Life with Dr Rachel
Our lives are full of responsibility – whether we are parents entrusted with the lives of our children, leaders accountable for staff or congregations, or friends looking out for the health and wellbeing of those closest to us.
Such responsibility is not unlike the task entrusted in ancient times to the watchman on the walls of the city who were charged with looking out for the first view of the approaching enemy.
In the top of my desk drawer I have a tiny set of booties and a tiny matching hat which were given to me when I lost my third child. They serve as a reminder of why I strive to create a society where every child is valued, cherished and acknowledged as irreplaceable.
William Wilberforce, had two main goals:
“God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of manners (morality)”
Wilberforce set out to inform and shape the social conscience of society in an effort he called “the reformation of manners” which meant the reformation of morality or the social conscience. This complemented his work of abolishing the slave trade. He went after reforming hearts and minds in order to ensure that social evils like slavery would become intolerable not just to legislators, but to society as a whole.
No – the title is not a typo. I deliberately wrote with regret – not without.
Too many times we are made to feel guilty about having regrets, but there are very few genuine people who have no regrets in their past. Regrets (disappointments, sorrows, distresses) - are an unavoidable part of life. We all have them. Most commonly they relate to relationships, health, finances, career and education.
There is nothing wrong with having regrets – we just should not be debilitated by them, trapped by them, or haunted by them forever. The scars we carry, both seen and unseen, tell a unique story about who we are now and about what we have overcome to get here.
Moses spent the first forty years of his life learning to be somebody. Brought up by a princess of Egypt he could have lived a charmed life until the end of his days. He was also privileged to know his Hebrew heritage – having been nursed by his real mother.
After killing an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew, he realised his charmed life was over and he ran away to the desert where he married and forged a new life for himself. He spent the next forty years of his life learning to be a nobody.
Then God called him.
I have started and stopped writing this blog a number of times over the past couple of days. Everything I was writing felt disconnected, forced and/or uninspired. So now, it is Tuesday morning – I’ve thrown out all my drafts and I’ve decided to just write from the heart.
I was asked a long time ago to write my life story but I have resisted – saying that no one would believe it if I wrote it down! I’d have to write it as fiction. But last week I started to do just that – write about my life – and it left me feeling physically drained.
I have lived (or perhaps survived is a better word), an interesting and somewhat disenchanted life.
From domestic violence to death threats – now there’s a working title worth remembering – I have experienced things I would not wish on anyone.
Calm … peace… rest…
These are not words which describe the modern world in which we live. Words like chaos, disruption and noise come more readily to mind. Keeping constantly busy and distracted by the world is a trap many of us (myself included) can fall into all too easily. Endless activity often diverts us from our own hurt, our own disillusionment and our own insecurities. In the midst of the normal and often natural commotion which surrounds us where emotions, stress, anxiety, deadlines and even our next caffeine-fix demands our attention, it is important to take time to be still.
So many people live lives filled with negativity, driven by fear, and discouraged by the bleakness of the political landscape and the decline of society in general.
I can understand this – it is so easy to fall into this way of existing. And I use the word existing deliberately – this is not living.
Ted Bundy lived a deliberate life – an ugly, evil, horror-inflicting life – but a deliberate one all the same. I recently watched the Netflix series “Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” where the voice of Ted Bundy was played over and over. It was clear that he was organised, meticulous and living his life with malicious intent. It was chilling to listen to a man who, despite murdering at least 30 women, showed no guilt until it was clear he would be executed – then he showed remorse only at the loss of his own life.
Living life deliberately has a serious impact on ourselves and on those around us – for good or for evil. Living life deliberately is about living with determination, acting out our values and having a clear direction.
I had the privilege of spending four years in state parliament defending the vulnerable – standing up for the lives of preborn babies, the lives of children being exploited and abused, the lives of people with disability who remain vulnerable throughout their life stages, the lives of women enslaved in prostitution and the lives of the elderly who are being pressured to complete their life prematurely.
I often said that we needed to work together to systematically, methodically and deliberately rid our society of the reasons why we have such prevalent vulnerability, abuse and exploitation in our community.
Unfortunately, this left me with a lot of unfinished business. There is so much left to do.