It’s a tough old time of year by anyone’s standards. It’s largely dark, it’s invariable cold and life seems to be hurtling by at speeds that only the USS Enterprise should be capable of. I wish I could post some bright, sparkly blog about how incredibly wonderful God is and how I’m seeing him work miracles in my life – which, coincidentally, since I’ve found him is now as wonderful as unicorn farts, because I’m in some splendid, but complicated ménage-a-quatre with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Er… no, sadly not. This is the problem when you write about things to do with faith. If you’re honest (and you should be), there will be times when it’s all a big old pile of saggy pants with slightly suspect elastic in them. This is a bit of a double-edged sword. Because, on one hand, people who do have a faith will thank you for acknowledging that not all days with God are strewn with rainbows and unicorns. But alternatively, people who have no faith look at you with one eyebrow raised and say ‘so, where’s your big omnipotent God, now?’
Oh I know where he is, he’s right where he always was. He’s not the one who moved, I did. I’m the one who retreated. I’m the one who made herself so busy that it’s becoming harder and harder to find the time to stop. My Bible remains unread, my prayers remain unsaid and my level of engagement with matters of a spiritual nature is fleeting at best. When you’re part of a church like mine sometimes that can leave you feeling like a bit of a charlatan, like you’re only here for the after service tea and chat. My church is full of the worst kind of Christians – real ones. They’re not paying lip service to this thing, they’re out there living it and when you’re not living it, sometimes you can start to feel like you’re the only one struggling, while all around you everyone’s smiting demons with their swords of the spirit. Kapow! Take that Devil.
So it came as a surprise to discover that I am not alone in feeling like this. Moreover, that the great and the good also feel like this. Or, should I say, the great and the good’s daughter. Last week the Archbishop of Canterbury posted a link to his daughter’s blog on twitter. I didn’t read it then, because not exactly feeling up to much spiritually, reading tweets from people who have it all together isn’t exactly top of my list of favourite things to do, right now. But this week I feel a little better, so I went and caught up with his tweets and read Katharine Welby’s blog.
Oh my God, that’s me, I thought. She’s exactly where I am, too and her Dad’s the Archbishop of Canterbury for heaven’s sake, so what’s her excuse? But there is no excuse. These things happen and in many cases we don’t know why, but for a season we’re here in this emotionless, frustrating place. Too busy for faith and struggling to push our plugs into the socket of the Holy Spirit.
And where’s God? As I said earlier, he’s right where he was. He bought me a computer for Christmas, I should probably tell you that, in an understated just-slip-that-in-there way. Money’s tight in our house at the moment, stretched to the limit, in fact. There was no way that we were going to be able to replace my knackered computer and so I would have to nurse it through until… whenever. And then one day in early December there was a phone call and a subsequent gift of money. Writing’s important to me, writing is my call from God, so I don’t think this money was intended for me to buy shoes with (not that I would). It was enough to buy me a new CPU. I still have the same monitor and whatnot but I’ve got a new important bit. So, even in the middle of this flat time God is still keeping his promises to me even if I’m having difficulty keeping my end of the bargain. He’s patiently waiting until I’m ready to come back, and he’s waiting for Katharine Welby, too. She writes…
I don’t really know what I want to say here. I don’t think I have a huge point to make. Other than the fact that in the midst of it all I know that there is hope to come. I don’t know what it will look like, or when it will come, but despite not talking to God, not spending time with him I know he is there. He is just sitting with me in silence.
So if you feel like I do then take heart. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s daughter knows how you feel, because she’s there too. And I bet her Dad’s no stranger to it either.