Three chance occurrences over the space of the last month have done a lot more to unsettle me than anything else in the year so far. Not in a bad way by any chance, but in an ask-myself-hard-questions way. Of the myriad of questions bobbing around in my mind, ones that relate to authenticity, passion and faith and how these can be melded into a coherent practice have come to the fore, inspired by how the people in question are doing life in their real worlds, leaving marks in ways I can only aspire to at this stage.
The first of these was stumbling on @IntensivEpicure‘s spiel for the WA Awards Video in which she talked about a range of issues affecting perceptions of successful women. That chance click led to another and then Google from where a truly fascinating story unfolded; one that took in UNILAG, Harvard, ten years and then a return to the bedlam of Nigeria.
A few days later, a chance conversation with a friend of a friend somehow segued into a critique of life in our corner of the world and our lack of viable love interests. Somewhere in all that, a name popped up, of someone who now lived down south in a corner of England my traipsing had yet to lead me to. Egged on by curiosity, I ended up on Google again, from where I ended up on a church pod-cast site, listening spell bound to this message on singleness. Well worth a listen – it opens in a new window – if I say so myself.
And then there was Jürgen Klopp, whose arrival on Merseyside has us Liverpool fans – real, arm chair or pretend ones – buzzing again. The press conference at which he was unveiled, was a tour de force of hope, joy and anticipation. He does of course have pedigree, having delivered success on what was comparatively a shoe string budget at Dortmund, but peppering his answers with words like intensity, emotion and passion did his image no harm at all.
One of the things I have struggled most with over the past year is regaining the sense of focus that defined my early years, which is perhaps why reading and listening to people such as those I stumbled on over the past few weeks – and I would add Louie Giglio, John Piper and Francis Chan to that list – puts these questions front and centre in my mind. That some of the most important influences in my life from growing up are people who were incredibly passionate about what they did; such as G & H from children’s Sunday school, DEL and MK from work, has only served to reinforce the sense that I am missing something by simply coasting along.
No where at the moment is the lack of passion and earnestness more visible in my life at the moment than in my spiritual practice. Although ebbs and flows here have been part and parcel of my experience, in my quiet moments there is a deep dissatisfaction with where things are – and have been for far longer than I’d care to admit.
I’d like a year of tearing everything up and beginning again, of focus – of living earnestly and intentionally, one which includes more praying, more meditating, more reading and more engaging with the thorny issues bobbing about in my head. Like Francis Chan puts it:
I want to fight, I want to know that I am battling and doing something with my life. There’s a joy of a soldier walking out of a battle all bloodied up and cut up because he went and did something. This Christian life is very difficult sometimes, but even in that suffering, it’s something we desire, that we want to rescue, that we want to be part of this battle.