I can tell when I’m burnt out, because I’m using stuff to get me through the day. No illegal drugs here, but some legal substances: coffee in the morning to incentivise me to get up and moving, maybe a glass of wine that soothes the frazzled feeling in the evening. Headphones on when I’m walking home from the school run, hoping that the music will keep me putting one foot in front of the other. Eating in search of some energy, even when I’m already full. Scrolling through Instagram when I’m bored, in search of a spark. Watching TV because it’s easy and turning the pages of a book is hard.
I don’t want to stop, because I do not want to feel the discomfort in my body, the uneasiness that the to-do list and thinking of the next day at work generate, or the disquiet of things that have been unresolved for some time and occasionally bubble to the surface of my mind.
My nine year old was walking back from school with me this afternoon and told me about two of his classmates. One has a brother he has never met, and one lost a parent recently. He said that he didn’t understand why there is illness in the world and that it made him sad, and quite honestly, I didn’t really know what to say in response. I said yes, some very, very sad things do happen, and our world is broken. I have no intention of breaking his spirit, but I won’t sell him a lie about adulthood.
We’ve been speaking in our life groups about the difficulty of unanswered prayer, and a couple of statements have stuck with me. When we are in the darkness of the tunnel, that is not the moment to get off the train! And Jesus’ disciple Peter replying to him when asks if his nearest followers will leave him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’
The urge to avoid what is uncomfortable and to seek the things that will soothe us is entirely human and understandable. We all do it, every day.
I could seek to round this all off in a nice little package, tied up with ribbon, but in this moment, I don’t want the word of God to be a panacea. I don’t want to use the Bible as a way to soothe myself in the same way I use chocolate or coffee. I want to be brought back to myself, I want to wake up and to feel again. But I believe that God is with us whether we are feeling disturbed or at ease, low or exalted, numb or triumphant.
Prayers contributed by Fiona
During Lent, the Life Groups did the Come and See series as we approached Easter. A highlight for me was the wonderful contemplation exercises that were included and I’d like to offer one of these to you, hoping you’ll be as blessed as I was. You might want to record yourself reading out the 7 steps and then play it back, pausing between each one until you’re ready to move on. Love, Fiona