2 April 2016

Getting back to books

When I looked back at the end of last year at how many books I’d read and realised it was only 18 for the whole of 2015, I was not best pleased (understatement.) Therefore over Christmas and New Year I resolved to do-something-about-that and set an achievable target of spending one hour at least four days a week in our designated reading chair in the bedroom. Largely to get my arse away from the sofa and from extended mindless hours in front of nothing in particular on the telly-box, which was the default evening routine most days. Also to try and re-engage more fully with written words (the evening telly-box mindlessness had spilled over into reading, courtesy of mindless social media scrolling and therefore he norm had become disengaged reading, not just online but of anything really.) A sad state of affairs.

A few days into the-great-intentional-reading of 2016 Mr I joined me so the TV now goes off in the early evening, unless there is a specific programme to watch. And reading does not have to leave the sofa. Happily by the end of March I have read nearly as many books as I did in the whole of last year.


Early on in 2016 I read three books:

Coming Clean by Seth Haines
The Listening Life by Adam McHugh
Pray, Write and Grow by Ed Cyzewski

All three books spoke loudly and clearly into the drought that I knew I was experiencing because of disengaged reading, namely that I needed to pay attention more closely to what I read (whatever the book or genre.)

Coming Clean was the book I finished just prior to the start of Lent and this also encouraged me to enter into intentional forgiveness during the Lent period. Sitting for a while each day as often as possible with God in front of a list of people who enter my head space for all the wrong reasons, where scenarios play out over and again, or heckles rise and stay that way for longer than is healthy.

I was encouraged after a few days of sitting and praying with the list, that head space residence started to subside in some situations. There are after all some people you have to interact with like it or not. Therefore practising forgiveness as a regular thing, rather than waiting for an offence to occur took some of the wind out of stewing on situations or time spent working through them.

Naturally being the flawed human that I am, meant that once I was on a roll with the forgiveness thing, I found reasons not to practice each day (yes I’ve done the work, it feels good so let’s trundle on with that for now.) 

We then we heard of a couple of deaths during the Lent period, one of which was particularly tragic and winded us both somewhat. Of course that is the very time when drawing close to God in any capacity is a good idea rather than bolting off finding things to ‘do’ to try and forget about the pain (chocolate, trash TV, trash Social Media for starters.) But on the other hand I know God hears our grief expressed as inner groans; it doesn't feel like the articulation of 'conventional' prayer, but these are often the deepest, heartfelt and most honest cries from our souls.

After this mid-Lent hiatus from the forgiveness practise I found that the persons on the list were beginning to invade my head space again and not only that, it felt like a pile on. A big, fat signal if ever there were one, that I needed to get back on track with the work of forgiveness. 

So I will be sticking with this beyond Lent, quiet before God, praying forgiveness over the list and listening to what God is saying in the quiet.

The journey goes on and I have yet to get out of the habit of mindless Social Media scrolling in the margins when I'm tired or bored. I have moved some of the people I follow on Twitter onto lists; I am interested in what they have to say and maybe dip in to the lists up to a couple of times a day, but it helps me take control over the choice to look at associated conversations, discussions, rows which are for me a MAJOR distraction and often an unhelpful trigger for 'all the feels', which in themselves can lead to depressive episodes.

I'm so thankful for the encouragement I found in the three books above and that God opened my ears to what He is saying through them.

(And of course it goes without saying that the reading goes on regardless)

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