In the early days of this blog, I used to write a ‘Saturday Jess’ piece to strike a lighter note. I want to bring that back, but the more I pondered, the less light it seemed my thoughts were. I will go with the thoughts all the same and see where we get.
My father liked Leonard Cohen. Some of the lyrics stuck in my brain, one of which comes to me with increasing frequency. It’s from a song called “Famous blue raincoat”, and the lines are ‘I hear you’re living for nothing now, hope you are keeping some kind of record.’ I am not keeping a record, but there are times when the first part of the sentence occurs to me as a description of what I do.
From being a woman who defined herself by what she did, I am a woman who if she chose that definition would really be living for nothing. Long before the pandemic pushed many into enforced leisure, my own inability to cope with the pressures I put on myself had done that to me; or, I had done it to myself. Either way, ‘Othello’s occupation’ was gone.
The temptation was to transfer my measure of who I was to my marriage. At the risk of scandalising someone or other, I like being a housewife if that means staying at home and ordering my day by meal-times and what I want to do in between them: I like cooking; so I cook. I like making clothes; so I make clothes; and I really, really like cleaning; so I clean. But that’s not who I am, it’s what I like to do.
The other temptation was to define myself in relation to my other half. I have always like those who have an ‘Alpha’ character. I have found I fit in comfortably as a helper to those with ambition, charisma and drive; I like to help, they like me to help; it works. I could have done that in my marriage, but one failed marriage showed me, if it showed me anything, the danger of that. What do you do when they find a woman younger, prettier, sexier, more accomodating? It’s not a good idea to define yourself in terms of someone else, even if you love them to bits and they’re the most loving and wonderful person you ever met. It’s not fair to them, apart from anything else.
As I approach forty, quite fast now, I know that one of my dreams, being a mother, isn’t going to happen and I have accepted that. In this context, that means that I won’t be able to define myself in relation to another. Maybe I don’t need to define myself? What if I am already defined?
We tend to treat life as something we are given and in which we have to use whatever gifts we have to do the best we can. We all define ‘best’ in our own ways, but the urge to identify by what we achieve comes, I think, thence. Then it occurred to me (I know, I should just dye my hair blonde and be done with it) that life is a given thing, lent to us by God. That makes sense of all the parables about stewardship. God has already defined me, he knows me and if I follow him then perhaps I will get to know myself better?
I have found that regularly praying the Offices of the Church has changed my idea about why I pray. I always thought it was to thank God for all his blessings and to ask him for things. The more I do it, the more I realise that it is about providing a space where God and I can be together and I can learn more about what he wants from me. By being with him in the quietness and regularity of the prayer cycle, I begin to see who I am, not as others see me, but as he sees me. And I see, also, what it meanbs to say we are all children of God.
The sheer wonder of what God has done for us through Jesus sometimes overwhelms me. At those moments all I can do is stop and hear the beating of the blood in my ears. I don’t think I need to define myself, I am defined – by him.
So the love I have in my marriage, and the joy I have in my friendships, the quiet pleasures of the ‘common round and the daily task’ are all gifts from him and to him. It works for me – how about you?
A welcome return of that gorgeous cook! and one of my favorite series.
I’m a fair example of one who defines who he is by what he does, and I have little trouble with it, but it also makes a problem when one retires and looks around and says, “Now what?” Too many sit down and wait to die. I know how they feel, it has much to do with why I blog.
And yet, I was always much more than an electrician and lineman. It was always, in a sense, about helping people, really. To live a better, safer life, through electricity. “Better living through electricity” was a slogan for a manufacturer or trade group when I was young and as ‘Josie Housewife’ who wrote the article will attest, a housewife life is easier these days, so is everybody else’s, leading us to tell jokes (unfunny ones, mostly) about ‘first world problems’.
But a life well lived is measured by those who remember us, I think. Those we teach, those we lead, and our friends. And in that, my life has been amazingly rich, and the fellowship of this (and my own) blog is one of the signal reasons why.
So, as I welcome Saturday Jess back, my mind turns back to the times that I have nearly lost my dearest friend, and thank God that He gave me the perseverance to be a proper friend to my friends. That is indeed the measure of my life.
Thank you, dearest friend. 🙂 xxx
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You have been a true friend, and I am ever thankful to have you in my life 🙂💋
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As you have been to me, and not the least of the reasons I return those thanks ❤
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Day by day and hour by hour, I look to myself to see how I’m doing; I examine what I am called to be against what I really am. I don’t work at it, it just happens. I once wrote that I wished that somewhere in the Bible it said “Jesus laughed”. I’ve gotten over that. I know He laughs because sometimes we have a rollicking good time when discussing my foibles and failings. I never have to explain anything to Him because He knew me before I was in my mother’s womb but I do share with Him (as if I needed to) when I see I’ve messed up. He shakes His head and we laugh and sometimes the Holy Spirit will “slap me upside my head” – always in love – when I’ve been even too dumb for me!
I think our relationship with God defines our earthly relationships. We’re more accepting, less critical, more loving, less self-involved. It’s a re-affirmation of C. S. Lewis’s comment: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
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Thank you, Audre, I really appreciate that 😊 xx
I am glad you are in a good relationship now, one of mutual respect and support. I do not know if the LORD intends that I should find someone or not.
Better to wait and find the right one than to get it wrong as I did the first time 😊🙏
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