From one degree of glory to the next..
My Writing blog: finsheridanwriting.tumblr.com
There were 5 of them. The old woman, sagely hunched in her wheelchair. Her daughter, looking tired but in a more permanent way. The mother, coiled in protective instinct and yet willing to share. The drug addict, sprawled across the floor like a can of paint that spilt open on the ground. And the baby. A boy. Smiling, gurgling, chubby hands outstretched, cheeks perfectly rounded, one green sock in his grasp, the other hanging off his foot.
It was calming, watching them there. Moments ago, the room had been filled with chaos, tears flowing, phones ringing, accusations flying, doors swinging.
And now quiet. Not silent, not fully. But an almost cathedral hush.
The drug addict, tears still drying on her face, was mesmerised by the child, indeed they all were. The old woman, watching with interest, her expression unreadable through the lines. The daughter, grateful for a moments distraction, an unscheduled respite. The mother, silently understanding, perhaps marvelling once again at the affect a newborn can have on the tribe.
There was a sort of holiness about the room, about this accidental nativity. The sort of holiness you feel when normally unemotional people cry or when something brave happens. The kind of moment that makes you wish you could have mended that damaged friendship a little quicker. For a moment, it seemed like everything else had paused, that the door to the room no longer worked and that there was nothing more to do.
Anonymous said: How was your most recent trip to America?
It was the best. Different to my last trip but oh my, I cannot tell you how much I love South Carolina and my NewSpring family.
Anonymous said: What convinces you of God, his existence, his word, his necessity in life. I just feel like I'm living a lie pretending to follow it and it's not needed.
Wow anon. Thanks for your honesty. I’ve been there and it can be pretty confusing, particularly if, at one point you didn’t pretend or if you grew up in a Christian environment and it’s all you know.
My answer, I’m afraid, won’t be enough to convince you to believe but I certainly will tell you why I do. It’s because of my experience. There is no definitive scientific proof for God nor can I argue why it is true (at least, not convincingly). The reason I believe that He exists, why He is necessary and why I believe that He is who He says He is, is because I have experiences and moments that have completely persuaded me.
I can’t explain this well or adequately in words, but I’ll try. When things have been really bad, I have found that asking Jesus to be real to me, to help me, to comfort me, to speak to me through his word and his people has resulted in just that: comfort and help. The good points in my life have been better then I could’ve made for myself: they’re gifts from a God who I’ve found can be trusted completely: even with my doubts.
Jesus has become (key word: become - it was a journey) more real to me than anything else and it primarily is because I asked Him to be. I got desperate. If this whole thing was real - and I thought it might be, hoped that it was - then I was going to find out. I prayed. Not fancy, elequont prayers. Desperate, “God if you are real then I need to know you”, honest prayers. And I read the Bible. I read about Jesus. I genuinely looked for Him. And He found me, in my search for Him.
When it comes down to the not needed part, I didn’t struggle with that so much, dear anon. I’ve always been acutely aware of my failings, my inadequacy. I just covered them up. I always knew I needed God.
This is a complex issue anon, one I haven’t answered well here. If we know each other in real life, let’s maybe hang out? @finsheridan is my twitter or text me…
I’m praying for you right now. I know it is a lonely place and a confusing place you’re in. If you’re in a church, asking someone you can trust about this could be helpful. Christians doubt, that’s the truth. We just don’t like admitting it. Asking someone to help you walk through this would be a great next step.
South Carolina: for the anon.
So anon, this one’s for you. I have about 20 other things I should be writing but consider this my ‘stretching’ before I work: a linguistic limbering up, if you will.
Why do I love South Carolina?
Well, my love is America. Since I was about 14, I’ve wanted to live in the United States. The other day, I was chatting about films that I was allowed to watch when growing up and, of the 5 I was allowed, Free Willy and Homeward Bound were two of my favourites. I think their depiction of 90’s America, both rural and city areas, must’ve created/stirred a romantic dream of living in America that has only grown and grown. I love the country. I love the people; their confidence, their oddities, the frequently encountered blissful unawareness of what life is like beyond their golden shores. I love the ridiculous excess, the optimistic look on life (It’s a balm for my British cynicism..) and the feeling that anything is possible.
And my experience of America has only been the Carolinas. In 2009, I went to North and South Carolina. I fell in love. Last year I went back and every day, I grew surer and surer that I was home. I love the Southern accent. I love country music. I don’t love sweet tea but I love how much people love it. I love college football. I love how badly most guys dress. I love how pretty the girls are. I love the sun. I love Ford 150’s. I love the diversity. I love the South and her Southernness.
You can zoom in even more: I loved MY experience of SC. I loved the people I met. I loved their love for life, their love for America and their love for each other. I loved their love for Jesus and I loved him more because of it. I loved NewSpring Church. I loved how polite everyone was. I loved how willing to share their lives. I loved that I was loved with no conditions. I loved the generosity of almost everyone I met; the open hand, the welcoming smile, the Chick-Fil-A-ness of an entire state. I loved Clemson. I loved College Football season. I loved being at a wedding where I didn’t know the bride or groom. I loved the availability of coffee. I loved Thanksgiving.
Dearest anon (and I think I know who you are), something happened in my heart when I walked out of Greenville Airport. I felt real peace, peace that had alluded me for several years. I felt like I’d come back to the place that I was made for. It was a deep familiarity for streets I’d never driven down, an affection for people I’d never met, a homecoming to a home not yet made. Being in South Carolina, living there and building a life there seemed like the most natural thing in the world to me: I was full of wonder and excitement; oh the giddiness! My heart! and yet like I had seen it all before. It felt brand new and known at the same time. I felt comfortable and yet I felt the rush of being in love at the most unexpected times. Sat in a truck or grabbing drive thru. Chatting with a new friend or alone on the porch with my morning coffee.
Riggins and Smash and Saracen can keep their Texas; for me, it’s Carolina Forever.
Anonymous said: You should write something about South Carolina and why you love it so much!
For you anon, I will.
CAN I GO BACK TO AMERICA ALREADY?!