With apologies for Johnny Logan, it's hard to believe that September is nearly here again and, with it, a new church and academic year!
The last 6 months have been extraordinary and personally some of the most emotionally challenging of my life. Major life events, such as the death of my father, have happened and some significant personal relationships have changed. More time to think and reflect has allowed stuff to surface which has been submerged for a while.
After stripping away the layers of self-doubt, anxiety and self-blame, I am beginning to see that some radical changes are in order. Many of them will be perceivable only to me and those closest to me, because they involve a bit of a rearrangement of my internal emotional furniture to allow me to engage in different ways. It will also allow for a bit of a spring clean, trying to get rid of things that has built up in the crevices for too long that have induced guilt and blame: unmended relationships that are beyond repair and need to be laid down; unrealistic expectations placed on me by others or myself; misplaced trust in people or processes.
All of them, I hope, will be borne of deeper personal belief and trust that have also surfaced in this time. First;y, I have come to see that human flourishing is not an optional extra, but a divine gift and calling. Those internal and external things that have prevented my own, or others’ flourishing now need to be confronted, engaged and removed. One of those, for me, is the wasting of time on things that simply do not matter.
In the last couple of years, I have been focussing more on what discernment looks and feels like, for the church as a community as well as for individual Christians.
Learning to listen and be attentive to the voice(s) of the Spirit is critical to this, but I am also discovering that discernment is as much about learning not to listen to certain voices, as persistent and insistent as they might be.
I can’t remember who it was who said that we need to stop listening to those who do not have our best interests at heart, but it struck a deep chord within me. I have spent a good portion of my life doubting my own intuition only to discover its veracity later - that needs to stop.
I have also been reflecting a lot on trust, trustworthiness and being entrusted (more blogs to come). I have seen in my own life and work what happens when trust is absent from a relationship. For me, being labelled - unfairly or not - as ‘untrustworthy’ has been the fuel to the fire of self-doubt that burns whether I like it or not. To be entrusted is an extraordinary act of commitment but I can only take responsibility for those things with which I have been entrusted.
I am also beginning to learn the lesson that not everything can or will be fixed and the greater lesson that I do not need to be fixed, nor does any person. The fundamental flaw within me is one shared with every other human being - I am a sinner. But the remedy is not one that ‘fixes’ me; it is a love that drowns out the fear and doubt and guilt that seek to overwhelm me. It comes with a profound message that God knows us intimately, all our flaws and failings, and trusts us anyway!
Now to put all that knowledge into practice ….