Spent the morning listening to Becoming on Audible. I am only 5 or so chapters in, but I am loving every moment of it.
There is a dignity to her stories. Michelle Obama may not have come from privilege, but there was plenty of love and pride in her family and friends to go around.
She gently describes the sacrifices her family made for her and her brother without pity or resentment. And her reaching for the next and better, taking advantage of hard won opportunities, was moving.
Not a bad way to spend a rainy London day at home.
I can hear the traffic pass beneath our London flat. The squelch of tyres on the road, the splash of water on pavement. I can also hear rain water dripping from the gutters outside. I’m cozy and dry inside, sitting at the dinning room table scrolling through my social media feeds. The central heating is on, my son is doing his homework on the other side of the table, and I am supposed to be studying diligently for my job interview tomorrow.
But I’m not.
So far I’ve napped on the couch, braved the rain to get lunch and snacks for me and my son, listened to my audio book and read a couple of chapters of the Night Circus. There is something, an internal block, stopping me from learning as much as I can about the amazing Not-For-Profit organisation that has shown an interest in my writing.
I think it’s because I am scared.
The job sounds like a wonderful opportunity, but in some small dark corner of my gut, I must be terrified. Perhaps it’s performance anxiety. Perhaps it’s my fear of failure. Perhaps I’m feeling like I won’t be good enough.
It’s only after a while I remember:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9
As the afternoon deepens into evening, I stop procrastinating. I do more research on the organisation and how they’ve been communicating their hope filled message to the world. They are incredible. I am determined to do my best at the interview.
According to google maps, it takes about an hour and a half to get to my interview. I woke up as the sky was getting lighter, got changed into the clothes I laid out the night before, gave my husband a goodbye hug, and headed out the door.
The sun was out this morning and the sky was almost clear. There were only small white clouds streaking the soft blue. I stood in the morning sunlight, but it was too crisp to warm my back.
The train arrived. I prayed it was the right one, that it will take me where I needed to go, and got on.
I don’t know how I performed at the interview. All I know is the interviewers were lovely and I gave it my best. I prayed for their work and the work of the organisation on my way home in the bright spring sunshine.
It’s a dry but grey Saturday. My husband and son wanted to rest at home, but I had itchy feet. I put on my coat that was starting to get a little warm for the weather and left the flat to get some fresh air. I hopped on the train and headed to Sloan Square. I had lunch by myself, browsed the shops, and came home.
Spotted the forgotten balloons on our street as I was heading back to our flat. They may be deflated, and no longer wanted, but their colours were still bright against the grey pavement.
Back at the flat my husband mercilessly poked fun at me. He threw soft toys in my direction, mussed up my hair, then planted a scratchy kiss on my cheek much to the delight of our son and to my amused annoyance.
“How old are you???” I yelled at him.
“He’s five mum,” my son responded.
“Women are delicate flowers. Del-li-cate. You don’t treat them like your father,” I pointedly looked at our son.
“Yeah son, they’re triffids,” yelled my husband as he headed out the door. “I’m going to Wandsworth to get us some food for dinner.”
And off he went.
We got some kimchi today! Some kind friends drove us to a massive Korean food warehouse after church and we were able to come home laden with delicious snacks and food.
The teaching today at church was brilliant. It shone a light on our religious hypocrisy and asked each one of us who we were really serving every time we turned up to church. God or ourselves?
We are in chapter 7 of Zechariah and our assistant minister unpacked what that part of scripture had to say to us with great clarity.
The chapter started off with a pious enquiry by the Israelites. Now that they were back from exile, did they really have to mourn and fast on the 5th month?
Instead of answering the question, God responds with another set of questions. “When you fasted, did you really fast for me? And when you were eating and drinking, weren’t you really eating and drinking for yourselves?”
The questions went to the heart of our motivations. We should love God and serve Him because He is holy and good; because He is God and we are not. But so often, I can treat him like a vending machine that is conveniently there to serve my needs. I’m fasting God. I am being a good little Christian God. You better be watching how good I am and give me exactly what I want.
Instead of observing religious rituals, it seems that the worship God wants from us, had always wanted from us, is found in verse 9:
This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
Christians are to:
- be just
- show mercy and compassion
- not oppress the vulnerable
- not plot evil against each other.
And I totally sucked at consistently following any of it. Let alone following it because it would please my creator.
It was at this point our assistant minister admitted we were never going to follow God perfectly this side of heaven because we were all so flawed. However, he reminded us through Jesus’ sacrifice we are forgiven and we are acceptable to God through Him.
I took a deep breath, repented, mentally dusted myself off and got ready to strive again to love God and others.
I really do love my women’s bible study that takes place on Monday mornings. They are a lovely group of women who get together once a week to nut out what God has to say to us through the scriptures.
We went through Psalm 23 today. If Sunday’s talk prodded our motivations and exposed our hypocrisy, today’s passage called us to trust God because He is our good shepherd.
Back home, as I waited for our son to return from school, I missed a call. When I rang back, it was one of the interviewers I had met on Friday. They offered me the position and I was thrilled. I accepted and am looking forward to working for them in a few months. I cannot wait to start.
Another quiet day at home. Our son went to school and my husband to work. I finished Becoming and am now in the hunt for another audio book. I am still reading the Night Circus and Pachinko is waiting patiently on the bookshelf.
“Let’s invite one another in,” narrated Michelle Obama as Becoming drew to a close.
“Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of the biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Maybe we can better embrace the ways we are the same.”
It was a lovely way to end the book.
Project 2020 is a weekly roundup of images. It aims to capture moments of joy, pleasure, and thankfulness that are found on any given day. It’s an attempt at remembering the good things and being grateful for them. Thank you for stopping by and I wish you a wonderful day.