Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The view looking backwards

Oh, Lord.

I keep coming back to the question of not knowing where I'm going.  

It makes me a bit anxious as I like to plan.  I've done my Spiritual MOT and am looking forward to talking it over with a wise and patient friend later this week.  Some answers were easy, instinctive; others were thought provoking or challenging, and a few were difficult; difficult to face up to or simply find an answer because I don't know.

I know you are doing something with me.  There are too many new things in my life, too many reminders, too many little prods and impressions for it not to be the case. I know you have something up your sleeve but I don't know what.  

It's that question, 'How do I know when I get there if I don't know where I'm going?'  I still have the sense of anticipation that I had in January (it is only March, I suppose) but I also know that the last months have brought me closer to you in many ways.  So is that it?  You just had it in mind that 2011 would be the year that I tuck myself a bit closer under your wing?

If so, that's alright.  I don't mind that.  That's enough.  It's a life's work, I think, to get close, stay close.  And the closeness;  that's a prerequisite for actually accomplishing something on your behalf.  I need to be close enough, in tune enough, to hear what you're telling me to do.

I'm sure that you're moulding me into something new.  New and improved.

I've missed three consecutive weeks at the acapella group now.  The first we were away in London, the second I had dodgy tonsils and the third I was generally unwell and tucked up in bed.  This week I find that I don't very much want to go. And I was so enthusiastic!  I was so wrapped up in it, and so looked forward to it from one week to the next.  The thing is, the last time I was there I sort of lost track of what was going on - I'm not musical and it takes me much longer than other people to catch on to a harmony. I'm an alto, and since altos rarely have the melody line it takes a lot of concentration for me and lots of practice.  The thing is, you know me well, Lord, and you'll know how much it meant that I went to the group in the first place.  I've never had much confidence, and to try something so far outside my comfort zone was quite an achievement!  So the last time I went it wasn't easy and I lost my confidence, and now after three weeks things will have moved on loads and people will know it all and I won't, and so it seems much easier to abandon ship than to try again.

People have said they've missed me, and I find that hard to believe.  I know they're being nice, and I appreciate it, but I still find it hard to believe that it's true.  It's only in the last few years/months that it has occasionally occurred to me that I might have something to offer in terms of who I am, not what I can do; not just being on a rota, or helping with such and such a committee, but by being me, because only I can be me, and you told us that we all have a vital role to play in your family.  

I've always hung back because there seems to be so many other people more qualified than me.  I've found it hard to welcome or reach out to new people because a voice in my head says, 'Why would they want to know you?  They have their own friends, and can make new ones and they wouldn't choose you, so why be so presumptuous as to imagine that you turning up on their doorstep would be a good thing?'

So I've left it to others.  I am starting to see that it's not the case. People have been so kind, so encouraging.  I look around and everyone else seems so confident, secure, comfy being them.  Then again, I suspect that no-one looking at me would see through to the flimsy and ailing self esteem that has dogged me since junior school.  Or before that, maybe.  Even asserting that I've started to feel less like this makes me cringe because it seems to invite contradiction; someone might confirm that yes, it is the case that I don't count for very much. 

I see it in Elizabeth, and it worries me that it's my fault that she's so diffident about some things.  This very morning it was her class assembly and it was just wonderful.  She was one of two children in her class who had been chosen to read a poem that they'd written out to the whole school, and parents of her class.  She did so well, and I'm so proud of her.  She's five, and she's written a beautiful little poem:

'At night owls fly and look for food
The food is mice.
At night the moon and stars shine and twinkle brightly.
At night we see shooting stars
The shooting stars shoot super fast.'

How lovely is that?

After the assembly the headteacher came over and congratulated the other child, saying, 'My goodness, here's the little poet!'   To Elizabeth, three feet away, nothing.  

My little girl just tucked herself in beside me, head down.  She didn't seem to expect anything.  Last night at bedtime she was crying in case people laughed at her as she read out her poem.  She doesn't want to get involved in the Comic Relief Talent Show at school because she says she can't do anything that anyone would want to see.  She's five, and the self consciousness that has crippled me for all my adolescence and adult life so far has set in already.  Am I to blame for this?  It terrifies me.  Don't let it happen to my girls, Father God, please.  

But back to the MOT. I know I've started a journey, and I know that you won't leave me stranded. 

'...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus'.   Philippians 1:6

So if you've started, you'll finish.  I don't know if that means you'll finish this side of Heaven, but I know that I'm a work in progress, not something abandoned under a dust sheet in the back room that the craftsman has given up on. 

So maybe it's about moving past this self esteem thing. You know, I think I can imagine life the other side of it.  It's like a mountain range ahead of me; the things I need to unlearn; ways of thinking, assumptions I make, my reaction to people, what's in my head as I walk into a room. An apologetic approach to life - feeling inadequate and assuming that people can see that I'm a fraud, slightly less worthwhile than the person next to me. 

It's a big thing, as it's formed the basis for how I see myself for thirty-odd years.  How I can get across these mountains is beyond me, but I'm in the foothills, with your help. I've struck out; left base camp.
I've only just left the foothills.

So this mountain range.  I know that there must be another side to it.  A place where the mountains are behind me. 

Another country.  I reckon that there might even be a viewing platform over there, where I can turn around and look back at the mountains I've crossed over and left behind.  I can imagine, perhaps, what that view might be like - I just can't see it yet.  

But you've brought me so far and there've been a few peaks and troughs before, so if you will lead me, I'll follow. Even if the air gets a bit thin and it's high and scary and a bit rocky in places.  

But please don't let my daughters follow me. Save them the journey; please let them get off a plane already at the other side and meet me there. 

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