Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Life works

I said to mum last night that I think patience will be the lesson God will continue to teach me until the day I die. I'm not very good at patience.

The other one is contentment. I feel okay about material things at the moment; God has richly blessed me with a house and a good job. That is much more than many people have. But I know it takes very little to stir the discontentment, about material things, relational things, spiritual things. I don't know why it can be so hard to remember that Jesus' grace is sufficient for me (2 Cor 12:9) and that he is the source of true contentment (Phil 4:11).

I have so much, why can't I be content? Why do I always look at the thing I can't have and complain about it to the one who gives me all I need? (which makes me feel like I'm chucking a bit of a tanty, like Benny does here)

I understand the value of having a kingdom perspective on life, of always looking to that end goal, of having eternity stamped on my eyeballs, to paraphrase Jonathan Edwards. As someone said at Equip, we feel like we have to have achieved certain goals before we die, and we somehow forget that we will be fulfilled forever in the new creation. Completely fulfilled in a way that we could never be in this life, even if we did achieve everything on our lifelong to do lists. What might seem like a forever of waiting for something here is a blip when you consider eternity. And the happiness I seek here is a weak shadow compared to the richness of joy that is in heaven.

So, patience and contentment. The two great life works that God is doing in me. Very slowly, for sometimes I am a bear of little brain.

Monday, 21 May 2012

It's all about God (duh)

We've been working through the book of Job at church lately. I'm really glad we've been studying it, because I had never read the book before this year. All I knew was it was about Job and his suffering. Oh and he had some friends and an unhelpful wife.

Tonight's talk was really good, and brought it all together for me. Unsurprisingly, it's not about Job and his suffering at all. It's about God. We're so focused on ourselves and our problems (no matter how big or small) that we forget who God is. We question God when things don't turn out as we want, we demand to know what he's doing. But as Dave said, "God's plans aren't senseless; they are beyond our senses." Just because we don't understand doesn't mean that God is obliged to explain his every move to us. But we need to trust, because he works all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28), even if sometimes that good is wrought through pain.

I also didn't realise until it was being read aloud tonight what gorgeous poetry there is in Job. There is something transformative when Scripture is read aloud and read well. I all too easily just skim read, instead of allowing the metaphors and imagery sink into my mind. I said in my last post that CS Lewis has such a wonderful way with words, but you can't go past God's words about himself!
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

"Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?

(Job 38:1-13 ESV)

(I especially love that last image!)

You can listen to the talks on the Wild Street website.

heaven is waiting

Equip went really well yesterday. I had a really good time, both doing the drama and being at the conference. I realised the last time I was at Equip and completely freaked out was when I had first been diagnosed with depression, so I was at my lowest point and always associated that anxiety and stressed state with the conference itself. It was good to have had a break from it for a few years, but wonderful to go back and be fed and nourished by God's word (and not be freaked out by 3000 women!).

For the curious, here is how I would look as a pregnant woman:

It got a good reaction from people I knew. Especially the ones who hadn't seen me for over a year.

The talks were about heaven being our home and our destination, and how to live as we wait. I especially wanted to post something Lisa Thompson quoted in her talk, from The Last Battle by CS Lewis. As always he so lyrically and beautifully pictures profound truths.
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

CS Lewis, The Last Battle, Fontana Lions, p173

I'm so excited that this life is but the cover and title page of my story, of all our stories. I can't wait for the Great Story to begin in the new creation!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


I went to a rehearsal last night for a drama I'm in at the Equip women conference this weekend (people refer to these things as a 'drama' but that gives it more weight than I feel it has...it's just a skit to me, a performed blip to get you thinking). There are four of us in the drama, all showing women in various stages of waiting, or talking about what they are waiting for.

Rehearsal was after a long day at work, in a place I'd never been before in the western suburbs. I had never met the other actors, and we only got the script last weekend because of various problems with volunteers having to pull out (one of whom was the writer/director, so the whole thing had to be rewritten by one of the actors). Actually I was a ring-in because an actor had pulled out, and we even had another actor pull out this week, so the girl replacing her was even newer than me. So the whole thing has only come together by the grace of God, really!

