I'm just checking in with you because I haven't been around lately. I know you've been around - it's me that hasn't been.
I don't really want to be here now, if the truth be known. I'm feeling grumpy and not inclined to be nice. My eyes are almost closed, I'm so tired, but lately it seems that when I do get into bed it's ages before I can get to sleep. There's a lot in my head at the moment. You know everything that's in there - the good stuff and the bad stuff. Help me to sort it all out, will you? Because there are lots of things in there that are not welcome. I don't like playing host to a lot of bad feelings.
The other day Elizabeth (6) shouted me upstairs after her bedtime and her latest gambit to postpone going to sleep was:
'Mummy, I've banged my head on the wall and everything I know is swirling round in my brain and stopping me getting to sleep.'
Later the following evening she remembered that she's complained of a bumped head and asked me to look for a bump. While investigating the non-existent injury I asked her, 'Did all your knowledge settle again?' She replied:
'Not in time for maths.'
Ha. A child after my own heart. I'm doing my best not to let on that I was terrible at maths as well, but it seems to be in the genes. Her teacher and I are working on her confidence.
I know what she means about things swirling round her head. I don't need to bang my head against the wall to have it happen to me (though sometimes I'm tempted to do just that for a completely different set of reasons). I just can't switch off, sometimes.
Take yesterday. Yesterday was a really bad day. Some stuff went wrong that was in my control and some stuff went wrong that was out of my control. I had conversations that I keep going over in my head and I said stuff I wish I hadn't said. I know that there are many sides to any problem and yet it doesn't stop me feeling hurt and resentful when people can't see my side. I didn't do anything bad; my motivation was (I think) to bring about something good, but I somehow got it wrong. Last night I was very tired and overwrought and at bedtime I disintegrated. I was just like my four year old daughter is sometimes - one last thing went wrong and it was the last straw. I lay in bed and cried and sniffed and cried some more and all I could say was 'Lord'.
It was just a bad day. Nobody died, nobody even fell out. I just felt bad because I didn't get my own way. I tried to help but I got it wrong. My feelings were hurt. Forty one years old and yet I lay in bed and cried because I was tired and had nothing left.
Yesterday has cast a long shadow over today as well. I woke up with gritty, puffy eyes and felt as if I would sell my soul in order to stay in bed and not have to interact with anyone today. (That's just a figure of speech, you understand, the bit about soul-selling). The way today started out it felt as if it was going to be a disaster just because of the way yesterday finished. It didn't really turn out as bad as all that, thankfully. I suspect I have you to thank for that.
Do we ever grow up, Father God? We humans? Me in particular, I suppose I mean. Will I ever be wise? Will I ever be able to end a day like yesterday and shrug and give it all over to you and leave it with you and walk away without meltdown? Without raking it over a million times before I can leave it alone? Will I ever have perspective on life's little disappointments?
Will I ever get enough sleep?
Tonight's not a great deal better, but there are improvements. I am still so, so tired, partly owing to the fact that valuable sleep time last night was spent snivelling instead of catching the Zs. I won't do that tonight. Also, half a dozen sobbed 'Lord!'s do not make an adequate quiet time. I need to find you again. I know you haven't moved away from our spot, but I have, and I'm not quite sure where I left you.
I booked a holiday today. Just a cottage on the coast in this country; we're not going far, but a holiday nonetheless. We're going in the summer. It's a cottage on a cliff top overlooking the sea. There's a path down to the beach not far away and from the windows we'll be able to watch the fishing boats and the late night ships out on the ocean. I love the sea. Maybe Bryan will take his telescope. The sky will be dark and full of stars because it's in the middle of nowhere and we'll leave the windows open at night to hear the noise of the waves. From where we will be on the east coast facing north we'll be able to see the sunrise and the sunset over the sea. It's going to be all the family. Buckets and spades and fish and chips and paddling and rock pooling and fishing for crabs and boat rides and just being away from the everyday. I can't wait.
How I wish I were there now. With you. Sitting looking out at the enormous blackness away from streetlights and school runs and noise and everyday politics and focusing on the power of the sea and breathing in the freshness. How I need you. How quickly I run out of steam on my own.
So, I am off to bed. With a cup of coffee and my book on prayer. I hope my eyelids stay as droopy as they are now, so that I can have a nice long night's sleep before the children descend on me in the morning.
Lord, please cleanse my mind of all the negative things that are trying to take root there. The resentments and the hurts and the anxieties. Heal the wounds that are still open and then help me to turn away from them and not start picking at them again. Help me to pray words of forgiveness even though forgiveness is unnecessary, but because I feel hard-done-to. Help me to leave things in the past and not load them into this huge and unwieldy bag of rubbish that I cart around with me all the time. I've been doing so much better with my tendency to worry recently - don't let me slither down a snake back to square one.
Help me not to go over and over what was said and what I should have said and what I wish I hadn't said. Keep on reminding me that I am playing to an audience of One, and that's you. What other people think does not matter; only your opinion counts. Show me if there's anything that you want me to learn from this, and otherwise, help me to leave it behind and get on.
Thankyou that your love for me is unconditional. Even if other people form a bad opinion of me, or think critical things of me, you still think that I'm alright. Thankyou that there's nothing I can do that will surprise you because you know me better than I know myself. Thankyou that you will never leave me, even if I'm doing my best to wander off in a different direction.
I'm glad we talked. Or I talked, anyway. It's been good to get this off my chest. I feel better for having had a moan.
I'd love it if you'd chip in with your four penneth. If there's something you want to point out to me, please do. Bring something good out of it, please.
But I'm planning an early night, and I'm going to be snuggling up with my pillow and a warm wheaty in the shape of a dinosaur in about ten minutes, so if you want my full attention, better make it soon.
Is that ok?
I'll do better tomorrow. I'll try.