Overwhelming Helplessness or just a bad friend?

I’d like to start by saying that I’m having a really low day emotionally. I have experienced a couple of these this week but today is definitely the lowest I’ve felt in a while. I wonder whether this is because I have started to blog about some of the things I’ve been feeling over the last year…. I know my mood will probably be reflected in my writing today, so I just wanted to be up front about that.

I’ve found myself really challenged over the last few days about some of the things I’ve been writing about. It’s hard not to read them and think about myself that I am the most selfish woman alive. I know I’ve neglected friendships and people who really needed me to ‘take care of number one’ – to emotionally survive. Today though it feels like I’ve made excuses for letting people down and being a bad friend. This isn’t a new emotion – it’s come to me from time to time over the last few months but today it’s like a heavy burden weighing me down.

I have some wonderful friends who are going through some really tough times and I simply haven’t been there for them. Even now, as I think about some of the things they’re going through, I just feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness that I haven’t done more – that I could have done more – that I just don’t know what I can do to make a difference though anything would have been better than the nothing I have done. They have all been so good to me and definitely deserve better.

I’m just not very good at checking in with people. If someone contacts me and says they need me or asks me to do something for them – I’m there. I’ll do it if I can, but when I’m struggling, I forget to check – and when I’m in my normal working life – I forget to check too. The harder the thing they’re going through – the less I feel able to help. The difficulty with that is that when people are struggling, they’re not always able to ask – that’s definitely true for me. When I’ve struggled in the past, I didn’t have the energy to ask or to even think about what I could ask for. I didn’t know how other people could help me – I’m sure that’s the case for some of my friends too. It’s exhausting to have to tell someone else what you need from them and if they’re unable to meet that need – hurtful too.

I’m sure this has been made worse by the faith crisis I’ve been experiencing. Normally, if I couldn’t do something to help someone else, I could always pray – Not even having this as a ‘go-to’ has exacerbated the issue. In the past, I also would have said something very ‘Christian’ but not necessarily very helpful. I’m trying not to be ‘that guy’ anymore.

One of the stories they told us at my first First Aid Course, was about a very well-meaning group of people who came across someone involved in a motorbike accident. They ascertained that the guy had a broken leg and made a splint for him. As it turned out though, the guy was already dead. While they’d made a great splint, they hadn’t ‘made a difference’. Hats off to them for trying at least but the memory it’s left me with is ‘there’s no point putting a splint on a stiff’-(the First Aid Trainers words not mine). I don’t want to be someone who puts a plaster on someone while they’re having a heart attack – but I guess even that would be better than what I’ve been doing – nothing.

I think sometimes we assume (quite wrongly) that other people will be dealing with things – helping people, perhaps that’s even happened with me. I’m very good at making it look like I’m ok just so I don’t have to talk about all the ways I’m not. I try not even to focus on the bits that are not ok – just ‘busy it out’ – Keep the plates spinning. If I think I’m ok and I make it look like I’m ok, I’m ok. I think I’ve dropped a few plates this week though.

The other thing which sometimes happens – and this is mostly true when people say they want to see me – is that I go into complete panic mode – to put a visual on an emotion – it makes me feel like I’m sitting in a corner rocking to and fro whilst hitting both hands against the side of my head. I don’t do that but that’s what it makes me feel like inside – it’s why I don’t really see anyone. (I also avoid the people who can see through me).

Thankfully – because my friends are wonderful, most of them know me and I hope – know how very much I love them and that I would be doing more if I could, but there is one friend who has definitely gone off the radar for me. To be fair, I started it but things have been left in such a way as I no longer know how to find my way back. I don’t really know how I could help her – even if I were able to find a way back. The things I know she would want / need me to do are – at the moment – the last things I feel able to do. She always has so much she’s dealing with and her husband too. Their life is a constant battle, yet they are still always able to be kind and generous to others. I know that I’ve hurt her terribly and I don’t know what to do about it. Going back would also bring an expectation of change and at the moment, I don’t feel I can do anything to make a difference. There’s always an unspoken expectation that I can never quite live up to – born out of a need in her. My silence is taken as a rejection and I feel constantly under pressure about it. Going back would not take away the pain I’ve caused her – it would probably just make things worse because I’m still going to be the same person – making the same mistakes. Wanting something to be different doesn’t always make it so (if it did I’d be a size 10 and fit as a fiddle!).