I was already feeling low because of tiredness and being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Then I realised that they are all active actors/drama people. And that really threw me for a loop. One is a working actor, one is a drama teacher and one has just graduated from drama school. And then there's me, who hasn't properly acted for at least 10 years.

I don't know why this slammed me so much. I sat there, watching the girls do their monologues and thinking "they've actually put effort into this, they actually know what they're doing...they're going to regret asking me to do this...", and dreaded my turn to perform. It was like being at a cold audition, suddenly jumping up in front of strangers and doing a monologue at them. I apologised my way through the rehearsal, and rushed my lines, and was touchy when given direction...I could see myself behaving this way, saw that it really wasn't helping anything and couldn't understand it. I told myself to calm down, and tried to be gracious and thank the scriptwriter and take on suggestions and slow down.

It came together well, and everyone was positive and reassuring. But all the way home I just felt stupid and sad and fraudulent. And the little positive voice, although barely audible amongst the waves of negativity, kept saying "you're fine! Don't worry! It's just a little skit, and your bit's only two minutes long! It's okay! God will use you!"

So I tried to reflect on why I had felt so bad. Two main things, aside from the tiredness.

1. My part is that of a pregnant woman, who can't wait for her baby to arrive because "you have no idea how long I've waited for this". I was bemused that I was cast in this role when the script went around, and was basically told, well, we're all single, childless women, so someone has to do it, you'll be fine.

I realised last night I didn't really want to get into the mindset I needed to do a convincing job (ie, not just a cariacature); that it felt like if I didn't try to do it well I could end up being insulting to the countless women who will be at Equip and will be feeling sad and anxious about issues of childlessness; and that even though mostly I am okay about not being a mum, thinking too much about waiting for a child makes me feel bone-wearyingly sad.

2. I have changed so much since theatre was my life; there are people I know now who never even knew that 'other' me. Now, I don't mind the changes that have taken me away from wanting a life in the theatre, and I love how God has shaped me and grown me since my uni years.

But the thing that upset me was the change in my demeanour, in my outlook since being struck with depression. I feel like the black dog has eaten parts of me, or like the depression is an acid that has burned giant holes in my fabric...if I'd had the energy last night I would have tried to draw it, because it's hard to explain.

I used to be so excited about performing, about the medium of theatre. I could see exactly what to do to communicate a thought or emotion, and how to do it (though I've always been a better director than actor). I had energy. I had projection. I had passion. I loved being part of an ensemble and making plays. And now, even though depression-wise I'm nowhere near as bad as I've been in the past, it's like that me has dissolved. It's like I'm missing parts of my personality. I almost resented the other girls for being in touch with that, when I couldn't access it anymore.

It's hard to explain. But I think maybe the sad feeling was grieving those things. They aren't huge, insurmountable issues to deal with. But they definitely tripped me up.

Hearing talks on heaven at Equip this weekend will be good for me!

Monday, 14 May 2012


I am becoming a road warrior.

I always thought that was a stupid term, but since I started working in Rydalmere, which involves a 50-60 minute drive each way in heavy traffic, I am beginning to understand. You really do need to don armour and develop a tough mindset to get out amongst that every day!

Today the traffic war started almost as soon as I'd left the house. Turning onto a roundabout a block away from my house, and I believe I had right of way, a man in a Mercedes sped up right behind me. I was doing 50 down this residential street (as is the law) to the intersection only about 100 metres away and he overtook me, angrily zooming down the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic just so he could be one spot ahead of me.


In the last few weeks I've seen a lot of that. People pushing in so they can be first. People screaming at other people because they are obeying the law. People deliberately harassing other drivers on the road. It's so easy to take the bait and get angry in response, to gesture or swear or yell or speed up just so that other person doesn't win. But win what?!

Today I resolved that instead of getting angry in traffic, every time I felt frustrated I would try to pray instead. I know it sounds sanctimonious, but I just thought, why is that not my first response? I should pray that God would make me gracious, and that he would calm everyone around me down.

So that's my resolution. Do you pray for people around you when you're out and about? I realise that for all that my church talks about being real with the world and the Bible talks about loving our neighbours, I rarely step out of my little bubble and remind myself that every single person I see is loved by God, whether they acknowledge it or not. And I should try to see them the same way, as precious to him, and not just as objects that are costing me an extra 60 seconds on the road.