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

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.


“‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

"It is a directive, not a judgement.  Stop trying to cope, stop being independent; rely on God.  Only God.  That is all!”

A bible quote and some sound advice to go with it that were much needed the other day.

I struggle.  All the time.

Every day something I’ve done a million times before takes on new meaning because I realise God’s role in it.  With good things that’s easy.  But when things go wrong…

Having grown up outside of the Church I’ve always done things my own way.  Usually badly, but I’ve got on with things.  I’m stubborn and independent and that’s one of the things I really struggle with in my faith.  Giving away that independence.  Letting God handle my problems.  Being able to stand back and let His will be done.

When I was baptised last summer, I spoke in my testimony about my struggles with depression and how I had come to realise that it wasn’t a miracle cure that I was looking to God for; but the strength within myself to seek help.  It is a continuing struggle and I often despair that I’m going round in circles, getting nowhere.  It is at these moments that I want to be stubborn.  I want to shut myself away, bang my head against a wall, ‘cope’ in my time-trusted way.  But that’s where faith comes in.  By seeing my struggle as God’s will, I am slowly (in a very circular, meandering way) beginning to realise that throughout and despite the despair and the ache and the numbness I am finding myself growing.  I have found the strength to ask for help.  I am forcing myself into situations that I would like to run away from.  I am becoming, step by step, better.

One thing that I have always found helpful when I am feeling low though is to keep myself busy.  Preferably around people, but not necessarily ‘with’ them.  I do friends’ housework, freeing up time for them to get on with other things.  I’m pretty handy at DIY jobs so seem to have become the ‘go-to’ person for all those sorts of things.  It’s good, but it’s not ideal.  I want to grow as a disciple and to do that I think I need to find a more specific way of spending my own time.  As much as I love helping friends there’s more that I could, and should, be doing.  But I need to stop beating myself up and feeling like a waste of space just because I haven’t found my path yet.

I’m going to try to curtail my stubbornness, limit my independence; rely on God’s spirit to guide me.  I’ll find my way.


Starting Over

It's been months since I last posted on here.  A lot has changed in that time, but so much has stayed the same.  Lately I've been getting more involved in church; in little ways that are comfortable for me.  Think I've found a little niche that I can fit into, where I feel safe and secure but at the same time be able to do little things that can help other people.  

The main thing I've been doing is the church magazine.  To start with I enjoyed the challenge of bringing the magazine up to date, making it look more professional and just generally feeling like I was doing something small to help out.  Then I started writing articles for it.  On the whole, these articles are pretty basic: 250 words on the story behind Valentine's day; encouraging people to come to house group; how eggs and bunnies can still point towards Jesus...  Two months ago I wrote an article with the title "Journal of a New Disciple" that spoke a bit about my personal struggles and how I am overcoming them with the help of my faith.  I wrote a second article for the April magazine.  

Feedback that I have received has been really encouraging.  I must admit I didn't really expect anyone to actually read the articles, let alone get anything positive out of them (especially enough to come and talk to me about it).  It's made me think and reassess why I even wrote the first one.  

I have the thought in my head, getting stronger day by day, that I want to do more.  Local Preacher is definitely something I want to pursue.  Who knows what else in the future.  I have my doubts about my ability, but not about the feeling that it is what I should be doing.  And slowly the voice in my head saying: "who would want to hear what I have to say?" is quietening. 

If what I am writing for the magazine can touch even one person in a positive way; help them in their own faith, then I'm doing something good.  And I want to keep that up.  So my new idea is to try and post something on here once a week ish, and then when it comes to writing my article for the magazine I can either draw from that or write something new (and then post that to the blog).  

Knowing my past history of blogging I'm probably going to post the two articles I've already done and in six months come back with a new idea of what to use this blog for.  But right now I'm feeling optimistic.  Writing more often will give me more focus anyway - even if no one reads it!