Sunday, 31 October 2010

Wish I were there

Right now I'm feeling torn to pieces inside because there are all these wonderful things happening at church - prayer, communal meals, worship, fellowship in so many different shapes and forms - and I'm stuck here, out of it, hurting all over and so tired the ground feels like it's dragging me down. And I want to yell at God because He could make me well enough to go and He isn't and I could just cry and cry but I've got, somehow, to find a way of accepting the situation and keep on trusting Him.

The alternative is to keep hugging the anger and hurt to me and not do anything positive and keep on wallowing in negativity. After all there's nothing to say that you have to be in a particular place or even with particular people to pray for your church (or for anything else). So not being able to make it to church isn't such a disaster, true the fellowship is better there than in an empty room, but God's always here, He never goes away and we don't have to go to a particular place to meet Him.

Bizarrely just the act of writing this down, getting it off my chest, has made me feel significantly better. Letting things get pent up inside doesn't help, I'm becoming increasingly aware of that. Of late I've been so angry about things, just about being ill and my general situation and I don't know how to handle it, what to do with it, how to be less angry. Hopefully it will pass or ease soon as the side effects from those pills gradually wear off and my mood settles down again, but it could take some months to restore equilibrium - it was only a very delicate equilibrium in the first place and one that took years to achieve. In the meantime I suppose I just have to put up with the sheer instability of my moods and their tendency to plummet to the depths of despair in minutes. Sometimes I worry that I must look or come across as utterly mad.

I suppose tomorrow I've just got to find a way of glorifying God within the constraints He has put upon me, rinse, lather and repeat the next day and the next and the next. Walking (or more realistically limping) with Christ and trying to learn to trust Him.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8.28*

*please note: although I've quoted this verse here do not think that quoting it to a Christian who is going through hard times is a solve all. Having it quoted at you when things are tough by all and sundry without thought or any other form of encouragement can get extremely irksome.

Monday, 18 October 2010


Another song today, about church and what church is and can be.

Shelter - Jars of Clay

To all who are looking down
Holding onto hearts still wounding
For those who've yet to find it
The places near where love is moving
Cast off the robes you're wearing
Set aside the names you've been given

May this place of rest in the fold of your journey
Bind you to hope, you will never walk alone.

In the shelter of each other, we will live, we will live
In the shelter of each other, we will live, we will live
Your arms are all around us

If our hearts have turned to stone
There is hope, we know the rocks will cry out
And the tears aren't ours alone
Let them fall into the hands that hold us
Come away from where you're hiding
Set aside the lies you've been living

May this place of rest in the fold of your journey
Bind you to hope that we will never walk alone

If there is any peace, if there is any hope
We must all believe, our lives are not our own

We all belong
God has given us each other
And we will never walk alone

I particularly love the lines,
"May this place of rest in the fold of your journey
Bind you to hope that we will never walk alone"
And the way it expresses the idea of "the body of Christ" in a new way.

While it is true that we each have Jesus with us every single hour of every single day of our lives, sometimes we need to be His hands and feet, His tangible body here on earth, for one another and accepting that help from one another as each has need. It's why the writer of Hebrews exhorts us, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10.25 NIV), because we need to support one another while we are here. Likewise it is why in his book Where is God When Life Hurts? Philip Yancey concludes that the question we should really ask is "Where is the church when life hurts?". The body of Christ is such a fabulous idea, a refuge from an often hostile world, a place where everyone counts and belongs, where Jesus is the life and the Spirit and the pumping heart and creator and the centre, where restoration, love, hope, forgiveness and grace can flourish and flood out into the world. I pray that my membership doesn't impede the work of Jesus in His body and that despite being so broken myself I can be shelter for others, as they shelter me.

"The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" Deuteronomy 33.27

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13.34-5

Friday, 15 October 2010

The hall of mirrors

Or which image is real? Unpicking the tangles in my brain.

I've been doing a lot of thinking this week, though I can't say I've got far. Right now I feel like I've just emerged (or am just emerging?) from a hall of mirrors at the fair, where it's never clear which image is reality and everything is distorted and bewildering.

For a start I've realised a couple of things I need to work on, anxiety would be the first one as it is apparently still well and flourishing. There is no way that worrying yourself to a point of near physical sickness over sending an email is normal, neither are "stress nosebleeds". As another DWP appeal looms I do need to get an urgent grip on this; I don't want to end up in the state I was in last time. Though as a side note I am constantly amazed by the fresh and inventive ways that my body comes up with in order to express anxiety, most creative.

The other is that I need to let go of past hurts, trite and hackneyed as that sounds. There are old wounds, some healed, some not quite so healed, that I keep revisiting and picking over like a child picks at its blister and that needs to stop. It's pointless, it's like my mind running round and round on well worn railway tracks getting nowhere except to keep the old hurts and wounds of the past alive. Or rather it serves no positive point, it keeps negative feelings hanging around and allows me to feel like the poor wounded soul, ideal fodder for a pity party. However, the reason I called the phrase "let go" trite is because although it sounds simple I don't entirely know how to do it. Prayer seems like a good first option (it generally is after all) and I suspect that this one is going to require some real wrestling. Stopping myself (and asking the Holy Spirit to prompt me) every time I start to revisit these dark but familiar old haunts also seems like a good option.

