28 September, 2014

If I had three wishes

If I had three wishes

I’d give them back because
I’d always be known
as the girl who’d blown
her wishes

on money, the chance to fly, and a free meal until I die.

you see,
I’d wish for money – not endless amounts but just
enough to pay my loans, buy my parents’ house for them and get my master’s degree;
I’d wish for a lifetime supply
of tickets to fly
anywhere in the world
(business class, of course)
and then,
I’d use my final wish on food;
a five-star restaurant meal in France – repeated just once a year until I die.

Now you think I’ve wasted them on the trivial,
that I’ve not asked for enough, that I’ve been self-centered,
you despair at the smallness of my mind
in wishing for

money, the chance to fly, and a free meal until I die

but wait, here’s why:

some might say I should wish for
world peace
                but then where would we be?
all people would probably have to die
for peace
and why
did God not decide to do salvation that way in the first place?
What would a socio-economic clean-up really mean;
what would the end of poverty
take away from us?

Truth is
I can’t try fix it all when I don’t know what further squall my fixes might create;
there’s just one God and I don’t really want his job.

So should I wish for sleep
- gosh that would be nice -
or no more zesa cuts
or a Zimbabwe free from those mutts who call themselves our leaders.

Should I wish for safety for the ones whose souls I care about?
would that sort our problems out
or take their chance at life away?
Should I ask for no more pain?
For universal pardon?
For anonymity
or fame?
For longer life
or death at birth?
I’d like to wish for no more fear
                but then who would I be
without my anxiety.

Because, you see,
if I wished for what I really want,
if I used my three free wishes to ask for peace and certainty,
                to ask above all things for truth,
then that would be the end of the real me.
And in reality
I have a life to live
and I don’t want to know the future

or how heavy the world really is.

22 September, 2014

Confessions of a Fake Librarian

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I work at Gateway Primary school. When they then ask which grade I teach I say, 'I'm not a teacher, I'm the librarian'. 

Now, never in my life did I plan to be (or think I would be) a librarian. So before starting this job nine months ago, my experience in and with libraries was fairly minimal. I don’t know if I should admit this but, the Dewey Decimal system – the instruction manual of a librarian’s life – scares the living daylights out of me. And I’m still trying to learn library lingo – when the kids ask me what a reference book is, and what the point of them is, I want to say, 'I know right?!' (But don't worry, I don't) Oh and lets not even talk about online libraries: does anyone here know what MARC Framework is? Because I haven’t the foggiest clue what it is or means. And apparently it’s important. 

So, confession number one: I’m sort of a fake librarian.

Besides the fact that I have a passion for reading and books, and for passing that passion on to others, plus I have a decent-enough combination of creativity and hard-work to visualize how things could change… I don’t really have any formal qualifications to be The Librarian. I’m a bit of a fake.

Ahem, I hope I haven’t lost my job now.

I have another confession: lately I’ve been feeling like a bit of a fake in my Christianity too.
I was recently asked to give a testimony at the beginning-of-term staff prayer meeting at my school (it's a Christian one) and I had to laugh inwardly at God’s timing (with all due respect, of course). God certainly has an ironic sense of humour because He knows my heart better than anyone, He knows that I haven’t been feeling very holy or God-focused or spiritually-stable recently. I may look like I have all the right answers, but I’ve been feeling like a little bit of a fake. So when I was asked to give a testimony I said "yes" to the deputy head (I've never been very good at "no"), and to God I said “Ok, well, I guess you know what you're doing. I’m trusting you to give me the words”.

You know, as Christians, we’re not always very honest about saying that being a Christian is hard. Not simply because of “persecution from the world out there” but because of doubts and fears and hurts within our own hearts.

I’ve enjoyed learning how to be a librarian, or at least, learning how to be my own sort of librarian (I doubt I’m very kosher, as librarians go). It’s been challenging and fun; every week is a new set of experiences. It can also be exhausting sometimes – especially when I make mistakes. And I've made plenty. It’s exhausting when I feel like I’m stumbling about and don’t quite know what I’m doing.

And it’s exhausting being a struggling Christian; keeping up appearances, constantly doing “the right thing” when inside your head is a jumble of questions and your heart is a jumble of anger and fear. The Bible – our instruction manual for life – often scares the living daylights out of me and while I may know all the Christian lingo – like most of us in the church, I’m good at using Christianese and having all the answers - honestly, over the last 6 months (actually the last three-four years), I’ve had a hard time with all that Christian lingo. Do we really know what we’re talking about when we say all those churchy words? Do we know the weight of them? Do we believe them and do we know how they sound to others? And honestly, sometimes, I haven’t the foggiest idea what to do with the questions and confusions and struggles that just seem to grow and grow with each new relationship or family struggle or painful situation that crops up in life.

So I want to confess that I’m a bit of a fake, because, good heavens, I find Christianity really hard.

But. You know what astounds me? Even though I feel a bit like the prodigal son at the moment, like a bit of a running rebel at times, the constant theme and lesson that God has been showing me this year is I am held, by Him. When I can’t seem to figure out what the right choice is, when my mistakes and sins pile up in my mind, when I sit in church and feel like such a hypocrite, when sometimes the only thing that I can pray is “God, please don’t ever let me go”… God shows me that he won’t. That He’s holding me and has held me through everything.

There's an old song I like, called Praise you in this Storm.  Here are some of the words from that song.

I was sure by now
God, You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say, "Amen" and it's still raining
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry, You raised me up again
But my strength is almost gone
How can I carry on if I can't find You
But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I'm with you"
And I'll praise You in this storm and I will lift my hands.
For You are who You are no matter where I am
And every tear I've cried You hold in Your hand
You never left my side and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

We all know that God is the all-mighty Judge, the Ruler and Creator who will make all things right, that He is a God of vengeance and a powerful King… but sometimes we don’t remember His gentle side. That He knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, that He wasn’t in the earthquake or the fire, he was in the gentle whisper of blowing wind, that He is the shepherd who went after that stupid sheep lost in the dark cliffs. And can I tell you, I’m that stupid sheep lost in the dark cliffs! And the most comforting thing to me isn’t that He is the world’s judge and mighty creator – those things are good and true – but the most comforting thing to me right now, is that He is the gentle Father who chooses to show Himself in a whisper and follows me into the dark cliffs when I’m lost and scared and foolishly wandering further away from Him.

I may feel like a fake Christian, like a prodigal, wandering sheep, but God is still holding me gently.