This one is dark, dreary, wet and cold. Everyone is depressed. I've had text messages from people who are down in the mouth today and I'm not immediately coming up with encouraging, upbeat things to text back.
I wanted to stay in bed today. I put the alarm on snooze three times. I could hear rain heavy on the roof and I could see that it was dark outside. The children were still asleep and I maintain after all these years of trying to get the children to sleep and stay asleep, to wake them in the morning is against nature. I was warm and comfy in my little duvet-nest.
But no. Not to be.
I've been reading about positive thinking, recently. Not the self-help mantra type positive thinking, but the need that I have to fill my mind with something positive first thing in a morning. It makes a difference. I used to check the news headlines on my phone app but came out of that more often than not worried and miserable about the state of the country and the world. I used to check my email - but that's an emotional lucky dip and more often than not my mind just started making 'To Do' lists before my eyes had even properly focused. I used to post on Facebook each morning but realised two things: my first-thing-in-the-morning posts were never among the most positive and upbeat status reports and by writing them I just solidified my own grumpy feelings and was therefore hardly likely to encourage or uplift anyone else.
Now and again, on a particularly tired and disgruntled morning one of these posts still slips through the net, I have to confess.
I don't want the tone of my day to be set before I even put a foot out of bed. I don't want to stand in the shower with my eyes still shut thinking about who's hurt who, who's in prison for violence or fraud, who's fighting about what. I don't want to brush my teeth gazing in the mirror at the person who just reinforced her negative outlook by posting it on social networking sites for everyone to comment about.
'Today's going to be a bad day.'
I'm thinking that's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy.
'Please can I stay in bed?'
Just the same. I don't want to engage with today, no matter what wonderful things you have planned for me. I don't trust you to bless me today. I'd rather stay here with my head under the covers and avoid today completely.
So I've been thinking about what I put in my head in those first few minutes as I'm waking up. War and murder and crime and recession (BBC headlines)? No. Dissatisfaction and complaining and self pity (first-thing-in-the-morning Facebook status)? Nope. Even if there is occasionally a sort of strange satisfaction in having a moan.
I want you.
First thing in a morning I want the tone of my day to be set by you.
I want to stand in the shower with my eyes closed and your words in my head. I want to look in the mirror at a woman who has already had a chat with the Creator of the Universe (who happens to be her friend) even though the toast isn't even on for breakfast yet. I want to be a woman who responds to the children with a smile and an even tone of voice rather than a snarl and a shout when they crash through the bedroom door in the middle of some squabble or other; and I know - I know - that I am completely one hundred percent unable to be that woman unless I've met with you first thing.
Today I didn't feel like waking up. I didn't want to get up. I didn't want to pull back the curtains and let in the faint and watery daylight. I didn't want to haul myself up to sitting and reach for my journal. You helped me, and I did.
Ok, if I'm honest, I had a moan. A little one, as time was moving on, but I told you that I didn't like the look of this day too much, thank you and sorry about that. I also told you about something I had on my mind in the night and an ongoing thing that's been worrying me. There's a problem that I have that I thought was sorted out and now I'm no longer sure that it is. I told you about it. Again.
Listen, God, I tried. I said:
'This is the day that you have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.' I will. I-will-I-will-I-will.
I got in the shower and turned the water up hot.
On the way to school, Elizabeth was a delight. She wants to own a sweetshop when she grows up and she was talking about which sweets she'd have, and what the shop would be called. There's going to be an ice cream stall outside, apparently. It's going to be lovely. She skipped in and out of puddles under her Winne-the-Pooh umbrella and she laughed and her little face was lit up as she dreamed about sweets and independence and ice cream and painted shop signs with her name on. The rainy walk to school wasn't bad at all. After I dropped Lizzie at the gates I put some music on and selected a random track from a random playlist. As I tucked the second earpiece in place I heard your voice. It was a little word from you.
'What a faithful God have I; what a faithful God
What a faithful God have I; faithful in every way'
(What a Faithful God, Robert Critchley, 1989 Thankyou Music)
You are faithful. You promise; you deliver. You say, 'I'll take care of it'; you do. The thing I thought was sorted is still sorted. You said you would sort it and you will. It's just that your timing is not like mine. It's in your hands. I keep taking it back from you and thinking that it's down to me, or to someone else, but no, it's in your hands.
'Lord, I come before your throne of grace
I find rest in your presence, and fullness of joy...'
I did. I only had a few minutes but I came, just as I was, tired and reluctant, but you are endlessly patient and when I give you such a little, you give me back so much. Rest for my anxious heart and the joy of my little girl splashing in the puddles on a morning when there didn't seem to be much to be joyful about.
I need to remember this. I need to make time to come before your throne of grace even when I have to drag myself there because the voices in my head are saying 'press snooze again. Go on, just one more time...' and 'you can't be bothered today, God won't mind...' No, the chances are that you won't mind. You don't hold it against me when I don't drop in for a few days. It's me that misses out. It's my day that is the worse for it. The days when I miss my five minutes with you are the days that I miss the splashes of silver in the muddy puddles and the pink-cheeked joy of the seven year old jumping in them. I miss the messages and the gifts that are just for me. It's me that doesn't hear the voice of my God, and I don't hear because I'm not listening.
'Lord of mercy you have heard my cryThrough the storm, you're the beaconMy song in the nightIn the shelter of your wings hear my heart's replySinging what a faithful God have I'
You heard me. You heard what I said and what I didn't say. You can hear my heart.
You're right there when it's raining as you are when it's sunny. You're there as we slip into Autumn and my heart is heavy because I hate the dark and the dank and the cold. This is the day you made; my job is to be glad in it.
When I'm worried that I can't see what the future holds, you are the beacon. All is in darkness but you alone shine. You're all there is to see; I just need to keep my eyes fixed on you.
When I wake in the night and I wonder what's going on, when I get anxious about losing control, being uncertain and fearful, you are my song. What a faithful God have I? He is faithful in every way. Don't doubt him.
Ah, Lord. In the shelter of your wings. Yes, please. If I were tucked under your wings I would be warm and dry and safe. Held tight against your body I can feel your warmth and hear your heartbeat. Where you go, I go. I am protected - I am in the only safe place. I am loved. I am in the shelter of your wings.
And my heart does indeed sing to you, on this dark, dismal day, as I sit here with cold fingers and half a cold cup of coffee:
'What a faithful God have I; what a faithful God
What a faithful God have I; faithful in every way'.
Amen. Ain't that the truth.