Processing...that's what I lack time for!
Yesterday was a very full morning of CME on "Living in the Power of the Spirit".
It included an excellent Bible study on the work of the Spirit in mission, a liturgical overview of the Sundays after Trinity (which should surely not be "ordinary" in the sense of losing their unique and special identity), and the ever-inspiring DH talking us through some aspects of the work of the Spirit in church history and in our current di (or are they multi?) lemmas.
All good stuff - demanding action if I can only carve out time to pray, plan and pray again instead of simply reacting to the situations that arrive on my doorstep.
Oy vey - practical processing sorely needed!
Mind you, there's quite alot of the other sort of processing going on too.
You see, in the middle of the morning came a session that was always going to challenge me...
A session in which we focussed on the gifts of the Spirit - and yet again I found myself engaged in the business of comparing myself with others and finding myself wanting. This is deeply unfair to the speaker who was very wise in reminding us that spiritual gifts take many and varied forms...that we can be very slow to recognise the Spirit's work....that sometimes things just don't happen as we pray they will. Actually, his input was quite excellent...personal without being unduly so, challenging and reassuring, thoroughly engaging.
And I KNOW (goodness, how I know) how the Spirit works within the Sacraments of the Church...I too have had times when I've "just happened" to turn up on the right doorstep at the right time, without any clear sense of planning to get there...I too have had experiences of praying with people and seeing things change for them....and week by week, as I preside at the Eucharist, I know myself caught up in something beyond words....
I KNOW all that sort of thing is the work of the Spirit and I rejoice in it....but yesterday I found myself plunged right back into the teenage neuroses of the 14 year old who didn't receive the charismatic gifts when everyone else in the school CU did!
It was a wretched experience...something that has been endlessly useful in sermons and comforting for those feeling sidelined by God in the years since, but at the time, just miserable. I prayed as determinedly as I was able, and endless people prayed with me. Everyone else seemed to be cheerfully speaking in tongues...sporting their oh-so-seventies "Smile Jesus loves you" while I felt like the only one not invited to the party.
The charismatic revival at Hasting High School must have lasted - oooh, a whole week, I guess - and it was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life.
Later, on the bus home, I had it out with God...
"What's going on? Why not me?"
and God said, with great gentleness
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed...And also, Kathryn dear, have you tried considering the gifts that I HAVE given you in order to worship me? Because that's what tongues is all about"
And, for the time being, I understood and was glad.
But always, when conversation turns to "spiritual gifts" I find myself in a lather of insecurity. Yesterday we were invited to discuss with our neighbour our own experiences and my first reaction was to say
I know full well that this isn't true, but it's hard to shed the legacy of that teenage disappointment, that the shiny things that others were displaying with joy and excitement were not being offered to me. And of course, God was quite right ( "nice of you to say so, Kathryn"!!! ) - I've never yet been in a situation where those particular gifts would have made a difference...
God gives the gifts we need for our situations.
But oh dear, I do wish God would help me grow out of the terrible need to compare myself with others and indulge in a wallow of insecurity. The human tendency to return to collect our unwanted baggage is disconcerting when I see it in others, exhausting when I recognise it in myself.
I know that my calling is not to be anyone but me, Kathryn...and that's actually quite OK.
No, thank God, it's better than OK....
And I'm given the gifts I need to be myself for God in this place.
Maybe one day I will reach the point of recognising that without having to go all round those familiar derelict houses first...or maybe not. But that will be OK too, as long as I remember that, as a wise and splendid friend pointed out to me
"He who calls you IS faithful"