Category Archives: freedom

And then Tuesday came… (a.k.a The Great Crash of January 2008)

There have been several posts brewing in my illustrious mind in recent days and there may well be a sudden blogging boom in this small corner of the ‘parallel universe’.  This one, however, is most unexpected – or at least it was until it began to brew as I sat in the office today.  Who knows where it will go?  Who knows when it will stop?  Watch for the sign of the lollipop…

Last night at approximately 16.47, I was in a car accident.  From henceforth it shall be called

“The Great Crash of January 2008”.

Panic not, I am – as you can (hopefully) tell – still alive to tell the tale (soon to be the only 365-able part of yesterday). So, in true anything-and-everything-is-blog-fodder style, we must go back to bygone days of yore in order to set the scene for said Great Crash…

 *cue wobbly flashback screen*

I remember my friend Roberta and I taking a notion to cycle a couple of miles downhill to the local leisure centre when we were about 13.  Great idea at the time, not so good when going back UP the hill (the road with the graveyards if anyone is familiar with the Valley Leisure Centre).  It was half way through the uphill homeward slog that we composed our should-have-been-a-hit-record “Oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo I wanna car” (I still remember the tune!)Do you remember being 13 and the driving test glory days of 17 are a million years away?  Painful.  I longed to drive ever since that day.

Eventually the day of my test rolled round.  I passed.  First time.  Oh the freedom!  Oh the joy!  Oh the days of two years free insurance!  It was wonderful.  I bought sunglasses, I made mix tapes, I sniffed magic trees… and a passionate love affair with driving began.

So, for two happy, happy years I trundled away in a little dark blue Corsa with ne’er a scare nor bump.  Then the free insurance ran out.  The first quote we got was actually in the region of £5000.  I artistic-license you not.  Crazy.  We shopped around and around to try and get a better deal, but – alas – no affordable insurance for little 19 and a half year old me.

Thus began the Driving-less Years.

The human spirit is resilient and so my life went on.  I became accustomed to my lack of freedom and social life-less existence, sometimes aided by car-insured friends, sometimes dependant upon moody-driver-always-late-when-its-raining buses.  But – oh! – how I always longed for those heady days of “mumsie-pays-for-my-petrol” splendour.

Three long non-driving years ensued.  It was only when considering a second year at Bible College that I began to pray seriously for the miraculous provision of a car.  Four bus journeys a day and no mates had really begun to wear thin!  For ages I hummed and haa-ed whether to do another year at Bible College or to move to France.  (Who needs a car in France?!  Its only in Northern Ireland that a fifteen minute drive on clear roads takes one hour to travel on two buses.)  I finally made my decision and informed the college registrar that yes, she could tear up the one-year certificate I’d already received at my graduation and start writing the two-year diploma one instead – I was coming back.  She said: “Oh great!  It’ll be good to have you around.  You don’t happen to need a car do you?”

Whaaaaaaaat?!?

“Yeah, I got a phone call from a man who wanted to donate his son’s old car to someone who needed it.  Do you want it?”

Does a bear…?!?

(“I saw a bear once”)

Thus began a beautiful relationship with a lil red escort called Samuel (which means ‘asked of God’).  This is Sam:

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Isn’t he lovely?! 

For 18 wonderful, free-and-independant months, Sam and I (and sometimes Daisy, but that’s another story) chugged merrily all over Ireland (well, the North and Sligo- do any other parts matter?).  It was so wonderful! *sniff, sniff*

Then disaster struck… Sam one day began to choke (she conveniently applies artistic license in omitting to tell the reader exactly why he began to ‘choke’) and nothing could be done to save him from a scrap yard fate.

Well done, good and faithful steed, well done and fare-thee-well…

(moment of reverent silence)

 The period of mourning over and a brief flirtation with a red Corsa later, the search began for my perfect car: a Ford Focus.  Not exactly the stuff of dreams I hear you cry, but I didn’t want anything too flash (only partly because of money issues!).  I wanted solid, reliable, quietly attractive with room in the boot for a guitar.  Several debates took place as to whether I should be waiting for the much-desired Focus or just test-drive whatever came along in the meantime.  Yes, many drew the obvious parallels to the husband/wife search.  Honestly, can’t a girl even get a car without people over-analysing?!  Gosh.

Then I saw him… the One.  A sleek, affordable Focus, all mine for the taking!!!  His name shall be call-ed Milo because… well, because girls have to give their car a name.  Its, like, the law.

