With friends like that…..

A dear friend – well, hang on, let me amend that – A once dear friend, who lives many thousands of miles away, told me that she likes my blogs. Then she added ‘we like reading all the muddled thoughts from your little mind.’

Hmm. Well, stiffen the sinews Irene, here come some more;

Listen, listen, listen. This morning on the beach I wandered over to the rocks , where the sea laps up and creeps in amongst them, and we (me and the dogs) picked out way across the boulders and the pools of glistening water, and the rivulets reaching in and surging out, and I found a sheltered spot to take my brain out, and wash it in the salt water, and shake it dry in the fresh morning air…. because I had woken up glum. We all have days when we wake up glum. If you’re telling me you don’t, well, quite frankly I don’t believe you. You must have had at least one day in your life when the glums were waiting. And here’s the news – it’s no big deal.

Looks a bit grey, eh?

It’s no big deal and I don’t need sympathy or cheering up or a hug or any of that. The glums come and they go. Breathe in and breathe out. Tide in and tide out. Sun rises and sets. All a part of life.

I’ve learned to greet that feeling of emptiness and pointlessness head on. There are things we can do to clamber out of the gloom. That reminds me of a lovely morning a few weeks ago when I met a gentleman in the dunes, and I said something like ‘Isn’t it a wonderful day?” and he replied ” I hate that low sun – can’t see a damn thing.” It was on the tip of my tongue to say “Stop where you are, right now, and turn around to look the other way, at the blue sky and the scudding clouds and the sparkling sea, the birds wheeling, the dogs playing… ” but I didn’t. He was happy being so miserable, and when you’re a bit down the last thing you need is an elderly Pollyanna breaking into your thoughts and chirruping about God’s blessings. The cure has to come from within.

How do I greet that feeling of depression and hopelessness when it arrives, uninvited? The secret is not to panic, to remember that emotions are fleeting and influenced by a hundred internal things – what the night’s sleep was like, what my dreams were, what my hormones are doing, whether I have an infection brewing. And emotions are influenced by a hundred external things too – the news, the needs and illness of friends, the needs of my family, the weather, the bills coming in, old age and irrelevance, and so it goes on. And being fed up doesn’t help any of that, and anyway, it will pass.

We all get the down days and we can all do something about them because we’re not children – we’re not helpless. We can take some responsibility for the rest of the day and move on from where we landed. This morning I turned to my most read and most listened to chapter of the Bible, Isaiah 40. It’s not a jolly passage, not Hollywood laughter and rainbows and unicorns, but it’s real. It’s real and solid and life-affirming, and truthful, and hard hitting, and straight up, and no-nonsense and dense and personal and relevant and startling and full of praise, and convicting and encouraging and revealing and thrilling and it’s a battle cry and a love poem and a promise all in one. It is amazing. Taste it;

Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness
    for the Lord!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland
    for our God!
Fill in the valleys,
    and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves,
    and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.
    The Lord has spoken!”

Isaiah 40:3-5

And there are tough bits in it too, concepts that make me hold my breath when I hear them, that bring a perspective to my world , shrinking humanity (and me) and magnifying God

Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?
    Are you deaf to the words of God—
the words he gave before the world began?
    Are you so ignorant?
 God sits above the circle of the earth.
    The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!
He spreads out the heavens like a curtain
    and makes his tent from them.
He judges the great people of the world
    and brings them all to nothing.
They hardly get started, barely taking root,
    when he blows on them and they wither.
    The wind carries them off like chaff.

Isaiah 21-24

It’s strange that being reminded that we are all so tiny and so powerless (which the world would say is a bit of a downer) should be so ultimately uplifting, but it is. Because when we recognise how small we are, we can really rejoice in, and celebrate, the power and magnificence of God. And whatever has been dragging us down is clearly inconsequential and petty, and God is in his heaven and all will be well. And all will be well. We are not alone and we are not defeated. The God of all creation loves us and knows us and strengthens us.

He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

Isaiah 29-31

2 thoughts on “With friends like that…..

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