"All my hopes and expectations:
Looking for an explanation.
Have I found my destination?"

Friday, 26 October 2012


Honesty has always been important to me.  I hate being lied to.  I can’t stand it when the kids do it.

I’ve lost friends to dishonesty in the past; being of a mind that “if they lied to me about that; what else don’t I know?”  The deep-rooted trust issues that I contend with make forming relationships very difficult.

Yet I’m a hypocrite.  I skirt around issues, refuse to open up and show all the guarded traits that would make me run a mile if other people exhibited them. 

But being honest is hard.  And I'm not talking about the day to day decent, truthful, “yes, your bum does look big in that” kind of honesty.  I’m talking about being truly open; nothing hidden, nothing suppressed.  Because when you do that you are making yourself fragile and vulnerable around others.

I had a secret.  I don’t anymore.  For the past eleven and a half years I’d held it inside, locked in a box and hidden from the world.  I was safe with it there.  If no one could see it, no one could talk about it and it couldn't hurt me.

Or so I told myself.  The truth was that by locking that box inside my head I was keeping the secret safe.  Not letting the world tarnish it, not allowing anything good in my life to diminish it in any way. 

I made a decision a few weeks ago to let people in.  To open up.  It was one of the scariest and hardest things I have ever done. 

Being me; I chose email as the means of communication.  If there’s ever a way to avoid saying things out loud and to put them in writing instead, I’ll take it. 

It’s cheating but it means that I can think longer about what I want to say.  I can change my mind halfway through and edit sentences; I can chicken out completely (even after getting it all out) and delete the whole outpouring before it ever reaches the intended recipient.  I did that a few times!

Eventually though, I took a deep breath and pressed ‘send’. 

I wish I could say that I immediately felt relieved.  That there was a weight off my shoulders after finally unburdening.  But the truth is I actually felt worse.  Despite receiving a reply pretty quickly and being assured that things were going to be ok, I was safe etc; I couldn't shake the feeling that I would have been better off keeping that box locked up.  It’s taken more than two weeks since for me to feel even remotely comfortable that my secret isn't secret anymore. 

But I’m over the first hurdle now.  And I can move forwards.   For the first time since I started coming to church I feel like I’m really supposed to be there.  I’m not an imposter.  I no longer feel like I’m hiding part of myself.  By opening up - even the little bit that I have - I have made a huge space in myself that was quickly filled with God’s love and compassion. 

I can’t thank Richard and Becca enough for their support.  Pastoral care via email and text message - brilliant! 

Honesty involves learning how to express openly to another person the fullness of inner experience, by setting aside all psychological defences.  And to do that, the emotional pain that caused those defences to come into being in the first place has to be reconciled.  The original pain may have been long in the past but social interactions and everyday experiences can lead to resurfacing of the pain.  The essence of a therapeutic relationship is to confront the pain directly, without running from it, so that it can be healed and transformed.


Holding On

I should have written this a couple of weeks ago when I was in a better place.  Hindsight is a splendid thing…  I could have written all about how great it is to finally have a job and be spending time with adults; feeling productive and open to all sorts of future possibilities.

But I didn’t write it then.  And now I’m struggling.  The last few days I’ve been finding it hard to cope.  To be honest that’s rather an understatement.

I hate the way my head works when I’m like this.  No matter what the situation I can’t help but focus on the negative; often finding one where it doesn’t exist.

Everything becomes a chore.  From getting out of bed in the morning, to holding conversations; even just being around people is hard.  All I want to do is get away from everything.  Go for a long walk.  Preferably to not come back.

It is at times like this that I am incredibly grateful to my friends.  For putting up with me when I can’t stand myself.  For reassuring me of their love and support.  For not letting me hide away.  Distracting me with jobs or by simply being there, quietly, allowing me time to sit and breathe and try to refocus.

“When it seems hardest to pray, that’s when we should pray the hardest”: I was reminded the other day. 

It is hard to pray when I’m feeling like this.  I bought a holding cross at Greenbelt this year and that’s helped a lot.

At the back of my mind I always know it’s there; and being able to take it out of my desk drawer at work, or from my pocket while I’m waiting for the bus – that’s meant that prayer has been a more obvious option than it used to be, as well as coming easier. 


Friday, 27 July 2012

Time's up

As I write this, I have just four days left until I start work.  Four days.  It doesn’t seem like long ago that I was thinking I had a month to go; time just vanishes.  Chances missed; free time frittered away…  I’ve spent so much of the last month focused on what I will be losing when I start work rather than focusing on the positives.

Reading Richard’s letter made me think: how many rocks have I not bothered to pick up over my life, thinking they were worthless?  How many more diamonds am I going to miss?

I need to grasp this opportunity and make the most of it.  At the back of my mind there is still a voice telling me there’s been a mix-up in the recruitment process and they’ve mistaken me for another applicant.  I need to ignore that voice and remember that I got here on my own merit and I AM capable of doing well.

