An unexpected journey

On a Sunday afternoon in the spring of 2015, Andrew and I were having brunch at the Monk’s Table in Toronto. We had just come from St. Thomas Anglican Church, which we’d been attending for a handful of months. I grew up in the Dutch Reformed tradition, and Andrew in no particular tradition at all. Though we’d both always believed in God, we’d only just begun re-attending church, and Anglicanism was new for both of us.

“I think I’m called to become an Anglican priest.”

I’m sure you can imagine my surprise to hear these words. In retrospect, the Monk’s Table really was an appropriate brunch restaurant choice.

We had been dating for five years, and while I always knew we would return to our faith at some point, I wasn’t exactly expecting that we would take such a direct route. At that time, Andrew was working in the publishing industry and I had just settled into a new communications position in the health research sector. We’d moved to Toronto from Ottawa four years prior, and it finally seemed that this city – and our lives here – were becoming steady. And at that moment, staring at my scrambled eggs, all I could think was:

  • What does this mean for us?
  • What does this mean for me?
  • Do I really want to be a priest wife?

God has a plan for us all. But the thing is, sometimes you don’t know if you want anything to do with it. It seemed to me that this pivot in our life, this unexpected journey, required an enormous amount of faith.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my family church and with larger Dutch Reform community in Ontario. I loved everything about it and it was home to me. But then, like a lot of people, I became an angsty teenager who had to ask big questions and could only grasp faith if she had real, concrete answers. So off I went to university and never stepped foot in a church again. While I never stopped believing in God, I wasn’t ready to make any firm commitments, especially calling myself a Christian, and especially in front of other people. For almost ten years I was never called to act on my faith. Until that day, at the Monk’s Table.

It’s like God said, are you in or are you out?

What a decision. I prayed a lot, for the first time in a long time. I could write more on what I thought about during that time, but suffice it to say that, after many years of seeking faith, faith found me and extended a hand. So I said that I was in.

On August 5, 2017, Andrew and I became husband and wife. This week, he begins his third and final year at Wycliffe college and then he’ll apply for ordination to become a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. So, I’m actually a priest wife in training, but hopefully soon I will graduate, too.

My name is Elise Johnson, and I’m writing this blog to share my unexpected but joyful journey of faith.

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