26 January, 2017

A coffee date?

Today, by some miracle or other, I had nothing on my calendar and the jobs I had on my to-do list were not sufficient to take up the whole day. I say it is a miracle because recently this end of the month has been crazily busy, plus, we're in the middle of the wrestling season . . . !

Recently I've found myself longing for time with people, then, in various ways, being disappointed. Last night, when pondering today's schedule-hole, I hankered after a good friend to have coffee with but realised that probably I needed time out alone rather than with friends, given that this day is surrounded by a lot of busyness and people. 

It's back to that old longing for people to meet my needs and "raging" when they don't, or when they're taken away from me, or not available to me when I think I need them.

I've also been reading a book that we received at Christmas: Awe: Why it matters for everything we thing, say, and do by Paul Tripp. The author is telling me things I already know, and have known for a long time, but saying them in a way that makes them fresh and opens my eyes to what's truly going on. 

Our problem is not that the 'good life' has passed us by, that people have failed us, or that life has been hard. All these things have happened to us because we live in a broken world. And if our contentment rests on life being easy, comfortable, and pleasurable, we'll have no contentment this side of eternity. p105
I realised that, though I longed for friends to spend time with and have deep conversations with, what I really needed to do today was spend time with God.

Phew. Not just our usual Bible reading and prayer time before breakfast, or my reading-through-the-Bible time after breakfast. But something more like a coffee-date with Jesus. Now that sounds kind of cute and cliche-like to me, but I'm serious. I decided to get out of the house and spend some time at a coffee shop "with Jesus". Now it is weird because he is always with me and I don't need to go anywhere to meet him, but the same is with a marriage. Sometimes you need to get away from your daily routine to spend time together at a special place.

I guess another name for it would be the currently popular "spiritual retreat". I've shied away from such a concept, not sure why. Maybe it is the extroverted part of me that wonders what I'd do with a lengthy period of time of "nothing". Maybe it is the non-conformist part of me that says I don't want to do something because it's popular.

Now what I actually did, didn't look at all freaky. I took this as an opportunity for a longer ride, found a coffee shop using Google about 6km away, and took my book and my Bible. I read a chapter or so of my book, slowly. It sprang me into some spontaneous Bible study (word studies, actually, looking up various phrases related to God's love and faithfulness). I prayed a little, journaled a little, wrote out some relevant Bible verses. I drank coffee, water (always lots of water), and at lunch-time moved across the road to a cheaper place to have a bite for lunch, where I continued to search God's word for his promises to me.

I've come away with a plan for next time I'm moving into the realm of feeling angry about being lonely or people letting me down. It might mean another coffee date or mini-retreat, it might just mean going back for a moment and remembering all those promises God's given about his love being sufficient for me at all times.

Recognising that the feelings that are happening at times like this aren't because of people, or lack of people, they are because I live in an damaged world and my soul is thirsting for God (Ps. 143:6) but I'm not going to the right place to get that thirst satisfied.


Ken Rolph said...

Contentment. Not a word you hear much these days. Our culture positively works against it, in two ways. We are such a visual culture and contentment can just look like being still. The commercial nature of our culture is based in discontentment. You don't see people in ads being content. They are always jumping around in a hyperactive frenzy, even senior types.

I had a phone call from one of those mortgage brokers who try to sell you more debt. I mentioned that we had paid off our house, so there person asked me what I was "doing with it". By which they meant was I using it to get into more debt and struggle. I said that I was living in it and enjoying it. The person at the other end couldn't seem to handle it, just spluttering incoherently for a moment and then hanging up. A few times lately when people have asked how I am getting on I have actually answered that I am content. It puzzles people.

Wendy said...

Yes, contentment. A much needed state these days, but not many people find it. There is a constant "seeking after what you don't have" that is exhausting if you buy into it. It is countercultural to jump off that.