After not working for over six years the change in my whole life is going to be immense.  I am going to see a lot less of the kids; by the time I get home they’ll be tired and grumpy and that’s going to be hard.  I won’t see my friends so much; I’ll miss them a lot.  Leaving the house every morning at a time that I’ve grown accustomed to still being in bed; ouch!  Spending all day in an unfamiliar environment with a bunch of strangers; I’m shaking at the thought…

But I’m going to be meeting a whole new group of people.  I’ll be able to have adult conversations throughout the day.  My brain will get used more effectively again.  I might even enjoy myself!

“God can change our circumstances, but sometimes He waits for us to show real desire for change as well as our faith in Him.”   I guess He knows I’m ready for this, even if I’m feeling apprehensive myself.  I find a lot of reassurance in that!


Sunday, 1 July 2012


I’ve never been a big believer in destiny: when your life is full of ups and downs (with not many ups), it is hard to see how that can be God’s plan.  Was I really supposed to be in this situation?  Single mum, struggling financially, in and out of depression…  I had to trust that God knew what he was doing; sometimes that was pretty much the only thing stopping me from running away from it all.

Lately though, things have been coming together in a way that I guess it’s easier to accept as His will.  And as things improve, it becomes more comfortable to look back  and appreciate the necessity of events and hardships that have shaped my life.

Those of you who were in church that day (and many that weren’t) will be aware that Sunday 3rd June was the day I led the service.  I don’t think I’d been that nervous since standing up to give testimony when I was baptised last July.  Once I started though, a strange kind of calm came over me.  The nerves were still there, but it was like I felt I was in the right place, doing the right thing…  Hard to explain really. 

Thank you to everyone for the positive comments following the service.  All the support meant a lot.  I’m not saying it is something I am now itching to do every week; but the experience has added a considerable amount of weight to my feeling of being called in at least a Local Preacher-y direction.  We’ll see…

After being a stay-at-home-mum for the past six years; I applied for a job this month.  In my mind I just saw it as good practice at filling in application forms; intending to start looking properly for work in September when James is finally at school full time.  So when I got an email offering me an interview, it came as somewhat of a surprise.  An interview…  More nerves, panic, sweat (it was a HOT day!) but somehow – don’t ask me how – I ended up being offered the job the next day.

For something that I only did for practice, it has all come together so easily.  There’s still obstacles in the way; I need to pass a medical, wait for references (and pray that Richard’s nice to me in his…) and do a CRB check (nothing to worry about there, at least), but I’m looking at a start date somewhere early in August.

Right now I feel comfortable with my life.  Church has played a big part in that.  Since joining the congregation last January, I think I have definitely found a home at High Street.  Being able to get involved in things and contribute to church gives me a boost of self-worth that I struggle to find elsewhere.

And now other aspects of my life are starting to reflect on the comfort and security that I feel from church, and it’s not a coincidence.  If I hadn’t joined High Street, I wouldn’t have known of a job opening at the council.  Without the Longs and Byasses, we wouldn’t have enjoyed three lovely camping weekends in the past year.  Friends from another church have just informed me this morning of a lovely house that we might (possibly… God willing) have a chance of moving to in a few months.

As hard as I still find it to accept that God plays a role in the ups and downs of our lives, I can appreciate how the shaping of my life can be attributed to His hand.  If my life hadn’t taken the ‘wrong’ turns that it did, if I hadn’t made the mistakes that I made, then I wouldn’t have ended up in a place where I felt so lost and alone that Church seemed almost like a last resort.  I never dreamed my life could change in so many little ways or that one BIG change could feel so natural.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Taking the next step

How do you even begin to describe yourself in a positive way if most of the thoughts in your head are negative?  How do you make a few boring interests seem … well … interesting?

I’m joining an online dating site.  Or at least I will be once I can figure out how to describe myself in such a way that won’t make anyone reading my profile run a mile.  I’m asking friends for help with that: I like to think I’m pretty good with words most of the time but when it comes to talking about myself my descriptions tend to be rather negative.

Online dating…  Part of me wants to run a mile: the thought of meeting people through the internet just doesn’t sit right with me.  That’s probably mostly the twelve-year old inside me remembering all the warnings given at school when a lot of girls in my class spent their lunch breaks sitting in online chatrooms.

Five years.  That’s how long I’ve been on my own.  The idea of sharing my life with someone is completely alien to me.  But I know it’s what I need.  I don’t do well on my own.  It’s all too easy to shut myself off when I don’t have another adult to be accountable to.

I spent a long time thinking that I could cope on my own.  That I was meant to be alone.  That I was happier that way.  And when I got lonely or unhappy I felt that I deserved to be in that state.  The way my brain works is ridiculous.  It’s like the emotional parts and the logical parts just cannot communicate with each other.  I know that I deserve to be happy but I don’t feel that I deserve it.

