Friday, 03 December 2021

Do the floorboards of your life need some repair work?

HAVE you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and asked yourself the point of it all?

Chances are that you have — usually at a time when you feel that there isn’t really much point and you are wondering what life is all about.

Before we moved into our last vicarage, up in Cumbria, the church authorities discovered that in several rooms the floors were unsafe. You could “bounce” on the floorboards and there was a chance that you would go through.

The supporting walls underneath had simply eroded or collapsed over the years. Workmen needed to lift the floors and rebuild the brickwork before any further work could be done in those rooms.

This is a very good picture of how we live our lives. Most of us, most of the time, live on the surface of things. We are happy not to worry too much about the foundations, those assumptions we make about life and ourselves, which hold us all together.

These are, if you like, the supporting walls underneath our floorboards.

We have made these assumptions often from a very early age, for example, “People are really good at heart”, “God doesn’t exist”, “I won’t trust anyone I don’t know” and “The point of life is to be happy.” And so on.

Then we build our lives upon these foundations. Only when things don’t work out, or sometimes even when they do, do we ever ask about these deep decisions we have made.

They are often issues which are not easy to talk about, like death, or meaning, or prayer.

And we are shocked at the suddenness and pain when a friend or neighbour, or colleague simply crashes through their own floor, walking out on a spouse and children, taking their own life, having a nervous breakdown or slumping into drug abuse or alcoholism.

We see in an instant that, for them, there was nothing underneath anymore.

Life had become too full of clutter and burdens and what lay beneath had crumbled away, forgotten, unseen. Until it was too late.

We can all too easily accept the shabby second best of the comfortably familiar and shy away from the inconvenience and potential discomfort of personal improvement.

Old problems and resentments can get buried too in the concrete of our habits and rituals and sometimes need the hammer and chisel of a well-intentioned challenge to reveal the truth.

Covid, with all its difficulties, has nevertheless given many of us an opportunity to clear away some of the accretions that previously filled our lives and take a long look at the things that are important to us.

What keeps you going when things get tough? What really matters to you?

Is it time you lifted the carpet and floorboards on a few of your well-worn assumptions?

Are you still hoping that your speed of movement will carry you over the frail support offered by rather flimsy ideas from your childhood or teenage years?

The church is a wonderfully safe space to continue to work at one’s own beliefs and ideas in the context of a shared journey. It is a workshop for the soul, with tools to suit all ages and stages.

For my understanding of Christian fellowship is not so much a rigid “you’re in, and you’re out” club, but of a group of seekers after God’s truth, all of whom have discovered that they each, in their own way, have floors that need a bit of work.

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