Hole: 1. A hollow place in a solid body or surface. 2. An opening, aperture, gap, space, orifice, slot, vent, outlet, chink, breach, break, crack, rift, puncture, perforation, cut, incision, crevice, fissure. 3. A place or position that must be filled because someone or something is no longer there.
Isn’t it funny what a year will bring? I often sit back and enjoy playing the “this-time-last-year” game – of thinking about how things look “one year on”…
This time last year I was celebrating with our eldest son as he graduated from high school and was accepted into university. This time last year I was counting down the days until our daughter returned home from being an exchange student in the United States. This time last year I rejoiced as another son was announced as the Middle School Captain of his school. And I also celebrated the final year of Primary School for our youngest son and anticipated what the new year in a new school would bring.
This time last year I had just been offered a new position in the Intensive Care Unit and this would mean returning to part time study whilst I worked. Tim was wrapping up his first year as School Chaplain and looking forward to a well-earned break over the Summer holidays. This time last year I was beginning to dream again and I had high hopes and expectations for what the next year was going to bring not just for me, but for our family. This time last year I was nurturing old friendships and creating new ones. And this time last year I was also trying to work out where I “fit” in the church.
Here I am one year on and I can finally start to relax. It has been a big year with lots of challenges. Lots of highs and lows. My (high) hopes and (high) expectations have not always been met, but I can proudly and confidently stand tall and say I’ve made it through this crazy-busy year. Still standing.
Due to my crazy-busy schedule, I haven’t blogged as much recently as I would have enjoyed. I have tried (not always successfully) to juggle and balance all my commitments so as I sat down to write today, I felt as though I wanted to share the place I’ve been in during this past year and take a little look at where I am now, one year on.
We have recently got a new puppy. And who knew that gardens and puppies aren’t a very good mix?! (I hope my landlord isn’t reading this blog post – we will fix the garden when we leave I promise!) Little Miss “Molly”, our 5 month old Border Collie puppy likes to dig. I like to tell myself she’s just helping me keep the soil turned over and she’s really just helping me pull up weeds because she knows how much I dislike gardening. But I guess that’s not the truth. Because she digs holes. Deep holes. In the middle of the grass! Like seriously, is she trying to dig her way to China?! Left home alone with all the tennis balls lost and all the special treats eaten, Molly doesn’t know what else to do. So she digs.
As I was surveying the holes in the back yard I got thinking about how I have spent much of this past year digging deep holes myself. Not because I have been trying to dig my way to China and not because I have been left alone with nothing to play with and all the special treats have been eaten. Not because of anxiety or depression. Certainly not due to boredom! Perhaps I’ve done it for protection or to hide. Or perhaps a little bit of both.
Last year I moved house. I changed jobs. One child finished High School just as another one was on the cusp of beginning. I changed “seasons”. Life was busy. Friendships died. Even friends died. I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I mourned, I rejoiced, I celebrated, I grieved. And each time, even without thinking about what I was doing, I dug a new hole.
Time and again this past year I feel like I’ve been uprooted, transplanted and re-planted. I know my roots have needed time to be re-established but I simply didn’t have the time to stop and do what needed to be done in the garden of my heart. So I just kept digging more holes. Making new openings, breaking new ground, forming new outlets. Creating new spaces that needed to be filled.
Rather than filling up those holes with good things (God, family, friends, church community, exercise, rest), I just left the hole I’d dug right there in the dirt and walked away. And dug a new hole.
At times this past year I have felt lost and alone and I have found myself trying to fit into each new hole that I had dug. The “new house” hole. The “new job” hole. The “new church” hole. The “new friendships” hole. The “new season of life” hole. I just didn’t fit into any of them.
I read a story this week and it got me thinking about the holes I’ve dug for myself this year and it makes me grateful for the amazing people in my life who have understood this year of digging holes and are now helping me find my way out.
“This guy is walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The sides are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a Pastor comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Pastor, I’m down in this hole. Can you help me out?’ The Pastor calls out a prayer, and “throws” it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by and the guy calls out ‘Hey friend, it’s me…can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. But the guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here. And the friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.'”
Christians talk about the “God-shaped” hole in a person’s heart. This is a hole that cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator. As I reflect on the holes in my heart I am reminded of the words of St Augustine, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
It’s now time for me to stop digging new holes and allow God to fill in all the empty places I’ve made this past year as I find my rest in Him.
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