Monthly Archives: December 2007

Christmas Cards and Bullet holes.

3365858.jpgWhen I were a gal I used to sit dutifully at my desk and write Christmas cards for all my classmates, always enjoying the ‘To Rachel, love Rachel’ and then agonising whether Neil (the boy that picked his nose AND ears with his pen) would be offended if he was the only one in the class that got ‘from Rachel’ rather than ‘love Rachel’ (incidentally, this boy would probably not even have noticed a naked elephant wearing rollerskates and carrying a Cabbage Patch Doll had delivered the card in July, never mind what it actually said).

Such were the extent of my Christmas card-writing worries until I left my primary school class of 24 (that’s people – not, like ’24 as in the year).  Then I found myself in the wider social circle of a secondary school form class of 30 AND a secondary class for art and technology of another 15 people.  So many people!  My mother, however, thought nothing of buying an extra packet of cards for a couple of years.  Lovely mum.

But then I hit 14 and suddenly found myself in, like, a million different classes with, like, a million different people and under much pressure to write and deliver, like, a million different Christmas cards.  But I did it – without resorting to carrying a box of blank cards to school in case I missed someone (I knew one boy who,when given a card, would actually whip out a blank card and write it to you right there in front of you – not quite the spirit of it all, eh?  We were just relieved that was all he was whipping out…).

Perhaps it was this early slavish adherence to card-giving that has turned me into a veritable card Scrooge.  I’m not sure when it began, but my aptitude for keeping track of the politics of card-reciprocity (cf why-not-smile!) made a rather speedy descent into complete non-givingness to the point where I have a heap of well-intentioned unwritten Christmas cards hidden in a drawer.  In recent years, I’m afraid I must admit, I have done all but mutter ‘Bah Humbag’ at the tradition I once revered.

But the proverbial ghosts of Christmas cards Passed, Presented and Yet to Come have been haunting me these past few days.  Again and again I get a sense of ‘Awww! How nice of them to think of me!’ as I open cards from Lisburn, Manchester, Maynooth…

Then the guilts set in.

My set-jawed refusal to join the arena of Christmas card politics means that I don’t offend anyone (I offend everyone) but I also don’t let anyone know that I’m thinking of them or appreciate their friendship and that is rubbish.

I am rubbish.

Its pretty late in the day to discover that I have a conscience about these things as the last day to post cards was two days ago, and I’m certain that cyber-greetings won’t quite cut it in the same sort of way.  So, unlike Dickens’ Scrooge, I am left without time to right my wrongs and salvage my soul from its misdemeanours.  All I can do is write a blog about it and hope that you feel sorry enough for me to forgive me.

For those who aren’t convinced, you might want to watch out – I happen to be an excellent shot with a rifle.

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Filed under friends, morals, random, story

Perspective

Lost in many thoughts about the world around me;

My life, my day, my job, my friends…

When really these things aren’t mine

But play a part on a much bigger stage

Than the boards of my heart.

Blinded by tunnel vision that tells me everything takes place in relation to me;

That the way I see it is the way it really is…

When really these things aren’t mine

But are living details on a much bigger scale

Than the canvas of my mind.

Wrapped up in minor details of day-to-day life;

Critically analysing my storylines, or lack thereof…

When really these things aren’t mine

But my ‘once’ is upon a more infinitesimal time

Than that of the greatest story ever told.

It is not that I am unimportant,

But rather that I am not The Importance.

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Filed under heart, hope, perspective, poetry

Back by popular demand: The problem with being single

Okay, so on the train the other day, my friend added weight to some of the rambling thoughts that this original ‘singleness’ post contained and so that, along with various requests and encouragements means I’m posting it again…

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Am I brave enough to post this…???

I think (in my naive, not-quite-thought-through way) one of the biggest difficulties in being single (once you get over what other people think) is not having that one person to talk to when you’re having ‘a day’. So, like, today my heart is full of a bunch of stuff I don’t know how to explain. Stuff I’m excited about, stuff I’d love to see happen, stuff I need to explore more (I’m reluctant to use the word ‘passion’ for fear of people thinking I’m talking about sex. I’m not.) But, you know – having that one person you can phone at any point who’ll just know where you’re coming from and know just what to ask to help you explain yourself. Or something.

But, you know – then I was thinking… If it were me who had to be that person at the other end of the phone, I’d feel a lot of pressure. A LOT of pressure. I mean, would I always get it? Would I always ask the right questions and have the right answers? I don’t think so.

Methinks then perhaps I have (yet another) wrong perception of how relationships work. I’m sure its not just a girl thing – we can’t be the only ones with skewed ideas. But I seriously DO think that Hollywood movies etc have a lot to answer for. “Female Porn” (could this be the dodgiest looking link ever?!?  promise its nothing untoward!) I’ve heard it called – romantic movies that play with the emotions and perpetuate the ‘Prince Charming’ myth making girls everywhere dissatisfied with their lot. I’ve never really been all that into chick flicks, but I’m still aware that a lot of my ideas about how men (and women) should be in relationships have come from the media. Not good.

