What is life, and what do I want from it?

Do you ever feel that you are just ‘plodding’ on in life? That things are ok … nothing to complain about… that you’re “happy enough, I guess” but you feel that you are lacking the ‘WOW’ factor ? That’s how I’ve felt for a while. Quite a while, actually.

I can’t see the path that I’m on and I have no idea what I am “doing” with my life. I know that I’m not ‘entitled’ to see the path that God has for me… that He makes the plans, not me. I know that God’s plan is better than any plan I would ever make. I just wish He’d give me a hint once in a while, and let me know what way to go.

Many-Paths-To-Take

I’ve really been seeking in this lately. I had a long talk with my discipler a few weeks ago, and we thought about why I feel so aimless. I think partly it’s because my life now doesn’t match up to the expectations that I had for myself when I was younger, and in comparison with others around my age, I feel a bit inadequate.

I turn 28 in 2 months. (2 months minus 2 days actually)  If you had asked me 10 years ago, aged almost 18, where I would be now, in April 2017, here’s what I’d have said:

qualified social worker, happy in my job, owning my own home, married, probably with at least one child

Well…I have one of those things ticked off, since I qualified as a social worker almost 7 years ago. I’m still pretty pleased with my accomplishment, although 7 years post-qualified doesn’t feel all that much progression from 1 year post-qualified, and doesn’t get any more recognition from my current employer

It’s clear to me that life now is not what I thought it would be.

Job: I’m *ok* with my job but it would be hard to say I’m happy. I had a bad few weeks in March and spontaneously applied for another job…in Plymouth. When the interview offer came, I realised I didn’t want to move back home, but I am open to looking for another job where I might feel more stretched, or challenged, or at least valued – which I don’t always. Don’t get me wrong, compared to my old job I’m positively ecstatic and I’m in no way dismissing the great gift that God gave me by rescuing me from my old place and moving me here… but over the past few months it all seems ‘samey’ and I don’t like ‘samey’. I like challenge and new and feeling that I am making a difference.

  • I am doing something about this though (this is not purely a moany post, don’t worry) I am waiting on a date with our Head of training and development to talk about further training options that I can take up, since I’m a big geek and like to learn and pass on what I’ve learned

Home: I love my home. I have a very lovely housemate. I have almost abandoned the hope of owning my own place. I am a working professional with a steady job, but house prices are so high that even with a very healthy savings account there is no way I will be able to afford to buy. Even if I were to scrimp and save even more (I save the equivalent of my monthly rent and utilities bills every month, but still have plenty of money left for treats and luxuries and holidays etc…for point of reference) it would probably still not be enough since house prices just keep going up!

I feel content with this, now. I realised that I was working towards owning my own home because that’s what people my age do. The main difference was that either most people my age, who were buying houses, were married (therefore 2 incomes, therefore less financial strain and slightly better chance at affording local houses) or had parents who could help with deposits (or sometimes both)

Since I’m single, and since I don’t have any wealthy (or even ‘well off’) relatives waiting in the wings to give me all their money, and since actually I don’t want the responsibility of having to pay for boiler services and roof leaks and broken pipes and blah blah blah, I have decided that it is actually completely practical and completely acceptable to be renting……. although it took a long time to decide that since it’s not what people my age do!

Marriage and children: … no ring on this finger…no current prospect of one. Does that mean I’m a failure?! Um. NO. It doesn’t mean that I’m putting my life on hold and sitting like a Disney Princess waiting for my Prince to come, and it doesn’t mean I’m out there on every dating website and desperate for a man (nothing against dating sites, just not for me)

I’m living life as it is…and open to a relationship if I meet the right person…but it hasn’t happened yet and comparing my singleness with friends who were married, with one or more kids, when they were my age, is not helpful.

comparison-is-the-thief-of-joy-black-and-white-watercolor-canvas

So, going back to my original point. Life is OK. I have a busy life and activities all over the place … dance class and choir on Mondays, Pilates on Tuesdays, Yoga on Wednesdays, Small Group on Thursdays, Yoga on Fridays, rest on Saturdays, and church on Sundays. Also, I crochet, I binge-watch Netflix, I read, I am exploring my family history, I help my friends in their garden renovation project, I practice self care and get regular massages, I go for brunch and afternoon tea, and I go to the cinema with friends (we loved Beauty and the Beast).

