Thursday, July 11, 2013

thursday thinking

Inspired (again) by David Westlake, I've been reflecting on some of the things that have fuelled my thoughts this week. Quite personal this week, but here's three things that have made me think...

Making wise life choices: (In)sanity by Mike Friesen
Having just finished one job, and now considering my options for filling that time* I enjoyed Mike Friesen's guest post on Steve Wiens' blog yesterday.
Titled "(In)sanity", Mike reflects on some of his own life - asking whether we experience sanity at its clearest when we are on our way to insanity. I've not experienced the anxiety or depression that Mike talks about, but I did recognise myself in the three scenarios he describes:

I withhold myself from relationships to avoid conflict. The years of pent up frustrations, limitations, let downs, failures, and lack of communication, has caused me to experience and painful isolation within the relationship.

I have been doing some type of work, behavior, or pattern of living and that stops working for me. And, when I continue to push forward in it because of the security it offers me, the gnawing frustration or pain continues until I change.

I am overly invested in something. When I get obsessive about something and I try to find worth, value, love, or meaning in it, the pursuit of it actually deteriorates it. When I am done with the obsession, I come back to my friends, family, and God, and vulnerably open myself up to them and allow them to speak into the void I was trying to fill.

With potential employment in mind, the second and third are particularly challenging. Some of my most difficult times have been towards the end of work/living patterns that have stopped working. Alongside that, at the moment, perhaps there are things that I'm overly invested in. They mean too much and could skew my decision making, leading me back into unhelpful working patterns which leads me back to the second point again. These can look like huge negatives, but actually, being aware of them can lead me to make better long term decisions, manage my time better and fully apply myself to what I'm involved with.

Sarcasm - an article in the Metro
Working in London this week, I commuted to Hammersmith which meant I picked up a copy of the Metro. Enjoyed this article on sarcasm. I know I use sarcasm a lot - perhaps too much? It's easy humour, and a passive aggressive defence mechanism and the article makes the challenge that today's sarcasm is largely lazy and lacks intellect. Ouch! Maybe sarcasm isn't the best way?

‘True sarcasm – and not the run-of-the-mill nonsense that teenagers or most adults, for that matter, spout off – is a psychological defence mechanism. A well placed sarcastic remark can help the person delivering the sarcasm to get a sense of satisfaction, knowing that an invisible blow has been delivered to an actual or perceived foe.Good sarcasm should deliver a surreptitious jab that doesn’t necessarily hurt the recipient but utterly satisfies the one delivering it.’

Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey
When several people independently recommend that you read the same book, there's only so long you can go on avoiding it. So I read Resurrection Year. Our situation is different to theirs (even though some of the visible outcomes might be the same.) For me the book is in two halves.

The beginning, during which I cried along with Sheridan and Merryn - those deep sobbing cries that are painfully refreshing and restorative. It's moving and powerful to read somebody else asking the exact same questions you yourself have asked. At that stage, it's not the answers to the questions that matter, it's the shared experience of knowing that others have asked them too.

And then the second half, in which I was looking for answers to some of those questions. If someone else has experienced them and has written a book then surely they have found some deep profound insights that I have yet to discover. I think I probably need to read this part of the book again, but after first reading I was disappointed. I wanted more. Unfairly, perhaps? And if I'm honest, I suppose it's not really the book or the authors that I'm annoyed at. I'm reluctant to accept a conversation with God which continually leaves the detail questions unanswered, instead being reminded that God is still God. It's a classic technique for behaviour management by distraction! Of course I know God is still God, and there's a challenge for all of us to constantly choose to remember this, to worship him at all times and in all places. And the unanswered questions are reflected in Job's story too. God never tells Job why it's all happened, just that He is worthy to be worshipped and that is enough.

I think what I struggle with most is finding the balance between choosing a new focus or always having hope for change. The book refers to Proverbs 13:12 "a hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is like a tree of life" and rightly says that there comes a point at which the sickness is too great, and letting go of the hope leads to fulfilment and wholeness in a different way. And when it comes to life choices, I can see that at work - every choice has elements of this, whether it's career path, family, moving house, experiences and opportunities. But what about when it's about physical healing, deep ongoing unanswered prayers and questions and the unknown world of whether things will be any different. Surely in that area we have to hold onto hope? Even if it makes the heart sick?

All this is hard to write without going into detail, and those are details I'm not going to share on a blog. The internet is too big and too wide! I'm grateful for a lot of things, including the truth that the things we struggle with don't follow me around like Perkin's cloud in the best Flumps episode ever. In the practical, there are many things I'm happy to let go of - to make alternative choices and to celebrate life as it is rather than bemoan the ways in which it fails to be what I'd hoped it'd be. But when it comes to hopes for healing and restoration, am I ready to let go of those and accept that this is the way things will always be? I'm not sure I am, or that I should be.

*it's two days a week and I'm obviously totally awesome, especially if you want me to work for you...

1 comment:


Sometimes I do go on...