I am determined not to start this with the word 'Well'.
I have in front of me a piece of paper. You know which piece of paper, God. It's been in front of me a few times already and I bet you're wondering when I'm actually going to start working on it. It's a Spiritual MOT. Some perceptive, insightful person has put together a questionnaire that probes deep into my current state of spiritual health (or otherwise) and is supposed to elicit perceptive and insightful responses. After phase one, and with the help of a friend who has an immense stash of patience and wisdom to help me make sense of my musings, I might emerge with a greater awareness of who I am, where I am, spiritually, and perhaps have an inkling of where I'm going. Hooray!
Or that's the idea. As it is, I have perused the questions on several occasions already (on the second occasion I even had a pen in my hand) and then tucked it safely back with the other papers in an imaginary file marked, 'To Do: Later. Too hard for right now'.
What if I don't know the answers? What if I get it wrong?
I suspect I'm over-thinking this one.
What are the positive factors in your relationship with God?
That's straightforward. You are the positive factor.
What is hampering your relationship with God?
What do you think might help?
Hmm. A retreat? More sleep? More hours in the day? Trying harder?
Do you see what I mean? I get to this time of day and I'm too tired and I get flippant. I want to do this justice; I want to learn what I can. Part of it comes back to the old thing that I don't know where I'm going; I'm trusting you to show me. If I don't know where I am right now, then how can I work out which direction to take to get to a destination which is, as I keep mentioning, unknown? I feel a bit like the time I was reading a map and directed us to take the second exit off a huge roundabout, only to discover that it wasn't a roundabout, it was an 'O' in a place name and actually I had no idea where we were even though the means to finding out was right in front of me. Funnily enough, since then I tend to drive and Bryan tends to do most of the navigating.
What if I'm sitting here, excitedly proclaiming how this year feels special; I'm looking forward to finding out what you have in store for me, there's something new coming - and all the time you're saying, 'This is it; you're here now'. Shouldn't I be living for now, not for the future? I'm getting a bit better at not living in the past, but I have this feeling of anticipation that I've talked to you about and I've been sure that you're telling me that it's OK, all will be revealed in your good time, but what if I'm wrong?
What if you just want me here, doing what I do, looking after the girls, writing what I write, doing the shopping, the cleaning (ahem), the cooking, the church things... but maybe you're trying to give me the freedom to legitimise what I do because I am where you want me? This is it? I don't want to miss it! I don't want to have my eyes fixed on the horizon, waiting for something special to come into view, if what you have for me is right here.
Or are we back to 'all in good time'?
Wish I knew the answers. If I knew the answers this little booklet would be a doddle.
Looking ahead five years, are there aspects of your life that you would like to be different?
Oh my goodness. I'm finding it hard to look beyond the end of the week, let alone five years. And I suspect that you're not looking for answers like 'I'll be a size 10 with glossy hair and nicer nails'.
Sometimes I feel as if there are so very many aspects of my life that I'd like to change. I'd like Bryan to work somewhere round here so that he can come home each night. I'd like to worry less. I'd like my children to be better behaved. I'd like to stop people I love getting old. I'd like to feel I had a purpose to what I do each day; a purpose that I can get my head round, not just knowing that I do have a purpose because you've told me that I do and I trust you, though that'll do for now. I suppose.
Other times I wouldn't change a thing. I'd put a pause on my life and just look at the freeze frame for ever. My children are growing up and I can't stop them. Elizabeth is so grown up now in so many ways, and not just because now she can read we can no longer spell out words we don't want her to understand. She's notices things, amazes us. Katy is wanting to be more like Lizzie so she'll grow up quicker than ever and I honestly have no idea how I'll manage when Katy no longer tells me that a Mummy cuddle is her favourite thing. I know this isn't what the Spiritual MOT is about either. It just made me think about the future.
What would be the hardest thing you can imagine God asking you to do?
Well. This is an awkward question. I don't really want to answer it, but it's hard to know why. It's almost as if I think that if I tell you what the hardest thing might be, you might just decide to ask me to do that very thing. As if you don't already know...
So I'm actually thinking that by avoiding telling you the truth I might keep something from you, am I? Yeah, right.
Why, if there's a crossroads in my life, a 'shall I do A or B' moment, do I automatically assume that you'll ask me to do the most difficult, unpleasant thing? The thing I don't want to do - that's sometimes how I think. I believe that you made me how I am, with my desires and longings and gifts and talents, and so you've created in me an inbuilt leaning towards some things, and away from others.
Potholing, for instance. I'm never going to be a potholer because I can't imagine anything worse than all that wriggling around underground in narrow spaces with a torch stuck to your forehead. I knew I wanted to be a Mum because the look of my life without children was hollow and empty and appalled me. It's an instinctive thing. Emotional. In Rick Warren's 'The Purpose Driven Life' and also in Erik Rees' 'SHAPE', we read that we are unique, and for each of us is a natural niche in which we find we can be fully ourselves. We'll fulfil our potential; we'll be happy if we're in the right place, doing what you designed us to do. If we try to fit ourselves into a slot that isn't made for us, we'll find it difficult and unfulfilling.
So I trust that you won't ask me to embark on a Ministry to the Potholing Community. If that's ok with you.
So this MOT is another step on this voyage I've embarked on, is it? I'm wondering if I'm writing this now and then months from now I can look back on this soul searching and laugh and explain it all. Or if I'll be just as confused. Maybe years from now?
Enough angst. I'm going to fill it in.
Actually, I'm going to make a cup of coffee first, and check on the children. And put the bin out as it's collection day tomorrow. And maybe have a quick bath, but then I'm going to fill it in. Actually, it'll be probably be tomorrow as it's getting late and I want to make sure I've got my wits about me. No point doing it half heartedly.
A spiritual MOT. I hope I turn out to be roadworthy.