You know how sometimes you get into a crisis, and it’s pretty obvious? Like the sirens are screaming and the bailiff is at the door and all the neighbours are watching, and there’s no denying it, girl’s got problems?
That has really only happened once in my life (and not literally). In the Good Girl realm of things (which I very much inhabit), crises rarely arrive with such fanfare. In fact, they very often don’t feel like crises at all, they feel like little niggling bugs which I can choose to carry on ignoring, to my peril. After all, there are so many other things I need to be doing. Better get achieving; YOLO and all, you know?
Maybe it’s having tried to get rid of the bedbugs in my room for about three weeks now*, but I have been learning to take the little niggling bugs seriously. The fact that they are small is no invitation to ignore them; they are in fact from Mercy, who is saying, “deal with this before it gets bigger”.
This week, the bugs were things like:
- I didn’t know how I was feeling. When people who wanted a real answer asked, ‘how are you?’, it stressed me out.
- I was working too hard.
- I was late to things.
- I was scratchy towards people.
- I felt shallow. I could feel my smile getting thin, and knew that I was no bigger on the inside than I looked on the outside.
- I had no peace about decisions. It felt like skating on thin ice.
Eventually, while talking to a friend, I realised that all these things point to the fact that I just wasn’t having enough space to connect with God and feel like myself**. I had made my life too noisy. Uhhhh, hello, old problem.
Being an achiever, having time to meditate and pray and generally hang out with God is one of those things that makes no sense whatsoever. Hanging out is not efficient. It is not successful. I want to try to turn it into a project with success/failure as potential directions, but that would defeat the purpose. It flummoxes the way my mind works.
However, it is essential if I do not want my epitaph to read, “busy person; no character”.
“The fruitful way into the depths demands a great deal of patience from [achievers] and the readiness to experience nothing spectacular for quite a while, or to be confronted with their own hostility, boredom, and superficiality […]
[Achievers] must confront the secret of the cross, which is the secret of failure: out of our defeats God makes his victories — not ours! This doesn’t occur to [achievers], this doesn’t work, this can’t be integrated into any system of promotion. [Achievers] on the way to redemption free themselves from their vanity and begin to hope in God’s sovereign activity, which can’t be manipulated.”
— Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, from this very insightful book
The current plan for change is to get up half an hour earlier each day and just be with God with no particular agenda. I’m doing this with my housemate so hopefully the fear of social disapproval will work in my favour – we shall see.
*About the bedbug situation: the final cull is taking place this weekend – wish me luck and/or pray!
**Sometimes all the warning signs add up to different root causes, but this week was an elegant example of just one thing being the issue.