I’ve been realising this week that the last few months have knocked me off centre. The situation I wrote about last time at church hasn’t changed. My head does feel clearer now and I have a plan of action, but it has been a confusing and unsettling few weeks. In truth I have lost some of my sense of belonging, with the realisation that I may never fit the mould that’s expected of me. The question has become whether or not I’m okay with that. I can’t say I’ve got an answer to that question yet.
It’s also been three months of constant change at work. My team now is completely different to my team before, with only one other original team member. I had got used to my team being a place where I felt I belonged. We knew each other well and understood how we worked together. We had weathered good days and the bad days. It was the place where I first learnt how to do my job, and measured what it looked like to do it to the best of my ability. I knew where I fit and I could trust that there were people who would be there for me in the difficult times.
And now I’m starting over again. I’ve joined another team, with an existing dynamic, and I start as the outsider. I am sure this team will be different and wonderful in it’s own way. But for now I don’t really know my place in it.
Add to these two situations the daily grind of constant exhaustion and perhaps it’s starting to become clear why I’m feeling unsettled. I feel like I have lost some of my sense of direction. It’s as though my internal compass has been knocked off course, I have to find North again.
We can all find our sense of direction in a host of different things. For some of us we will find North in the family or friends that surrounds us, we find who we are in our identity as a mother or father, a spouse or a friend. For others it’s found in a job that we excel in, that gives us purpose and gets us out of bed in the morning. Sometimes we point North towards security and material gain, we strive for that house deposit or car, thinking that then we will have reached our destination. Or maybe we find our direction in belonging to a church, we find who we are in being a leader or volunteer, being part of a family reaching out together.
None of these things are bad in themselves. Yet problems arise when we try and set our internal compasses to them, when we use them as the lens through which we view our successes or failures. We will navigate through life, taking our bearings from these things. We become lost when they are taken away.
And as my sense of belonging has been stripped away, as the things I have found direction in have fallen apart, I wonder whether I am exactly where I’m supposed to be. Here, in this uncertainty and insecurity, I have a chance to reset my compass. This time I can find true North.
There is only one way our lives should be pointing and that is towards the God who gave us life. He is the only one who can see the map of our lives. He is the only one who can truly direct us. Following Him will not guarantee a smooth road, it will be the adventure of a lifetime, one with mountain tops and deep dark valleys. He does not promise us an easy journey, but He will never take us down paths that He wouldn’t walk with us.
It is worth remembering that we are not actually meant to belong in this world. We are not meant for lives of security and safety. We belong in a Kingdom far wilder and more magnificent than anything we have yet to see. There will be days when life on this Earth feels uncomfortable and uncertain, when we don’t know how to find ourselves in the circumstances that surround us. We will stay lost until we discover that it is only in God that we can truly find ourselves. Even when all earthly things are stripped away, we are still His children who He loves and Has called to do His work.
So whilst my mind may be unsettled and my body exhausted, my spirit is not. I have a God who knows exactly where I’m heading and He will lead me. In Him I truly find North.