As I read and write about addiction and idolatry, I’m challenged by the ways in which these are still such struggles in my own life. So often, I find myself saying to the Lord, ‘stop teaching me this! I’ve got it! I hear you – and this time I’ve changed. Honest. That whole pride thing- I got it covered. If I get really stuck, I’ll give you a shout. And as for patience – that was last week’s issue. Time to move on.’
It’s frustrating and humbling and even boring to have to keep learning the same things. (Glen’s snorts suggest that these loveable foibles may even grate upon those around me too).
I know that I’m not what I was, but I’m not yet who I want to be either. And sometimes this middle ground is a really uncomfortable place in which to stand. Similarly, to live in the present moment is really hard. Instead, life often feels that it’s on fast-forward or rewind. Part of me is still hesitating behind my parents – full of longing, the future beckoning, like an endless highway that stretches into the skyline. The other half is racing ahead, tripping over shoes and to-do lists, tumbling headlong into the next appointment . I’m always had more than a sneaking sympathy for Martha over Mary. In the Bible, Mary is commended for resting at Jesus’ feet, whilst Martha was effectively emptying the dishwasher. Now, fair enough, the Lord was teaching – but those dishes aren’t going to do themselves. If everyone just mucks in now, then we can all sit down later. Right? Lord..?
Pressing pause is just not an option. And if I did – what would happen? Hopefully, I’ll never know. You see, there’s a very good reason I like to keep busy – and it’s not because I’m popular, or house-proud, or industrious, or even especially useful. It’s because I’m afraid. And that sounds ridiculous, but no amount of rationalisation or joking will make it go away. This fear doesn’t stem from the monster under the bed, the gas bill, germs on the toilet seat, politicians or any of the other things we’re warned about on a daily basis. What I’m afraid of is bigger than all that. It’s right here. And it’s this – being alone with myself. Me. It’s facing what my life amounts to and who I am and the dreams I haven’t fulfilled and the mistakes that I’ve made and the people I’ve hurt. It’s confronting not just my capacity for evil, but my potential to bless, what I could be, my drives and my longings and yearnings for beauty and meaning and hope and significance. The desires that propel me into shops and spreadsheets – instead of where I need to be – in the outstretched arms of the Lord.
The only place where such longings can be met. Where I’m not afraid to be me.
And I wonder why that new lipstick, which promised so much, hasn’t quite hit the spot.