Cure for the two imposters

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same; 

[from Rudyard Kipling, ‘If’]

I remember standing in Arundel Cathedral in West Sussex some 26 years ago and reading those words out at the Leaver’s Service at my school. I was the elected headboy and stood on one of those wooden cubicle platforms to the side of the main altar, if that’s what Anglicans call it (I’m not an Anglican) with my youthful voice booming throughout the hallowed building.

Read more: Cure for the two imposters

The slightly bored faces of my fellow students facing me were fixated on the iconic window behind me, or the ceiling, or their shoes. The words of that poem sounded a tad artificial at the time – what does an 18-year-old know about those ‘imposters’? But I look back at my career and now, so many years later, find the words very helpful.

I’ve been so blessed to meet my wife more than a decade ago, and to be sharing my life with her. She seems to get more beautiful as the years go by; it’s really quite extraordinary. Some marriages run out of steam after a few years: once you’ve seen each other first thing in the morning or argued about who did the washing up or put out the bins. I am finding the opposite – I look to the horizon of the future and I feel excited about sharing it with Celine. It’s as though we’re holding hands and walking upstream together. She is an unfolding flower full of grace and our children are simply holy gifts from God. I am richly blessed.

It’s my career that I find difficult. I look back at the near-30 years since I stood in that cathedral and I don’t see a successful man, in the worldly sense. I haven’t worked as a doctor or lawyer for years. I did work in journalism – the highlight working for evangelistic newspapers here and abroad and, before that, the wonderful folk at a local paper in East Sussex and a bit of subbing in Newport. Lots of freelance work too – secretive projects for politicians, writing for chimney sweeps and supporting persecuted Christians – various excellent experiences.

But I do have a sense of unease when I look back at my career. Did I fulfill my younger self’s dreams? I spent so much time writing a children’s book, which has been completely unsuccessful. Should I have pushed myself to become a missionary abroad (I did go on short trips to Brazil and Germany)? Or perhaps I should have followed a ‘proper’ profession. Why did it take so long for me to take the call to maturity to Christ seriously?

Well, that’s a perception. The truth is, life is full of ups and downs, triumphs and disasters. No doubt I am not seeing the whole truth when I look back at the work I have done. In a sense, I wonder if it matters from God’s point of view. He is concerned about legacies of love, not CV histories. I still have a lot to learn about true success. What about you?


2 responses to “Cure for the two imposters”

  1. grantf59d2ddc0d Avatar

    Great writing Chris. Vulnerable and powerful.


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