So for now I remain in this cycle of being in pain because I am or have been inflicting pain on others. All this time – I thought keeping my world small, I’ve assumed that I’ve been ok but in truth – I’m really not ok. No one can make me ok either – this is something I need to work through and deal with for myself. What I need most at the moment is time and space. I hope I will be able to turn all this around in time.

The Guilt Factor

I recently blogged about how I feel like I’ve disappeared a bit over the last year. A couple of people have contacted me as a result so perhaps it reads as something quite painful. Actually I haven’t felt pain over it – though that might seem strange. I haven’t really felt anything akin to that. If anything, I have felt relief – relief that I haven’t had to deal with anything other than what I have to deal with on a daily basis – my job, my family – the stuff that’s staring me in the face and is unavoidable.

As I responded to the second very kind person though, I began to reflect on how I did feel over this time period. The answer was big and obvious and staring me in the face. I hadn’t been thinking about it recently because I’ve sort of moved on a little but actually during my gradual disappearance – the most overwhelming feeling I had to deal with was ‘guilt’.

I felt guilty that I was disappearing. From my perspective at the time, and maybe even still a little, I just ‘opted out’. Other people stepped up – helped out – made themselves available and were self sacrificial – especially my church friends, and what did I do? I opted out. I decided that none of it was for me and I was just going to step out of everything and take care of number 1. That’s how I felt – and maybe even still feel. I don’t think I felt like others might think this way of me – they might have – they’re entitled to think of me however they wish to -(I can’t control how others respond to my choices,) but it was definitely the way I viewed myself – and feeling like that – feeling that I had lost the battle – had stepped out of the fight and left others to battle and to ‘fend for themselves’ was an overwhelming feeling. I think about it when I think about returning to church – how will I give an answer as to where I’ve been and what did I do over lockdown?

As Christians we are all about helping our neighbor – putting others before ourselves. I couldn’t even pray, so convinced was I that there was nothing to pray to. I think I wanted ‘God’ to just do something – anything to get the world out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves – to get me out of the mess I’ve made for myself and to my damaged heart – I just wasn’t seeing it. I needed him to ‘leave the 99’ and come find me … (and He did (I think) but that’s a blog for a different time).

It’s a horrible and debilitating feeling – guilt. Rather than leading you to make changes for the better, it tends to isolate you – to disable you. Ironically I know a lot about guilt. I’ve struggled with my metal health in the past and usually I see it as a trigger to take better care of myself but that didn’t happen this time – maybe because there was just too much need. I’m empathetic so if someone near me is feeling something, I’m feeling it. If they’re struggling, I can sense those emotions and cannot but help responding. (If you come to me for prayer, I can feel what you’re feeling and sometimes know what you’re feeling but not saying). So everything that was in the media and being talked about – and of course the media will always sell themselves emotively – I couldn’t escape from it. Even when I wasn’t listening to it, someone else would be, or would be talking to me about it.

And it’s not like I wasn’t responding to the needs of others during this period. The needs I was responding to though, were linked to my job rather than my friends or my church. I’m a teacher so my focus was my students, many of whom were really going through it, their parents who were also going through it – my colleagues who were really going through it – my family – which is big so there’s usually someone going through something – but these are the things that others don’t see when assumptions are made ( and I did think they were being made by some people, but maybe that’s just ‘the guilt talking’ or my own perception). At the end of a day teaching online, while supporting 33 very needy children – some of whom were at risk, I seriously didn’t have anything left to give – and being someone who needs to have time alone to recover and never really having that (because of Lockdown), – I guess – looking back , that it was, of course, going to take it’s toll. I teach from the heart – I think I live from the heart and mine was seriously overwhelmed.