(again conveniently omitting the exact details of this naming process for fear of being deemed completely bonkers.  The Daisy story is definitely worse, though…)

That was 11 months ago and Milo and I have been very happy ever since.  Bit of a wobble with a recent screw loose (!) but otherwise, great.

And then Tuesday came…

There we were, driving from the North Coast to the Glens of Gormley (or the Rock of Fergus to be more precise) when all of a sudden a numpty – SMACK! – bangs into the back of us at a roundabout:  My neck!  My CAAARRRR! MY goodness – its pouring out here!  Neck and shoulder banjaxed, a new bumper required.

*cue vast waves of sympathy*

We’ll survive.

You know, I envisaged this blog to be about the annoying-ness of the current blame-and-claim culture; the paranoia that makes you wary of saying anything more than ‘Give me your contact and insurance details, mate, then nark off’.  But telling a random story about the cars in my life so far has been much more fun.

For me 🙂

The moral of the story is, don’t expect anything more intelligent from a self-confessed un-intellectual.  At least until the whiplash goes down…

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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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Second Rate – Two things to remember…

This is all a little overwhelming for me, all this discussion.  Never in a million years did I expect such traffic through my small corner!  I’m glad it has come up (kind of) and I’m glad its given others a chance to ruminate, illuminate and elucidate!  Most of all I’m glad that this is bigger than me.  Permit me, however, to share where I’m at in it all since it all began…

I think there are two reasons to proceed with caution here…

Firstly, its so helpful to have input from people who have had time to think through this stuff and are further down that road in general.  I’m aware that I’m not quite ready to do all the reading myself.  Not because I enjoy the torment of not really knowing, but rather that I’m still relatively new to this whole issue, as are – and no doubt will be – a lot of women out there.  To have spent my life so far eking out what it really means to be feminine from all the messages bombarding me only to come face to face with people who believe that my worst fears of not being what I should be are confirmed ‘clearly’ by God in the Bible – that is pretty damn difficult.

I’m in mourning. I don’t mean that I spend every waking moment thinking about this stuff, so sorry if that sounds pretentious, but it’s the best way I can describe it – mourning.  I could discover a whole list of convincing arguments, but the fact remains that there are people (not just men!) within the church of Christ who exclude and judge not only me but everyone of my gender: they have done so and will continue to do so for years.

Ouch…

It is good to know, though, that I’m not alone on the road much less travelled.

Secondly, the problem with having lots of convincing reasons as to why my instincts are right, is that the temptation to clamber up on a high horse is immense.  For whilst clever reasoning shows that Jesus’ ministry displays much counter-cultural grace and acceptance of women, doesn’t it also model the rejection of judgementalism and self-righteousness…?

I wrote about a friend who told me I was thinking too deeply; but in his defence, I hadn’t thought it worth much consideration either.  I don’t think I realised that it would ever really affect me until very recently.  Naïve, I know – especially for a woman.  But if I have been ignorant, then can I really condemn men for not considering the issue at length when they’re even further from the equation?

I nearly walked away from a conversation in church this morning about this ‘kerfuffle’, because my feelings around the debate are still red raw and more often than not, tears spring unbidden (as in, more so than usual!) – not so much because I know what ‘side’ the person in front of me is on, but more because I don’t know how I’ll handle it if they disagree with my gut instincts.

The hijacking of ‘feminism’ which gives the term a very negative, militant connotation is deeply regrettable and is not something I want to be associated with.  Especially not in the name of the gospel.  I don’t want to react in a way that makes men everywhere to feel guilty over the way this has all panned out.  Okay, let’s be honest here – part of me wants them to feel the crapness of it all and to wallow at length in the mire that has been perpetuated ever since the Fall.  But is that the gospel?  Nope.  Not as I understand it.

How then…?  What do I do with all this?  Where do I go from here?  Am I ready to move on?

I’m still not sure.

In the end, I had that conversation over coffee in church.  It was good – it was just a young man and a young woman discussing the fact that their thoughts on the matter are inconclusive. And you know what?  If a conversation like that helps just one person to open up to thinking about the role of women in church, then I’m going to try not to walk away from that.  Even if it means being in a public place, a snivelling wreck covered in snot.

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Freedom

A sense of responsibility can weigh heavy on the heart.  So much so that it adds years to the countenance.  It creeps on like day turning to dusk turning to dark.  A thickening blackness that begins imperceptibly, draws on with a vague sense of ‘not-quite-right’ and is only noticed when someone flicks the lightswitch and the life, light and beauty of freedom come flooding in.

“Come to me those who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest… My yoke is easy and my burden light…”

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