Monday, 18 March 2013

Blunders and absurdities

Afternoon, Jesus.

I'm talking about cushions. 

I got a cushion for Christmas. 

I am a sucker for inspiring quotes and messages and the like and this cushion fits that category. It also just nicely fits the small of your back as you're slouching on the sofa. It has a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, for whom I have a soft spot, and I like it. 

This cushion says:
Finish each day and be done with it
You have done what you could
Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in
Forget them as soon as you can

Tomorrow is a new day

Begin it well and serenely and with too high 
a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense

Now isn't that the way to live?

I have never really arrived at a conclusion through reading Emerson as to whether his faith was real or not, whether he changed his mind in the later part of his life and embraced atheism or indeed embraced Christianity, but I think that this piece of sound common sense is completely in accord with the Bible.

I need to take notice of my cushion.

That's one of those sentences that you don't really think you'll ever say.

I am not one of those people who breezes through life, shrugging at mistake or disaster and moving on.

I'm more of a brooder. An analyser. A worrier. The sort of person who lies in bed in the dark wide awake and frowning, chewing my lip and dwelling on things.

Last night I lay in bed and went over some conversations I'd had yesterday. It had been Elizabeth's parents' evening at school and I had gone with quite a lot of baggage. 

Elizabeth is doing really well at school academically but emotionally not brilliantly because of recurrent friendship issues of the sort that small girls do so well. Sigh. Small girls can be so mean.

I expected her teacher to make reference to these things, as well as to undone homework and lapsed attention in spellings and perhaps my daughter's tendency to clam up rather than contribute when she's feeling uneasy. I was defensive. I was all prepared and knew exactly what I wanted to say. And then none of this happened and I quickly found myself on the back foot. In a good way. 

Her teacher praised Lizzie's enthusiasm, attentiveness and manners and spoke very highly of her academic ability. She was surprised that I thought Elizabeth was withdrawn for she works well as part of a team and is confident enough to put forward ideas of her own. 

I was relieved, to say the least. Reassured and pleased. But lying in bed last night of course I went back over what I'd said, what she said. A conversation that I was sure would go one way went completely differently and I was unprepared and vulnerable. I didn't manage to say what I wanted to say and I wondered what she must have thought about me.

The wisdom of the cushion: finish each day and be done with it. 

What could I change? Nothing. As Lady Macbeth said, in a completely different scenario, 'What's done cannot be undone.'

What does it matter what opinion Elizabeth's teacher has of me? It matters what she thinks of Lizzie, and she thinks that Lizzie is great. Whose opinion of me matters? Yours. Only yours.

Parents evening? Not my finest hour, but not my worst. My little girl's doing fine.

Done with that. Leave it behind. 

Yep, blunders and absurdities crept in alright. They always do. Not a day goes by without me putting my foot in it some way or other. Whether it's an ill-thought-out status update on Facebook which requires extensive explanation or a letter put through the wrong door, a phone call that I forgot to return or inadvertently gluing my finger to a jar of Colombian blend instant coffee (don't ask), absurdities pepper my days.

Misunderstandings, dilemmas and misinterpretations. My brain is quite often not my friend. 

Forget them as soon as you can.

Be gone, blunders and absurdities. Be gone, endless replaying of events. Be gone, desperate wishing that I had a 'rewind' button. Or a 'mute', for that matter. 

I think it must be a good discipline to finish the day like this. A quick scan of the major landmarks of the day and a turning over of the rubbish and the accidental and the bizarre to the One who cares about the big and the little alike and cares about me. You, Lord God, who watched me get it wrong and saw my confusion and uncertainty, who chuckled when I made coffee with a sticky digit and helps me get over my embarrassment and self consciousness any number of times in the average day.

All yours. Success, triumph, blunder, absurdity. I know that you're always there, just waiting for me to put it down at your feet and walk away without it. To leave you all the mistakes and messes and debris of a day of being me. 

You don't want me to accumulate stuff like that. 
'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.'Matthew 11:28
You want me to leave it with you and move on.

Tomorrow is a new day. 

A brand new day, God willing. If I wake up tomorrow it's a gift, because nobody guarantees me another day to do it all over again. Today is a pristine sheet of paper, a blank page ready to write on. 

I came across this: 

So far today, Lord, I'm doing alright.
I haven't gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish or self-indulgent.
I haven't whined, complained, cursed or eaten any chocolate.
I have charged nothing to my credit card. 

I'll be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think that I'll need some more help then.

Being a bit of an over-thinker who rarely takes anything at face value, I would add that I quite often blow it before I even get out of bed, depending on whether I'm woken by a small person landing on my chest or the outbreak of war over a Barbie doll in the bathroom. Assuming I get to come round in my own time (haha! that'd be lunchtime, then) I might make it to the leg-out-of-bed stage without serious incident. But just as the witty bit of writing says, each new day, I'm needing a lot of help. 

Tomorrow is a new day. Forget the disasters and cringeworthy moments of yesterday. They accumulate far too quickly. 

Tomorrow is a new day. 
Begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

It's a new day, not yet lived. Not lived before; I don't have to make all the same mistakes that I made yesterday. I don't have to do what I've always done because change is possible, indeed, encouraged. I know that you help me to learn from my cock-ups while not dwelling on them. You don't roll your eyes in exasperation when I take my time to understand the lesson I'm learning. You are always there with a clean sheet, a new page, another chance. 

Forget the old. Let's try again. Lord, give me that serenity that I hear so much about. I wouldn't describe myself as serene, really. Enough people have told me that I sometimes give the impression of calm when actually I'm far from it, and that's nice to know as I'd hate to have the world witness my flapping. 

The last bit really struck a chord with me. '...too high a spirit to be encumbered with all your old nonsense.'

We've established that I have plenty of old nonsense and am likely to generate an endless supply of new stuff.

We've established that you have no desire to see me encumbered and that you're more than happy to lift off the weight of all the rubbish that I carry around with me. 

So that just leaves the high spirit. How often do I start the day with a high spirit? More often I am groaning at the alarm clock, squinting between the curtains to see if it's a one-jumper-or-two day and irritably calling the children and chivvying them to clean teeth, brush hair, collect belongings, eat breakfast.  

I have so much to be in high spirits about. A wonderful family, nice house, a full fridge and clean running water not the least of my blessings, but it's more than that. It's all trivia in comparison with the fact that I have you.

I am free. I am saved. I am loved by Almighty God. You have my name engraved on the palm of your hands. 
'See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hands.' Isaiah 49:16
Even if the whole world full  of people turn their back on me, you never will. 

No matter how many blunders and absurdities creep into my day, you are there, loving me. Forgiving me. Washing me whiter than snow. 

That's enough to lift anyone's spirits. 



  1. Read this after a hectic Patricks wkend with OH family! Before I read it I found my mind wandering! Were my jokes funny? Were the children's manners up to scratch? Did my mother in law like the dish I made? And so on and so on! Thanks Helen! Another timely blog. It seems we all do this to ourselves. I love that you're so real and then give it to God. I shall do the same tonight so that I sleep like a log:-) ro

    1. I still need to practice this. I'm not very good at it...
      Thanks for your encouragement Rowena. Means a lot.

  2. So true - So glad i can leave my blunders and absurdities with Jesus, and trust that He's going to burry them.

    Well said Helen (and Ralph)

    1. Thank you. For reading and taking the trouble to leave kind words. :-)

  3. That is an excellent cushion, and very good advice for everyone.


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