I have a lot of ‘friends’ – people in my life that I care deeply about but only a very few people that I allow into the depths of my heart and innermost feelings. It’s pretty ugly and messy in there and I’ve learnt the hard way not to expose it to any but a very precious few (This is an anonymous blog, only followed by one very precious friend). When I blogged about feeling ‘Bombarded’ and ‘Disappearing’, it came about because I feel like I have lost that part of my life a little – the part where you share with friends what you are going through. I don’t consider myself to be a particularly good friend, so even before the world went crazy, I would feel guilty if I was taking more than I gave back. This puts a lot of pressure on friendships so I guess I was already protecting myself a little. I tend to avoid friendships with expectations because sooner or later I will let you down and disappoint you – then you’ll feel awful and I’ll feel even worse for making you feel that way – it’s just easier to mange on my own. I’ve done a great deal of that and am used to it. I am though, incredibly grateful for those that have reached out to me in tough times and are always there for me when I feel able/ ready to share. Somehow – at just the right time, the right person just turns up and makes it all better – most of the time.

When I’m at work – it takes up every working moment and – if I let it (though I try not to), every waking moment too. Weekends are filled with meeting Handsome Hubby’s (HH) expectations and working on our very messy and unorganized house. I’ve been on leave for over a week now though, and I’m finding things are surfacing for me that I just haven’t had to time think about and reflect on, and there’s a lot to work through – my emotions which always run deep and are normally dormant, are rising up and demanding to be felt. In my normal life – there is only time to do – to react – to respond – not really time to reflect – to think (about anything personal), to explore how I really felt about that time – how I feel about it now. That’s why I’ve started blogging. Sorry everyone – I freely admit to doing it for my own self – to get the overwhelming things in my heart – out of it. I can’t help writing about how I feel and at the moment I need to – because…. well.. I just do.

We are now down to only 3 permanently at home (myself included) but the dynamics are very different to last time we were 3. This time, I do not have space, or time. If I sigh (which I do sometimes because I just forget to breath or am just tired,) one of the 2 will ask me if I’m ok – and if I’m not ok, they need an answer as to why I’m not ok and then try to ‘fix me’ or ‘make it all better’ (which actually just makes me feel pressured and makes it all worse – I know I sound selfish but this is just how it makes me feel). I love them for caring but truth be told, I find it invasive – not their fault – all my fault and I really don’t know why I’m like that, but I feel like I’m in a period of my life where not even my thoughts are allowed to be my own. (For example, I was meant to do something this morning which I very nearly bailed on because I felt anxious and HH has just walked in and asked ‘what was wrong with me this morning and why did I feel like that?’ – there’s no empathy or sympathy in his questions. Don’t misunderstand me – there’s caring in the questions but in a very practical sense – it’s broken, therefore I must fix it – emotional stuff isn’t really in his remit. We’ve been together for over 30 years now (married for 28) – it has always been thus. He is who he is and I am who I am and God laughs at the fact that we chose each other and continue to do so).

However, I can blog – because it looks like I’m working and for a brief moment – no one is looking over my shoulder. This is not often the case. It leaves me feeling very much like a songbird – (without a song – I haven’t sung anything in the longest time and for a long while – I just couldn’t sing), in a cage (perhaps even of my own making as it’s my fault I’ve made my world so very small). At work I normally get at least 30 minutes unbroken time at the end of the day and though I’m working, I am at least on my own. (My classroom is the furthest away so you have to be intentional to come visit which makes it all the more special when people sometimes do).

It might seem strange then, that I can come here – to this space and pour out my deepest heart to the ‘void’. I’m not really doing it for any kind of response – though people are kind and do respond. I think I’ve been carrying a lot of this stuff for a really long time – mostly on my own – because I can’t always cope with the responses of others – boy I sound like the most selfish woman alive and maybe I am, but I’m also a very honest one. I’m weak and I’m flawed and I know who I am, though not always why I’ve become that way. See? I even feel guilty about writing a blog about how I feel! Such is life. It’s all good – this is the road to healing and the reason I’ve chosen to walk it at this time. I never know what will come out when I start writing – sometimes I write stuff I didn’t even know I felt – often this turns about to be the case. Only time will really tell whether these things can be ultimately overcome and I can be transformed into someone new – this is always my deepest hope because I know how much the way I am now hurts those I care about.

