Hello friends! My Red and White Rentrée Giveaway is in the post below, and I'm really enjoying reading your comments and resolutions - please keep them coming!
One of my Rentrée Resolutions this year is to make more time for other people, getting actively and consistently involved with friends, groups and wider family , and I wanted to think this one through a bit more in a separate post. Ben and I have historically been fairly sociable – actively involved in every church we attended, making friends and sharing meals at our house, at church and in their homes. We also like to get to know our neighbours (as much as they would like to be known), and have friends and family to visit whenever we can.
Over the last few years I’ve really cut down on social activities and I know why – it was for a good reason. The little ‘falling apart’ that I mentioned here came at a point when I realised I was living largely to convince other people that everything was right in my life, and not so that things could actually BE right. This crept up on me slowly – everyone gets things wrong, everyone tries to put on a good front so that things look OK, but due to problems with the church we went to and the general stress of moving to another country I was going way overboard on trying to present a shallow yet acceptable image.
I needed to take time out for God to rearrange my priorities, and to get me to love my family for who they were, not try to force them into something they weren’t. God did this most gently and most marvellously, and the blogging world also helped me more than I can say – blogs, recommended books and blogging friends were all used as God shone a gentle light on my life and helped me to know myself better.
In the few years since this has been happening, I have drawn in and focused on my family alone. It’s been a valuable focus and one I don’t want to loose, but I knew that this year I would be ready for God to show me something new, something wider, something to replace the all-consuming passion for spirituality and world justice which I felt I’d lost as I looked inwards. I suppose I rather hoped that this new thing would be quiet, inward-looking and something I could do alone. However, he’s making it clear to me that this isn’t the case – it’s all about other people.
"Without friendships no one would choose to live, even if they had all the other good things in life."
"Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives."
"If you don’t go to somebody’s funeral, they won’t go to yours."
Those quotations are from a Christian book called ‘Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them’ by John Ortberg, which has been sitting on my shelves for so long that I honestly have no idea how or when it got there. See how God has been preparing this shift back into community living for me?
So through picking up that book at a time when I’m emotionally prepared for it, and through other things – noting that the boys need practice in greeting new people politely and spending time with new adults, for example – I’m ready to follow where God leads and push out again into a wider circle of people. I am going to try going to a house group at church – this is going to be frustrating in French, as, with the best will in the world, people tend to assume that one’s ability to speak equals one’s level of Christian understanding and faith, and can ‘talk down’ to one quite accidentally (consider this if you have immigrants in any of your churches, please). I’m going to respond more enthusiastically to Ben’s suggestions that we invite people over for meals, and will try to be brave enough to rekindle some friendships that kind of died in my quiet years. Please pray for me.
Spiritual Sundays... for logical reasons! The flower photos are bouquets the boys gave me on Mother's Day - I've been waiting for a chance to share them since May...