I've been rethinking recently what it means to be a Christian, and how this should affect my every day life, and how the things of God get pushed aside for ... you know, life stuff. When things really boring things like car repairs and tax returns and hospital appointments start to clog up your brain space, pushing out everything you know in the long-term are more important. Or when things that aren't boring but also aren't important get in the way. When you know you should be reading the news but you're Googling something pointless instead. Or when I'm supposed to be writing a blog but I end up staring at Pinterest and mentally assembling my dream home (Look! Look at that vase that I've never seen before but suddenly desire with all my heart! That would go really well in the French windows of my imaginary house. It would match the expensive curtains I pinned yesterday that I also suddenly need).
'Calling' is something that baffled me when I first became a Christian. Immersed into the world of Christian literature, I immediately felt that discovering my new faith first hand was not enough. I needed A Calling. A Mission. Something that God had given me specifically to do, a task for me to complete while I was on this earth, something that He had specifically lined up for me. I worried endlessly about this and would pray about it a lot, hoping that He would outline the exact structure of this grand plan, word-for-word, so I could write it down and follow it like a map for the rest of my life, because I didn't trust myself to know what to do without someone smacking me upside the head with it.
God is more subtle than that, of course, and I learnt that (eventually). I do believe that God gives people specific words and messages, specific places to go and people to speak to and things to do. Of course I believe that. What I don't believe (or at least, no longer believe) is that every Christian will be called to go off on a grand and epic 'ring-into-Mordor'-esque* quest around the world. Some Christians will be, and I love hearing their stories and being inspired by them. They fire me up in a dull moment, they encourage me to step up and do better.
Others, however, are simply called to serve God and others right where they are. Right in the middle of whatever dull drudgery life has to offer here and now.
Sometimes the 'grand plan' is just the opposite. It's not grand. It's not structured. It's not broken down into specific life moments. It's a lifetime of learning to be less 'human' and more humble. It's a lifelong lesson, repeated again and again and again, about how to rely on God, how to put other people before yourself, how to Live Right.
Sometimes the 'grand plan' is the endless washing and folding of babygros (it's already started. I've got them drying upstairs on the airer and I'm wondering where on earth they all came from). It's filling up the car with petrol. It's sitting in the dentist's waiting for an appointment. It's going to Sainsbury's to get milk and bread because you're ran out and are somehow shocked by this even though yesterday you commented on how it's getting low and you weren't going to have enough for cereal. It's begrudgingly slapping your alarm in the mornings to shut it up, knowing you're going to be out of the house for thirteen hours and you'd better get up. It's listening to someone on the phone, not being able to offer any advice, just saying 'Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmhmm. I know. Mmmm. Yeah, I know. But she - yes. I know. I know. Yeah.'
Sometimes the 'grand plan' is being knocked off your feet when you were just feeling stable. It's the phone call that you never wanted to get, or the loss of a job that you desperately needed, and facing the mounting horror of having to be on benefits again. It's checking your bank balance and wondering where it all went. It can be difficult decisions that you can't make without causing problems either way. It can be owning up to mistakes and having to swallow your pride. It can be pain and emergency trips to the hospital and sobbing into pillows and the confusing, tangled hurt that we cause each other.
Sometimes the 'grand plan' is joy. Little pockets of it. Moments of peace, of staring at the tree outside your window and looking down at your belly and seeing a little foot suddenly stick out (weird but delightful). It's getting off a plane with that anticipation that comes from discovering a new place. It's sinking your teeth into dinner cooked lovingly by someone else when you're exhausted. It's friends that organise and arrange surprises for you and family that let you off the hook when you're snappy and tired. It's having 'in-jokes' with people that don't make sense and aren't funny to anyone else. It's a kiss that lingers for a bit longer than normal when you least expect it. It's singing a bit louder in worship. It's grace and blessing and joy.
Life with God, for me, is not separate from Life. God underpins everything. He attaches all the parts of my life like a string pulling everything together. His love - and purpose for me - are like a heartbeat underneath everything I do and everywhere I go. He doesn't pin me down to a structure, doesn't take away my free will, and doesn't abandon me when I make mistakes. He just remains. Still and steady, ready to walk with me, to weave the next part of the journey.
With that in mind, the next few posts are going to be about different things that I feel I - and every Christian - are called to do. Not just because they're Good Deeds, or because they're written in the Bible, or because other Christians have told me. It's a mixture of those things, and an undeniable pull at the heart that I feel when something keeps cropping up that should be important.
I hope you enjoy them. I guess this is part one of a four-part post. Maternity leave = prime writing time! :)
*I'm not sure how well that sentence was structured. Do you have to have a '-' before an 'esque'? I shouldn't be allowed to write, should I?!