In praise of anchors

This week life has become small and quiet again.  I’m loving the rhythms of home.  And yet my mind races away to big questions.

There are decisions to be taken about the future which feel difficult. And as I think ahead I realise how bound I feel by other people’s expectations (my mother would be astounded to learn this as in her mind I have abandoned all of hers); and also by my own. How tightly should I keep hold of the things I dreamt and imagined for myself? Is that tenacity or closed-mindedness? I get lost trying to figure out which version of the future I am trying to walk towards, and if it matters.

I spoke to a friend this week, a wise and influential mentor, who by many standards has an impressive list of achievements under his belt. I asked him how he lives with so many pressures and expectations and navigates a way through. I was surprised by his answer.  He said he really doesn’t live under the weight of anyone’s expectations, and doesn’t have any kind of master plan or grand ambitions for the future.  He has two children with a disability and he loves how they have taught him to live in the present.   He has angled his heart towards an experience of life in which he knows he is loved by God.  Before anything. And then, I guess, there’s less left to prove to anyone else.

It’s a hard thing to hold onto. That knowing that you’re loved and you belong to God. I crowd it out regularly, and yet when I reach for it, it is a failsafe anchor.

I remembered how I’d been inspired last year on holiday by these words from Henri Nouwen:

If I believe that the first commandment is to love God with my whole heart, mind and soul, then I should at least be able to spend one hour a day with nobody else but God.  The question as to whether it is helpful, useful, practical or fruitful is completely irrelevant since the only reason to love is love itself.  Everything else is secondary.

The timing question doesn’t seem as important as the priority one.

I learnt very early on in marriage that my husband doesn’t love being landed only with the dregs of my time and energy after I’ve spent most of it elsewhere.

And yet. That’s what I do to God.  And the version of life where I run around keeping other people happy and trying to prove myself leaves me joyless and spent.

I need anchoring. In a (corner of the) world where I am spoilt with choices and opportunities, but where the needs and injustices are relentless and overwhelming, I need to be rooted in something bigger and deeper and stronger.

What anchors you?