My advice to you however, if you are feeling guilty is … don’t! It’s one of the worst emotions, (right up there behind disappointment – my least favorite feeling). To feel guilty is a waste of time and emotion and it doesn’t help anyone. The things we normally feel guilty about are things we shouldn’t and if someone else is making you feel guilty about anything, you need to cut them out of your life if you are able to, or at least protect yourself as best you can. Other people can use guilt as a manipulator. Beware. I was brought up to feel guilty which is why I try to nip it in the bud if I possibly can. However guilt is also an indicator that not everything in your world is ok right now and you might need some support to help you overcome it. If you’re a person of faith, or even a seeker – the bible makes it very clear that there’s nothing God cannot forgive. If not, maybe a really close friend or even a medical professional can help you.

It’s always easier to give advice than take it. For me – at this time, its enough for me to be acknowledging the feelings I have/had. Blogging them is healing and helpful. I’m not falling apart because I am letting these emotions rise to the surface – little by little – acknowledging and accepting that this is how it is now – in the full knowledge (and my own lived history) that this too shall pass. I promise you – it always does.

Thanks for taking the time to stop and read this.

ML

The Disappearance of Me.

It was somewhere between March and September 2020 that I discovered that I had disappeared. One minute I was attending church (online), spending time on Facebook, shopping for people who were shielding and encouraging friends. I’d even stepped massively outside of my comfort zone and started leading worship online in a small group page I have where I use songs I’ve been inspired to write. I was even gaining the confidence to use them when I worshipped. I was receiving positive feedback, life seemed fine, I was coping with the massive changes that Lockdown life involved which for me included working as a non medical keyworker and the rest of the time from home. I was fine. I certainly looked fine, seemed fine and thought I was fine.

I remember the day something snapped – not the date exactly but it was like a physical thing – something I actually felt happen inside my body. First I snapped and then I began to shut down. I began to withdraw from everything I had ever done before and everything I had known. I stopped writing, I stopped singing and worshipping, I stopped attending church and I stopped believing in God.

This was huge for me. I’d wrestled before – many times in fact but this was different. I couldn’t see a way of ever coming back to my faith – something that has played a massive influence in my life ever since I could remember. That was, I think, the moment I started to disappear. For most people in my life, one minute I was there and the next I wasn’t. Most of them weren’t bothered – few people even noticed – and that was fine. I was finding that I could no longer cope with people. I’ve always struggled a bit with social situations. I present in person as a bubbly extrovert but take away my role and I am lost. I don’t enjoy events with lots of people and will find excuses not to attend, and I don’t always cope with small group situations.

I think it’s important to say here that the job I do is both intense and people filled. There is no avoidance of people in my everyday job – whether I am working from home or in my place of work. I think that’s why – when I get home or have any kind of choice – I will choose not to socialize. I am happiest when everyone else has left the house or work or gone to bed and it’s just me – then I can start to really relax. Only then can I think clearly and repair and heal.

Our eldest daughter came back home to live the weekend before the first lockdown. My husband – who had been working away long distance came home for an Easter break and didn’t go back to work again for 3 months or more. Our eldest and youngest sons who still live with us were also furloughed and study from home. A house with 3 people quickly became a house with 5 people. The difference was noticeable and tangible.

I can pinpoint the moment the snap happened – someone I know and care about found out they had breast cancer. It was the last straw. She’s a survivor and is absolutely fine now but something in me just couldn’t deal with another thing. The intensity of supporting 33 children online – some of whom had some massive emotional needs, as well as manage a family at home and the expectations of work life and church life – I guess something had to give – but it wasn’t me. I had given all I had.

