My heart is so full that I have to write. That’s what happens when this thumping pumping heart and soul fills up to overflowing. It all comes out in the form of words. And look – you’re the poor person who seems (for the moment) to be reading them.
Oh, some of you have gone…..
Today is a perfectly ordinary September Sunday. The sky here in West Wales is a curate’s egg of a sky (parts of it are excellent) startling blue where blue rules but mostly huge, fast-moving clouds. If you’ve read my last two blogs and are good at reading between the lines, you will have picked up that I’m a bit of an eedjit. And yet this week I am also the wisest person in the Universe. Oh, yes. .
Sometimes, we receive a revelation of some unexpected truth (and this is where words fail spectacularly, but I’ll give it a go) and it consumes us ; I am a restless and impulsive person, full of ideas and enthusiasm, Toad of Toad Hall. When I get an idea I want to move now-now. If it doesn’t happen at the speed of light I get miffed and disheartened and look around for a cat to kick in my frustration. That’s me. I don’t need anyone to agree with my idea. I’m just as happy if I’m told ‘That’s rot, Luce’ and I accept quite quickly, if they’re right, that it is indeed rot. And most of my ideas stay in my head so it has to be really compelling for me to share it. But when I have an idea so strong that I do share it, it’s soul-destroying if it meets a wall of fog. If no one says ‘Great!’ or ‘Let’s think about that!’ or even ‘No way, José’ , my spirits fail as the idea floats off into a sea of indifference.
It’s partly about ego, but it’s even more about the idea. There’s no room for ego when you write a play or a film – the whole process is all about listening to others when they pull your work apart and forensically dismantle every idea on every page. The process is about taking criticism, weighing it up, accepting without any resentment all the justified notes and happily ignoring the ones that aren’t helpful. Neither allowing yourself to be disheartened by harsh criticism nor lulled into self-love by the plaudits. It’s not about the writer, the person, it’s about the work. That’s not to say that writers don’t have egos. Writers, especially (oh ESPECIALLY) male writers have huge egos. They just know that they have to be left at the door when you enter the script meeting. They pick them up again on the way out. Notes and criticism are great. Silence is deadly.
A few months ago I had some ideas about a ministry in the church and I was so excited! It would mean a barrowload of work, and very different personalities to engage with, and skills to learn, but I was up for it. I put the ideas down in writing and sent them off to the poor bloke who deals with such things (no, not God, behave yourself). The reaction was positive, and for the last twelve weeks we have been waiting to set up a meeting to discuss the project. Twelve weeks! Twelve whole weeks. It’s only a tiny church! Cast your mind back to the image of Mr Toad. You can imagine how the delay affected me. I went through a whole welter of emotions in those weeks, excitement, encouragement, understanding of busy lives, a bit more understanding that it was the summer and people were going away, a bit of disappointment, followed by a tad of doubt, and then a brief flare-up of hope as I managed to talk to someone about the project, and more disappointment as the brakes went on again, tinged with a tad of resentment, stoked by a promise of a meeting, plunged into a slough of despond, and ending up at a place labelled ‘Sod- you- then, you- can- stuff- your- stupid- church”.
A name not quite as long as llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrn etc etc.
I’d proper gone off the boil. I was full of resentment, offence and hurt. I’ve been trying to find a role in this church for nigh on three years and once again…. unwanted. But of course the fault was with me, not with them. The people I was to meet have busy busy lives, and there are over 25 ministries in this church, vital, exciting ministries. It’s not the fault of anyone else that I’m bored out of my skull, lonely to the point of screaming, desperate to be needed. It’s my fault. Or age or my flat feet or something. But not them.
And then I had an email suggesting the meeting should go ahead this week. Instead of saying ‘Hurrah! Thank you. See you then.’ I wanted to tell them to keep their rotten meeting. But I knew I shouldn’t. The sane bit of me knew that my frustration and disappointment was as wrong as it could be. Do I give way and lash out or bite my tongue?
Before I could do anything drastic and regrettable I had a warm and loving email from one of the people I was supposed to meet. Damn! I didn’t want to step back from my anger. It was so satisfying. But the email touched my heart and I felt less alone.
I knew I needed time to think. I needed time to pray. That bit was going to be difficult. You ever prayed when you’re angry? It’s like a scene from East Enders.
I usually respond to emails in minutes, it’s my TV production training to do so, but I didn’t want to answer the one about the long-awaited meeting. I knew that if I wrote anything at all right then it would be a bad bad bad thing to do. Instead I got in the car and drove over the Preseli Hills, my favourite drive, and up there, on top of the world, it’s a little easier to find a fresh perspective. I knew that I was like Jonah, running from God. I knew that I should be embracing this ministry and responding with love to that email, agreeing to that meeting, but I was bloody well determined not to. Knowing fully what the Godly response would be, instead I dug my heels in, set my jaw and said ‘No.’ I said it aloud. I said a lot of things aloud. Oh, I had so much to say about my church! About the delay! The people! The boring rotten life I now lead! I pressed my foot to the floor and let rip in every way I knew how. I proper gave it to God, uncensored, a load of hurt and rebellion. A big bucket of cold Luce sick.
Vroom vroom. Rage and hurt. Vroom vroom.
Every morning I give the day to God. I submit to His way. In those moments I declare my love for, and obedience to, Him alone. Every morning I feel His love and His acceptance and I am grateful for it, beyond words. And here I was, foot down, engine purring, road dipping and whipping, saying ‘No chance.’ to my God. Even the sheep were against me, dawdling along the verge, one fat ewe strolling across the road, so that on my favourite steep chicane my little craft had the wind stolen from its sails. Still I fumed.
There was a bit of me that knew this wasn’t going to work, that I would eventually submit to His way rather than my own bloody-minded, cross and self-righteous huff. Its who I am now. I can try to return to the old Luce but it doesn’t work any more. That person has gone. So I tried saying ‘Alright, but I’m not going to submit to this today. Maybe tomorrow. They can bloody well wait. See how they like it.’
But I didn’t feel any better. I felt lousy. Wrong. I felt poisoned. ‘Submit to one another.’ Where was my submission?
And so, when I arrived home, I stood in the doorway and said ‘I’m so wrong. What can I do? How can I lose this wrongness?’ and then I realised that I just couldn’t. I simply couldn’t. It was all snarled up in my need to be loved and valued, in my need of a job, in my need to be needed, in my desire to serve, in my desire to be seen to serve… It was beyond me to untangle all that. So I asked Jesus Christ. I said ‘I give up. I can’t do this on my own. I can’t do any of it. I’m all wrong. Please help.’
And that’s when I met God. He was there. He was there all the time. All I had to do was turn to Him. That’s why I wrote that last blog about the verse ‘Look to the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were hewn.”
OK. I think I’ve said my piece now. Or said my peace now. Christ is my rock. I am looking to Him. And what makes me the wisest person in the Universe right now? Only I know how wrong I am, how helpless and broken. Only I know how much God loves me regardless. No one else knows how wrong I am. No one else knows how much God loves me regardless.
Man, I am so wise. I know so much.