Sometimes during this “what am I doing period” I have hit some real lows, wondering if I am barking up the wrong tree.
Have I really got a calling? Is God really talking to me or am I being led by my ego or a need to please others?
A friend gave me a very gentle telling off recently saying I am doing too much, that I need to slow down, to leave space to hear what God was trying to tell me. She told me I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that I was loved by Jesus regardless of what I did.
All very well her saying that but how do you stop doing what you do when you are juggling so much and others rely on you. Now the truth being, nobody is irreplaceable when it comes to doing certain things, and just because you have been the one to pick up loose ends you are not the only one capable of doing that.
So I went cold turkey.
Going away on holiday is a perfect time to lay down extras jobs and gentle encourage others to pick them up. Trouble is I am just a bit impatient and giving time for others to realise I am really not doing something is making me a bit twitchy. I guess I am just one of life’s doers. The lesson I should hear is waiting and patience.
So I was blessed with ten days in a beautiful place in Spain and armed with four books it had been suggested I read. Anyone who know me on knows I can devour books on holiday at an alarming rate so I did worry four might not be enough and made sure my kindle was loaded as back up.
In the run up to my holiday, as well as the unusual end of year (I work with students) trials and tribulations, I dealt with my place of work changing and the packing up of the old place, the emotion of saying goodbye to work colleagues who will no longer be working with me. All served me in good stead as experience in pastoral care I felt ,although I couldn’t help but feel stressed by it all in a way that indicated I was in need of a break and a massive rethink on things.
I duly started my first book on the plane, trying to close my racing mind to things I had left behind but nothing I read would go in.
I read, I reread and although I got to the end of the book the only thing that stuck out to me was a brief mention of Mark 5:24-29 – The women who had bled for 12 years and when she touched Jesus in a crowd, without him seeing or knowing it was her, she was healed.
Culturally, to have been ostracised for bleeding for so long she must have felt so cut off from her family and society. Unclean not able to visit the temple but she showed such faith that to just touch the hem of the cloak Jesus was wearing and she knew she would be healed.
So after a few hours sat by the pool I started my 2nd book. One I had saved for holiday and I really wanted to read but I again I just couldn’t absorb anything. I gave up.
I was slightly upset by this as I really needed to read these books recommended by my VA. But the words of my friend came to mind. What do you have to prove? Are you doing this for you, for Jesus or to be seen to do something? In other words, are you doing any of this for the right reasons? Are you trying to follow this path because you feel its expected of you or because you are being called?
All sorts of doubts came to mind and I was filled with anxiety . Am I wasting everyone’s time? So I prayed and sat in the sun and swam and prayed some more.
While I was in Spain the fiesta of John the Baptist took place 24 June. Huge bonfires are built on the beaches all along the coast and fireworks explode into the night. Herbs are hung on doorways in some areas and large effigies are burnt on the bonfires of witches or demons. In true Spanish tradition its a celebration, a party and very family oriented.
It was good to see families enjoying time together with all ages dressed in red.
After a day or two of just chilling I picked up my book again and the space and peace I had given my brain had made all the difference. I could absorb the words, the theory and hopefully understand.
There it was again – Mark 5:34.
The woman brave enough to trust her faith that this man could heal her just by her touching the hem of his cloak. He didn’t even need to place his hands on her, she believed that all would be well if she could just stretch out through a crowd and place a hand on his cloak. Not grab handfuls, bring huge attention to herself but gently touch his cloak in an anonymous way.
But Jesus felt the impact of her healing – he knew that something had happened that somehow a change in someone had occurred and he asked who had touched him. He felt the healing spirit leave his body.
How scared must she have been this women who was used to living in the shadows. Lots of people in the crowd must have seen her as invisible but here was Jesus talking directly to her.
This confirmed to me that Jesus sees and feels all that we do no matter how small.
So I mulled over this and took from it that even when we think Jesus isn’t aware of what we are doing he notices and feel not only our pain but our joy and our healing. Faith brings peace.
Now those who keep with the readings will recognise this story from last Sunday, when I am sure it was preached as part of the trio of healing miracles.
I still hadn’t quite shaken off the despair from the start of my holiday and I arrived at church in not the best of moods. Some could say I was grumpy 🤭 Then came the sermon….
Now I swear my Rector is in cahoots with the Lord above when it comes to reassuring me along my journey. I hadn’t had the chance to talk about how I was feeling or that I had been pondering about Mark 5 but when he said “Daughter” as Jesus had said, I knew he was talking to me. His words seemed to be directed straight at my heart and the panic and the anxiety of worrying was I enough? Am I hearing you correctly Lord? And I found my calm place.
My faith has taken me on this journey, my faith not my actions. And while they tell you to look for signs and it may be I was subconsciously looking for something, I know Jesus was talking to me in that sermon. I am not giving up I will continue to look to hear what I am being called to do but I suspect I am on the right track but with still a long way to go.