04 Dec The Future is leaving, get on board.
Last week Matt was away for a couple of nights. The kids were pretty tricky – one with an ear infection and another waking early. We had grumpiness and bad attitudes a-plenty.
Matt got home and started to tell me all about the amazing meetings he had had and the exciting plans he was making. Although I could see the possibilities did look exiting, I wasn’t feeling it.
Everything irritated me. I was irked.
At first I thought it was just the lack of sleep and continual whinging I had been subject to whilst he was away, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised it was actually something quite different.
It was about change.
There is a lot of it about for us at the moment. And whilst Matt had been away I had let stuff rattle around my subconscious, making a mess and disturbing my peace.
This year Matt left the company that he co-founded 16 years ago. We didn’t have a massive plan, just a desire to change our life. To side-step out of the frantic pace we have been living. To get well and invest our energies and time in some things we have begun to really care about. We agonised over this decision, and looked thoroughly at all the potential risks. We discussed it at length with close friends. We prayed and talked together about it for months… And then we jumped.
At the same time Matt left his work (well, one week later) our youngest started school, and I ended an (almost) ten year stint as carer of pre-schoolers. I didn’t (and still don’t) have a master-plan. I have dreams and ideas about my future. I’d love to make some theatre at some point but i am trying (and sometimes succeeding) in not rushing this and trusting that the right thing will happen at the right time. But life is very different to how to was this time last year, when Mums and Tots groups and toddler-focused activities dictated my timetable.
There is also change a-foot in many other areas of our lives. Friends have, or are planning to move away. The major organisations we are involved with (school and church) are altering… or look like they might be on the cusp of a dramatic shift. And in lots of other areas of our life, that initially might not seem significant, things that have ‘always been’… aren’t anymore.
Things that have felt solid underfoot now appear to have turned to liquid. This has changed our behaviour and response. We’re swimming instead of walking. It feels a bit strange.
By the end of last week, my behaviour and response to this change had become negative and fearful. Subconsciously I managed to amass a great big pile of anxious thoughts about potential outcomes that I could not control. By not examining these thoughts, I was acting as though I could spare myself the anxiety. That I could ignore it and it would go away.
Yeah… cos that works…
So after huffing about for a while I had a bath to try and make sense of what was going on in my head.
In the world I have lived in for the past ten years I have known where I fit. I have known what is expected of me and what I can expect of others. This hasn’t always been overwhelmingly positive (as you will know if you have read my blog up til now), but at least I knew what was coming. I controlled and managed my environment and relationships (where possible) so I felt secure. Relationships and events felt comfortingly predictable.
Now everything was shifting.
All change involves risk and when you are tired and not thinking straight that can feel super scary.
I had started to worry about this new landscape I was inhabiting. Where would I fit in this altered world order? Would other people accelerate and overtake me? Would my friends meet new people they liked more than me? Would I miss out on opportunities and feel left out?
I realised that this change-related anxiety I was experiencing was about my place. It was about trying to protect the things that made me feel
safe, secure important.
As I analysed my concerns and fear about the potential of the future I came to a slightly uncomfortable realisation.
In situations where I did not know what was going to happen, I wanted (and in some cases tried) to control the people involved. To manipulate situations and relationships so it turned out well for me. I was scared of leaving things and trusting that God has a plan. I wanted to meddle. When I couldn’t (and that’s most of my life at the moment) I felt frustrated and that frustration turned into anxiety.
Yuk. That realisation left a bad taste.
So many times this year I have said to Matt ‘Stop trying to get to the end of this decision (or process) we are in the middle – we can’t get to the end til we have been through the middle.’
Time to take my own advice. I don’t know the end of this story, and at the moment there are lots of variables, I’m in the middle of it, with all its possibilities and potential, with all the vulnerability that comes from not knowing, and I need to learn to be okay with that.
So… I have had a big talk to myself. I know all I can control is my response.
So i choose to try and respond well.
To try and offer grace amongst the change, and to move hopefully into the unknown.
I am aiming to live with an open hand. Not to manipulate but to encourage. Not to try to control, but to trust
.…..I might need reminding of this on a regular basis…….