Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FERHOODLE (confuse or mix-up) (03/03/16)
TITLE: In Hot Water
By Jennifer Woodley
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Perhaps that is how it happened. Little by little, as we chose to hand out the proverbial cups of cold water, to those around us in need, we found ourselves drowning in a pot of boiling water, of which there seemed no escape. I wonder if you too have been in that hot spot?
It all began with a ludicrous investment. “Why a post office is a good, safe family business.” I said to my husband.
“And the boys will be able to help sort the mail” he added enthusiastically.
I wonder whatever possessed us to imagine that three boys aged four, seven and eight, would be able to sort mail in the early hours before breakfast and last-minute-rush school work.
Then came the not-so-surprising realization that my introverted husband found that customer service was not his forte. He felt like a square peg trying in vain to squeeze himself into a round hole. Whenever there was a lull in the line, or even when there was not, I would see him slink away to the sorting room and hide behind the boxes of stock, to count money or wade through paperwork. Here he was happiest. Yet, this wasn’t working out as planned, and the pace of life was increasing at a rapid rate, becoming just a little more complicated and confusing.
Then, because the opportunity arose, I accepted a part time position in the local church. “They are looking for a Children’s Pastor and no-one else has applied.”
“Does that mean you have to?” he remonstrated.
But I did. So the pace of life became even faster, even more confusing, and definitely a lot hotter.
Within a few months, our rental property was up for sale. Why not buy a small avocado farm – far away from the busy community we were serving with good intentions, but, which was gradually bringing about our own destruction. Yes, a peaceful farm, dear reader, with fresh country air and wide open spaces, would surely offer us the peace and tranquility we silently yearned for.
Not so. The pressure in the pot of life only gathered momentum. This was becoming very messy indeed: a full time business, a part time ministry, which often was brought home by one who had not learnt to live with boundaries, the demands of a productive farm, the responsibilities of raising three small boys and the testing of a marriage were all tumbled together into a simmering pot, leaving the participants gasping for air.
Boiling point came soon enough. Weary workers drove home from the end of a day of handing out too many cups of cold water, only to discover that they had left the ones who truly needed the refreshment first, back at after school care. Our boys had been completed forgotten. What kind of a mess had we created?
“Stop!” we shouted together, “We need to get out!”
It was time to get away and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. Time to remember we are human beings, designed to love God first, then ourselves, then our neighbor. We had forgotten that it is only by drawing in, by being replenished that we are able to give out. It took well over a year of traveling this big and beautiful sunburnt country to learn this. There was no agenda. No deadlines. No commitments. Just leisurely time to unlearn the confused, messed up living that had shaped our lives and then relearn how to live in that cool, spacious place where we discover and explore, with growing delight, who we are becoming, rather than what we are doing.
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