So on Wednesday I got back from 5 days away with my Cambridge church, HT (Holy Trinity) at Momentum, which is run by the Soul Survivor family (if that means anything to you). The idea is that students and 20s and 30s are able to gather together in worship, teaching and prayer.
There were about 40 of us from HT, and one of the best things about Momentum for me was getting to know so many absolutely wonderful people, some of whom I’d only ever seen in passing at church this year. I believe that God completely answered the prayers of the student workers (as seen below) during the time away, because our HT camp was Family (deliberate capital letter ☑).
And not only were HT Family, we were one really cool Family. The HT-clan could be seen with a mascot that evolved from being monkey-zebra-saxophone to monkey-monkey-saxophone, and wearing super cool yellow sunglasses (spot them in the photos below aha).
Anyways, as I was reflecting on the week I had a revelation (ish). This morning I was praying and in my prayer was the line ‘show me the joys of my position right now’. I didn’t mean this in a help-me-I-do-not-like-where-I-am-at-way, but in a help-me-live-more-fully-where-I-am-at-way, like a let-me-rejoice-in-the-contentment-you-have-given-way. After writing that down I paused because I realised that it showed that the past week has helped me in the process of something that I’m super bad with, which I’ll give you the background to now.
The background to this is that I’m competitive. What fuels this is that I always want to do well and become better. One of the ways this works itself out in my life, is that I don’t naturally feel content if I’m not doing something/not succeeding in the things that I am doing (the full story of what I’m telling you is all about how I’ve found spiritual contentment, and this probably should merit its own blog post at some point). Rest for me can mean not-doing-work but usually is scheduled time of doing something else (whether that is walking/reading etc). This would be fine except this has been the cause of quite a big problem.
This big problem is that I want to do ALL the things. If I could do everything I would, and I am lucky and very grateful to have people in my life who tell me/get me to slow down when I forget that doing everything is not possible. The frustration that I sometimes feel because of this is also the root of envy, envy of the things I see other people doing, the skills and giftings other people have, or just their them-ness (if this sounds selfish, that’s because it is lol). To combat this envy, I pray/have prayed the following prayer with a frequency that would alarm you:‘Lord, help me let go of the things not made for me’.
Thankfully, I am being taught to rejoice in all that other people are, and not see the fact that other people are gifted in a different way as in some way diminishing my own gifts.
And, when I was doing some thinking this morning after I’d written down that line in my prayer, my train of thought stopped at a question I asked Lucy (don’t know who that is? See here) a couple of months back now: “if you could look like anybody at all, who would you swap faces with?”. Lucy gave me multiple answers: Emma Stone, Miranda Kerr, Laura Mvula, Selah Sue, Janelle Morae. She however, wasn’t keen on my answer of Carey Mulligan. (to put a qualifier in here, neither of us wish to reduce anyone mentioned to just their looks, pictures of Carey Mulligan and Emma Stone below are for illustrative purposes only)
This led me onto another thought about how Lucy, on multiple occasions this year, has said something to the effect of her thinking that I am more beautiful than she is. I had always dismissed this as her just being lovely if slightly disingenuous because as far as I was concerned it was, although v cute of her to say, untrue. But, then having the conversation about who she would want to look like made me realise that she could actually be being genuine. It was possible that both of us could believe that the other was the most beautiful without one of us lying. As in, different people could have different tastes, who knew? :’)
Let me now tell you the relevance of my thinking about this – it illustrates where, in my weakness, I have been going wrong, the source of my discontent in not being able to be everyone and do everything. The root of the problem is false comparison. Making judgements between things where there isn’t one to be made.
In other words, in the same way I decided that Carey Mulligan’s smile is perfection, I had been deciding that other things that people are/have are also perfections. When I then found that I did not have their same personality/skill whatever, I felt dissatisfied, and I am ashamed to say, sometimes also resentful. What I have since been learning is that it’s ok that I am not them because I’m not them (oh surprises), and that that’s great because I have been made my own kinda perfect. To apply this lesson cringily back to my illustrative detour, the fact that my smile features only one half-dimple doesn’t make my smile any less perfect than Carey Mulligan’s (score) – it’s a different kinda perfect 🙂
Part of the reason then, that I found Momentum so great this week was that I was truly really happy learning and sharing in other people. Family! And this is why I said that I felt my prayer this morning of finding joys in my own position was in some way a step on from praying that I would let go of what wasn’t made for me. It was a prayer for contentment at this point in my own journey, that I would live well within my current circumstances. Importantly, I had the realisation that I had unconsciously reached a point of not needing to ask for joy in spite of what I am not or what I have not, I was just after more of the joy in what I am and what I have. As such, my prayers that I would let go of what isn’t made for me are being answered. This isn’t to say I won’t be praying that prayer again (the Lord literally knows I will), but it’s to share with you the joy of this past week in having that prayer answered, even as I’m still in the midst of it.
And to that end, I leave you with some happy photos of time with the HT family from this past week. Praise the Lord that there are so many absolutely wonderful, and different (!) people in the church. And for yellow sunglasses.