Friday, 1 November 2013

Reclaiming my life

Last night I began reflecting on my goals in life. You see, I really love Yeovil. And moreover, I really love the parish of the Holy Ghost. When I was living away from Yeovil last year I found it difficult to be separated from that parish community, even more than I missed my friends or family. When I think of careers nothing really grabs my attention. One of my top strengths, according to the Strengthfinders 2.0 (c) test, is belief. This is often characterized by the notion that you wouldn't do a job that didn't have some grand purpose - whether that's changing people's lives or whatever else, but money is rarely a driving force. I would agree money doesn't drive me, I like to save more than spend it..and in many respects it is and will remain just numbers in print and on screens to me. I sometimes think more money would be nice and make things easier, but then I also would hate to have to balance a high income and work through that with my conscience. Money can easily be a burden. 

But I disagree that I instinctively desire to do work with a purpose. I need space. I need time to think. I like to simply 'be'. For me, I don't want to do a job that changes the world particularly, nor one that earns a lot of money. I want a job that enables me to be free to serve others in the parish and local area. Enough money to live on, and decent hours to be able to commit to groups and individuals. I don't want a job that I have to work on outside of work hours (e.g. teachers and marking work). I need a job where I feel at peace and comfortable, so that I can pour my whole self into outside activities.  

I'm aware that I might sound naive to some, but in reality, that's okay. I still want life experience. So, its completely fine for me to be naive. There is no rush for me to achieve success and stability, for I will die some day and none of that will matter. What will matter, is how I lived my life, how I enjoyed each moment and how I let my faith blossom in love. Why should I work work to get a job that I don't desire to do that will prevent be being fulfilled anyway? 

Take university. I do not see sense in going to university, because it is the done thing. I just don't get that. I do value the life experience that comes of it. I do value the knowledge it gives. So, for instance, doing a distance learning degree from Maryvale is probably by far the best degree in terms of knowledge that is available in this country, but the life experience is very different. One would not have the social dimension, but much more self-discipline. But, I've lived in an intense community setting for a year, and not to say I don't have much room to grow in this area, but I would not be debilitated by staying in my home town. Now, I don't rule out mainstream university by any means, but I am definitely keen to consider the option of working part time and studying part time. Much depends on if a suitable job materializes for me in the coming months.

I need to try and have a holistic understanding of my needs. I need to make time for God each day, but I know I also need time for myself. Last year, I struggled a lot within community because I had very little space for myself. I struggled to understand social situation and often felt trapped in not knowing what to do. So, for instance, once I overslept so would have got to morning prayer late, and then didn't know what to do and how people would react - before you know it I'm hiding in my room not sure of when is best to appear. Or last week. One of the team on the Ascent had a birthday, so a friend and I got a card for her together. Because of the rush, we had to sign it over dinner. my friend signed it between main and desert, and then told me where the card was and to sign it...I literally had no idea how to manoeuvre through this. You see, I felt rude leaving the table. I also didn't want people to look at me leave, or for anyone to ask where I'm going and for me to have to make something up. Also, by this time, most people had finished so it is time for washing up. There is a limit to how many people can wash up, but never-the-less I don't want to duck out of washing up. Nor, do I want people to think that's what I'm doing. Anyway, I just wanted to share an insight into how these little social situations are a great burden to me. In many ways, I am emotionally quite weak. I don;t like confrontation and I don't really like to have to defend my ideas, but I do want people to understand me... if I think someone is asking me about my life to understand where I'm coming from then I'm happy to be challenged, but if I feel that they are not open to what I have to say then I'm likely to feel hurt by their questioning.

The question that I'm challenging myself with is this: Do I simply desire to reclaim the life I had before I left for my gap year with Sion, or am I genuinely moving forward? At times, I would say I don't believe God called me into Sion. I did pray about it when I got accepted and was glad to get in and felt some peace with the decision to go there; which is a sign that God may have called me in. However, from early on in community I felt out of place in some way. I remember, about this time (a month and a bit into the year) we made our commitments to the community for the year. The idea is that we have experienced the life of community before we commit. I had very little peace now, I didn't know if I wanted to commit, and in the end resonated with the apostles word 'where else can we go' and thus stuck it out. And prior to even applying to Sion, for a couple of years whenever I would pray about vocation matters and so on, I would sense the words 'go into the world'. See, I understood that as go and see what is out there, see what people need to hear about God. I then made it into a commission to fit into going to Sion. And now, I can see how it could fit into going to university or just getting a job. And I trust God will bless me in whatever path I choose, for I know what God desires is my ultimate happiness. I said to one of my brothers on the team last year about this idea of not being called into Sion. He didn't like that idea at all. To him, I needed to accept that both I and the community had prayed and discerned for me to join. However, I know my weakness in listening to God, and I dare say community is likely to have a similar handicap so I wasn't really convinced. When we talk of the problem of evil, the catechism answer that God allows evil in some mysterious way to bring a greater good comes to mind - not to say joining Sion was evil, but in spite of my misgivings about last year I feel God used that (as he can use even evil itself) and has called me into the Ascent process and to start living in a more radical way for him. I will talk more on the Ascent at a later point!

God love you, I'm Mike Fenn.

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