I’m busy and happy…but I still feel a bit purposeless…and it feels that I’m often just finding activities that fill my time up so that a) I’m not bored and b) to exhaust me so that I don’t get attacked by my insomnia [but that’s a post for another day]

Recently I asked my small group to pray for me, about this feeling of purposeless…and one person had a picture of me carrying a tablecloth, all bundled up, with lots of things in it… like this I think:

hobostick4

(who knew this was called a ‘hobo stick’?! Not me, but it seems appropriate)

Anyway, he had a picture of me carrying a bundle full of things I wanted…and felt God was encouraging me to lay the bundle down, spread the tablecloth out, and take up only what I wanted from the things carried inside.

I’ve been praying about that every since, trying to identify the things I’m carrying, hoping for, wanting, and filter out whether these are things that I really want for myself, or whether I want them just because I feel I should (see above about buying a house)

Since that time though, I feel almost more purposeless because there are several things I think I want and I don’t know which of them is right. I feel like a compass with all these different things, or opportunities, in different directions and there’s no arrow pointing me to the right one!

I know that I’m not lost. Not really. There’s a poem by JRR Tolkein which goes;

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring

There’s a lot of hope in that, and in knowing that God’s plans for me are completely known to Him –

Jer-29.11-e1363787816786

Being patient and waiting for Him to lead me though….. that’s another matter!

 

 

 

-x-

 

 

 

Welcome, 2013

2013

Here we have it, a brand new year.

I celebrated the coming of 2013 with my small group from Church; playing Charades and Bible Challenge, eating lots of lovely nibbles and chatting. There was lots of laughter. We turned on Jools Holland at 11.45 and watched a lot of random celebs counting down, then toasted midnight with champagne and party poppers. Then, on New Years Day (after not enough hours sleep) we met again for a fry-up brunch and a lovely long, muddy & wet country walk. When I say wet – we are talking foot deep puddles and waterlogged fields. Some of the group didn’t have wellies (and mine had a split which I discovered mid-puddle) which resulted in lots of piggy backs. Overall; a fun filled start to 2013.

I’ve never spent New Year with anyone other than family before, and the only time we have ever truly celebrated was the Millennium New Year…when I was 10. That was the year we all had flu but we had booked tickets to my village’s Big New Year Celebration and were just about well enough to go.

New Year with my family is very low-key. We don’t even plan to stay up til midnight. One year when I was 13 or 14, I got so bored that I did all my holiday homework and watched Dumbo. (Ended in my crying at the sad part and having to go to my mum for a cuddle). I think my family’s non-recognition of New Years has led me to feeling like it is a big anti-climax. Which in turn I think makes me feel a little negative about the year that is to come. However, for 2013 I am going to try not to be such a pessimist about life. So I am glad that we celebrated New Year. I feel I’ve hit the ground running.

This time last year I published a whole list of goals. A week later I published an update on my progress. And then…kind of nothing. I kept up my diary every day until April, but then I went on holiday to the US and didn’t take it up again when I got back. Some of the goals I stuck with, but not purposefully. I think I was a bit over-ambitious.

This year, 2013, I am only going to have two real goals.
1) To give thanks and with a grateful heart
2) To be content

I think this will incorporate a lot of things but I don’t want to give myself an unrealistic challenge. On top of which, my goals last year were very much physical goals or goals which were mainly to benefit me. This year’s goals are Goals for my Heart.

I wish you – my readers and followers (I still can’t believe I have either) – all the best for 2013. I hope that you find (or keep) hope, joy and peace in this coming year.

Love, Sarah -x-

How old am I?!

Earlier this week I went to the cinema to see Perks of being a Wallflower, with my sister. She’s 18, and I’m 23. We both got charged for Teen tickets…meaning that the ticket seller girl thought I was between the ages of 13 and 18.

Ouch.

Yes, it meant that the ticket was £1.65 cheaper (I bought popcorn with the saving) but really?? I am twenty-three.

