Monday, January 05, 2009

attention

For those of you who might be wondering, Dean and myself and Tea and Jazz all survived the holidays quite nicely. Tea is continuing her recovery and I was happy to find that, thanks to the wonderful caregivers who fed her and loved her while we were away, she improved while we were away. Dean is back at work and I am bracing myself for another busy term with two university courses and one online 15-week worship training thingy. This is sounding altogether too much like a newsletter so let me stop with the update thing right here and move on to more interesting stuff.

Yesterday, for no particular reason, I had a low day. I woke up feeling less than bouncy. I had a lot to do and oodles of reading and writing that should have been tackled, and perhaps a spiritual exercise or two that might have been helpful, but I didn't have the energy or the heart for it. I just felt flat and unexcited ,and I realised that I was empty. I give out a lot of words (mostly good and kind and true words, I hope) and sometimes it seems like I run out of ideas and words and energy; I have a feeling of being unrecognised and not very valuable. I have the sense of being overlooked, forgotten, and neglected. None of this is 100% true, but everyone, even me, needs encouraging words and careful attention paid to them on occasion, especially when you are the one who regularly supports and encourages and teaches and cares for others.

So my pathetic prayer began like this: God, I need some attention. I would just like someone to tell me that I look nice and that the outfit I am wearing makes my eyes stand out. Why does no one ever say that to me? Have you forgotten about me, God? Don't overlook me today.

After moping around the house with the cats and watching some boring television, I flopped open my bible and decided to read the next section of Matthew where I had left off a day or two before. It said, "What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail even numbering the hairs on your head!" (from Matthew 10 in The Message). I read that word attention over and over again. I didn't feel like God or anyone else was paying any special attention to me, but I wanted it to be true, I wanted to believe it.

And so I dragged myself to church and didn't even pretend to be the cheerful effervescent pastor's wife. I helped with the set-up like I always do and managed to avoid greeting anyone except for a distant wave because I am just too honest and transparent and would have said, "Not so great," if anyone had asked me how I was doing. I wasn't really sad or in a bad mood, I just felt like I had nothing to offer anyone because I was empty. Then the meeting started and I sat down beside one of my lovely friends. She turned to me and said, "That outfit really makes your eyes look nice." I blinked and smiled. Yes, she had said those exact words to me. Perhaps someone was paying attention after all.

After the meeting, three of us were praying for each other and another one of my friends said that she had something kind of random to say to me. Okay. She said, "Matte, you are young and you are beautiful." Uh-huh. It was finally starting to sink in.

So I ran across the room, grabbed my Bible, and showed her what I had read that afternoon about God paying great attention to us. I told her how I had asked for a few specific things to be said to me because I needed to know that I was not forgotten or overlooked by God, and that she had spoken one of them. And then she told me about something that happened to her that morning and how what I had just read in Matthew spoke to her in a very specific way as well. And then we were both crying and laughing and talking all at the same time, and I suddenly realised that I no longer felt empty and drained. I had words to say to people again. The sentences I had read about God's heart towards me -his special caring attention to me - had been demonstrated as true. Sometimes it takes more than just reading or hearing something to believe it - we have to experience it.

These are the twinkly lights in our front window with some cool reflections of our living space and some random lady across the street thrown in for interest.

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