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Sitting in the front.


En route to school, my teenage daughter dithered in the back of the car about which pair of sweatpants to wear for mufty day. While she stayed in the back, she still had the opportunity to change them.

"Why don't you come up and join me in the front, darling?" I enquired.

"Because if I come up front I have to commit to these pants."

Was there ever a sentence in the human language to more perfectly sum up the angst of a teenage girl? We cried with laughter.

It made me think how often I'm tempted to lurk in the back. I feel I can hide and watch everyone else from back there. I can watch what they're doing.

"Ohh I wish I was more like them..."

"I wish my life was like that..."

"I can't do [...]..."

Rosy spectacles are permanently worn in the back, have you noticed that? I can choose to see only what I want to see. Awards shows? Perfect lives. Success? Easy stories. Courage? Extraordinary strength. I know this is hugely unlikely, but I can indulge in miserable comparison at will.

If I sit in the back at church, the same thing happens. I can't concentrate, I just start observing everyone else.

Why do I do it? Because, for a moment or so, it staves off the necessity of committing to my own life. Of grappling with what actually is. It's a sort of lazy daydream where I put myself in "pause" mode. As if by staying in the back and watching I can fool myself that I'm not wasting time. Or that by swiping through the lives of others, I am not simply distracting myself from the responsibilities and opportunities of my own.

I am behaving as if life is not short. That my time is not now. When it is.

Everyday God invites me as I invited my daughter:

"Hey Josie! Why don't you come up and join me in the front?"

When I sit in the front of my life, I can only see the view God has placed in front of me. Up close and personal.

And I've always got something

To take hold of

To do

To give back

To aspire to

"So what are you thinking?!" I will remind myself. "You don't have time to sit around and assess everyone else for a living! Time is too precious and life is too short!"

Sitting in the front with the Lord beside me, I can take off my rosy spectacles to see things as they actually are. And I see again how amazing it all is.

How fleeting.

How extraordinary.

That I should have been given this life of my own.

jsg/january 2019

©2020 BY IN A MANNER OF SPEAKING