As of about a month ago, I was a member of The National Trust. Then something happened that meant I vowed never to become a member ever again. So I cancelled my direct debit and threw my membership card in the bin (I tried to tear it into pieces but it was too well laminated). This was all because of a day trip to Petworth House.
I used to be a fan of stately homes, so when my parents suggested we visit the country house I agreed. We got there and the weather was terrible, so we couldn't explore the extensive gardens. So we went to the house, picked up these interactive audio devices and set off around the house. My first issue was boredom. In each of these rooms you had the choice of listening to a general overview, and then there were more specific choices about particular items. I just wanted to listen to the overviews and get a jist of what the room was, and maybe if something grabbed my interest I'd listen about that. My parents wanted to listen to everything. This made it slightly tedious.
This is quite commonplace (boredom and parents are often found together), so this wasn't my reason to reject my affiliation with the other 3.5 million people who have joined the National Trust. It was an epiphany I had. Somewhere between the North Gallery and the Staircase I realised that I didn't belong here. Or rather, I did too well but it wasn't something that I wanted. I looked around and saw middle class couples with their middle class children; middle class middle-aged couples enjoying time together now their middle class children have left home; and middle class pensioners, sometimes with their middle class children and middle class grandchildren. There were middle class wellies and middleclass coats and middle class voices coming from under middle class hats. What I saw was my whole life spread out in front of me. It was a life of National Trust picnic blankets, holiday cottages in Cornwall, Laura Ashley scatter cushions, watercolour print birthday cards and faux-antique pine furniture. I would become a middle class father with my middle class children, then a middle aged middle class man with a middle class moustache and a middle class retired man with my middle class moaning.
Suddenly I felt trapped. I felt caught in a prison of home comforts. I realised that I wasn't called live the life of Kirsty's Handmade Britain. It seemed too...nice. I realised I didn't want nice. On my death bed, I don't want people saying, "Well, at least he had a nice life."
Mother Teresa was attributed to saying, 'If I ever become a Saint — I surely be one of "darkness". I will continually be absent from Heaven — to light the light of those in darkness on earth.' I don't want to belong in the nice. I realised I wanted I life where the rubber hits the road. I want it to be messy. I want my heart to be broken by the brokenness of this world. I want to pour out everything.
- Is it wrong to have comforts as a Christian?
- What are you called to?