This will be my last Simplify 7 blog post. This journey that I started ten months ago has reached an end. To those who have journeyed with me, whether you have just quietly read the posts and put up with my ramblings, or whether you have been one of those who has encouraged and inspired me, I thank you all for your support. It means more to me than you would imagine.
This final ‘month’ has been about fasting from stress – and, as my previous posts have said, it has been by far the hardest. And yet, while it is not practical (or desirable) to continue most of my other fasts for a prolonged period and make them part of ‘normal’ life, this last one is the one that will probably impact most on my life.
I guess I will lose the alarms reminding me to pray seven times a day. The Night Watch will probably not be an ongoing habit (I think I’m over the whole monastic lifestyle!) but I have definitely felt the benefit of pausing several times a day; of refocusing; of using the language of various liturgies to place my life firmly back in God’s hands; to remind myself that, even when I am praying alone, I’m part of something much bigger – a vast community of believers, all of them as imperfect as me, all of them on the same journey.
And so, it isn’t finished.
I’m still not sure what God wants from me next. But I’ve learned a lot from Simplify 7. I’ve learned that he wants to take me out of my comfort zone. And that no matter how scary it might be, if it’s what he wants me to do then he will give me the strength, courage and whatever else I need to do it. My role is mainly to say yes, to be obedient, to let the Holy Spirit lead.
It’s such a personal thing. The comfort zone, that is. The things that have terrified me are things that others take in their stride. And I know there are many things that I do without a second thought which would fill others with horror. There’s no point judging ourselves against the standard set by anyone else – except Jesus.
I feel that I’ve learned so much. I’ve read more widely than I have in a long time. It’s been quite incredible really how the right things have come along at the right times: to encourage, inspire, enlighten…I’ve written before about ‘God-incidences’ and they’ve been liberally sprinkled throughout Simplify 7. It’s given me an enthusiasm to read more, to think, to continue to learn.
So, on Easter Day 2017, as I say goodbye to Simplify 7, I’m not finished – I’m ready to embrace this resurrection life, still with fear and trepidation at times (because I am very far from perfect) but with an increased sense of trust and purpose.
I hope you don’t mind (and, if she ever happens to read this blog, I hope she doesn’t either!) but I’m going to leave you with some words from Jen Hatmaker. They come from a Facebook post back in August 2016; they reached me when I was in a hotel room in Austin, Texas, but they have stayed with me as a source of inspiration ever since:
Sisters, just in case there are others of you out there like me that have A LOT OF COMPETING VOICES telling you what to do (also: how to be, how to talk, what to say, what not to say, who to jump in with, who to distance from, what to care about, how to care about it)…
And just in case those voices (even the ones inside your very own brain) are constantly pointing to other people as your standard: be more like her, less like her, talk like they do, adopt their language, make her kinds of choices, build something more like their thing, secure their approval…
Here is your friendly reminder that God did not ask you to be like anyone but Jesus. And even then, he asked you to be YOUR VERY OWN SELF while acting like Jesus. You are you. No one needs another her or them. You run the race God set in front of you with courage and commitment, and well, that’s the end.
You are not in charge of outcomes, opinions, success, or approval. These do not belong to you. Are you taking good care of what God gave you to steward? Are you using your amazing gifts and loving people well? That is all you need to worry about. If it doesn’t look like that person or that group or that space or their preferences, that is not your concern. You show up and be obedient and be good and be love.