Desire. So easily sparked in the hearts of man. An incendiary, smouldering insidiously. Burning.
We’re going through a difficult time at the moment – I won’t go into it but suffice is to say one outcome could be pretty crap.
A deep fault of mine is that I allow worry to wrap itself round my heart and squeeze ever so painfully. So much so I find it hard to pray. If you know me you probably wouldn’t realise – as I just ‘carry on’. I think it’s something I inherited from my mum – just ‘get on with it’. Crying about it isn’t going to make it any better…
I had to leave for work super early this morning. There’s something about silly’o’clock – like no one’s touched the day yet. It’s clean.
I’d grabbed some AVON brochures on my way out the door to post along a nearby road. I crossed paths with a man doing a paper round from his Ford Escort…remember when it used to be a young teenager on a bike?
I found myself dwelling on what’s hurting me most – and asked God where he was in all of it. Over the last few days I’ve felt a numbness that I’ve wondered is the vacuous absence of God.
So much so this morning that I asked:
“Do you love me Lord? Do you really Love me?”
After posting the last AVON brochure, unusually, I’d put on my headphones as I walked to the train station. I wanted to listen to a Christian music playlist – if I can’t pray, this is the next best way to talk to God, right?
A band came on and then as I turned into I side street my playlist jumped to the next song.
“How he Loves us..” – Cory Asbury.
‘Odd’, I thought.
I got to the station platform and phrase from the bible came to mind; Paul in Corinthians saying:
“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh..” – 2 Corinthians 12:7
I realise that there are so many others a lot worse off than me: financially, health wise…but I wonder why it feels like I’m herding kittens? Am I thriving? Am I doing what God’s really planned for me?
Paul talks about overcoming the ‘thorn in his side’ – and uses the analogy to stay grounded in Christ. If I struggle to pray in the worst times, how will I ever feel ‘connected’?
I actually feel like i’ve only just got my head above the water, and I can see the next wave coming. It will engulf me…
You craved for my heart to be for you
Giving first, faithful, loving pure,
Soulful soul mate, fixed, renewed
You eagerly, stressed the point.
Lies have kept me apart from you
Kingdom thirst, losing contentment
Fearful in love, tricked, askewed.
I selfishly pressed my point.
Love paves my way back to you,
Healing hurt, coaxing perspective
Making me trust, it’s you who’d
So readily made the point.
1 John 4:10
Your fingertips shaped Creation,
And what was good is perfect.
more than worthy of respect.
Extravagant your bestowing
Light, entity, a deluge of galaxies.
Meticulous Designer, fore-knowing
Scrutiny, query in life’s galleries.
Indulgent Father, I create anarchy
An unintentioned disposition
Still, you relinquish your love to me
Lavishly, at your own volition.
Reshape my miniscule soul?
World wearied, in disproportion
Transform me, mould me whole?
Pure. Like when you shaped Creation.
Yes, yes..i’ve had it before. Many a time if fact, when talking about my ex. But this time it miraculously resonated with the answer. And this, because I had a conversation with a work colleague.
I must have easily been amongst 4000 other Christians over the last few weeks if you count the Christian New Media Awards and Conference, the William Lane Craig events and the Woman to Woman conference.
So the stabs and prods of self doubt shouldn’t really have been surprising. Pete Phillips (CODEC) got it right as we all piled out of the Christian New Media Conference on 16th October –
Inspired and filled with the spirit of ‘can do’ – what a dangerous Christian we are. What I now realise is that we are at our most venerable when we are closest to God.
Studying to be a Minister, working in a Christian environment, a new Christian…hungry to know more of God? All lambs.
Peter said, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
Here, God can use His power and ability to shine through our weaknesses; the potential to become living witnesses of his power. Self Doubt robs Him of this.
Paul confirms this, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 9-10)
CM. I’m shaking my head. We’ve known, and talked about how a relationship won’t work, but we’re still playing games. Something I told myself a while ago that I’d never do. Honesty always. But I’ve ended up deceiving myself.
It’s not real. And that’s not what I need.
My ex has forgotten I’m still on our account, and still receive bank statements. I see the flowers, the restaurants and the trips away. He’s loving someone else. But I won’t find anyone if I’m still bitter and letting him influence my own self worth.
A conversation with a work colleague confirmed this. We got onto the subject of divorce. When he split with his wife, who cheated on him, he was made homeless. I’ll not name names, but he was a successful DJ at the time…and slept in the back of a shop for months and months; nobody knew.
