Friday, August 04, 2006

Mind reading

In the late nineteen eighties, I left my job to join an evangelistic outreach team working with a church in Inverness for a year. It was the right thing to do and the right place to be doing it. At the end of the year, it was back to the "real" world. I chose to remain in Inverness, and make the church there my family.

Trying to get a job afterwards proved most difficult. Teaching jobs were like gold mines. One plum job that had "Melanie" written all over it was advertsied. I applied, was interviewed, and not appointed. That was my first step on the downward spiral of unemployment.

What followed was eight months of rejection. Because of my qualifications, no one wanted me. I was overqualified to wait on tables, to clean floors, to file letters or any of the other jobs I had applied for. No one wanted me.

This downward spiral of unemployment was accompanied by a downward spiral into depression. Slowly but surely confidence in myself was being eroded. Every area of my life seemed to be affected. I felt everyone was looking at me and seeing failure written into everything I did. It was like being sucked into quicksand.

Perhaps someone looking on would not have noticed anything amiss. I did not appear on the surface to be worried or anxious. I didn’t withdraw myself from participating in church activities. I sang just as off-tune as ever, I prayed as fervently and shared insights at Bible studies. On the outside things seemed to be fine.

I would have to admit that there was a resentment building up that no one seemed to notice! I thought that if “these people” were really hearing from God, then they would know how miserable I was inside. If they were in touch with the divine, they would know. I don’t suppose that is a unique reaction to take, or that I am the only one who has ever travelled that path.

God’s reaction to that line of thinking was “Why don’t you just tell them how you feel?” Christians are not mind readers, and yet we expect them to be. There are occasions when God brings a word of knowledge to open up a situation, but when a person is quite capable of telling someone, He probably doesn’t see the need to do that. Eventually I did tell someone. My problems did not instantly lift, but because they were out in the open, the air was getting the wounds and healing was happening.

Since then I have always told people and told myself that if there is something bothering me, I should not go down the route of thinking “If they were really hearing from God…” I should not expect people to be mind-readers.

I think it must be a pride thing. It takes humility to admit that we are not the “more than conquerors” that Romans says we are. I also think there is a hurdle to climb over in the sense that you think that people are not going to understand. You see nothing in their lives that tells you that they have also been this way and they know how you feel. Too few people confess their weaknesses, so you get the impression that they don’t have any!

I am sorry to admit that I have been thinking that people ought to know how I feel without being humble enough to tell them that things are not wonderful. I don’t look around at my life and see holes everywhere, but there are areas where I am struggling and I don’t ask for help. I think sometimes that I inhabit a different planet and I don’t speak the same language as other people!

All this came to light at our ladies Bible study last night. I knew that I was on shaky ground when I found out we were studying Hannah. The whole issue of not being able to have children is guaranteed to throw a light on my vulnerabilities. I spent a lot of time in prayer trying to shore up the defences before I left – “Please, God, don’t let me bawl my eyes out.”

And I thought I was doing so well. I have no idea just what words turned the key and the floodgates opened – but I wept buckets! It was good that I was in an entirely supportive atmosphere, surrounded by friends that cared. I just wish that I had said something months ago – when the emotions were at a manageable level.

There are some people that would hold to the view that it is enough to talk through sensitive issues with God alone and they get sorted. I don’t believe that! I don’t believe either that you spread the message of your weaknesses to all and sundry – that could cause harm. It is important that someone knows the warts and all version of your life history.

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