The few friends for whom I hadn’t disappeared, mostly stood by me. It didn’t feel like I had a break down but looking back – perhaps I did. I know that every phone call, every message (outside of the professional ones I couldn’t avoid) became something demanding – something I could no longer give – something I could no longer cope with. Gradually I disappeared a little more. If you worked with me – I was real and tangible – someone you could touch and see and talk to – someone who would laugh with you, support you when you were having a bad day – a real, whole person. Within my family I was a real person who would laugh with you, support you when you were having a bad day – a real, not so whole person. For everyone else though, I wanted to be invisible. I couldn’t cope with perceived expectations. No I didn’t want to go for a socially distanced walk with a coffee – didn’t they realize how big my work bubble was? How at risk it put them to spend any time with me? I changed my shopping habits – everything. I hurt people I care deeply about – because they said they understood but clearly didn’t. I have disappeared from their lives and now they have disappeared from mine. Three or four others though have not allowed me to disappear completely. They check in with me from time to time – understand that I will always say no when they ask to meet – understand that my faith had disappeared though it’s slowly starting to resurface again. I haven’t sung in months – so used to singing for and about Jesus – what do you sing about when all your hope and faith are gone?

So now I live a very small life. I keep my world very small – immediate family only, my parents, work colleagues and that’s pretty much it. I used to walk daily, but now I only leave the house to shop, work or visit my parents. I had to do this to survive. I don’t access face book anymore though I dabble in other social media – dip in and out as it were – but I don’t say much – what is there to say? If I met up with any of my friends – most of whom have a very strong faith – whatever would we talk about?

I know I’ve almost completely disappeared because as ‘life’ is starting to return to whatever ‘normal’ is – church has resumed etc. but no one is looking for me – no one is coming to find out why I haven’t gone back. They have accepted my disappearance as a permanent state I think – and perhaps it will be – only time will tell. I’m fine with this. I’ve been involved in church long enough to know that if you have expectations of what the ‘church’ will do for you, you will always be disappointed – however, I also know that when anyone does even the smallest thing, I feel incredibly grateful and blessed and cared about.

I knew just how much I’d disappeared when not one of my husband’s family wished me a Happy Birthday – even though it was my 50th. It was hurtful at the time but I’m coming to terms with it. The more people venture outside – the less I want to. Always at the forefront of my mind is that I am a Keyworker who does not have a choice about who or what I may be coming into contact with – so I will keep on keeping my life small – protecting my mental well-being.

I think the final straw for me was when a ‘close’ friend who ‘understood’ said to me ‘I know you don’t ‘mean’ to hurt anyone’. That was when I knew for definite that this was how it had to be – whether forever or not, only time will tell. Every time we think we’re making strides the virus changes things up again – such is life. Adapt and overcome any which way you can – that’s how I live and what I have to do.

When I think about life before COVID – before the daily sorrow and loss, it’s hard to imagine ever returning to it again. Some things I think about make me angry – I’m not sure why but I need to find out and work through it. Church for me represents expectation and I guess in some ways friends do too. If you are one of my friends, you might think this is an awful thing for me to say and totally untrue and I understand completely that it’s my perception – not necessarily my reality. I’m just not ready yet – hopefully one day I will be but for now this is my truth – my life – my reality. This is how I keep my life ‘normal’. This has become my new norm.

So am I really invisible? To many people I think I am. I was upset about something today and wanted to talk to someone about it. Normally I’d talk to a work friend but I’m currently on leave. It was a sad realization that I don’t really have ‘friends’ anymore- no one I felt I could share today’s woe with anyway but I need to accept that this is the choice I have made and I have to live with it – maybe not forever but for now.

Bombarded

Wrote this for my other blog – Middle Age Spread and thought I’d share it here too.

Middle Age Spread 2014

This morning, within 5 minutes of opening my eyes, 3 different things happened or were said to me which have left me feeling bombarded and flustered – even a little reflective.

I’m currently on holiday, in the sense that I’m not doing the job I normally do – I’m just doing jobs at home instead. I got caught up in a Netflix cycle last night which meant I woke up a little later than I normally would.

