Sometimes I just stop and listen. I might be in a cafe, picking up children from school, or walking down the street. It is an extraordinary thing to dwell for a moment on the sounds that surround us – the chatter of voices, scrapes and scratches from chairs and cutlery, the hum of appliances or the buzz of traffic. I wonder how God must feel when from this collage of sounds he hears us address him?
“Father” – a silent prayer amidst a social gathering.
“God it’s me” from behind the desk in a classroom.
“Jesus I love you” – grace filled singing heard above the cacophony of city life.
“Help me” – a fleeting thought within a workplace.
The sound of beautiful heart cries rising from a fallen world.
At times when I find I’m once again bewildered, confused by all around me I will try to listen for birdsong. Sometimes I find I can tune into their songs, and I sit and wonder. How is it that they sing so sweetly? These thoughts lead me home. Home to a creative Father, home to love reigning, home to the beautiful music which resounds from creation. “Lord, may this birdsong in my life take centre stage. May I tune into the kingdom of heaven more and more each day.”
We all prefer not to be the one in need, the one who is confused, or the one not managing well. When I need assistance, I feel the little tower of control topple beneath me. Sometimes it only takes a brick to be displaced and all my stability seems in jeopardy. It is a precarious way to live, and yet most of us build in this way. Everything gets assembled, from our self image and careers paths, to our friendships, interests and finances, brick by brick, all carefully stacked upwards.
I believe we have this all wrong. The western ideas of individuality and progress leave us on unstable ground. What if life is more like a puzzle, with pieces of our lives linking together to form pictures and images? As one piece changes or disappears, our lives don’t collapse, we don’t become defeated or unstable. Instead, we discover that we are connected in a different way. New pictures emerge. And when we embrace brokenness in this way, we become softer, more malleable and aware of others. Now we no longer need to keep the tower stable. Now there is no tower, just a puzzle placed and made in a bed of grace.
And if we are free to remake an area of our lives, or change a belief or understanding, then we can allow others the grace to do the same. Maybe our picture might mingle a little more, our lives affect and enhance others, and we would allow our ourselves to be changed too.
As a teenager, I watched a lot of soaps! Anything from Dallas to Eastenders, Neighbours to Friends. I’m sometimes shocked by the amount of hours it’s possible to spend doing this. I suppose I was searching, straining to see and connect with the world, and I found media to be a quick fix for these things. I was also a bookworm!! Always eager to reach the next chapter, lost in the detail of a carefully crafted human tale. As my faith started to blossom, my prayer life flourished and I guess this need fell by the wayside. Suddenly I didn’t so want to fill my mind with fiction, and gradually cut out such “telly time”. And there was a blessing in this! I found that the dreadful “comparison game” halted, as we all know that many of these media characters are just that – illusions of fiction! What’s more they are “framed” in a way that flatters and distorts.
In this new season I began to have thought time to devote to real relationships, social issues and family. This created a space in my mind for God’s love to come and transform me. It was a revelation! Here I found great productivity and creativity.
And now I find that this space is under threat again. This time it’s filled with real people. It’s a book brimming with wonderful friends and family in, both distant and present. With many of these people I might once have just exchanged cards at Christmas time. Now I have a perpetual window into their lives. Yet I feel the burden of this too! I find it hard to keep up with so many people. And sometimes Facebook makes me feel sad and empty…with so many people living apparently fun-packed lives, it makes wonder about my own. However, on more than one occasion I have presumed from Facebook that one of my friends is leading a wonderful life, only later to find out that their lives are in crisis.
So here I stand upon the edge of a great challenge. How can I engage with the new social media world, but not fall to it? How can I be thankful for the opportunity to engage with old friends, but not be bound by it? Maybe tonight I might do something radical and pick the phone up. Have a proper chat with just one person…just like the old days!