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Reform Magazine | December 15, 2017

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Commitment-Phobe: Advent challenge, day 8 and 9 II

Commitment-Phobe: Advent challenge, day 8 and 9 II

Day 8

When two thirds of your household become ill and you have no choice but to take on the role of Florence Nightingale there is very little time to think carefully about advent challenges or cooking. I woke up on Tuesday morning, saw my email from the Bible Society and fully expected to do one of the challenges that afternoon or at least by the evening. Instead I found myself ministering to both my loved ones, and then once they were both asleep, hopping on a bus to pick up some antibiotics.

Despite all this, I was determined to do a challenge. The theme was food. Apparently, we throw away 7m tonnes of food every year in the UK.

The challenge options were to:

  • Provide food to a local Foodbank
  • Invite someone around for a meal
  • Text ‘Hamper” to 70500 to donate £5 and help give a food hamper and Bible stories to a UK family living in poverty this Christmas

Well, embarrassingly I still didn’t know where my local Foodbank was! I have donated via a yearly collection at my local Tesco but I hadn’t investigated how to help out directly. I looked up Foodbank and the name of my borough on the internet, and I now have all the information that I need to get on with doing something in the next year; especially in those early winter months when people forget about generosity. What I would really like to do is create a solidarity fridge, like this one in a town in Spain.  Although a load of tinned foods can help a family no end, when your hands are full with work and worry the last thing you want to do is cook; popping into someone else’s fridge, picking up some of their left over casserole, could be a nice change!  Would this work in the UK?

In the end, due to time constraints, I opted for option number three. An easy one to do at 10 o’clock at night!  Having sent my text, this commitment-phobe started to question the Bible stories part. It’s not that I don’t think the New Testament isn’t inspirational (I’m not that rubbish a Christian!) but, in a decision between space in a box for food and space in a box for stories, my knee jerk reaction is make sure the stories don’t take priority over food! Which is odd, because my whole life revolves around stories, I live and breathe them, I need to tell them, I need to hear them. Without them I struggle to understand existence. I need soul food and so does everyone else. I believe the Bible can give that and yet I still fight it. Where does this dangerous feeling that dreams, faith and ideas are less important than survival come from? Surviving is not living, as Jesus said: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever”. Or if you aren’t so into your Son of Man stories, check out this Youtube video of Clowns Without Borders. They are a non-profit organisation that has been helping people suffering in conflict zones, refugee camps and situations of adversity since 1993. A laugh, a feeling of being loved, these things can help you not just to survive but also to thrive in the worst situations.

Day 9

Today was another day of not getting much done, other than keeping the family spirits up and realising that depite all mental efforts not to do so, I have once again left it until the last minute to get presents for friends and family. Today’s challenges were all about reconnecting with friends and family with whom you may have become distant. I didn’t take the challenge, I just didn’t have the energy. I decided to postpone the long chat with a friend I don’t see often until the next day, when I knew I would be seeing one of those friends in person.

The idea of getting in touch with an old school friend intrigued me. I have many friends from  my secondary school on Facebook. But due to not having regular meet-ups with them since leaving, I quite often forget what I know about them or they know about me. It is the repeating sharing of memories that re-inforces that memory of connection. When I do bump into them, it feels more like meeting a familiar stranger, partly because I no longer recognise the person I was when I knew them. I have more of a connection and deep friendship with some of my old university friends. But, recently I bumped into one of my old school friends and was surprised to find that, after the initial readjustment of having to remember a time that now feels so far away it could be imaginary, it was a real comfort to connect with someone from my past. We agreed to meet up over the holidays in a local cafe, as the brief chat we had was not only pleasant but not long enough!

So I look forward to that, and I pledge to God and me the following:

In January I will connect with someone from my past once a week for every week of January, and I will share a meal with new or old friends every weekend, unless the flu gets in the way! I’ll call my challenge #JanuaryRe-joining?  #January-something… anyway, I’m going to do it; if you have any ideas for names do let me know.

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