Continuing through this Season of Easter, Irene Fennema speaks honestly of her own personal experience of resurrection – from redundant to made new in Christ. Thank you, Irene!
I began last year, with a deep underlying angst about my workplace – “Am I happy? Am I not?” The long Christmas break had given me space to reflect. It was clear to me that my employer was moving towards making my role redundant. And while that reality materialized, despair set in.
It may be helpful to know that the lens of a two on the enneagram is where I land, with that classic underlying fear of worthlessness. I was also raised in a Dutch Reformed immigrant community steeped in pride and protestant work ethic. I experience both as struggles.
Hurt and shame ensued, with anger biting at their heels. Redundant. Not required. Unessential. Unneeded. For many months, those words wrapped around my sense of peace. Resentment choked the cheerfulness out of me. I was pissed off at the organization I worked for, and at myself for being pissed-off.
It was not about me, anything I did or did not do. I repeatedly examined this with my partner, my friends, and my spiritual director. I could hear how I sounded but could not break free.
“35 years is enough time in the workforce. I am done,” I said in each conversation. I was eager to reject any future possibility of rejection. The threat was too painful. My self-confidence plummeted. I needed reminding of who I was.
“The ego is the false self-born out of fear and defensiveness.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
These words provided a clue to my state of mind and I meditated on them as I took refuge in the forest. The warming earth provided a soft landing with its fragrant clay and patchwork of leaves, bark and stems. Each day I walked for hours under towering trees dripping with mosses. The cool morning mists began to breathe life over me. With birdsong, and wind rustling through leaves as my background music, the lens on my camera became my eyes.
I joined in with the chorus of morning greetings – red-winged blackbird, wren, and warbler. I was witness to the tiniest green shoots stretching to sunbeams, piercing through openings in the canopy; woodpeckers hammering and tossing bark aside for the prize beneath; doe and fawn stepping gracefully through grasses. I adopted Mary Oliver’s expression, “my work is loving the world” as my mantra and claimed that as my new “job”.
Eventually I ventured off the path to follow rabbit trails – both literally and figuratively. As I climbed hills, stepped over fallen logs, and ducked under branches, my body grew stronger. The lessons of nature coaxed my heart to open, and my mind followed. I explored new possibilities – planning a future pilgrimage with my 25-year-old son; accepting a short-term position with an organization dear to my heart. My shadow side accepted Christ’s invitation to this spacious place. I was found.
As Sue Monk Kidd said in When the Heart Waits: “That’s the sacred intent of life, of God—to move us continuously toward growth, toward recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul.”
This story provides a window into my personal experience of resurrection. I once was made redundant, but now I am made new in Christ, for Christ’s purposes.
Saved. Revived. Renewed. Recovered.
These words restore me. They provide peace and contentment to wrap around all that is hurt, shame, and anger. I see that I continue to be part of what God is working out in the world.
“May I never grow tired of starting over or helping others do the same. My hope is always in renewal and resurrection.”
― Word prayer by @justinmcroberts in @40daysprayerbook
Collage as prayer helped me listen for God’s direction during this time. Here is an example.
And I came across a video after writing my reflection. To me, it communicates far more clearly what I have tried to write down here for you. The music and visuals draw me back to the experience of a deep ache opening to God’s tenderness, resurrection being the result.