Re-entry

We’ve just moved back into our house. It’s wonderful. But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t spent some time this week rocking and moaning tunelessly to myself among the towers of boxes and jumbles of bags. I realise I hadn’t really given the physical reality of homecoming a single thought. At some level I think I had simply expected to walk in, put the kettle on and rearrange some furniture. If only.

I have instead been struck by inertia. Held down and held back by the sorrow and fatigue of 8 months lived in borrowed spaces. I grieve for what has happened, even though I am immensely grateful for the experience and I know that it has equipped our family in ways we will unpack for years to come. That kind of unpacking I can handle. The physical kind is making me want to weep.

But that’s just today.

Most of our boxes contain useless old rubbish we no longer need but have carted around with us for years because of some misplaced sense of obligation to the people or the era they came from. Pointless sentimentality has literally landed us with unwanted baggage. And when I get my second wind I’m ordering a skip so I can throw it all away.

My feelings may slow my progress but they are not in charge.

I thank God for the realities of my life, whether they feel good or not, because of what they teach me about Him. That He’s been with us every day of this strange nomadic year, and He’s come home with us too. I know with even greater certainty that his love is an unchanging fact of His nature, not mine. It’s neither a product of my wishful thinking nor a reward for my good behaviour. God is love. He loves me no matter what.

And He loves you no matter what.

Right. Back to the boxes.

 

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New day. Yay!

Lamentations 3: 22 – 23

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.

It’s about 5 am. I’m sitting at the kitchen table wrapped in three blankets, the third one over my head. Yes, it’s cold in here. No heating in a house on stilts halfway up a hill. My children, husband and dog are all asleep. Just me and the fridge buzzing away in this chilly room, keeping each other company. Well, me the fridge and God. And the distractions from things popping up on my screen every few seconds to remind me that I’m connected to the world outside.

Ahead of me today the normal weekday routine, marshalling the kids from sleep to school with the right lunches/uniform/money/permission slips, organising dinner, and helping in the school canteen. Sigh. Would have loved a day to get myself together, but I’ve committed. I haven’t been using my time very efficiently for a good few weeks now. It’s taken me a while to identify the problem, and it’s really very simple. I have no plan. And it’s time to get one.

From the kitchen window I can see the lights on the other side of the river and a thin sliver of the underside of the moon. It still feels like night. It still feels like night inside me too. I can’t yet see the way through this, but I now know that there is one. Can’t live by feelings. Too unreliable. I need to live by what I know.

I know what I want to do – mostly. Blog, write and possibly podcast towards the end of the year. There is no set path, which is fine, as I’m not too good at sticking to those anyway, but what plans I had at the end of last year were derailed and since then, with each house move, my vision has blurred a little more. The simple everyday stuff that was so hard immediately after the fire, and took a lot of energy, has been quickly settling into routine for months now, but my mind has not kept pace. I have noticed that I have been going the long way around everything, taking longer, making less sense to myself and others. I’ll be honest, it’s been getting me down.

I also know that this is a new day. This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. Whatever yesterday was like, today is full of possibility. Including the possibility of snatching another hour’s sleep before sunrise.

Goodnight.

The Confidence Project

Some of us are bold by nature. Some of us are made bold by the gifts we discover in ourselves. Many more have gifts but no confidence. We all have something to contribute to this place we live in. I believe we were put here for a purpose. I haven’t found mine yet, and for years, thousands and thousands of days, I’ve been afraid to try. Afraid to fail. Afraid to be laughed at, to be found ridiculous or pathetic or whatever. I’m going to stop gazing at and describing this fear, accommodating myself to it and generally paying it too much attention. It’s time to take more direct action. Dismantle and demolish those dusty old complexes I’ve extended and customised over the years and tear down the walls of the labyrinth I’ve constructed to keep my ambitions and dreams safely contained.

Some of us are bold by nature. Some are made bold by outstanding gifts. And some, like me, are frightened into it. You see I know that If I don’t take action now, I’ll be stuck with a set of regrets to recite to myself in old age. How do I know this? Because I’ve seen it happen. I know a man who has lived a long and peaceful life, given generously of himself and his resources, always helped out where he could. He’s a popular family man with plenty of social capital. But when he thinks he’s alone he rehearses aloud and bitterly the scenes in his past that should have gone differently. Decisions he was too scared to take, risks he couldn’t face. Conversations that wounded. And although his life has by many measures been a great one, he has trained himself to see only failure and missed opportunities. At a time in life when I would hope to be enjoying the simple pleasures of being present, he is haunted by regrets.

So that’s why I’m starting my Confidence Project. For people who can’t hold two positive thoughts in a row without feeling unwell. For people who find cat posters annoying. For the formerly cynical, who have discovered the fear behind their mockery. For anyone who wants to join me.

 

 

 

 

New Day’s Resolution

Juggling is easy. This is how you start. Throw the ball. Catch the ball.

That’s my plan. Throw the ball, catch the ball. Then add another. What I’ve done so far is throw the ball, become distracted and let it drop. Some time later, when I’ve got confident again, I’ve thrown another ball, remembered what happened last time, and dropped it. I am easily diverted. When I find a good use for that trait, It’ll be a good day.

I was looking for a verse to help me describe the kind of patience God has shown me over the years, and the closest I got was this one, in Acts 13, where Paul, preaching in a synagogue in Pisidian Antioch (present-day Turkey), is describing God’s dealings with Israel. In verse 18 he says ‘He endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert’.

He’s been enduring mine for a good while now, too.

I have struggled for years with that tension between trying to be really good, whatever I think that means, and trusting that I can believe God when I read that he loves me and I don’t have to try to make myself deserving of it. It is perhaps the greatest distraction of all. It stops me from enjoying my life too much for fear that this is somehow not Godly Behaviour and keeps my inner puritan fat on a diet of self-righteous self-denial. When I’ve had enough or my long suffering family gently sets me straight (or just laughs at me) it takes me a while to pick up the ball again and start playing.

But his mercies are new every morning. So off I go again.

Throw, catch, enjoy.