Thursday, 7 July 2011

What if?

Usually it is not a good idea to try and reinvent our past. No amount of reinventing is going to change anything that is already set in concrete but just occasionally it is an interesting exercise. It helps me to see just exactly where the hand of God has played a significant role and where I have been quietly been prepared.

Sometimes it is in the simple things. Like my name, Marianne. The story from my parents, who are Dutch born, is that they wanted to give me a Kiwi name so that I could easily fit into their new homeland of New Zealand. Great theory but the problem is that it is very much not a Kiwi name-it is a classic French name. Marianne is in fact one of the symbols of the French Republic and represents their motto of Liberté, Egalité et Fraternité. As it so happens, on a personal level I am very passionate about each of these principles.

And then there are my high school years. I was put into an academic streamed class and for some strange reason which is unclear, they gave us an additional compulsory subject just for our class of 30 odd students of French. Although my French classes at high school were more years ago than I care to count, what if I had never had any lessons? I had included France on my list of possible countries to live in and pray about because of those classes many moons ago. I was blessed to have a basic understanding of the French language when I came here which has been essential.

A little amusing aside for me happened when I was to be confirmed a member of the Catholic Church at the age of 12. We were asked to choose a patron saint whose name we would take upon ourselves. I had asked the nuns if I could take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ and they were horrified at the sacrilege. So in my second choice I decided upon Joan of Arc or Jeanne D'Arc as she is known here. Of all the many thousands of possible saints to choose from, I had adopted one of the most potent symbols again for the French people. There are statues of her everywhere! I might add that I was the only one of my classmates to have chosen a French saint.

So little preparations for my great adventure in France seemed to be in place right from birth. When I worked for LDS Family Services in NZ more than 22yrs ago I was sent for training to the USA to learn how to run sexual abuse support groups. At the time it was a very powerful revelation that I would need this training to help women who were suffering and yet I fell pregnant with my first son shortly after returning from this training and I was only able to apply it on a very limited basis before I left the job to be a stay at home Mum. At that stage I could not see ahead. The direction of my work then changed considerably to more administration roles. Never in my dreams did I see myself now working again with women who have suffered sexual abuse so many years later.

More recently, while living in Whangarei I made the decision to leave my very secure and promising government job to start a business with a business partner. It seemed totally illogical at that time and even foolhardy to take a significant cut in pay and face the possibility that I would not be able to get contracts to sustain my family of 4 children. I was motivated by the idea that I could spend more time with them and be more flexible to participate in their lives but it was a huge risk, a leap in the dark made only easier by the strong confirmation of the spirit. What if I had let my fears at that time decide my course of action? What if I had stayed in my lovely government management position?

I was able to have 6 years in Whangarei watching my business grow and my income along with it. With careful saving I was able to have enough financial reserves to survive here in Paris for the first significant period of time that I could never have been able to achieve on a salary. In addition, because I was able to show that I had already operated a successful business the French Embassy was persuaded that I could operate one here and I was able to obtain a visa. So the decision to take the leap of faith and start that business at the beginning has had huge consequences for my mission here.

If it is true that the Lord prepares our lives that far ahead then it makes our day to day decisions that much more important on a spiritual level. The seemingly small decisions we make may have long reaching consequences later on in our stay on earth. I don't want to play around too much with "What if?" I would rather be able to say "Thank goodness I decided that!"

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Forever Friends

While the rest of my blogs seem to read like a chronology of events for my time here in Paris today I am feeling philosophical and full of questions.  Once a good woman told me that we are lucky if we have one or two really good friends. We have lots of acquaintances but real friends are something else. I have been doing the whole navel gazing thing lately and have counted my lucky stars that I have always had a real good friend with me for the most important times in my life.

I am not going to cover every phase in the past (I can hear a sigh of relief on your side) but I have sprinkled in my life these amazing male friends with whom I have been ultra close, with whom I have felt totally myself and at ease. What I don't understand is why this small handful of men have managed to virtually connect with my soul more than my female friends whom I love and adore too.

In November last year I connected with one such man. The relationship was virtually instant and I very soon saw that I had connected with a soul mate, that I was able to enjoy talking with someone directly spirit to spirit. I do not believe that we have only one soul mate but special spirits exist throughout our lives with whom we connect at the deepest level possible. There is no feeling quite like that one for me apart from my personal relationship with the Saviour. With Mark, I found someone who shared so many of my same loves-firstly, our love for the gospel and our hunger to study and understand it. And then there was our deep love for music, (thankfully with an incredible match in tastes), for things historical and artistic and finally our passion for anything and everything in our world. I could count on his honesty with me :) Although a fatal illness cut this relationship frustratingly short a few months ago this will remain as one of those life changing times.


Just to prove my point that we have more than one soul mate, right in the middle of developing a relationship with Mark, I went to a single adult conference and started a second spiritual connection with yet another man, Alex. This time someone completely different and yet when we spoke the first time it was like meeting with a very old friend I had always known. We bypassed all the trivia and went to speaking directly soul to soul about things that mattered most to us. Since New Years I have communicated regularly with him and as a friend Alex was with me to comfort me when Mark died. We are opposites in so many ways but he has a warmth, an honesty and a way of lifting my spirits when I need it. I feel able to tell him virtually anything! He remains a real and true friend who I know will always have that special place reserved also among that handful of princes in my life.

Even though we are divorced (and I will always be sad about that) I count my former husband, Walter in this list of special male friends in my life. We have developed a close friendship of an eternal nature especially recently and I would be heartbroken if I did not find him on the other side in the eternities.

I count myself very lucky when I look back and see the men that the Lord has put in my path. They don't come from any particular background, any particular ethnicity or even have any particular personalities. They are completely different men in so many ways. So what is it that makes the difference between those who are "friends" and those who are much more? Why do we have such deep connections with only a certain few? I don't have the answers except to say that at the moment I am glad that I am single that I have had the chance to have each of these men in my life :)