The future viewed from the past viewed from the future

28 Sep
So I’m sitting at home in Bristol at my Dad’s computer, having come away from it all for a little break but having actually been confronted with the past 23 years of my life instead. Not in a bad way. My mum requested that I make a start on "clearing out my room". I wonder why I feel a bit miffed about the thought of them turning my room into something else, even though it hasn’t been my room for a good four years now. The fact that most of my stuff is still going to have to stay here because I don’t have room for it in Oxford really doesn’t help my feeling of temporaryness, or my slight confusion about where home really is.
Yesterday I took a long walk with God and realised that I think some part of me still expects to have followed my sister’s route and the route of all those other "normal" Christian types. At nearly twenty-four I could have been married for a few years, well settled into a career path and with the excitement of planning for kids by now. I could have set up my own home, rather than being slightly displaced between several, and flitting apparently aimlessly between jobs and short-term ventures. I realised I do feel like that sometimes, despite all my loud and confident assertions to the contrary. But the long walk I was taking at that moment was from my house across Bristol to visit my best friend’s bereaved family, and as I reflected on how odd it is that these visits have become a normal part of coming to Bristol, I realised that frankly, the last few years have not been "normal". There’s no way a normal outcome would have trotted neatly out of them. And I didn’t ought to expect it to.
I know in my guts that a "settled" life like that would, right now, hugely frustrate my heart which has clung on to God through all this.. that my praise is purer and deeper and truer because of all the things that have buffeted it, and that I would not trade anything for an easier ride which might make me complacent, make me put God on the backburner, make going to church become a nice little hobby to do around the tupperware parties.
Anyway, sifting through the correspondence of fifteen years or so, shoved at the back of my cupboard for ages, has brought a lot of smiles and giggles. Folley aged ten writing to tell me "a hole pack of things", mainly about her hamsters. Years and years of letters from my penpal Savage which I barely remember. The journal I wrote in those three weeks in India with anecdotes I’d forgotten, like the photocopying guy who said, "usually, one rupee per copy, but for you, you work with the poor children, I give you one copy for 0.75" – and then noticing the sign on the wall that said "0.75 per copy". The school yearbook. Most embarassing of all, the diary I kept sporadically throughout my teenage years, filled with a view on life that I now can’t comprehend, but years and years of history. The last thing in there was after I’d been back from Peru for a couple of months, full of optimism, saying that I wouldn’t need a diary any more because God had taught me so much that I felt like a different person. Which was gloriously true. But I had to crack a grim smile that in that final, optimistic entry, as if everything in the world had been sorted forever, happened to be: "Steve’s coming home today…"

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