I quite like it when I arrive home to my big, quiet house. It is a refuge. Sometimes I am out in town and something like panic starts to rise inside… a longing to be home in the silence, alone. I wonder if that is a depressive symptom? Sometimes I will only go out with headphones stuffed in my ears and walk round the streets and shops with my iPod on ‘shuffle songs’ – in my own world, disengaged, reading the shop assistants’ lips. I love to sit in Costa coffee with my favourite music, scrolling through the facebook newsfeed on my phone and sipping a medium cappacino (2 shots) – and if I can get one of their soft sofas in the sun that is bliss indeed! But that’s hardly going out and engaging with the world… Engaging with the world takes energy and that is what I seem to lack; I suddenly feel drained and empty, vulnerable and even fearful.
NOT SURPRISING! I know… it’s OK. After the roller-coaster of the last few months I am bound to be emotionally compromised: I must give myself time to recover, space to find a rhythm again. It was as if I was running full tilt, wholeheartedly toward the goal, when a huge brick wall suddenly appeared in the path. Smash! I’m bruised, I’m black and blue, I’m limping back the way we came… I’m also loving the dramatic language – like the words ‘whale vomit’ 😉 – the emotive poetry of anger and grief released in carefully chosen words. But I’m mentally not quite sharp enough to compose anything that scans properly… So I walked in the door just now – this time after a crazy bike ride in the autumn sunshine – into the refuge, into the silence and simply sat down to go BLAH! 😉
Because the house IS very quiet! It envelops me – threatens me. Martin is going away for 4 days and I will be lonely! I want to be on my own, drinking in the soothing silence, yes; BUT… will I cope? Don’t panic! And don’t make too many plans ahead of time… that will only lead to frustration and irritation, filling the diary because I’m scared to have it empty. It’s a challenge to wait, to pray, to be still and trust for the leading or the interventions.
So I process… I write. Somehow writing is listening to the sound of my own voice! I must remember introverts choose to live inside their heads a lot of the time – and I’m more of an introvert now than I have ever been; energy is more readily derived from being on my own, in my own space, processing, thinking – and writing. Ha! And then you lot read it! What’s that about? Must be my inner extrovert struggling to escape… 😉
Yet we all need others. I read this beautiful meditation the other day:
‘All of Jesus’ rules of ministry, his ‘tips for the road’, are very interpersonal. They are based on putting people in touch with people. Person-to-person is the way the gospel was originally communicated. Person-in-love-with-person, person-respecting-person, person-forgiving-person, person-touching-person, person-crying-with-person, person-hugging-person: that’s where the Spirit is so beautifully present’ Richard Rohr
I know, know, know this to be true: ‘We too are being built into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit’ Ephesians 2v22 – the space between us, the joints and ligaments, the connections of heart – that is where God dwells whenever we give Him room to do so. And I know there is nothing like actual human contact to give me a buzz – actual talking to real people somehow helps me organise my thoughts and release clarity and energy; all hardened extroverts know this need so well. Plus, of course, I love and miss my close friends – isn’t that the definition of friendship? – and want to share the mutual details of our journeys whenever the opportunities arise. But the ‘wrong’ people can be so draining, can’t they? Or even the right people at the wrong time!
I saw a friend today – yes, in Costa – and I actually wanted to see her! It was positive, we had a good chat, we built up a picture of life between us – God was in the telling and it all made some kind of sense as we empathised with one another’s crazy stories and laughed… but it wore me out. That’s when the ‘must get home as soon as possible’ feelings made themselves felt – a bit like the fuel light coming on in the car: limited cruising distance. I had to lie down when I got in, nearly fell asleep… The bike ride helped to wake me up afterwards and set me up for the evening – as every woman in my position knows this involves cooking dinner so I need some inspiration for that! Don’t feel like much, but ah – there’s the phone… Jessa in the US followed by Becca from Brighton: happy to talk to both my girls 🙂
This is the wall outside our house. It doesn’t always look like this… but it’s a time of change: the seasons demonstrate so well how to flow with the climate, do what comes naturally. Some things have to die, others take precedence: all is beautiful. There are contrasts in life: I have much to learn about relaxing into that – doing what Rob Bell calls ‘the next right thing’ instead of being worried and upset about many things…
So today it was go to town, get Martin’s dollars and travel kit from Boots, meet Helen – fellow ‘mother in Israel’ – then phew! enforced rest! Afterwards the bike ride, followed by spontaneously sitting down to write and 2 daughters on the phone. As I sit here in the darkening kitchen watching the twilight, clear blue sky after rain and a blackbird singing in the garden, my white screen glowing with the outpoured thoughts – feeling the open space where Sam is not round the corner and a weight has been lifted off me – actually relishing the permission to make my own choices, decide what I want to do this weekend as I go along, listening to my heart, walking in the yoke with Jesus… well, what a relief that it’s OK – it’s more than OK: it’s a relationship!
‘Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly’ Matthew 11v28-30 in The Message.
I wonder if Jesus was an introvert or extrovert?! Perhaps He showed us how to be the best of both. And does he have any ideas for dinner tonight? 😉