I have a confession to make. I am the great pretender. In the north of Ireland we live in a culture where pretense is often the norm. When we ask ‘how are you?’ we expect to hear ‘fine’ or ‘good’. We don’t want to hear an honest answer because it’s messy and we get involved in the messiness of someone else’s life. We pretend everything is fine even when actually the only phrase to describe how we are feeling or doing is ‘pretty shit’. If God knows our hearts how do you think He feels when we have the gall (as I do) to even try to pretend to him that we are fine, to not admit how much we need him. It’s bad enough lying to everyone else around about how we really are. But. What happens when if you are honest it means you have to say why? And what if that why is not appropriate or helpful to disclose because there are issues to be resolved and worked through? There are attitudes to be repented of, people to be challenged, grace to be sought, lived and spoken. What are the limits of honesty? I’m done and sick of pretending, but in many ways feel I can’t be totally honest. Others are involved. What is an appropriate level of honesty? Is lying/pretending for the sake of situation yet to be resolved justifiable?
Who am I?
A couple of things have been going on recently. The first seemingly innocuous. I met up with Vox to start sorting out a pension. As I’m about to hit the third decade (although technically i’m already in it) its time to think wisely about the future. Part of me did think, im getting a pension, that’s me sorted, the future is secure. In my mind my security was being placed more in finance than God, it was my attitude and the placing of my security there that is the issue, not the fact i’m being sensible.
Secondly and perhaps more importantly I changed job over the summer, well changed role within the same organisation (or movement to change the world as i like to think of it). As the newness wore off after a couple of months, I’ve been experiencing a sense of loss. The loss of some of the things I’ve been doing over the last seven years, a quarter of my life so far. The relationships I had built. The feeling of being needed by the students I was working with. Many of the parts of that role fitted with who I am and gave me expression of those gifts, skills and abilities. The time was right for a change but I loved what I was involved in. Perhaps my identity became wrapped up in my role, so as I changed role, as a new season in life comes, I have begun to question who I am. Had I become what I was doing – was my identity defined by what I was doing as opposed to who I was? As I explore new avenues I am feeling that sense of loss but it has also made me question whether my identity had become based on my doing as opposed to being? Maybe this time is a time for a rebuilding of proper foundations, of being as opposed to being defined by doing…How much of our doing is an expression of our being and where does the balance lie?
The line of an old prayer I have used often, and seemed particularly relevant came back to me:
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.
Deliver me Jesus….
…from the desire of being of being consulted….
Much like whynotsmile I must issue an apology regarding my previous post. The helpful people at my bank have now sorted out my problems. It now seems there were in fact no bandits thieving from my account. Some company has a sort code and account number only one digit different from mine and someone got a number wrong, thus the money left my account and not theirs. I am now able to breathe a sigh of relief regarding my banking security. I then did begin to (obviously as a result of living in a litigious blame culture) think “flip someone’s incompetence could have cost me a huge sum of money, what about my phone calls to the bank (a grand total of 3) and distress caused to me (here I was beginning to take on the vocabulary of the said blame culture and exaggerate something that gave me something to talk about but certainly didn’t lose me any sleep). When I took a step back and got some perspective – I realised that someone made a mistake, and here was me getting up on my high horse talking about incompetence and wanting to see what I could get out of the bank. I got my money back, which should have made me thankful enough that I had money to be taken out of my account. I make mistakes every day, and when I do its just a mistake, but when its other people its a flaw in their character, its a trait, its incompetence. I really can be an arrogant git. Much like my encounter with the police here I am again looking to make myself feel superior to someone else – who got one number wrong – big deal. I’ve been reading through the gsopels and realise that Jesus must have been so good to be around. Instead of shooting others down to make himself look important (well he certainly did remind some of the more arrogant of a few home truths) he saw where they were at, he saw things from their perspective and gave people dignity and lifted them up. It must have be so liberating. That’s what I want to be like, instead of someone so insecure at times I need to prove my worth by showing how superior I am to others when in reality i’m no different, constantly making mistake, and needing grace, the grace I maybe need to start demonstrating to others…
Prepare yourself for an outpouring of indignation. I have received an email from youtube informing me of a copyright infringement, and my video of the haka at the France-New Zealand Rugby World Cup Quarter Final has been removed! Not even action from the game but the haka. Waht the flip are Rugby World Cup Ltd up to? Have they nothing better to do with their time than trawl the internet and remove the slightest footage or photos of all their games? Seriously think about it – someone must be being paid from the money I paid for my ticket to trawl you tube looking for videos from matches. Do they expect us to pay to take videos and photos or something? What sort of world are they living in? Do they have Orwellian dreams and want to take on Rupert Murdoch for control of the media? Is 1984 looming? Can anyone tell me what major crime an advert for what is possibly one of the most attractive games to watch played is? I’m awaiting a writ now for criticising their small minded ridiculous pettiness, and to be told that I have to remove the photo of the French fans as it was at an official Rugby World Cup Ltd event. Maybe it should be Big business is watching instead of big brother…
the soapbox – so angry he can barely type
So last night I had an encounter with the Police. It wasn’t pleasant and I’m £60 poorer and got a bonus of 3 penalty points on my license. Thinking back about it its amazing the amount of self-justifying I’ve been doing to make it out that I’m not a criminal and didn’t really deserve it and others are worse. It was wet, there were a set of traffic lights ahead, I was thinking ‘I’m almost out of petrol, hope i make it to the garage’ (the arrow was hovering on the empty edge of red) and just noticed the lights were amber, but (foolishly) thought, sure don’t know if i’ll be able to stop, i can squeeze through. First mistake.
Then a minute later, blue flashing lights in the mirror – ‘oh crap’.
I did think ‘well the lights were just changing, should have stopped, it’ll be ok’. Second mistake
After the chat about what happened, the ‘officer’ asked how long I’d had my license, if i had any penalty points, on my ‘no’ he responded – “that’s all right then, I’m going to give you 3 for failing to stop at a red light”. I thought it was pretty harsh, no warning or ‘well make sure it doesn’t happen again’ but bamm, straight in there with points. Bank balance, next years insurance and pride all going ‘ouch’. I also wondered if i had points would he have then not given me any? Or if I had been female…
Then to rub salt in as I was filling up having reached the garage, weren’t there some boy racers wheel spinning, burning rubber, and speeding off into the distance. I’ll bet they didn’t get any points last night. Bandits.
Of course I was wrong, should have been paying more attention, should have stopped, can’t really complain (although memories of friends getting a slap on the wrist for doing double the speed limit keep filling my head). It is shocking just how much I tried to justify and excuse myself. The black and white of it was that I was in the wrong and deserved it, but boy racers as a case in point, I felt the need to compare myself and make sure that even if I’d done wrong – there were others who were worse than me.
Made me pretty grateful how graciously God treats me – not the way I deserve, or don’t deserve as the case may be, that he is the God of the second chance, who is incredibly patient with his stumbling constantly getting it wrong children, not treating us harshly…