I had the the biggest shock of my married life some years back when my beautiful husband Big T shared the ‘noise’ in his head: what he had to do next, what had happened before, what may happen in the next minute, what may not. It was like he lived a constant risk-assessment dialogue, a hamster scurrying round and round on its wheel.
So then I started asking friends and colleagues about their inner noise. It became apparent there were a lot of mental hamsters on an exhausting road to nowhere. I reported back, dismayed, to Big T. Intrigued, he looked at me and asked, “Don’t you?”
“Well, no, not really,” I pondered, surprised. “My head’s a fairly placid place. Sure, I know I’ve things to do, but I don’t fret too much over what happened yesterday and what could happen tomorrow.”
This has been my inner-world for as long as I can remember. Which strikes many who know me as odd, because my brain tends to zip through life at warp speed. However, just because my brain processes fast, it doesn’t mean my mind goes along for the ride. I figure I can fly with the wind, rather than be buffeted by it.
At a midnight Christmas Eve youth service, after a poignant poetry/drama about an incredibly busy career woman who finally found ‘quiet space’ in the understanding of Jesus and grace, the SAP asked me if it resonated. He, quite clearly, thought that was me. Yet all the way through the drama segment I had been baffled by the inability of the character to accept stillness and silence, of how her mind was always scurrying ahead to the next meeting, the next ‘place to be’.
God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit (G,J & HS) didn’t need to swoop in and fix my busy mind. That wasn’t required. Rather, they improved the landscape. The natural stillness of my mind has now been filled with an awe, joy and wonder that is far easier and more fulfilling than the non-attached striving I mistakenly thought was the path to its ongoing quietness. When I ran from the hound of heaven, it wasn’t because my mind was too busy on its hamster wheel. I ran because I didn’t know any better. If I knew of all the love, care and gifts I would receive, would I have stopped sprinting sooner? Hmm, not sure. Allowing love in is often far harder than shutting it out…
Yet, I also understand how grace can calm a racing heart and apply balm to a busy mind. That by Jesus’ gift of the cross, we may all understand a grace that tells the hamster to quieten down, get off the wheel, and stop running hard on the spot.
After my recent horned Mother Trucker struggles, it would have been easy to stay in a ‘how could I almost do that?’ woe is me, breast-beating state of mind. But, thankfully, I’m not wired that way and, really, what’s the point? I apologised to the SAP (who dismissed it with such ‘all good, no dramas’ aplomb it makes me wonder if he’s been devil-ditched a few times, poor bastard) and it’d only continue to make a mockery of grace if I rolled around in sackcloth and ashes. Plus, you know, I’m in PR. Sackcloth and ashes are soooo not me, daaalink. It’s all Prada and Louboutin over here.
You know Elton John’s lyric, “Sorry seems to to be the hardest word”? My Mum was a little bit tethered to that. She took pride in never apologising. I know others who are the same. Instead of apologies, they close down all dialogue by saying, “I’m not going to argue with you about this,” and therefore protect their position. It was me too, once. I’d grown up with a role-model who taught me apology meant weakness. I had to learn forgiveness because it wasn’t anything I’d ever been taught.
Imagine instead if sorry was the easiest word to say, and forgiveness was the easiest gift to bestow. What would that look like?
It looks like God and Jesus, that’s what.