I do sometimes feel like people judge me for being a single mum.  As though it is my fault I’m in this situation.  That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me that means that any men that might show an interest quickly change their minds.  I’m starting to get passed that.  I picked the wrong men.  I settled for convenience rather than waiting for someone who would actually be good for me.  And then when things went wrong, as they were bound to do in that situation, I blamed myself.

But punishing myself further by shutting myself off and not trying to better my situation: that’s just stupid.   I have trust issues: I don’t trust people to like me and certainly not to keep liking me.  But humans are made to be in relationship.  Social relationships, romantic relationships and relationship with God.  I’m learning to accept God’s love; I’m slowly developing social relationships and opening myself up to people.  But I don’t even know where to begin with the other...

I’ve chosen a Christian dating site as I think one of the most important things to me now is to find someone who shares my faith.  Other than that my list of ‘requirements’ are pretty basic.  There’s a few fickle things: I’d like ‘him’ to be taller than me and slightly older, I want to find someone with a good sense of humour, a love of books and the ability to argue intelligently.  That’s not too much to ask for is it?

So now I’m praying for the ability to articulate who I am, for the courage to put myself into a vulnerable situation and for the wisdom to know a good thing (man) when I find one.  


Thursday, 19 April 2012

"Does darkness exist?"

The question posed to us by Richard during his service on Good Friday. 

The scientific answer is that darkness does not exist.  Darkness is simply the absence of light.  Light we can study, darkness we cannot.  Darkness cannot be measured; light on the other hand can.  How can we tell how dark a certain space is?  We measure the amount of light. A simple ray of light can break through darkness and illuminate it.  Darkness is simply the absence of light.

But that’s physical darkness.  What about emotional darkness?  The feeling of isolation and numbness that I am all to familiar with.  Does that exist? 

I’d love to be able to say no; but like I said, it is all too familiar.  However, like physical darkness, this emotional state can be overcome through the introduction of light.  It’s a little bit harder than flicking a switch though.

A song that I listened to a lot when I first started out on my Christian journey (and that I still turn to regularly when the darkness threatens), is ‘Light’ by the Proclaimers.  It is probably my favourite of their songs: pretty much every word of it resonates with me.  (Lyrics reproduced on page 16 for anyone who is interested.)

"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

When I started writing this, I was in a positive place.  I can remember that; sort of.  At least, I remember feeling like a double-page of the magazine would be pretty easy to fill.  But now…? 

The light is really hard to see when my mind just feels full of nothingness. 

People ask me if I’m okay and the automatic response is to say that I’m fine.  I read somewhere recently (but cannot remember where) that ‘fine’ is an acronym for ‘Feeling In Need of Encouragement’. 

That’s certainly true for how I am right now. 
  • I keep turning to my Bible for help.  But my bible knowledge is pretty poor so I either spend a long time randomly flicking pages or I go back to familiar passages. 
  • I hate being on my own but I go out of my way to avoid being around people. 
  • I can’t stand silence so I turn the music on really LOUD to overcompensate for the emptiness in my head. 
  • I long for physical contact with someone but push the kids away if they want a cuddle. 
I’m a mess.

My heart is open to Jesus and His light but it’s like there’s a wall in my head casting a shadow over everything. 

When I focus, I know that all this is only temporary.  That the shadow will pass soon and I’ll be back to ‘normal’. 

All I can do is keep praying for that to happen soon. 


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

This month has been a weird one for me.

I made a decision that some may view as premature, foolish, downright stupid…  To be honest I had enough doubts of my own but deep down inside, what I was doing felt right in a way that nothing has for a while.

I stopped taking the anti-depressants that my doctor had prescribed to me.  I’d been thinking about it for some time.  The pills had kind of helped at the start but it had got to the stage where I just felt numb to everything and, to be honest, I kind of missed the ‘high’ part of my up-and-down-ness.  I wanted to feel like me again.

I should have discussed my feelings with the doctor, but (that aside) something told me I was making the right decision.

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” (Psalm 118:8)

A couple of years ago, if someone had said to me that they were going to stop taking their medication and rely on prayer and faith in God to keep them going, I would have wanted to slap some sense into them.  But now my perspective has changed.

“With God all things are possible.”  (Matthew 19:26)

Consistent prayer is finally helping me get my mind into the right place.  I have built more structure into my daily (and weekly) routines; I figured that if I am going to call myself a Methodist I ought to have a bit more structure to my life!

I’m not saying that I know what I am doing, or that I know it is going to work – but it feels like this is what I should be doing.  It feels more than comfortable.  Feels right.

I know how it sounds.  I’m still waiting for someone to try and slap me.

But I’m not doing this on my own.  I have the best help anyone could ever get.  L. B. Cowman said: “It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there.”  That’s exactly how I feel: comforted.  He is much better at untangling my mess than I am, or a doctor is.

This past month has been weird, like I said.  I’ve been constantly waiting to see if a depression would hit me; but whereas before I would be waiting with trepidation, now I’m waiting with a smile on my face, seeing every day as the gift from God that it truly is.