Home > Events, Reflection > Eleven May Be One Too Many

Eleven May Be One Too Many

Eleven days into twenty-eleven, and if you’d asked me about my life, week or year since this one began, I’d not have been able to give an affirmative answer; by that, I suppose I mean that I’d not have given an answer that would amount to a ‘yes’. (No-one actually answers, ‘Yes,’ but there is a class of answer which is conclusive, and which signals the end of the usual conversational preliminary.)

The problem of dealing with 2010 is that it was such a crowded year. So many things happened, I changed a lot and I’ve had some of the most painful experiences of my life; there were good ones, but at the moment I am finding it a bit of a struggle to remember them clearly. The way the year was lived also makes it difficult to feel like I have a grip on it, because I would abandon myself to whatever schedule I was compelled to keep until I reached an interval. It was a take-what-I-can-where-I-can-get-it kind of attitude, because the long-term was seldom relevant to the situations I was in, and because I judged that most of it was beyond my control. Generally speaking, I was right; insofar as it was a thoroughly philosophical take on things, there wasn’t much room for error, and in any case being right on this level isn’t at all gratifying. There were also times when my judgment failed, but everyone survived, and damage repaired where possible. Failures were acknowledged, ways were changed and forgiveness received, therefore I am not apologetic, but this is a complicated position, especially when tied with a newly developed anger problem.

I used to avoid being angry altogether because it tires me out. (And because it leads to the dark side.) There was also no need for it, by which I mean it was seldom expedient. Over the months of the earlier half of the past year, I found, through experience, that it could be expedient when prepared, directed and checked. Unfortunately, once I became acquainted with it, it became one of the set of ready responses for when I was dissatisfied; before, it was just contempt that I had to check. Anger makes submission difficult or grudging, because it arises from a justified position. Sadly, it usually doesn’t matter whether one justification is better than another; meekness is often more expedient, but it has been uncharacteristically difficult. I have yet to adjust to my increased bile production.

I spent ten months of the year in the army. I saw three-and-a-half batches graduate and did a stint at a school HQ. Through most of it, I had a mission I believed in and held myself to a work ethic; it was not a flawless run, I often worked myself ragged and bad things can still result even when there is no mistake, but because of the two things I kept close to heart much good was done. When my service came to an end I would conclude that it was altogether a good thing. With regard to the overall experience, the posts tagged Army Milestones provide a decent summary. Reading them I realize I’ve not written anything about what I believed my mission to be.

I believed that the best thing I could accomplish was to instill in my recruits the sensibility that their experience should be a meaningful one. This was essentially a moral mission, so it naturally entailed my colleagues and I being consistent and open. It also entailed a measure of personal involvement, though this had to be balanced with maintaining a professional distance. In 2010 I erred more often on the side of being professionally distant, so I am warmed all the more when one of my former charges sends a greeting, reminiscence or testimony. This has been a joy to me. At this point, I recall a certain Aunty Liza describing joy as the fruit of one’s investment towards another’s gain; I am glad to have had the chance to find this to be true.

At the same time as I was in the army, and even after I was out of it, I faced a worsening home situation. It was and is often distressing, and though I shall not elaborate further, I mention it because it produced the most intensely painful experience of the year when one episode coincided with a genuinely terrible time at work. That experience, more than any other so far, showed me what it meant to be able to trust in God’s goodness. It was painful nonetheless, but in the wake of it I have more faith.

Something else that brought me through 2010 was being able to turn to friends and fellow Christians for comfort and prayer. It is something I treasure. Over the past year our love has grown, and it is surely something to thank God for.

The year also saw me becoming more heavily involved in the church’s worship life, especially towards the end of the year. I was primarily engaged in the ministry through music, and I have had to balance taking the responsibility seriously and working with new people every week, usually with only one practice; basically, I get impatient a lot, and that helps only sometimes. Pretty much only God has gotten the balance between musicianship and worship exactly right. I would like to record that my musical-worship experience of the year was playing 1st keys for ‘From The Inside Out’. Finding the perfect keyboard sound and setting up the feel and structure with an original opening line was gratifying, but at the same time I know the glory is God’s because it was not something that followed from what we could humanly make of the rehearsal. He made it special.

I ended my year with college applications. It would have been an intolerably lonely and overwhelming experience if not for the friends who provided help, encouragement and understanding during that process. My educational future is something that is still being decided and it is not a subject I can properly keep to 2010 either. I did do a lot of very thoughtful writing for the essays, and perhaps some of it will see the light this year.

This has been a ranging and disorderly account of the year gone past, but it has been useful in helping me get a sense of what problems have carried on into the now, what I have to thank God for in the present and what I can thank Him for having given and which I can leave in the past.

I have no resolutions and few specific hopes for 2011 at the moment because the future is very uncertain indeed.

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