He had every right to be bitter. And he was for a long while. Reduced to sleeping in a shop, with a friend leaving him food every now and then, he turned to God and asked, ‘Why? And for how damned long?’
It dawned on him that in his bitterness, he was holding on to the past. Not allowing God to point to the future. It wasn’t until he let her go, that things started to fall into place for him and he found a flat.
I need something real now. And yes, I’ve know this from the outset really. I’m feeling low about this ‘relationship’ today. Add to this, i’m feeling low about my ex, my job, lack of money…and this low self esteem is taking up a lot of energy. Too much, I realise this. If I feel shite, I’m good for nothing. (and i’m downright sure this is sinful)
It’s not what I need. That’s not what He needs.
What happens when you roll out of church at 1.30ish on an extremely sunny Sunday and realise you’ve not made plans to see anyone that day? Panic?
Another thing to add to the list of things i miss now that i’m not in a relationship. To be honest, i’d not really thought about it until now. My weekends are mostly filled with friends or family. But..today was different. On the one hand i really wanted to sit in the park and just chill, by myself and enjoy the last bout of sunshine. And on the other, i didn’t want to do it alone. (I know, how sad?!)
I’m a lazy friend. Actually, no, I’m being harsh on myself. I may have mentioned before, I’m just not used to having lengthily phone conversations. This stems from years with parents who were very conscious of phone bills and basically banned me from long inane phone calls with friends. ‘You’re going to see them tomorrow aren’t you?’
Therefore, as an unconscious rule, I use the phone solely to confirm arrangements, make arrangements – anything that’s basically specific. If I haven’t got something to say to say. I won’t call you. (i hope i’m getting better at this now. I especially make an effort to text).
So, having left a couple of messages with my closest friends, and realising they were astute enough to make plans..i took the bus home from Church.
On the bus from Oxford Circus to Vauxhall, I was thinking about how much I miss my sister; and the true reason I couldn’t be joyful about her pregnancy. (I’ve not mentioned this before, but yes..she’s pregnant with her new bf) We’d only just started hanging out again.. I mean. Really hanging out. I could have called her …after her Charity Run…and gone round to make Sunday lunch at hers. Or, better still..she could have come to mine, but…
As I flicked from Facebook to Twitter, from my emails and text messages through the long journey home, I suddenly felt extremely lonely as I imagined everyone else out and about, or having barbeques. But mostly lazing in the sunshine. I suddenly felt rather empty.
If i’m brutally honest i’m just not as blasé about my meeting with CM as i’d thought i would be. But then..do i ever learn my lesson? We’ve talked it over. And because he’s thoughtful and kind i realise that the sanity check wasn’t just for him. He was actually concerned that i was ok about it all. I said, yes. I was. I don’t think it’s computing at the moment though.
Unfortunately I suddenly feel rather empty.
Belligerently i put my FB status as ‘dumping chores for sunshine’. But because I couldn’t bear sitting in a park by myself i decided to stop at Tesco and buy a whole chicken on discount, salad and rose wine… (see my drift?)
I put the chicken in the oven to roast and cleaned the windows of my flat (although I could only reach halfway so the top of the panes are still shoddy!) and vacuumed. I then ate the chicken with a lovely potato and green salad..and drank far too much Rose, on my own.
In hindsight, I’m slightly worried about the wine, as i can ‘see’ I’m obviously on a ‘downward’ mood. I have the ‘restructure meeting’ to consider on Tuesday. It’s been the weirdest two weeks, having the consultation period. No one at work really talks about it. It’s like this massive elephant in the room at every meeting?
On a plus, i’ve FINALLY ordered prints of my digital photos, and framed some of them to put around the flat. It looks like someone ‘lives’ here now. I’d noticed that the first thing that people do when they come round is look around. Especially at my bookcase, and the sparse and impersonal ‘fashion’ photos I have up. Now I have friends and family to spark conversation. It feels nice.
Despite the bout of loneliness, the TV has been off all day and I’ve been listening to my old iPod. (repeat – My OLD iPod…we’re talking The Feeling, Usher, Counting Crows, Jamie Foxx, Peter Gabriel and Elvis..not to mention concertos saved for wedding march ideas..!) I feel productive, so I can’t deny how good the day has been.
Orange skies and Lemoncello.
So clings the last vestige of day.
She’s supine, captured in yellow.
Cherry red lips parted.
Cloudless, open are the heavens,
Ear cocked to hear her prayer.
She’s wordless, emptied even,
Her contrition halted.