Upon opening my eyes, I immediately received a text from my sister. Until recently this was a very rare event as we are not exactly close, but my Dad has not been in the best of health so I’m hearing from her a lot. I wear one of these new- fangled watches that deliver messages straight to me wherever I am (I said that to sound much older than I am – I’m…

View original post 1,675 more words

What I Did and What I learned About Forgiveness.

So it was some time ago that I wrote my previous blog and I felt able to publish it because of what God did through that experience.

The person who was hurting me so deeply was my father.  He had been very hurt by a decision that I had made, based on advice that he had given me ironically and in his anger, he had disowned me and my family….including his grandchildren.

As you may imagine, this hurt me very much – not only because he had misunderstood my intentions but also because it wasn’t the first time he had done it! He had done it many many times before, only to then forget that he had even said it.

So here is what happened. I chose to forgive him. It was hard and layered and took some time but I also chose to come into agreement with the disowning, breaking off something powerful as I did so.

We were not in contact for almost three years. They were three very painful and difficult years but they were also years where I prayed for him and kept pressing in to God. He was angry with me for a long time, believing I had not forgiven him. I really think he thought I was in the wrong. I was under a lot of pressure from my family but in Gods strength I held my ground and in all that time, I was praying and God was healing.

I finally agreed to link up with him through Facebook and in doing so realised he had absolutely no idea what he had done to bring about the change in our relationship. I love my Dad and was close to him in spite of everything.

God gave me the opportunity to explain to him and this time we were able to restore our relationship. In fact God has made us closer than ever and has healed so much through our time apart.

Now I enjoy my relationship with my dad and we value it and guard it so fiercely because we know how fragile it was and how precious it was. Those years apart have been gloriously restored because God is good.

Forgiveness does not mean you have to stay in a bad situation but if you can forgive it frees you up to allow God to do all that needs to be done.

 

That’s ok – You are a Christian – You can just forgive me!

How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?

The apostle Peter asked the question and Jesus gave the answer.

Matthew 18:21-22English Standard Version (ESV)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

  forgiveness1

I know that Bible verses are not supposed to be taken out of context but this answer seems to be pretty clear. To the Jews it represented the number of infinity.

I find myself in a situation where someone I love is hurting me continually. The person is a Christian and every time this happens they apologise – ask for forgiveness and on we go again until the next time.The trouble is – this pattern of behaviour has been happening over 28 years and I am wondering when its going to stop?

I know that this person is very damaged.

They tell me that they  have changed and I genuinely believe that they are trying really hard to – that they want to.

The trouble is………

I just can’t take anymore!

I love this person very much.

I want them to be happy.

I want then to be whole and healed.

I just dont want to be their emotional puch bag anymore.

forgiveness3

Everywhere I look I cannot escape the fact that as a Christian I am required to forgive this person.

And I know that I am far from perfect myself.

I sometimes hurt people without realising that I have.

And there are times when I treat Jesus in exactly the same way as this person is treating me

and I know

that

C.S.-Lewis

In truth I don’t know where I would be without the forgiveness of Jesus and others that I have wronged along the way. It is the hope my life and faith are built upon.

jpeg2-300x300

I’m not even sure that forgiveness is really my issue, I love this person and want God’s best for them

and I know that

quote-Mahatma-Gandhi-the-weak-can-never-forgive-forgiveness-is-337

This person is a family member (but not my husband).

The irony is – if they were my husband, I could legitimately leave them because to stay would be to remain in an abusive situation. I may not have the bruises to show for it but a close examination of my heart would tell you everything you needed to see.

I want to honour God in my behaviour towards this person

but

I can’t help but feel that…….

f706402203ab9845cee821a09870d5a7

So I am left with the dilemma. A broken heart – a letter asking me to forgive and forget once more – yet it feels to me as if to do so is to give that person permission to carry on their behaviour.

What do I do?

 

Mid Life Crisis?

