybe it’s ‘less crucial’ to the bigger scheme of things? Is it necessary to have an equally strong call from God to do something as ‘important’? (all very loaded words :\)
I have a couple options as to what to do in the next three years, but none quite as clear as Shaun’s. For him, it’s mostly a battle between 2 specific options, “to marry Jes or be single?”, “to go to Rome and study or not?”, but for me it’s join-the-dots and form a picture then I see where God is leading me. We’ve actually quarrelled about it before then came to an agreement that it just works differently for us individually.
As we talked about our options, he was asking me about my own vocation and how it lines up. I surprised myself and said: “It’s not like I don’t have a personal vocation! but I really do feel like as wife the priority is that I need to support you in your vocation, I’ll go wherever you go if that’s best for you”
It’s not that I feel less important in this decision process, it’s a surprisingly strange feeling, to feel like someone’s needs are more important than yours, and that it’s the best thing to do. Now, I can’t say I’m completely selfless and self-sacrificial really because I do kick up a fuss now and then. It’s usually when I forget to not walk the easiest and widest road and actually take it prayer. I have to remind myself that I am not the end goal, I serve a bigger purpose.
With a husband that’s much busier than I am, it’s hard to not feel a little left out of all the action. It’s camp after meetings, sessions after more camps, like any spouse that’s constantly traveling, leaving the bed unevenly weighted. (I do try and spread out though). In rebellion, I fill up my free alone time with videos of cute cartoon bears or do work with a bit of spite but occasionally I wonder, how am I suppose to be supporting him?
Maybe a supporting role isn’t just for rainy days and break-in-case-of-emergency, maybe it is being familiar, reliable, and completely understanding of what’s going on. An active role in making sure that everything else runs smoothly, that he responds and does his work well, that he is not overwhelmed, that he has moral (and spiritual) support.
After Good Shepherd Sunday, I’ve also wondered just how well am I supporting the ever-busy priests. It’s a lot more complicated than I would like it to be unfortunately, but one can always dream of a church which is empowered both by the stepping up of laypeople to shoulder the weight of the cross, and the freedom and time of priests to focus on channeling graces and pointing to Jesus.
Stepping into a job at church does feel like my attempt to lend both hands. I joked that I was doing so much random church work, I might as well just do it full time and be paid for it. I didn’t realise how frustrated I was previously as a volunteer. It’s like watching a soccer match and being so critical of the players moves and finally having the opportunity to wear a jersey and go play on the pitch myself.
People seem to assume I am a lot happier in my new job since it marries my passion and skill, but to be honest, I’m not very much happier, I grumble and get annoyed just as much as before. It does however feel slightly more fruitful, you can never really tell until some time later but I haven’t felt any sense of regret, not yet, surprisingly. The desire is still there, and God hasn’t said otherwise.
As I watch all kinds of leadership struggle, in marriages, families, community, parish, the archdiocese, the church, the world, I’ve had to let my own concepts of perfection go, some frustrations are just not very helpful. As a worker, I just wonder what the CEO of the world is doing, I haven’t quite sat down with God for a one-on-one evaluation and catch-up yet. Well, at least we all have a direct line to the boss. (:
We’re all called to be pillars of support, whether we’re a big fat one or just a tiny pebble. In this season, it is my duty to be the most supportive wife and worker I can be. I would like to win an award for that (maybe in heaven).
Ode to a Capable Wife
10 A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
she brings her food from far away.
15 She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her servant-girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all her household are clothed in crimson.
22 She makes herself coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the city gates,
taking his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she supplies the merchant with sashes.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her happy;
her husband too, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the city gates.