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Learning to tell the time

A wonderful, strange thing has been happening to me these last few weeks. I am getting things done without stress. I am dismantling the horrible idol of the ideal me, a monster whose perfection would put her beyond reproach and enchant her children into perfection. Yes, I know. Mad.

Heard this classic in the playground. One of the Dads at school got in early one morning after a night shift and set his alarm so he’d wake up in time to collect his daughter that afternoon. He woke up suddenly, glanced at the clock and saw it was half an hour after school finished. He jumped out of bed, got into the car and raced round to the school. The playground was empty. There was no sign of his daughter, or anyone else. He figured he must be even later than he thought. He went to the office to ask if they’d seen her. Nobody had. Thinking perhaps she’d got tired of waiting and walked back herself, he drove home, scanning the route for her all the way. At home, he ran through the house, calling her name. Nothing. He drove back to school and went to the office again, a little surprised that they didn’t seem too concerned. They suggested he go and look in her classroom, as she may be waiting for him there. He rushed up the stairs and burst into the classroom to find his daughter, and the whole class, in the middle of a lesson. He glanced up at the clock on the wall. He was an hour early.  

Great story. We’ve all been there, missing a crucial detail which, had we slowed down, would have saved untold anxiety, stress and embarrassment. My concern about getting things right, remembering everything and everyone, is rarely served by panic, which tends to make me forget rather than remember. There is a nervous energy that I have for a long time thought my friend, the surge that kicks in the night before an assignment or work deadline. I have made lots of room for it, let it drive me into a state of near-hysteria. The kind of state this man was in searching for his unlost daughter.

I was about to reply to his story with something standard like ‘Welcome to my world,’ when I realised that actually, my world is pretty orderly these days. Nothing spectacular, I still have piles of stuff to sort in various corners of the house, but I can tell you, it’s looking pretty tidy in my usually cluttered mind. I seem to have more space to move, more space to think, more time, weirdly, to do stuff. I’m even sleeping better. How has this happened?   I think it’s because I have started to assume the best. I have stopped entertaining the ghosts of what might be, what could happen if, what may have happened, what wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t… that whole crowd.   I have started to assume that everything is already okay. I am not meant to be creating perfection, so there is nothing to fail at. I allow myself to experience relief before the fact. In short, I am learning to trust God. Really. From my gut, not just with my lips. To realise that I am secure. Not immune from difficulty but not defined by it.  

I grew up in church so I know by heart a lot of those lovely words in the book about trusting God. Actually doing it is a whole different thing. Some of us get there quicker than others. For me it has been hard to let go of my security blanket of worries, but now I’ve got started it’s getting easier and easier. I continue to grow. Up.  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3 v 3 – 5

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