Last year was my Jonah year. Thinking about it reminds me of one of my heroines, Anne Shirley, otherwise known as Anne of Green Gables. You remember the time she got so upset about her beautiful head of red hair that she tried dying it with disastrously green results? That’s when she said to Marilla, all disheveled and tear stained, vowing to stay in her room until her now hideous mane grew out; ‘I’ve had a Jonah day, Marilla! ’. Marilla’s response has brought me hope many times over the years: ‘Well, Anne Shirley, tomorrow is a new day, fresh with no mistakes.’
For me a Jonah day is when I loose the plot for whatever reason, and I do and say things that aren’t really ‘me’. Sometimes it’s a conscious decision to move away from what I know I am supposed to be doing like going back to South Africa, other times it’s a more subtle disowning of a trait, a hurt, a desire, a gift, a calling, a memory, a conviction or some other thing that makes me who I am.
I have been thinking about this over the last couple of weeks. I look to others for permission to do what I know I need to do. When I think of Cromwell announcing his intention to raise and train an army for war ‘with or without your permission, my Lord Manchester!’ I become aware of a conflict within me between the part that says ‘YES!’ because there are things I know I need to do ‘with or without your permission’… and the part that is fearful to step out and risk finding myself alone.
On the other hand, I know I need your fellowship. But how can we stay in fellowship with one another and God’s spirit, remain accountable and at the same time live for an audience of one?
The journey through my Jonah year ended up being a gift of redemption that helped to crystalise the direction of my life. This year, I’ve had to humbly receive the grace of each day being ‘a new day, fresh with no mistakes’, and do my best to stay with God. I have sometimes stood for what I felt was right even when it meant standing up to some in authority… I’ve grown some. But I can also see that I have been waiting for something, someone’s permission or approval or something, so that I can move forward… but I sense a tug inside, saying ‘come on, its time to jump’.