This is not the first of my mistaken-age situations.

When I went to the States earlier in the year, the check-in attendant at Heathrow asked me if I was “an unaccompanied minor”. I checked out the airline, and they class these as under-16. At the time I was 22, so he thought I was at least eight years younger than that. Of course, I just smiled sweetly and said “no, I’m 22”, at which point he looked mortified and apologised profusely. [My mum said I should have said yes, and then I might have got crayons and a colouring book on the plane]

But seriously, almost everyone I introduce myself to thinks that I am way younger than I actually am, which can get quite annoying. I also think that I lose some professional credibility – when I went to a training conference last week and introduced myself to some people in one of my groups, all of them thought I must be a Youth Club Worker or something similar; when I said my actual job title there was a lot of “oh really? But you’re so young!” to the point where I actually felt like just calling myself a Youth Worker because it seemed more acceptable, and less like hassle.

I know, it’s dumb.

On the flip side of this, people that know me often think I’m older than I am. I sometimes joke that I’ve been middle-aged since I was 13…but I think in some way it’s true; my life has been so full of chaos and drama that I feel sometimes like I’ve already lived a whole life. I definitely think I’ve had more than my ‘fair share’ of angst growing up, which makes me hopeful for the rest of my life because surely it’s all easy from here?!?!

I don’t know what point I’m trying to make.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m only 23…and to emphasize the “only” in that sentence, but for now I am trying hard to remember it, and be ok with it too…for example:

  • Even though I’ve had a crazy decade,  I’m only 23
  • Even though my job role is usually reserved for people with 10+ years’ post-qualifying experience, I’m only 23
  • Even though it feels like all my friends are in relationships/married/have kids, I’m still only 23
  • Even though I like “middle-aged” thinks like sewing, baking and gardening, I’m only 23 (and those things are definitely cool right now, so neh to the kids who made fun of me in school for liking to sew)

I still don’t really know if this post has a point, but it’s late and my face is all itchy from an allergy I seem to have developed, and I’m achey from sleeping on a rickety sofa bed…so I’m going to post this anyway and hope it makes some sense!

-x-

Celebrating the paralympics

Tonight is the Closing Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics.

I have to confess, I haven’t watched as much of these Games as I did of the Olympics – in part because of the different broadcaster. I only have channel 4 and e4 on my freeview, so when coverage switched to more4 I wasn’t able to keep up – but what I have watched has just been amazing.

I’ve been so inspired by these athletes – who are showing the world that they are athletes first and foremost, and their lives are not dictated by their disabilities. I’ve also been challenged about my own preconceptions – I would love to say that I am completely non-judgemental and not prejudiced at all, but watching the Paralympics has really convicted me that while I may not discriminate against disabled people in that I absolutely agree they are equal and have the same rights as non-disabled people, I have held the view that they are limited in some way.

This is probably a very common misconception, and it’s not borne out of a nasty or vindictive spirit – instead I think that the Paralympics has highlighted that we are a nation of very ignorant people.

Margaret Maughan, who participated in the very first Paralympic Games in 1960

Fortunately there have always been people who thought differently, and recognised the extraordinary talents of disabled people. (For more about the origins of the Paralympics watch this stunning drama, the Best of Men www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01m1jqd/The_Best_of_Men/ )

I am so thankful for the dramatic change in attitude, from society then and society now. Today’s children and young people are witnessing one of the greatest sporting events ever, which shows that while someone has a physical disability, there is nothing that can diminish their potential.

During my second year of University I spent 9 months working with L’Arche, a community for people with disabilities. They were mainly over fifty, and the majority had spent a large proportion of their lives in institutions. Why? Because society said that as disabled people, they were imperfect. It was widely believed that it was better for everyone if they were hidden away. This meant that an entire generation of disabled people were kept secret, shunned and denied the chance for meaningful relationships and to achieve their full potential.

Like I said, I’m thankful for the change in attitude, and for the incredible people who have brought it about. I really hope that the Paralympics will help further the change in our society, so that in the future people will find it hard to believe that there was ever a time when disabled people were treated differently, as lesser citizens.

Hooray for the Paralympians!

-x-