There was a time, many years ago, when naivety was my friend and I would think, 'WOW, my possibilities in life are endless! I could LITERALLY do anything I wanted!' and ''NOTHING can stand in my way of what I want to do. Nothing.’
Yet here I find myself at 24, living once again with my parents, jobless, pretty much skint, and with very little to show for what the whirlwind of 5 years in the life of Me has achieved. I feel almost in a state of shock; rather stunned at how I ended up exactly right where I started, and not overly sure at how to progress forward.
I know I’ve changed and I know I’ve grown in so many different ways, but right now that doesn’t feel like any consolation for the position I find myself in. ‘Amazing friends’, and ‘spiritual growth’ and ‘maturity’ (etc, etc…) are all great things to gain, and very shaping personally, but it doesn’t qualify you in anything, and nor does it get you a job, especially at a time when you are a measly 1 millionth fraction of the ‘1 in 1 million aged 18-24 who are jobless and seeking gainful employment’. Brilliant. Just Brilliant.
How the heck did I end up here??
To add to this rather overwhelming predicament I seem to have found myself in, I am also intensely lonely. Don’t get me wrong; I am very blessed by my aforementioned amazing friends when I hear from them or get to see them, but they live scattered around the country, engrossed in their busy jobs and busy lives. Yet here, in the 5th (I think?!) largest city in the UK, I can count the number of friends I have in close proximity on one hand (and even that may be a little bit generous). I know a LOT of people, this being the city I grew up in and everything, but knowing someone doesn’t make them your friend. Maybe I’m just ungratefully lucky, but never in my life have I had such few friends nearby, especially too after 3 months of ‘putting myself out there’ and actively seeking out friendships. Even at church I feel very small and insignificant in the congregational hugeness that I find myself plunged in to despite the many ways in which I actively serve and am involved there (more on church another time… that rant can have a post all of it’s own….).
It would be more than neglectful of me to not mention the friends I do have who keep me going, and I am more than thankful for the presence of Becky and Ellie in my life – lifelong friends who also find themselves jobless and back in Sheffield. Without them, I would be going insane, and we provide much-needed support, snuggles and laughter to one other. I am immensely grateful too for my wonderful boyfriend Matt, yet he now also lives miles away (in Manchester, to be precise, so not too far… but far enough), and is kept busy with the beginnings of his PhD. He carves out more than enough of his time to love me, to walk with me, encourage me, laugh with me, chat with me, drop me a text even. Yet, I’m still lonelier than I ever thought I could be.
The OBVIOUS fillers to my questioning and my loneliness is met with Sunday School answers: God. Jesus. The Bible.
And I still love God, and I still believe in Jesus, and I still trust the Bible, but I’m having a real tough time blending the two together.
I get that God has brilliant plans for my life and that by being patient I need to wait on Him and He will reveal them. I get that He walks with me and never lets me go as I push doors and search out possibilities
I get that Jesus should be the only friend I should ever want or need and he can and will fill every gap of loneliness I could ever experience.
I get that the Bible has the capacity to feed me and stretch me and teach me and change me and has done in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
I understand all that and I get it. I REALLY do. Head belief. Heart belief. The whole lot. I’m in this ‘Jesus’ thing for the long haul. But life right now?? – Nothing quite fits together… yet.
I really think God is wanting to teach me something(s) from this ‘lull’ period in my life. My natural response is to try and work out what this is, but I’ve tried... and failed. Only in hindsight, as with all other events in my life, will I really figure out what that time in my life ‘from September 2011 until God knows whenever’ taught me. Easy to type – hard to say – harder to carry out.
I don’t write this post to Pity Party myself, or to seek sympathy from others. Purely to be honest. Painfully honest. Some of these things hurt and are so hard to deal with, but it doesn’t mean I love Jesus any less.
I am continually, probably rather divinely, reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:
'We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.'
I feel like I’m being driven to the depths of despair sometimes. And that some days I feel so crushed that I cant breathe. And there are those very real moments when I just couldn’t feel more abandoned. But the truths are a far different reality and regardless of my emotional exhaustion, Jesus keeps on fighting for me, on my behalf. The battle is not, and cannot, be lost.
The chapter continues…
'That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.'
So, I’m definitely not there yet. But this is where I want to be: At the stage where I know my spirit is daily renewed. In a place where my gaze is fixed heavenwards always.
Maybe, hopefully, I’ll get there.