There’s been a fly buzzing around a windowpane in my room.
It expended much energy and effort in relentlessly flying in circles, until my guiding hand re-routed it to the adjacent open window – and freedom.
Truth is, I’m sometimes a bit like that fly. Aren’t we all in one way or another?
When we feel trapped by circumstances or become entrenched by negative thought patterns, we can end up in ever decreasing circles. But if we took a moment to pause and consider possibilities, we might discover alternatives or recognise the need for radical acceptance.
Mindfulness and radical acceptance are concepts I learnt from Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. Although Reinhold Niebuhr penned these words before the inception of DBT, they epitomise ‘radical acceptance’:
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
We all have a choice as to how we respond to life’s ups and downs.
The ‘trapped’ fly reminds me to use my energy wisely, and focus on the possible rather than the impossible. If we are to ‘know the difference’, we need to be mindful and notice what is really going on. It means being honest with ourselves, and spotting all the hidden agendas we carry. Yet how often are we ‘mind-full’ and distracted by our own self-centred priorities, assumptions, fears and anxieties.
I believe that God offers us all freedom in Christ. Like my hand gently guided the fly towards the open window and freedom, so too does God encourage us to move from darkness to light.
We are easily deceived by what promises to fill our emptiness. We can be addicted to so many things – obvious vices like food, alcohol, drugs, selfies or pornography, but there are less obvious addictions too, like an unquenchable thirst for acceptance, approval, affirmation and affection. At one level, many of these urges are basic human needs, but they need to be met in a balanced way.
For over three decades, a prayer from the Iona Community has been shaping my faith:
God, you promised us nothing by way of success, recognition, possessions, or reward. ‘These things will come at the right time, when you walk with me’, you said.
Truth is… The truth shall set you free. John 8:28