Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
Volume 2 Significant Other and Volume 3 A Subversive Movement now also available!
El libro electrónico (en Español) también ya está disponible

So go on... you know you want to!!! Order a copy Boz Publications

Changing Season and the Space Between

A post from Gaz Kishere:

I woke up today in a reflective mood and wondering if anyone else has a similar experience of space and change. Its taken probably around 18 months to think in terms of what others may experience, because at the time it feels like a deeply personal dive into self, accompanied buy an outrageous amount of self talk and internal sifting, along with those feelings to be found at our core, around our stomach area where the knots of guilt, imposter syndrome and shame make camp.

I include imposter syndrome because whilst this is normally experienced when in the context of a role, function and doing which comes as an accusation that ‘you should not be there – you fraud’, when you are trying to ‘hold space’, recognise and draw down that it was God who took you into the last season of purpose and he will do it again, the imposter voice is “mate, your just kidding yourself ”. Holding space becomes avoidance, resting becomes selfish indulgence, waiting for significance becomes rejecting normalcy and so on. Who would have thought that ‘not doing’ could bear some of the painful feelings of ‘over doing’ and burn out.

I took a friend to task a few years back who shared a post advocating that leaders should not retreat, they should press in and not give up, especially during the onset of the Covid years, where they are needed more than ever. I felt the need to highlight what I considered it to have loaded language, that stepping down or stepping back could be seen as failure, negative, giving up instead of strategic withdrawal or necessary recovery. Perhaps Christianity both attracts and creates people who’s primary measure of worth is in constant engagement and nothing is to be learned, gained or created in the space between.

An added process layer in these days where deconstruction is the life and faith process of some, is that a new season of role, position, task may not emerge at all, since one of the elements of said journey is that life, living, breathing and simple work must find their own sacred significance above and beyond the roles where this has been said to reside. Ask, Seek, Knock is certainly a methodology which can be utilised in the space along with active intrigue, the sniffing out of things which could resonate. Its somewhat like digging for gold I guess and I am mindful of not rejecting silver or casting aside opals of meaning as I reduce my options and limit my possible futures of hope with a shine. This, I feel, would be a terrible life limiting way of processing.

Its not that I am ass scratching, which is my father in-laws favourite phrase destined for those ‘not doing’. In fact I have been trying to grow a counselling service over the last three years, which is coming alongside those who are burning out in their support of the refugee community. I have even done some online diplomas to deepen my tool kit of therapist and even some writing courses, though it may not come to the fore in my ramblings here. Yet I still find myself, amidst this, practicing the principle of ‘holding space’ and attempting, as best I can, to partner with possibility, to align with opportunity and to be available to the as yet unknown. My fear and in part my experience is that this desired next thing, means that I do not give the attention and value to the things I am actually doing, attention and appreciation which they deserve. In truth, I find it difficult to feel content in that place where some good things are happening, whilst perhaps having been conditioned to keep reaching for that thing where I place significance and so all else becomes insufficient. To be honest, all of this just causes me to feel more than a little shitty. For sure, I am not at peace with myself and perhaps there is need of another layer of healing, re alignment and shifting paradigm which has yet to do its work. I hope so, though even that is in itself more that a little wearing as I experience the wave of divine release, tears and snot flowing… as I await the sunshine and warmth of his presence purging my entire being. I know that this is part of space for me, and yet when that wave comes it is not joy that accompanies it, but a few swear words of frustration as my inner voice says ‘oh bloody hell, not more old shit ‘. I guess such things are done, when they are done and finished.

One of the ways God deals with me are in holding me to account in the things my mouth speaks in the help of others. One such situation was with a client who had been in a prolonged period of recovery from burn out in a toxic work environment. The person had their own experience of stepping into space and away from function along with all the void of validation that no role and self sacrificing can give. After several months said person is having their own aversion to space and the need to push out in one direction or another has increasingly come to the for as perhaps we cannot fully remove worth and meaning from doing and actually should not seek such. We all need the dopamine reward and satisfaction of some form of accomplishment. The language we used in processing this was that of exploring, experiencing and perhaps a little risk. We did this by using the illustration of a figure of 8, somewhat on its side like the symbol for eternity to indicate a flow of life. In therapeutic work we recognise the one part on the left as being a place of withdrawal, safety, nurture, mother and womb. The other half of the 8 is viewed as experience, exploration and being in and through the world. In reality there is a need of both and an over extended period in life and experience can necessitate some time spent in mother, nurture, safety till we find flow and value in both. At times, the safe space circle becomes much bigger than the other, depending on the self-work, which is needed and the recovery time we need. In truth the safe space is something we always have a need to flow through as we find our balance and so our time in experience and world can be explored more deeply. The sacrificial nature of those working with refugees and those who have a doctrine of life laying down loving or faith, can frequently lead to a neglect of withdrawal, space and nurture as we place perhaps sacred significance on works.

