unseeing

blind monkeyDo you sometimes wish you could ‘unsee’ things? Do you wish that you could delete what you have seen in the same way that you can delete the viewing history in a browser?

As a boy I remember stumbling (!) across a small stash of items in the bottom of my parents’ wardrobe that were clearly intended to be Christmas presents. I was excited to have found them but later wished I hadn’t as it spoilt the surprise on the day.

After watching an emotion-wrenching and draining television programme a friend of mine commented that they wished they could unsee it. I saw the same programme and can empathise with that feeling.

Perhaps you were sent a letter or an email and, after reading it, you wish you hadn’t and could delete the memory of it from your brain.

At the heart of these things we often find an emotional response has become associated with the memory and when we recall the memory we recall and relive the emotion which makes the memory more difficult to cope with. I am sure psychologists and counsellors would help with the particularly traumatic ones, but what about all of the smaller things that you wish you could unsee? We can’t get therapy for everything!

In time (probably) the impact of the emotional reflex will diminish as the significance of the event fades. It may help to talk about it with someone who knows you well and whom you trust – asking them to help you get a fresh perspective on things.

But we can also use those things to help us to learn and grow as individuals:

I learnt that the joy of finding presents before they are given diminishes the excitement and surprise of receiving them and didn’t go rummaging stumbling in my parents’ wardrobe again.

My friend could decide not to watch any more of the programmes in that series, or perhaps to watch them at a time when they have the space and company to help them process what they saw.

Your memory of how you felt when reading that letter or email can help you think about the impact of messages you send and perhaps soften the approach.

You see what I mean?

This is not ground-breaking therapeutic news. We learn and grow by experience. It’s what people have been doing with ‘stuff’ since Thag got tummy ache after eating some dodgy berries.

But in our multimedia internet-dependent world do we sometimes forget to do the learning and growing as we click and tap from experience to experience? By reacting and splurging on social media almost as these things happen to us we may fail to give ourselves the space to process, reflect and think before responding.

Psalm 27 is attributed to David – the shepherd boy who became Israel’s most successful king. It’s clearly written at a time when he was under threat. He had taken the time to pause, reflect and respond to what was happening – perhaps writing the psalm was an ancient form of blogging – and these reflections led him to these gentle, final words: “Wait for the Lordbe strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

David had clearly learnt that rushing in with a response is not always the best way ahead, and to wait for God’s timing is best.

That’s something I hope I never forget and don’t want to unsee!

Be blessed, be a blessing

 

 

Time to reflect

This weekend was the fifth anniversary of my Induction at Colchester Baptist Church. Time has flown by!

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of my Ordination. Time has flown by!

So as I am in an anniversaryish mood, I wondered what advice I would give the newly ordained me if I could borrow a Tardis and nip back in time…

  • 9 o’clock is the watershed: phone calls before 9 o’clock in the morning or after 9 o’clock in the evening are not usually good news.
  • Don’t respond hastily to criticism: weigh it, sift it and ask for grace. God might be trying to say something to you and this may be the only way he can get your attention!
  • Greeting people ‘on the door’ afterwards requires you to be an octopus (to shake all the hands), and elephant (to remember everyone’s names) and a woman (to multitask). Or you could get someone to help you.
  • Emails will be very useful in the future, but don’t imagine that by sending an email you have communicated successfully.
  • Computers will be incredibly useful to you, but keep them as your servants not your master. (They will always crash at the most inconvenient of moments.)
  • It’s always a good idea to check your flies before you go into church.
  • Don’t forget dry underpants when packing for a service of Believer’s Baptism.
  • You won’t be able to please everyone: seek to please the One instead.
  • God gave you two ears and just one mouth for a reason.
  • Everyone has already heard the story about the little girl who said “I know the answer’s Jesus but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me.”
  • Encouragement is a better motivator than guilt.
  • This too will pass.
  • You’re not in charge.
  • Always check the bread before Communion (see here for reasons why)

Be blessed, be a blessing.