DescendingFebruary 7, 2018
Humility teaches us that we don’t have to obey our emotions because the only version of reality that matters is God’s.
(H Anderson. Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul)
I’ve been on an unwitting journey. As January unravelled into the new year I’ve felt myself unravelling too. Much of the latter part of 2017 felt like hurdles spread over a marathon. I kept up a long slow jog from one event to the next, never quite relaxing into the steady rhythm as I prepared always to lift both feet before the next journeys leg.
In the last 2 weeks I’ve seen hubby find his grove again, he’s working amazingly well, in contrast I’m the picture of lethargy. The energy and strive to find routines that excited only a month ago seems to have drained away living little residue. I can pinpoint only vague causes, quantify the hours doing things that don’t energise me, see the general shift as I struggle to rise from the covers later and later into the morning. I can see the eczema grow it’s way across my pinkie finger, and frustratingly around my eye. And yet as the grey shroud descends I’m not in the least bit worried.
Partly it’s because I’ve spent this slow drift downwards dwelling in books like the one quoted above. Partly because what was holding my head above the water for that long marathon was the expectations and perceived essential tasks that left me sleepless at night and feeling guilty about failing. by letting them fall with everything else I’ve been released from a burden.
This is a time of deconstructing, it’s a time of redefining and refining the accumulated stuff that I’ve horded after all the years here. This is a crucial stage of really hearing ‘the call’ and to do it you have to stop walking ahead and honestly look at where you are and where your heart truly lays.
What are your gifts?
What are your passions?
What call is encoded into your very DNA?
Twee though it sounds, I always wanted to be like my Mum – someone who gave her whole heart to serve, who followed where-ever called, and poured love out on her family. A woman who created a refuge inside our front door, to give beyond what was comfortable, to accumulate wealth in ways no bank account would accept.
Equally I always wanted to create, to craft and share, to make for joy and beauty but for a purpose too. I wanted to stand back and say ‘that is good‘ and if at all possible ‘that is something I give back to the God who gave me all‘.
Those are my passions and those are the building bricks that I’m praying God will choose to use as we, my Lord and I, rebuild out of the rubble in the present dust cloud. During which I hope I, as ‘Humble Roots’ put’s it, “ learn a kind of humility that makes us fearless and productive.”
Photo by Rucksack Magazine on Unsplash
The CallJanuary 3, 2018
I lay aside my years word of ‘invest’ with a heavy heart. I’ve not done with it yet, I’m not ready to move on, I’ve not mined it’s depth enough. Yet the year keeps moving and the date changes yet again and somehow I find looking back it’s message seeped into my marrow in a way I’d never expected. ‘Invest’ has lead me to dream of possibilities bigger, risk planting myself firmer, try laying some shaky foundation stones.
Often when we move on we are reluctant to let go because our hands feel empty. In our rush we fill fingers with things that so easily slipped out of grasp. My desk testifies to many a plan embarked upon hardheartedly whose remains litter hopes that one day they will be rescued. As a new year was about to dawn I had yet to choose a word that meant something deeper. Life felt routed but unproductive, I was struggling with the realisation that my language classes where slipping away, my site rarely updated, our nap-times gone I didn’t know how I’d get back into the work I felt drawn to complete. Evening drew and new years plans began around up when I received a donation to my site with an attached note:
Out of no coincidence, I found your site this morning. Praying this allows you to follow God’s call.
It came like a sledgehammer, had I risked losing the plot. I’d been so busy investing my time and energy and hopes in what life had thrown at me had let The Call that first drew me here fade. Yes, yes yes, it was still there, I was still ticking the boxes and striving to serve but not always as the primary drive. I’d disconnected from the whisper that had meandered through the stones of the old fortress as I felt my heart yearn for the city I surveyed, or the roar in the trains and planes and busy motorways that had deposited me onto the soil. My memory was dim to the music of an open heart as gathering after gathering had gently confirmed the heaven sent seed that I’d begun to nurture. Was it time and familiarity or had I placed so much weight upon continuing the journey I’d stopped listening for new directions.
This year I hope that God can rekindle the fire that I once felt so strong. This year I’m going to have my ‘phrase of the year’ be ‘the call‘. It’s not about going or doing or even speaking but a call to actively listen and dare to respond to what you hear. The call is simply something you hear, something you can’t control or direct or even anticipate. I didn’t think I wanted to change my focus from the inward investing but I’ll admit I’m getting rather excited. I’m no longer being called as someone who is in any way temporary, we are praying we have enough resources for a permanent visa, I’m a part of the fabric here now even if my pattern is somewhat unusual I’m bound by time and love and family.
They said, “We will call the girl, and ask her.” And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.”
FoundationsOctober 16, 2017
‘Go’ said God, or did I just imagine it, did all the coincidences and happen-chances not add up to a shout. And so I went, with a little trepidation, with a spirit and determination to meet adventure. ‘Go’ I’d whisper as troubles rose, ‘go until…’
‘Stay’ said God, or did I imagine it, stay in this land that looks so different and yet familiar, stay with these limitations that your birthplace inadvertently bestowed. Stay where you will not find belonging in such a simple form. See I’ve made a path, a path that leads here, to this land, this city, this is where you shall dwell. ‘Stay’ I’d whisper as troubles rose, ‘stay until…’
‘Grow’ said God, or did my heart just do it without bidding. Grow friendships and conversations, smiles and tears, hardships and blessings. Grow a family, a community, a way of being who you are in this land, this town, this little patch of God’s earth. ‘Grow’ I’d whisper as troubles rose, ‘grow until…’
Then last year a new message came unbidden. A new message that did not whisper and build to a crescendo, but crashed suddenly, a cymbal in the still air. That message was ‘release’. ‘No’ I replied. but it was out of my hands, the rope had been broken, the fire started, the roots separated, the foundations rocked. All those threads and securities that had held promise for the one day fell, a myriad of Velcro hooks unlatching. My foundations wobbled so violently I drifted aimlessly.
Release is not a stage you expect to go through, it comes when you’ve sailed the seas of culture shock many times, when you’ve stopped referring to only one particular country as your place of origin, when you realise that it’s more than a just a few major events the ocean has separated you from. Release comes as the roots that once drew water from afar dry and crack and you mourn them each passing. Release is freeing as it’s painful, it stops the clock and puts it away in the cupboard.
As summer ended we made a new home space in a way that was slow and expensive and lasting. We kept justifying our doing so by trusting this was where we would remain for some years. Before I had gone ‘until’, stayed ‘until’, grown ‘until’ but now I’ve gone, stayed, grown and found a place to dwell. When I chose my word this year to be ‘invest’ I felt so adrift I craved security, it was, in some ways, a selfish word, a word that puts the emphasis on our plans over His. But as the year has progressed I’ve seen how my limited view needed to expand, how my ‘until’ mentality has had to be released, how my British identity has to uncoil, how my every progress is only fulfilled by his strength. As we roll into the final straight of the year I realise that this safe space was God giving me a new foundation, a new launchpad, an investment not into trinkets that will one day decay but into a community that I will no longer be passing through.
One day the call may come again, one day the whisper of ‘return’ may float in the air around me, but this year the word is invest, and so we build, secure, establish, and settle in for the journey of watching and serving the the world that moves around about us.