Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Fourth Monkey in the Wringer

Things don't always go as well in life as they should. Whilst I believe that I should make a decision and live with it's consequences, there are times when it would be wonderful to be able to pause the live action, or rewind a little and redo, unsay, undo whatever it is.

In those situations, I am one of those people that plays a situation over and over and over again in my head to see if I can discern a better way of playing it, or when I am feeling at my lowest, to bathe in my own self-pity and guilt.

I had a phone call earlier in the week from a senior colleague. They left a very cryptic message on my machine about a letter that they had had sight of. Now experience say that no one writes to senior colleagues unless there is trouble. The message said no more what the letter was about, and I went into a flat spin...

What had I done? What had I not done?? Who had I offended??? I went through the catalogue of recent events in my head, file by file examining each. Had I behaved honourably? There was a wrenching knot in my stomach. This self examination went on into a sleepless night... A colleague on twitter described that night accurately as '...the Cloud of Unknowing and what it does to our grave imagination that hurts most...' So right.

I expected the colleague to call me back the next day to disambiguate the issue. I heard nothing. The creeping dread in me continued to rise towards paranoid levels. Perhaps understandably... I was more wound up that the proverbially tightly coiled spring...

Finally I heard from the colleague. I listened to the issue in question and tried to explain how the way they had left me hanging had made me feel.

What do I feel? The sense of panic laced fight or flight is still subsiding. My gripe is to do with the 'gut-wrenching notknowingness' of what the issue was about and the power dynamic that that created. None of us like being scrutinized for our motives but this situation got me prepared to be scrutinized and ready to fight or flee from the conflict to come.

So are you with me? I feel abused. I don't like things being held over my head. My guard is up. I am ready for whatever is going to be flung at me...

And then Jesus wanders into my consciousness... Do not be worried or afraid. Believe in God. Believe also in me. Do not be troubled little flock it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom... How can I not worry Lord? How can I not be concerned for my own welfare, for my and Your reputation, for anyone else in this scenario??? Don't worry? You must be joking...

No He's not. Despite having upturned every stone in my life over the last 48 hours, and now subsequently feeling exhausted mentally, spiritually and physically, I realise that Jesus is right on so many levels.

I shouldn't worry. What's done is done for good or bad. It cannot be undone. Hurts can be healed. Cracks can be repaired. But going over the past again is not going to help. Forgiveness can be offered and received.

Jesus reminds me though that God and His kingdom are also at the heart of this emotional car crash. The fact that I am not blameless and that I am perfectly capable of hurting and failing others and myself blinded me to the presence of God in my life and indeed all around me.

All too often I am the fourth monkey: see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil, and see no God. That's me. I had failed to see the hands of God continuing to hold me, indeed us all, in good times and in times of fight or flight. After all, I regularly pray: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done... why not in this situation too?

As a Christian I believe that God is there for me, irrespective of whether I deserve His presence or love. He's there, not because of me, but because of His never ending love for me. Despite the mess I make of my life, of others lives, or others make of mine, He is there holding, embracing and giving the tools to rebuild and repent by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How does this monkey feel now? At peace. My guard is down and I am open to seeing the future that the God who hold me in his hands is constantly opening up before all of us.


Chris said...

Thank you, Simon,for this honest and vulnerable post. I recognise so much of myself in it, and will try to remember the lesson you drew from it all.

Maz P said...

It's where reading, praying and singing the truth suddenly crashes into reality - it always takes me by surprise and it never should. I guess it's the Lord giving us reality checks...Thanks for this Simon.