Postulant and Student
In your first year of discernment in my Diocese (of San Joaquin) much time was spent on working to achieve the goals of Aspirant and Applicant in hopes of reaching Postulant. Once you're reached the Postulant stage the emphasis shifts to education.
It's not that you're no longer "in the process". You continue to participate in your parish and Diocesan events, and you're invited to attend clergy meetings and retreats. This gives you ample opportunity to confirm this "clergy thing" is the path you want to walk, and it also builds your sense of belonging to a new clergy community of support.
As you enter the education process, though, the process of Steps to Ordination is set on a back burner for the first two years. A new challenge presents itself: Going back to school.
It took me several School for Deacons' weekends to develop my routine. During School sessions my horizon focus is reduced to just three weeks at a time. What do I need to get done before the next School Weekend? Which subjects should I tackle first? What am I scheduled for at our next School Weekend worship services?
Trying to balance this with a full-time job is hard enough, but then throw in all the "regular" problems that life brings you along the way, in addition to the difficult situations you may encounter at work. How long does anyone really go between family conflicts, emergencies, house and car repairs, and on and on...
You come to realize, too, that even when you finish School and you enter ministry, is life any less challenging? When you're in ministry, can you tell people "Not today, dear, I already have too many issues going on?" I came to realize that if I want to balance my outer life, I must be balanced in my inner life, too.
In the midst of all of this it's easy to fall into a pit of despair and lose your way. The tasks and problems can seem insurmountable, which is why the sense of community we have at School for Deacons is so important. A struggle is bearable when you share it with others. You are required to have a Spiritual Advisor and attend meetings with a Spiritual Formation Group, but you also have your fellow students faculty, and administrators to lean on.
Most importantly, though, you come to recognize that you are moving through all of this not only by your own efforts, but by trusting that the Spirit is moving you, too. No one can do this on their own, but only through the help of faith and community. Come to think of it, that's exactly what the early followers of Jesus found in their journey! May the peace that only God can give walk with you!