Friday, 23 August 2013

"In the Boat"

I had a feeling today was going to be a difficult day for me - not all that different for me in actual daily routine, but in my attitude, my emotions.  I am 'discontent'.  It is not an emotion, exactly.  It is a state of mind.  I am not discontent because my life is overwhelming, busy or exhausting at the moment - although that is certainly a trigger.  I am in this place because I am tired of trying to be strong by myself when I know there is another way.  It is a state of mind that can be crippling - it can cause every little thing that goes wrong to be so much worse - but it is also one that can make you stop and think. Please don't get me wrong - I am very happy in my life, I do not wish to change my circumstances especially, but rather my perspective and my engagement with them.

This morning I have been reduced to shaky tears as I contemplated the mess our house is in - washing has been piling up since I went on strike after the mammoth post holiday wash, surfaces have not been wiped down because they are too covered with STUFF (paper with scribbles on, letters in need of filing, books, toys, hair bands), only the chair I am currently sat on does not have more of the same on it, I can barely walk across the room without treading on a toy.  There's just so much to do, and alongside that I need to keep the five children reasonably content and fed.  I am very tired of being the one everyone needs something from.  It's not the worst of crisis, but it's just been building up until I now feel totally overwhelmed.  (My apologies if your life really is in crisis - everything is relative).

I have burst into tears while doing the washing up.  I have flinched from my daughter's foot tapping on my leg.  I have struggled not to push my children away from me.  I have not had a good day.

I have prayed and cried out "Oh, Lord God, please help me!  Father, I really need you with me today."  And to some extent He has answered.  A guy called Greg Boyd (theologian and preacher, but basically just a 'guy') said once "Jesus is in the Boat".  This a reference to when the disciples were in a boat in the middle of a storm, and Jesus was asleep.  They woke him up in terror for their lives, and he just stood up and calmed the storm.  Sometimes we think we are alone in the midst of the storm, but I know "Jesus is in the boat" and sometimes that is enough in itself - to know I am not alone.  Many times I have just cried and felt him comfort me (I wish I had room to describe how much greater than human comfort that is).  Sometimes, though, we need to wake him up, and get him to calm the storm for us.  This is, of course, what Faith is all about. 

Discontent is a state of mind that can be a challenge, the first step towards changing something that previously you have allowed to continue without much more than a mild protest.  It is part of the nature of my spirituality, my Christian belief, that I consider all situations to be changeable, if we will only engage our heart and mind in the belief that change is possible.  I'm not talking here about positive thinking, about 'fake it until you make it', about any other self-help method, even about changing my attitude really - I'm talking about truly believing that there is Someone out there who not only CAN make a difference in my situation, but WANTS to.  This means that prayer & faith without relationship with that Someone (God) is really not going to get me very far - belief is more than assent to a theory.  Of course, there are times when those kind of prayers are answered - but these are usually 'emergency prayers' and they're not going to get to the root of the problem.  To truly see my life changed I need to know the one who can change it.  If I believe in God - and I do - then I need to let him make a difference.

I'm not sitting here now in a state of bliss, all my problems solved because I have prayed.  Far from it.  In fact, I am still discontent - but this is a good thing.  I have sent up some of those emergency prayers, had a good cry, listened to some music (Holy Night by Graham Kendrick) which always helps me to get things in perspective, taken a deep breath, done the washing up, wiped down the kitchen and put on two loads of washing.  In other words I've got a few things done, put a bit of balm on my jagged nerves and I've got just that little bit more strength to survive another day without drowning.  Jesus is in the boat, and I'm not going to drown today, but the storm is still raging around me.  It is time to deal with the storm, and not just mine, but many others I see around me.  I am not content just to survive another day.  And so I need to stay discontented, because if I do not - on those days when things are not so bad - I will forget that I do not need to be strong enough.  It's time to 'wake up Jesus' and start seeing things change - not just for me, but for all of us.  It's time to really start believing things can change - not because of I am strong enough, but because He is.

I am intrigued to know your thoughts on this.  I want to be honest in my journey, I hope you will feel able to be too.

5 comments:

  1. Great post and will resonate with many I'm sure. I Think that discontent is a longing for an improved situation and it exists because you know you cannot change it on your own. If you could, then you wouldn't be feeling it! So it's great that your faith is a source of direction towards that improvement, however small the steps may seem. I'm not sure that you need to stay discontented, wouldn't that be counterproductive as its not always a positive state of mind?

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    1. Thank you, Carole. You've definitely got what I'm talking about, which is reassuring! You're right, of course, the discontent isn't somewhere I want to remain long, but a little longer is useful to keep me seeking - otherwise I won't truly move forward and deal with the 'Storms'.

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  2. Great post Nicola. I wasn't raised to be spiritual in the way you are but even with one child I can identify with what you say about being the one that everyone wants something from (the lynchpin of the family I feel like) and while it is fantastic having all that love, it can, as you say, be utterly overwhelming and the need for self-repair comes to the surface. Music and a cry definitely a good start. I hope you have some support available at times too with your big family xxx

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    1. Thank you. It's a combination of noise, need and mess that usually ends up drowning me, all multiplied by 5. Looking back I don't think it's any worse than it was with less children! What I've come to realize is that most of the time I am strong, I cope, but I wear myself down unnecessarily trying to do it on my own, when my experience - and my faith - have shown me there is a much better and easier way.

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  3. I think that's the thing I struggle with too, trying to be strong on my own. It just isn't possible to be what everyone else needs from me, and it's not possible for me to get everything I think I need from those around me, because we're all human and none of us are perfect. The only way to give those around me what they need, and to feel I'm getting what I need, is when I trust and rely on God. There's a song "I'm not your superwoman" from the 80s that just sums up the impossibility of it all in people terms (and exactly what I keep trying to be) but then I've been singing this afternoon "Nothing is impossible for Thee" which is a very old song, but it's so true! My son kept telling Mum and me the other day when we didn't think we could row a heavy wooden boat "If you have faith you can do anything!"

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Long or short - I love to hear your thoughts.