So I see that it has been 2 years since my last post. I’m not really surprised by this……my life has changed significantly over the last 3 years owing to a career change which limits my free time considerably.  However this evening I seem to have a spare moment to share a thought or two. 

I’m in a period of my life where everything seems to be changing at a significant speed. My four children are mostly adult now with the last one having left secondary school yesterday. He will start college in the fall, another begins uni far far away. Another returns to do his final year and the eldest has completed a degree and is looking at ‘ the rest of her life’ which could take her anywhere in the world. 

This is what we plan for and pray for isn’t it? To see our children grow to adulthood- to fly the nest and make their own unique and wonderful contribution to the world- to take all the lessons we have taught them and all the love we have lavished upon them to make their way in the world…

But, as I sit here, listening to three boys upstairs laughing together as they enjoy their summer hols, my daughter off seeing the world and having all those opportunities I wanted for her- as I sit here with my significant other as he sits with headphones in his ears, watching a movie, from which I am excluded, I cannot even begin to describe to you everything that I’m feeling because to do so would unlock emotions of such enormity I could not cope with the magnitude of their intensity. 

The job I do is highly stressful and very pressured. It’s the sort of job one describes as a vocation or a calling. Sadly it’s a job where the goal posts move on a weekly basis- where your best is never quite good enough and where you feel you must get everything right so that others are not failed. 

During a rare week off, I was encouraged by a friend to walk every day. My boss has been concerned that I’m becoming overworked so I took the advice, am trying to work less and to walk everyday. I must admit there are times when this walk is a godsend. I love being outside. I love wildlife. I love the countryside and I walk and walk. By the second km, I feel my body start to settle and relax and my burdens begin to lift. I see and hear owls, ducks, geese, cattle, houses I didn’t know were there. I hear the singing of too many birds to count, the species of which I am learning to recognise. 

But……

Something else is happening. Something I’m finding harder to deal with. 

Before I worked every spare minute. My identity was caught up in it. I think I even took pride in being such a hard worker. The job took up all of my thinking even in sleep- I know – not a healthy place to be especially over a 3-4 year period. 

Now though I have a little more time. More time to think, more time to become aware of my struggles, my weaknesses and failings. The overwhelming emotion is loneliness. I walk alone which I prefer because I’m an introvert but lately I feel like I do everything alone. Significant other- no doubt fed up with a wife he never sees or who is always engaged in work- has made his own life, his own hobbies, his own schedule. Other then ‘will you be home for tea?’ I don’t think I feature. 

So now I have time to realise how lonely my life really is…..how empty it has become . I feel like I’m looking forward to a lonely future surrounded by others who have no idea that I’m feeling any of these things. I’m becoming fixated on things that are not in my best interests to be contemplating. Things which if I pursue them too closely will wreck my very existence and destroy the family I love so much. It’s more than melancholy. It’s more than just a really crappy day. 

Normally a faithful Christian, even that faith seems to be slowly eroding away…… 

Yet as I write this a new thought is forming in my mind- or maybe the recollection of an old thought. 

Ecclesiastes ( in the bible ) says, ‘ there is a season for everything under heaven ‘ it goes on to all about emotions, life events and such and I am comforted by the thought that ‘this too shall pass’ . There will be new joys, new loves, new members of the family to welcome and love and bless. This is just a season – a midlife crisis- if you will. 

There’s a verse in the psalms in which the writer says, ‘ why are you downcast oh my soul?’ The advice the psalmist gives to himself lifts my heart as I write this – ‘ put your hope in God for I will yet praise Him’ . I know as I write that this is true. 

So, I need to accept that for this period of my life as it changes beyond all recognition, there will be sorrow, there will be loss – the best kind of loss- a loss that every parent must one day face, there will be melancholy moments….

But

I must not let this be the thing that defines my future – that defines my life. 

THIS TOO SHALL PASS! 

New Year, New Me?

I guess only time will tell.

The biggest change for me this year has been that I haven’t ended the year feeling like I haven’t achieved anything – possibly because I have achieved something this year that I could never have imagined would be possible when I left school. I always liked school – just as well as I plan to be spending a great deal of time there in the future.

