As an aside, for a few years I have experienced the ‘blogworld’ as family with a few friends here regularly offering encouraging thoughts and advice. This has been one of the things I have really enjoyed about blogging.
I think one of the things that enables this to happen in the blog world is the honesty and openness with which people write. Yesterday I spoke publicly in a vulnerable honest way … which is not something I would normally do. It was like I transferred my blog writing to speaking … not necessarily a good thing to do.
Yesterday I was surprised to be asked to speak at the end of the church service about what I was now doing. I was unprepared and unscripted. I don’t like being unprepared and unscripted. It gets me into trouble! As I walked to the front I remember these words going through my head … ‘crap! God … I’m going to have to tell the truth!’ I had no time to prepare a ‘gloss’ to portray and speak from … and so my true thoughts, my real thoughts, were expressed.
I shared the struggles of my work. the frustrations, the fact that sometimes I really do not wish to be here. I shared that I wished I was still in Rochester! I shared I have no idea what I am doing, where I am going, or even if I have made the right choice in being here. Ultimately I shared I was struggling … and although I know this is an important stage, that a struggle nevertheless is hard to cope with. I shared that I wanted to say everything was going well and i would have loved to share some exciting stories …. but … there were none to share.
Over the last 4/5 years I have developed a very strong thought that we do not talk in the church of the struggles of mission. We love to tells great feel good stories, but we avoid the gritty tensions that seem to undergird much of mission. I have a theory that this glossing over of mission, giving the impression that its all exciting stuff results in people being shocked when they find out it is hard work. They feel they must be doing something wrong. They then become disillusioned and give up. But .. that’s another blog post for another time …
As I was speaking I was conscious of people metaphorically standing with me. After a few minutes people were literally standing around me, surrounded me and prayed for me. That’s fairly normal I guess but it was what happened next that really exhibited the family of St Marks.
After the service people, friends, just stood with me. There were no words. People did not try to fix it. I have struggled when people try to fix something that is normal and not broken. No one said ‘it will be better soon’. People just encouraged me by accepted me by standing with me. Simple pats on the back, handshakes and hugs from my friends were worth millions of words.
Yesterday that was so important and it served as a massive reminder to me that I am rich in friends … not just at St Marks, but in other places around Medway (on Friday some of my Rochester Deaf Cat friends were equally amazing in their love and care as well) and further beyond too. I even have friends who encourage me via this blog that I ahve not even met!
I have been reminded of how fortunate I am. All I can simply say is thank you … thank you for reminding me of who I am.