Meanwhile the church is looking different to how it looked a couple of weeks ago. Then it looked like a fortress, without any means of ingress, moat, sheer walls, draw bridge drawn firmly up and portcullis down. It felt like you were either cosily in the church, part of things, or utterly outside and on your own. Now at least this blog seems to have blown a small hole in the walls; when I couldn't work out where to begin trying to find an entrance. Hopefully things will be better from here, though it still tears me apart inside that I can't be more involved, can't be there - the guilt every time someone asks for volunteers at life group is terrible. But that's just how things are, not anyone's fault, something I need to learn to live with.

Another thing I have realised, from things various people have said, is that the difference between the person I see as me and in me and the person other people seem to see or say they see is startling. I cannot help seeing the utter blackness inside me, seeing the self obsession, greed, pride, general wimpishness, moaning, self pity etc. etc. I hate all this in me. I am trying to remember grace, to remember the cross, to remember that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. But at the same time I can't help seeing myself as a self pitying attention seeker. That label keeps ringing in my ears: attention seeker, or attention seeking. When I was so so depressed I ended up so worried about not attention seeking, or not trying to seek help in an attention seeking manipulative sort of way and it worries me now, what if I'm just attention seeking? Maybe I should just keep quiet. I don't even know where to begin to untangle that lot or know what to do with it. That's what I mean about the hall of mirrors, it's so hard knowing what is true and what is distortion.

But as, for some peculiar reason, God does seem to love me and want to know me and want me to know Him, then I want to "follow on to know the Lord" (Hosea 6.3 KJV, via J. Rees Larcombe, Journey into God's Heart). It's always good to have a goal, right? And that's one I want to re-commit to.

A final thought, in the form of a "Not-poem"

A little girl is knock knock knocking on heaven's door,
Asking when she can come home;
Listening to her Father say, "Not yet my beloved child."

Monday, 11 October 2010

A moment of worship

You Reign by Simon Brading

Though I walk upon ground
That is rugged and uneven
Your faithful hand won't lead me astray
Through the rain and the clouds,
Where the sun is barely shining
Your grace surrounds my life everyday

You reign
Yesterday today for evermore, for evermore
You reign in every circumstance
You are good, You are good

And You hold in Your hands
Every star, the sun and moon
Yet those hands are marred
And wounded from nails.
Precious blood at the cross
Was poured out for the nations
And this love that drove salvation never fails
Your love never fails

You rule the world
You rule the world, You reign
You are the name above all names
The King above all kings, You reign

I'm listening to this song again and again right now, it's just so true, that God reigns everyday, in every circumstance. It's here on youtube if you want to listen (and sing along). Though I'm going to stop listening to catch The Archers now!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

In which I am in danger of veering on the Pollyanna-ish

As it is a while since I blogged last I thought I would write again; not about anything in particular you understand, but simply in a general manner. Church things, as discussed in the last post, are a lot better and we've all communicated more, which can only be a good thing.

Today has been a long dull day of tiredness and crash from last night's dinner party, even though the parents did the majority of the work, more than three hours' socialising was always going to take its toll. Although it was nice to see everyone and enjoy that convivial atmosphere of sitting around a table eating with others I do still hate the crash that follows doing more than usual. Crashing is miserable, especially that tired, achy dragging down part of it.

Sorry, I was determined when I came on here that I was not going to write a miserable post! Hmm, let's think about some good things (yes, I know, sickeningly Pollyanna of me).

Good books: I'm reading The Wouldbegoods by E Nesbit, which is good jolly reading, the children in the tale are woefully bad at being good and in fact the majority of their attempts to be good seem to end in utter disaster for all concerned. In the bath I'm reading Aunt Mame by Patrick Dennis, which is deliciously funny and just right for the bath. It is about an orphaned ten year old boy who is sent to live with his exotic Aunt Mame in New York in the summer of 1929 and covers all her wonderful adventures. I'm aware that I'm not giving its due, you'll have to take my word for it. For humour it is easily the equal of Wodehouse (though less convoluted), Waugh, Nancy Mitford or E F Benson (a litany of the greats in my opinion) and Aunt Mame is every bit as engaging as 'Mrs Harris' (of Paul Gallico's Mrs Harris goes to Paris), though considerably less terrifying than Wodehousian aunts.

Good friends, an especial mention goes to the Ravelry group "British Banter" - happy 1st (week) anniversary everyone! Thank you for making me laugh all week and still being there when things need to get more serious. And many thanks to the penguins for their sterling work of moderating. Life Group was good this week too, interesting discussion, even if confession isn't the cheeriest subject (though of course it is a very important one).

Good knitting: the fair isle scarf is virtually at 50% done, I just need to keep going and get the second half done in about the same time. Then write up the pattern, what fun that will be... more fiddling with Excel. I have no idea how accountants cope.

So, here's to the next week and to staying cheerful and not dwelling on sad or nasty things (like the benefits' appeal hearing in early November - the part about the legal parts that I don't understand much about).

I leave you with a quotation from E Nesbit, which as someone whose clothes are generally untidy, despite my valiant efforts, I greatly appreciate:

You should not judge people harshly because their clothes are tidy.
My hot water bottle and I are retiring to bed at this juncture. So long and thanks for all the fish.