This was a helpful frame as the person recognised that the place of recovery and nurture was doing its work, and so there was a capacity to allow imagination, hope and dreaming to re emerge around task and function, something which plays its part in how we view and enact purpose. On the other side of that coin, is the deep deep work of finding worth, self love and the acceptance of God aside from purpose… but man, its tough and so you find me, in part, between seasons, neither summer nor winter, spring time or harvest as the song goes. I am, in reality, in a place of tension with the paradigm that my past stories and works came as a result of Gods hand and I am indeed expressing that gratitude, but what if that was it, what if there is not to be another season like those I have experienced over the last 40 years again. What if challenging where I place meaning and worth in function ‘is’ the season and I will have to view life through very different and yet still Jesus tinted glasses moving forwards. I have in most respects felt that I am standing on the Axis of the 8 (great title for a book) where I am between on-going wellness and new life rhythm’s and perhaps instead of the great known, the venture out and towards, is, at this time, into the great and somewhat scary unknown.

Finally, back in the 90’s when we were doing night-club style church gatherings and trying to be culturally relevant, we had an outside speaker come to ‘rally’ the troops. We found ourselves in the basement of a theatre having outgrown other venues and feeling pretty good about where things were at. Said speaker talked about pioneering and new things and with great hilarity stated that we needed to put on an “apostolic condom”, because the last thing we needed was more dreams, visions and ideas to have to grow to adulthood. On the other side of the narrative was “you have indeed pioneered, but who said you could stop? Who said you could get off the bus”. It felt like a slap around the chops to some degree but what resonated with me as my inner voice pushed back was that pioneering was no longer a glamorous idea, the need to innovate and entrepreneur. We had pioneered, birthed, we had sought the new or wild with all our hearts but now, we know its cost and that makes it a very different animal.

To balance my own search for the significant, I also feel it is important to affirm anyone who wants to undo that way of thinking and as with my client who had been in the place of nurture, womb, recovery, moving towards exploring ‘out there in life’ again. Part of the power of the space, is also the power of the right to choose what is next and perhaps for our previously absent or more silent ‘no’ to find more volume. And lets not forget that whatever normalcy is for us, we are in a place of recovering just how wonderful that can be and that it is indeed sacred, unless you are still in a cult which says and models counter to this beautiful truth.

5 thoughts on “Changing Season and the Space Between

  1. It is the hardest thing in the world to stop feeling useful – not saying you’re not useful because believe me you definitely are and are helping many people right now! In my 12 years of chronic sickness apart from the devastation of disability obviously, giving up my job and my involvement in prayer and ministry in the church stripped away my confidence to such an extent. I am sure God has done some work in me over the years but not having a purpose and being ‘useful’ for the kingdom has been humbling and horrible. I can really relate to what you say about longing to bask in his presence again and feel the joy. Also to the sneaking worry that maybe all the best days are over with!! I totally get it. I don’t know if my wanderings in the long desert will have an end in this life but I read a useful quote from Tolkien the other day. He said ‘Not all those who wander are lost’ so that is perhaps a comfort. I am sorry you are feeling like this it is a very difficult place to sit but glad you can see the hope in it still and are making sense of some of it for yourself and others. I have no trite words of solution except Jesus of course. I guess it is a process and being in this place maybe we have to let it all go until we are ready or can rebuild or restart. I sense this is a pretty static season in the Western Christian world for some reason?. I pray you will find your way through it as you make space for what God is doing right now and it all ‘clicks’ into something coherent and clear. God bless you Martin and thank you for being honest!!

    1. Thanks Joanna
      I would say that in the space between what i deem or unhelpfully measure to be significant i am finding a different level of loving people, missing them, seeking them out, trying to be and have a friend or two. For me progress here is revelatory, like something coming alive. Its helping me reframe and find worth in the small, which is actually very big 🙂

  2. Thanks for your last blogs. Really appreciate your honesty about how you are feeling personally which I believe is where things are at for so many of us and in a sense more generally out there. The session you are running on ‘Putting an end to religious indoctrination’ also interested me, especially in the light of a book I’m reading.
    You may have heard of it – Anatheism- Richard Kerney (Columbia University Press). The subtitle got more attention – Returning to God after God. Although this is written from a religious philosophical perspective, I believe it none the less speaks powerfully into the current season, particularly Chapter 3′ In the Moment-the uninvited guest’ where he portrays God as the stranger and being found in the stranger. Much of what you shared in your extended blog resonates with this.
    Hope this is helpful.

    1. thanks for your very honest blog post, Gaz. My own life experience (retired from psychological practice and pastoral care, but them I have turned 70… ) resonates with those ‘lines of enquiry’ you express so well. Gave me much food for thought. Thanks Martin for the nod to Gaz – I’m enjoying reading his book. I’m delighted he is a Billy Connolly fan like myself!

Comments are closed.

Post section built on the WordPress platform. | Theme: Perspectives 18, a fully-responsive, mobile-first design developed by © Martin Scott. | Site contents © Perspectives, 2007 - 2022, all rights reserved. | If interested in a customised site email: Martin Scott.