Sunday, 10 November 2013

some gratitude, badly expressed

I can’t do this.
Trying to live well, or at all, is unrelentingly difficult. Walls after ditches after tranches after oh for goodness’ sake what I am trying to do now? Who thought this was a good idea? When did I agree to this? And so on.

But it’s ok. Not because I’m a super duper Christian lady who spends lots of time with Jesus every day, not because I am filled with the power of He who defeated death (well, ok, a bit because of that, ok, a lot because of that) but what I’m trying to say is that this missionary life isn’t possible because of my brilliant Christianity.
My Christian walk is appalling. Really. You would be appalled. I’m like a walking advert for why someone should not follow Jesus. Such a flaming hypocrite so riddled with need and distractions and frankly a bit of a judgy bitch. John wouldn’t use that naughty word but he knows me very well indeed as being married to a woman with no filter can be illuminating. Poor hubby. He knows the terrible things I think about people because I will tell him them in a stream of sinful consciousness ‘these are my current thoughts, based on my current emotions, and in ten minutes I’ll change my mind but right now I’m saying incredibly judgemental things about so-and-so and if you’re really lucky I’ll dress them up as righteous insights’.
I don’t even know if I’ve read all of the Bible.
John’s read it all at least twice.
When judgement day comes I play the ‘I’m with him’ card and hope it gets me points.

Very bad at being like Jesus. Left to my own devices would shop online for cocktail frocks, for hours, then go read a book by someone low brow and eat a cake. Not so much into the caring about other people, just me.

If I was all by myself then this whole ‘missionaries in Ukraine’ thing would have been over a very long time ago.
But it’s ok! I’m not by myself! Other people exist!
Here is a list of things that other people do:
Well, the most obvious one is people send us money every month so that I can shop online for cocktail frocks. Or buy food and clothes for the kids and petrol for the Lada and pay our staff fees and that kind of thing. It’s amazing and I don’t think you’d find much of that outside of the church i.e. people who follow Jesus. People working their jobs and then saying ‘oh I shall take a large slab of this hard earned income and redirect it to the Washingtons, because it’s good to love people and orphans and Ukraine and all that stuff and I’ll be nice about it as well and never send them weird emails asking for accounts, in fact when I see them I’ll also give them chocolate and cuddles and not ask where all those cocktail frocks come from and why Fritha is wearing them to Tescos’. Mental. Brilliant. Beautiful. Not normal. 

I often need people to tell me things. Sometimes I need people to say ‘ooooooh you’re doing so well you precious little flower for the Lord here’s a virtual hug muffin’ (my real hug muffin is John HAH!) and those things are vital because when one is neurotic one can become a little insecure and it’s actually not possible to convey how kind words through the internet have kept us going. The other sort of thing I need people to tell me goes along the lines of ‘stop that. Put that down. No. Do I need to put you in Time Out?’ and those are difficult things but I need them too.
As an aside: If you’re one of the people who does the latter because you have known me for years, because you trust me and I trust you, because you have cried with me or giggled with me or drunk wine with me while shouting at the telly…that’s good. And you know who you are. If, however, you are one of the people who sends me bizarre emails from a place of having met me a few times, years ago, and you think I need a Bible verse with an opinion let me just point this out: I know the Christian answers. I am not interested in them. Please pocket your clichés and your empty concern and go disciple a hamster. You’ll find it more receptive. Better yet, jack in your shiny Christian career, work full time for free, have a kid, move to another country, help orphans and exist in a missionary community and do it for longer than me with more success and then I might listen to you. If you’re not my friend and/or Jackie Pullinger I very much doubt that what you’re going to write will help and I suspect that you’re not so much interested in helping as in being more correct than me, which is tiresome and the last thing I need out here is religious vitriol. Jesus loves you, go relax somewhere and leave me alone. 

Too cross? Well…it’s been brewing. Naughty.

Another obvious one is praying.
We don’t pray enough, my approach to life seems to be ‘throw self in deep end shouting very loudly about all the things I’m going to do’ and I tend to forget to ask for help. Which is why it is very important to have many people around the world having conversations with God that look something like ‘Hi, LORD, so, Fritha’s in a pickle again, can you help her out? Thank you’ and then God says ‘well alrighty then’ and jumps in the deep end too and tows me out. And then we splash about having a nice time/ swimming lesson and then we go get some crisps from the vending machine. Of life.

I can’t do friendships very well anymore, especially having moved away and left this huge chunk of myself back in England with all the people I love. That was painful and I got scared that I was forgetting how to be close to people because I was in this weird self defence mode of not getting attached to people because this is YWAM and everybody leaves, and sometimes that someone is me. Do you know how painful it is to see your daughter try to climb into to laptop to cuddle her family? Do you know how difficult it is to clean soggy marshmallow off the screen because she thought she could feed Granny snacks via skype? Do you know how annoyed a husband can get that you actually just left it for him to clean?
So I don’t attach. But I have been amazed by the generosity of people – old friends and new – who on purpose attach themselves to me. I could be numb, too wrecked by this last year to be open to anything nice. But people around me are fun, and inspiring, and kind, and funny, and I haven’t had the chance to become a weird missionary hermit, I’ve had to remain in community and laugh about stuff. Or cry about stuff. But not numb and not alone.

So yes. I’m not alone. And it’s not like I’m supported by amazing Christians like what are in books, it’s just that together we make a whole, lots of bits of people clumped together holding each other up. Maybe when I’ve grown up a bit I can be one of the pieces holding up others.

Beth’s awake so I’m going to go and do kisses which is her trying to wriggle away and annoy the dog. xxx

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