Life on Pause

Can you teach me how to live?

It’s a genuine question.

Existing, I can do.  Managing and muddling through. But living – actually living, well.  I have no idea.

Seems to me I live life backwards or forwards – but rarely in the present.

It’s a deliberate choice.

I’ve ordered my life to make sure that the present is something I never have to face.  From the radio spluttering in the silence, to the checklists that ring-fence those (never ever) empty hours.

But the hours add up.

To 34 years  of holding my breath and treading water.

34 years of rehearsal – when the performance has already begun.

I’m scared of living my life on the benches. Waiting … for something to start – or to finish.

The past. Editing, replaying, regretting or yearning for what can’t be undone.

The future. If I can only get through this. When this happens (babiesmarriagepromotioncheckupsretirement),  I’ll finally be able to stop.

Life on fast-forward – or life on rewind. Fire-fighting, delaying, being busy.

But never – never, in the moment. The still centre.  The silence, when it’s just you.

Not your family or your partner or your friends.

Not your job or your routines or your bank balance.


And the question. Am I alone? Is this it?

And all of life depends on this.

6 thoughts on “Life on Pause

  1. Hi Emma,
    My heart goes out to you. 57 years down the line I am still wrestling. But I truly believe there is hope out there. On bad days that is for no other reason than that I am still here, and that whatever I might feel God loves me (no idea what that really feels like), and there is a future and a hope. Having broken my ribs two weeks ago suddenly my life is on hold and there is so much I cannot “do” ( other than having read yr book). Am having to face where is my identity, where is God – where is relationship with him. Have no way of explaining the conviction that he is there somewhere that there is reason and purpose to my existence, but can only say he is – he must be and there is reason- and we have to hang onto that…much love and prayers xx

  2. Thanks Nicky – these identity questions are so prickly. But as you’ve reminded me, He is there – in the silence. I’m not alone and I can stand in the moment because He is with me, every step.

    Hope your ribs heal up soon and that you too can rest in Him x

  3. Wow! Great writing…

    I think you and CS Lewis would have been good buddies – and (without wishing to sound too pretentious) – what you describe sounds not unrelated to his concept of Sehnsucht.

    As someone elsewhere has written:

    “Lewis described Sehnsucht as an inconsolable longing in the human heart ‘for which we know not what.’ It is a haunting sense of longing which Lewis said touched him throughout his life. It has elements of nostalgia and joy, but also an intense awareness of missing something. ‘A golden echo.’ These stabs of joy and longing were pointing us toward something, and Lewis posits that this sense of longing is harkening toward a deeper spiritual world.”

  4. Thanks David (that’s one comparison I haven’t heard but it’s very kind)

    I reckon there’s gonna be an enormous queue (behind the one for Jesus and Moses) for New creation coffee time with CS Lewis. A ‘golden echo’ – just beautiful .

  5. Hi Emma
    Great wrestling. I am 47 and just in the midst of radiation and chemo treatments after having a fast growing tumour removed about 8 weeks ago. Definitely a time to reflect and re-evaluate with my family! It has caused me to look harder at these questions and I have landed on this- that it is all about what Jesus wants to do in and through me, regardless of the time I have (because none of us are guaranteed any set amount of time). I feel like I spent many years like you said- meeting expectations, paying bills, existing. Life is short- what will you do with your “now” …because that is what we have. For some, it is changing priorities- carving out more time for family, close relationships. Make hard decisions to work a little less, love more, give beyond what we have been giving. Maybe it is an email or a phone call to ask or extend forgiveness. A simple encouraging word to a co-worker. Maybe it is becoming more others focussed (I believe it is actually how we were made to be) and thank God for the opportunity at the front end of our day that we can actually be a part of something much bigger picture of hope in the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. Duane – thank-you. These are wise words learnt at a real cost. We’ll be praying for you as you undergo treatment – and I’m thanking God now for your witness and encouragement. As you say, nothing is guaranteed – except this – He is with us and working for our blessing, even when we can’t see it. xx

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