However, back to today’s skewed philosophy…

I’m aware that God is really the only one who I should ever expect to fully get it and I suppose that’s something precious that I should revel in, rather than try to replace by having great expectations of someone who’s just as flawed as me. I’m just not sure what that looks like, or how it works. How can my desire for conversation be fulfilled with an invisible God?  How can I feel like he gets it other than just reading that he knows me inside out?  How can he ask the right questions to help me help myself understand when I don’t hear an audible voice?  I don’t understand.  All I know is that the good news of the gospel is that we have freedom in Christ – and I don’t want anyone to take that freedom from me because of their expectations of how I should or should not be and even less so do I want to take that freedom from anyone else.

Hmmm…

I love that some of my students can be more clued in than me. It means that I can sit back and nod ‘wisely’ over my coffee while they share their thoughts and then I learn from them! Keeps ya humble… But anyway, one of them has this theory about a life of singleness not being as daunting a prospect if you could be guaranteed real community. I think there’s a lot in it (apart from the slightly Home-and-Away-Selena’s-been-sucked-into-a-cult-commune-storyline flashbacks).  If you were part of an authentic community where you could live, love and serve without people asking if there’s anyone ‘on the go’ or assuming that there needs to be, imagine the freedom and joy it would bring!

The thing is, though, that’s not just a principle for singleness, is it? Imagine if married couples were also part of authentic community which reminds them of the self-giving love of Jesus; in loving and giving of themselves not just to each other, but to those around them, surely their relationship would be placed firmly in the perspective of God’s purpose…?

 This is the point where my friend’s comments came in…

A good friend mentioned how in the city where her and her boyfriend previously lived, they were quite isolated and spent a lot of time just the two of them.  Of course, she wasn’t regretting the time they spent together, but said that where they’re at now they’ve found community and are thoroughly enjoying being a couple within that.  I imagine that isolation as a couple would bring yet more pressure and a sense of disconnection that can’t be healthy.  Not only does isolation rob the couple of community, but robs the community of the couple.

Equally so the individual.

(Here’s the bit where I expostulate about an applicable lesson to my present and future life)

So, I’m single and right now that’s okay by me.  I mean, I’d like to get married eventually (when Mr Darcy makes it to the North Coast), but I’m just not there yet.  If I do, or don’t, though – I’m created to live in relationship and so I’ll continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and pursue authentic community, trusting that, by the grace of God, I will receive in return as others around me do the same.

That’s not to say, of course, I won’t keep an eye on Lily’s enterprise…  For research purposes you understand.

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Filed under church, dating, freedom, grace, heart, hope, love, perfect love, relationships

The show must go on…

(It was either that title or ‘My heart will go on’…)

The general topic I’m about to broach could be summed up in the immortal words of the great philosophers, Chumbawumba – “I get knocked down, but I get up again – you ain’t never gonna keep me down”.  It is potentially a dangerous topic to blog about – particularly for a “verbal” processor – because I don’t want to poke around in wounds, and so will try my best to be sensitive.

Consider yourselves warned.

I heard a 50-something man speak to a room full of Christian university students last week on ‘Joy in Suffering’.  Several times he said something along the lines of ‘none of you probably know much about suffering’.  Either: a) he is naive in terms of what can happen to even young people, or: b) its all relative and it all gets worse.  I mean, I know that by that age myself, I’d lived with people experiencing depression, had experienced the slow death of a grandparent through cancer and seen the divorce of my parents.  Those things that happened to me were no means worse than the things others have known.  I know that there were people present that night who have been abused as children, lost a parent, been bullied almost to the point of self-harm…

Suffering knows no age limits.

But as much as I was rooting for (a) being the case, it would be more likely I, then, who would be called naive.  Though perhaps its not so much that it gets worse, just that the more time you live, the more time you have to suffer.  Happy thought, huh?  I’m not about to set forth a nice neat suffering theology package blog (who am I kidding, as if you’d ever expect that anyway!), I’ll leave that to someone better read and thought-out than I (You up for it?).  But, I’m generally feeling somewhat impressed by the sheer resilience of mankind.

When my granda was getting really sick I used to spend the week at university dreading going home at the weekends – not because I didn’t want to see him, but because I knew I’d have to face a house of sickness, sadness and approaching death.  When Friday came and I turned up at the house, I was okay – I kept moving, I kept breathing, I kept living and I kept smiling.  I had the strength to face it.  When I was outside of the situation it was harder: fear, sadness, hopelessness, dread; but right in the middle there was calm.

 I’ve seen others endure much, much more both personally and with their loved ones with such courage, spirit and drive to survive… Its truly incredible.  As I’ve been thinking about this resilience, I’ve thought about being made in God’s image.  That may be random, or even ludicrous to some, but seriously – it just made me think about how often Israel pretty much spat in God’s face and broke his heart, but yet he pursued them with justice, mercy and love.  Now, I don’t know how it all fits in – I know there huge, huge questions about all of this, but my post isn’t really about that.  Its purely an observation.

Observing it, I am filled with hope and faith that if – or more aptly, when – I’m experiencing difficult times again, that I’ll survive too.  Sure, I’ll be most likely foot-stamping, pants-wetting with the best of ’em at the thought of it, but when I’m in the middle I’ll get the strength I need, because I trust that in the end, it’ll be okay.  Whatever that looks like.

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Filed under fear, grace, heart, hope, questions