In fact I feel very positive going into this year. Over the last two years I believe that God has had me on a particular journey – one that isnt completed yet but I am content and relieved to be in this phase of His plan.

I have had a number of things on my heart for a couple of years now – changes I want to make in my lifestyle choices. Having talked to God about it a lot over that time, this year I am beginning to make small steps to hopefully bring about long-term changes in my life. I have never been much of a planner. I tend to drift through life but land on my feet and achieve. Don’t get me wrong – I can’t take any credit for that – I know that it’s all God!

I’ve been thinking about that a lot.

I have always believed I’m not a goal orientated person and for the most part I’m not. I leave deadlines to the last minute and often make plans I don’t follow through on – resulting in me feeling pretty rubbish about myself.

This year though, I am using modern technology to make very small changes – easy manageable changes until those little changes become habitual. The small changes are things like drinking more water, walking to work instead of driving ( a new job is facilitating this) and daily bible reading – even keeping up with the washing! I have been thinking about all the things I want to be doing more of – like writing this blog, practising musical instruments, songwriting, praying, spending time in worship – doing those hobbies I never have time to do because I’m so busy on socal media or watching tv!

It has only been five days, but I so far I have achieved most of the things I have planned to do. Some I have put off by changing the date when the goal is to be achieved – I’m kind to myself. It’s early days for this new plan and some of my expectations have been a little unrealistic.

The small steps I’m achieving outweigh the steps I have put off so I am celebrating that. The new job means that until I get into the new routine I am learning what I can realistically achieve as I go.

Anyway, having achieved one of my goals for tonight ( to complete a blog) I am now off to achieve another one (be in bed by a certain time!)

So Goodnight Fellow Bloggers

&

Happy 2015.

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy

You chose to live your life – your way

So why am I being punished?

You chose to throw your life away

So why am I being punished?

You chose to leave on New Years Day

So why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

You chose to leave your wife and home

So why am I being punished?

You chose to live your life alone

So why am I being punished?

You chose your daughter to disown

Why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

You chose the choices that you made

So why am I being punished?

You chose to cause hurt and  dismay

So why am I being punished?

You chose on my Graduation day

So why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

You choose to hurt me again and again

Why am I being punished?

You chose again to walk away

Why am I being punished?

You chose yourself above all else

So why am I being punished?

I wish I had the guts to say

SO WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED?????

The Good Friday Challenge…….

Image

There are different times throughout the year where as Christians we have the opportunity to start over…..New Year, September term starting, when we take communion – every Sunday come to that but Good Friday is quite a key time. I have been quite challenged this year by people’s attitudes to Good Friday. I am not saying that their attitudes are wrong – just that people can have a very different take on Good Friday. I was asked to prepare worship – which I found challenging in itself but that is for my other blog and was told not to make it ‘too dirgy’ but to have a sense of triumph. 

Image

 

I understood where the person was coming from…….to a point……. It’s a view that many Christians share – Jesus is no longer on the cross – He died so we could be forgiven from our sins and has already risen so it should be celebrated. I get their point of view but I don’t fully agree with it.

Image

I have been a Christian for a little while now and I know how easy it is to begin to take for granted the truths in the Bible, the sacrifice Jesus made – wrong but true all the same. I need days like Good Friday because they cause me to reflect afresh on the sacrifice of Christ’s death – that horrific and degrading sacrifice where he took the punishment that I deserved for my sin – the punishment I earned – I need to think about that – be reminded of that – mourn the loss of my saviour – even while knowing the outcome. His death meant that I will live for eternity – love for eternity – be with Him for eternity. I owe Him everything! I need to grieve – I need to be sorry that He had to choose to do that for me – I need an opportunity to express that. Because the reality is ……………………………………

Image

this horrific!

And He did this for me!

 

I will be triumphant on Easter Sunday with everyone else but for today,……………I need to reflect with sorrow on the reality of all that Jesus sacrificed for my sake.