No, I didn’t write that title. I got the quote from this blog post. And I am not entirely living that life of participation rather than enduring. But, I am working on it.
Do you often note themes in your reading? Right now, nearly everything I read seems to involve change – Mercenary Mum (it’s okay, sons, I am not running away to be a mercenary…), Healthy is the New Skinny , Pope Francis’ The Name of God is Mercy.
And other books.
I realise that in my life, since I was a teen, a young mum, an older mum, a business owner, a teacher -and in my work and study and careers -the motif of endurance has often been pushed – snap! in place – into the forefront. But when I endure I forget to participate. I forget to be active in my life. I am reactive rather than generative.
The trouble with endurance is that, sometimes, when I am so busy enduring, my life slips by. I stay stuck. I seem unable to become unstuck.
Pope Francis, in ‘The Name of God is Mercy’ reminds us that “The name of God is mercy. There are no situations we cannot get out of, we are not condemned to sink into quicksand.”
This, I think, is important to remember.
There are some people (and some organisations) that exist by feeding others an unrelenting diet of belief in your own inadequacy. You will never be quite right, they say. Do this, be more, try more, study more ( or buy this…and follow that..).
But, you know, this is my only earthly life. Now. As Pope Francis noted, there is mercy – for me, as well as for others.
What would this look like in practical terms? The idea of mercy and participation in the place of only endurance?
I think I can see some practical jolts, that shock and startle participation and change.
- It’s okay to have free time. Really. This is hard for me as I like to get up, read my prayer book, walk or do other exercise, work on to do lists and have-tos….but then I never get to want-tos. I never allow myself to sit and drink tea and just relax. Showing mercy to ourselves and others might just start here. Some free time. Without the nagging sense of “I should be doing…”
- You are okay. Don’t let yourself and others fuel any inadequacy. You don’t need to lose 5 kg or be the best-all-the-time or always be the mediator. You don’t always get to be ignored either. You can speak up. Your voice matters.
- And, if you’re not okay , then do something about it. Now. Seek help. Pray. Read. Look at retraining or adding to your knowledge. Change jobs – have a variety of jobs, a portfolio of jobs rather than one main work. Seek counselling. Just do it.
- Then, finally, look at this list and throw it away. You don’t need me to tell you how to participate in life. Heck, I don’t even need this list (though writing it is an awesome reminder for me). Just do something today that makes you participate rather than endure. Then do more tomorrow. Laugh. Flick your hair. Grab a coffee. Look up that course or job online. Become a bartender. Write a blog post. Make biscuits with your children. Go for a walk – on a different route.
Because nobody can tell you how to participate in life. You have to do it.
(Though mercy, love and support from others can help, right?)