Ah it’s been a funny old time.
Since last week, when I was stressing about being overloaded, I have gotten through some of the bigger work issues, managed to faithfully keep the commitments I had, and…I got ‘let go’. Well, not really. I was only a contractor at Rub and the situation changed with their two premises (they’ve had to close one), so there was no room for four therapists anymore and as the least qualified I was the one to go. Which I was kind of expecting, to be honest. And at least I know it’s not because of anything I’ve done or not done. But still…it was a mixed feeling when they took me out for coffee to tell me yesterday. A relief that I had one less demand on my time, a sadness that I wasn’t going to have semi-regular massage work there anymore, and a hope that maybe my time is being freed up for other things.
Because one thing I have learned, even if I need to be reminded of it from time to time, is that God’s plans don’t resemble mine in any way.
We just finished watching the always excellent SBS show Insight, which tonight featured older women who are homeless – living out of cars or camper vans, in transitional accommodation, sleeping on couches, house sitting. One thing that Jennie Brockie noted was that so many of the women said that they had never thought of what they would do in their old age as far as money was concerned. They didn’t have much super, they had lost everything in family breakups, they had no savings. But they all had just hoped it would all work out somehow.
I have to be honest, I have no plan for my old age. And even as mum turned to me and thanked me for being willing to share a home together (as if I would do anything else!) the thought, “yeah but I don’t have any kids…who am I going to live with?” arrowed into my brain. “I’ll just have to die,” I said morbidly. “I don’t have a plan either.” It’s all very well to say all I have to do is just keep paying the mortgage but what if I get so sick that I can’t work? What if I have an accident? What if…what if…?
Mum helpfully talked me back off that stupid ledge. It’s a false fear anyway. Because no matter how well you plan, you can’t see beyond tomorrow. You can’t even see beyond the next five minutes, really. One of the women on the show had had a six-figure salary and still ended up homeless. One had been a workaholic for forty years and still ended up with nothing.
You can be like the Rich Fool in Luke 12 and have planned and saved and stored everything up but you may not even make it to retirement. And then what?
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
So, that is what my plan is, what I need to keep coming back to. Not some spreadsheet or constant fear of failure as I try to scrape together grain to keep me going for many years. But being rich towards God. Investing in my spiritual life, now and in the future. Trusting him for my daily bread. This is the voice I need to listen to, not the worldly voice that tells me I don’t have enough…I won’t have enough…what will happen…aaaaaarg!
(Note: I’m not saying that being imprudent or reckless with money is the way to go. I just mean there is no point in trusting in money or possessions.)
Isn’t this what my gratitude practice is all about? Remembering how much abundance I have now. Being grateful for what’s in front of me (which is SO much). Not thinking about the lack, not thinking about decades into the future. Being here, now, seeing what God has given me and how he is shaping me and being thankful.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)