Tell her heaven hears her speaking,
No matter how quiet the sound.
Catch her before she’s weeping.
So the seeds are planted.
Luke, who staggers his work hours to avoid crowded tube’s after 7/7, makes a point of noting who is sitting near him in a carriage. So when the tube he was on pulled into a station, and people left and refilled the carriage, he’d actually taken the time to ‘look’ at the comings and goings around him. The next person to sit next to him found an iPhone on the seat, and asked if it was Luke’s. It wasn’t his, but Luke had immediate an empathy for the guy who’d lost it…who, incidentally…Luke remembered.
Luke is a social media freak. (maybe freak’s too strong a word) but he’s always on his iPhone. He lost his once, and I think a little piece of his world crumbled.
He prayed that the guy and his phone would be reunited. And felt silly about this, because God obviously has a lot going on at the moment what with Isreal and the Arab Spring, the England Riots and the end of Col Gaddaffi’s regime.
But God answered. Luke and the stranger got off the tube together. The stranger went one way, saying he would hand the phone in. And Luke went the other..making his way to the exit. Suddenly he noticed a man running desperately towards him with the aim of getting on the tube. It was the man who’d left his phone on the seat.
Luke grabbed him as he was about to shoot past him and said simply, ‘you’re phone just being handed in.’
I’m telling this story as a sign post to my own experiences while at Greenbelt this year. A number of my prayers have been answered. Firstly being the actually ticket to the festival. I’ve always wanted to go, but financial situation I’m in at the moment meant that I wouldn’t have been able to afford it…plus the cost of buying camping gear.
My ticket was provided by CODEC, which meant I worked a couple of hours on their stand, and then had the rest of the time free to explore the festival! My sister knows someone who works in a camping shop…and got 10% off my tent…which ended up being £10. I borrowed a sleeping bag from my mum; and a kettle and camping stove from work. [Thank you Father for providing through friends and family]
The only thing I didn’t have, which would have been nice and saved me buying coffee, was a thermos flask. But then, one morning I was talking to the Communications guy from the London School of Theology when he stopped and said he had a ‘random act of kindness’. He gave me a box, which contained (did you guess?) a thermos flask! [Thank you Lord for hot coffee while i was working on the stand]
I had a really interesting conversation with a guy called Daniel. He’s doing a phd in something like theology and blogging. CODEC is the Centre for Christian Communication in the Digital Age (I know, the acronym doesn’t quite work does it?) but we talked about the impact of social media on Christendom etc. And then I asked where he was from. His Church is in Colliers Wood. I was stunned. I live up the road from there. He then asked if I went to St Nic’s. Which I don’t, but I’ve been wondering about going to a local Church…
I only had around £30 spending money fir the long weekend. And it was enough. Just.
Collecting my car from my parent’s house, I had half a tank. Although, on my way out, my dad had told me to put an extra £10 petrol in, to be safe. And, foregoing a round of beers, I took his advice.
I really wanted to keep £10 aside, just in case. But after rounds had been bought for me at the Jesus Arms by the lovely people i was with and had met, I felt obliged to buy one.
I said goodbye to Greenbelt on Tuesday morning. Looking at my petrol gage, I suddenly felt very silly for spending that last £10 on beer.
I started to pray. Very hard. Hitting Oxfordshire i saw a man at the side of the road hitchhiking. He was holding those temporary number plates they have when they ferry cars from one part if the country to the other. I passed him, thinking about safety before petrol. I got to the M25.. And my gage was on empty. I just prayed.
What with my bank being in a shambles, I’m still unsure if my AA cover is still live. I called the 2nd emergency service…(my parents) to warn them of my predicament. I felt so bad for worrying them. But, to cut it short, I got home. With an empty tank I managed to park on my dad’s driveway. My parents were so surprised to see me.
You miss me most when you’re craving
Your heart of discontent
And then you cry you’re worth saving
On this, i daily lament.
It hurts to see you head strong
When your heart is so very weak.
All sacrifice seems worthless. I long
For the prayer which you never speak.
All I ask is that you love me
I made grace so very easy for you
look away from your pained reverie
Trust my strength will see you through.
You’d think they’d quench the burn;
Silent rivulets of pain.
Dirty fingers wipe in turn
Each eye, mascara stained.
Breath, staccato beats a motto,
Echoes of the heart inside.
Whispered anthem for tomorrow,
Body braced to ride the tide.
What escapes faith bruised lips?
Sound more eloquent than words.
When the grasp on silence gently slips,
The soul still aches for what’s unheard.