Monday, 23 May 2011

Love, hard work and squidgy bananas

Why are people such hard work?

I bet you ask yourself that every few minutes, don't you?

Hmm.  Now I've thought that, it's sort of taken the wind out of my sails. 

Am I hard work? I suppose I am.  There's a good chance that somewhere in the locality someone at some point has thought that I am hard work. Perhaps  indeed several people; certainly including my husband, daughters, mother, brother and extended family, friends, neighbours, church family, milkman, hairdresser etc. That's certainly put the brakes on what was about to be an extended whinge about the difficulty of caring about other people, especially people who are different from me.

But I'll push on. You knew I would, didn't you?

Some people are easy to be with, and some aren't. Some people seem to fit my shape, and some seem to chafe. Some people offend my idea about how a person should behave, or appear, or talk, or smell.  My instinct is to turn towards the comfortable people and avoid the ones I find harder to deal with but that's not how it should be, I know. I read a Bible reading/devotional thingy a while ago that was based on this idea - that you are not giving enough unless you are giving sacrificially. If it's easy, then you're not working hard enough. 

Hmm.  Don't like the sound of that.

It was about loving being more closely related to work than to play. I am having this experience. Some people are easier to love than others, and I mean people you meet for the first time and instantly form ideas about; and I mean family and friends and church family too. Some people we're quickly drawn to and loving is easy, and others we're not and the feeling never gets any better. Sometimes we get back as much or more than we give and the transaction is a lovely one, and other times it's so hard. It's hard because you don't want to do it, it's not comfortable to do it, and you can think of a million reasons why it would be completely reasonable that you don't do it at all. Keep walking. Someone else will do it. 

It costs; time, or energy, or something else that you'd rather do, but can't do because you're doing this thing. It costs in terms of weight on your mind - the 'I ought to' thing. As a Mum of young children there are so many ways in which my day has to be modified in order to meet someone else's needs before my own that quite often I am reluctant to look outside the basic day-to-day running of this family and expend energy elsewhere so things end up being prioritised. Sometimes I am just so tired that I feel there's nothing left to give. Sometimes it's the church things that I do that get in the way - I have meetings, I need to prepare things, I need to be somewhere else so the time I do have I need to devote to things closer to home. None of that is wrong, I'm sure; but I am uneasy about how I can sometimes brandish those things as a defence against the creeping feeling that I am not doing enough.

Banana cake in the raw

Some people work full or part time and find time for other people in a way I fear I don't. Some people manage to do an extra batch of delicious cakes and give them away while I struggle just to knock up a banana cake for the girls to use up my squidgy bananas. Some people don't seem to have any family quirks or politics that means that inviting people into your home on spec requires careful planning rather than blissful spontaneity. Or maybe this is all obfuscation and my selfishness is the real reason.

There's always a reason, isn't there?

This little devotional challenged me to ask you to show me where in my life I could show sacrificial love, and then pray for the courage to do it. I am reluctant to pray such a prayer.  You might answer it. As the author said, 'Tell me how to show love without spending time, energy or money and I will gladly sign up. Tell me that love means sacrifice, however, and I become reluctant to commit myself.'

How can I fit anything more in, Lord? Should I? Excuses, excuses... OK, then, what should go to make room?  It reminds me again that although I don't doubt that you want what's best for me, I worry about how much it's going to hurt. Why am I always so sure that you'll ask me to do something way out of my comfort zone? 

It's all a bit much at the moment, Lord God.  I'm feeling a bit pathetic. As if I'm busy licking my wounds and need to be left alone for a bit. I feel a bit as if a fortnight on holiday on my own somewhere warm and remote is more in order than energy spent looking around for other people to care for. 

So don't ask. I don't want to say no. 

Or if you really feel you must ask, give me a bit of a break and then do it gently, will you? 

Start me on something easy.


  1. Great post Helen - very thought provoking... Hmmm. But I think you might be hard pushed to find enough squishy bananas this week as Thomas had a good go at them this morning!

  2. Thanks Emma. You're right about the bananas. Just need some custard I think.


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