Our car was recently stolen. We were driving to a wedding and running super late, so when we finally found a place to park we locked the car, paid for parking and just legged it to the ceremony (which we ended up missing). When James went back to the car park to drive over to the reception, there was just an empty parking space and a load of smashed glass. The car we loved that we’d only purchased six months ago – gone. Our overnight bags filled with £800 of stuff – including my favourite Star Wars t-shirt – gone. James’ wedding ring that had fallen off while he was driving – gone. We were in complete disbelief, absolutely gutted, and yet weirdly one of my first thoughts was: I wonder how I’ll turn this into a Liberti blog…
I immediately started looking around the corners of my mind for an angle, something to take away from the experience that I could turn into 700-ish words of wisdom. When the guy was caught on CCTV driving the car, and again later using my bank cards (yes, my purse was in there too) I thought: Maybe the car will be found, the guy will be caught and this will be a story about justice. Four weeks later, and we’re pretty sure the perpetrator is long gone by now.
So then I thought: maybe this will teach me that we’re too reliant on stuff and money and technology, and we don’t really need all the things we think we do. But not having a car has been a bit of a nightmare, and we’ve shelled out a lot of money replacing the stuff that was in the car because it was stuff we actually needed and used and took a lot of joy in. And the fact that the insurance won’t pay any of the thousands of pounds we lost is really getting in the way of me appreciating the non-financial things in life.
How about: I bet lots of people will be really lovely and helpful, and maybe some kind stranger will be led by the Spirit to replace our car for us and just leave it outside our house with a bow on it* and it will redeem what has happened because people are essentially good and you can’t experience compassion without suffering. Now this one is the closest I’ve got, because lots of people have been super helpful offering lifts and money and sympathy and my friend Anna has lent us her car which has been a proper God-send. But if I’m really honest, it’s hard to bring myself round to find that silver lining about the goodness of humankind when some horrible person did this in the first place. Somebody stole something huge from us, and the consequences of that have been annoying and heart-breaking and really, really costly.
So eventually, I had to tell myself: stop trying to find the moral of the story while you’re still reading it. I’m aware that trying to find nuggets of wisdom to write about is literally the bulk my job, so I may be preaching to a congregation of one here, but I wonder if you do this too? I wonder whether as Christians, or just humans wanting to find the positives in life, we can be too quick to try and find the take-away before we’ve really had the full experience. I wonder if we know we’re meant to forgive, we’re meant to find the good, we’re meant to trust in something bigger than ourselves, so we tell ourselves that’s what we’ll do before our emotions have really caught up.
And maybe that’s why it can be so jarring when other people try to say helpful things in the middle of a rubbish situation. On your best day you might appreciate when someone comes out with, “Everything happens for a reason” or tells you about their situation that looked bleak but all worked out fine (#PTL), but when you’re in the thick of misery and grief you’re probably not in a place to hear that. Right now, you just need to be sad. Right now, you need to process some negative thoughts about humankind and the state of the world. That’s OK. That’s good, even. That’s how you get through the long dark night of the soul and genuinely come to a place of acceptance.
It’s like We’re going on a bear hunt: you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go round it, you have to go through it. You can’t have a long dark night of the soul and decide you know where it’s going by about 9pm. You can’t read the last page of a story to get the moral at the end – if you haven’t read the whole book, the ending will lose all its impact. Even if you think yourself a super wise and emotionally-aware person with all the answers (guilty) you have to go through the process if you ever hope to truly believe what you’re preaching.
I’m so sick of feeling sad and let down. I’m sick of looking for cars, replacing my stuff, of each little extra thing that comes up and continues the faff and mental load of this rubbish situation. But that’s where I am. That’s what’s happening right now, and it’s the moment I have to live in. I’m not going to stop looking for good things or trying to be grateful for what I have, but I am trying to accept whatever it is I’m feeling. I am trying to work through the process rather than skipping ahead to the end. Because this situation isn’t forever – situations rarely are – and perhaps when it’s all done I’ll be able to look back and discover what lessons I’ve learnt along the way.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti
*Just FYI, it was a Honda Civic SI, and we’d like it in black please 😉