Recently I wrote a post that captures some of what I have been feeling about life at the moment.
It’s not particularly tough and it’s not particularly inspiring. I feel like I’m lacking some passion and drive, but I can’t just conjure it up out of nowhere. I’ve been asking God about it because for nearly all my life I’ve lived with a really strong sense of purpose and a clear identity. This is not a place I like and feel at ease in. In fact at times I feel like I must be losing my way to be lacking in goals beyond the immediate.
It has felt very much like a time of plodding – just trudging on – occasionally with joy but mostly with resolve and sometimes indifference. It’s hard to feel like a legitimate Christian leader when you live with periods of indifference, or when you struggle to feel inspired. I’ve been schooled that my job is to inspire others and to not let my struggles be visible. Paul can make struggle and weakness sound very noble, and we often hear people speak of ‘strength in weakness’, but (and maybe it’s just me) I am not sure if I have permission to live here. It feels wrong… and yet it simply is where I am at right now.
I don’t feel depressed or miserable. Just weary and a bit flat – but with nowhere to go but forwards.
As a church community we have been reading Exodus these last few weeks and I have been reading it now for a couple of months, reflecting on it’s themes and asking God what he wants us to hear as a community.
What I have been struck by again is just how difficult Moses experience of leadership was at this time. I’m not referring to the amount of opposition he faced, although that would have been wearying, but more to time spent apparently going nowhere and accomplishing little. His life was certainly largely uneventful (with the exception of a red sea crossing etc) But seriously, most of Moses journey in the desert with the Hebrew people could be described as monotonous and repetitive. But it was what God called him to do so he kept going.
I could imagine Moses complaining to God about the life he had been called into. From a safe cruisy life as a shepherd in Midian to leading a bunch of people who don’t seem to be going anywhere fast. A life that has little by way of achievement and satisfaction.
I can imagine God responding with ‘oh well…’kind of a divine ‘whatever…’ I don’t think God sees things as we do and he is not overly concerned if we get bored or fidgety. He just asks us to be faithful and to do what he asks.
On that front I feel like I’m doing ok. I’m getting used to living in a different space and I’m accepting that perhaps this is actually an intentional experience rather than just a rut.
I was talking to some friends the other day and happened to say ‘I don’t know whether I am dying or growing!’ As the words came out of my mouth I knew the answer and my friend verbalised it… ‘ maybe both?…’
I feel like I’ve told God some of my frustration with the place I am at in life and he has said ‘oh well…’ He hasn’t given me any great revelations as to what lies ahead. He just seems to be asking me to keep going.
The other day I bought Petersen’s ‘A Long Obedience in the Same Direction’ almost purely on the basis of the title and how I have been feeling. I held great hope that it would offer some really useful insights… But you know what?… I am finding it hard going. I seem to remember trying to read it about 20 years ago when it first came out and feeling similar. It was his premise (from Nietzsche) that piqued my interest – “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is. . . that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”
Somewhat ironically reading the book feels like a ‘long obedience’ at the moment ( and I say that as a Petersen fan!)
Anyway, the last time I wrote about this it was with some level of anxiety and frustration. Today I write with a curious sense of peace – and I use ‘peace’ rather than resignation because I think I am sensing something of the divine in my current place. Not that I would personally choose to stay here, or for this to be my experience for a very long time (not that I have much of a choice), but I feel like maybe I have stuff to learn about steadiness and the absence of sparks and fireworks. I feel like maybe I have been led to this place and if I can stop resisting it or seeing it as a waste then maybe there will be some rich learning.
Sure hope so.