Merry Mondays #22

Every Monday I make a short list of things I am thankful for, and things I am looking forward to that week. I encourage you all to join in however you like, in the comments, on your blog, on paper, in your head, send me an email, shot me a text, however you like. Lets get started…

Things I am thankful to God for:

#1 Friends all over the world
#2 A fun weekend
#3 Dry weather
#4 Music – there’s nothing like music
#5 Free days, to lie in, paint, tidy, walk, process, and just be.

Things I am looking forward to:

#1 October being over, October has been a good month, but it feels like it’s dragged.
#2 Praise and Worship evening
#3 Skyfall
#4 Seeing my sister -hopefully with a much improved face after chickenpox,impetigo, and conjunctivitis,
#5 Have a crazy few days making crafts with a lot of crazy kids

What’s going on in your life?


Out from that darkness.

It was a cold autumnal day, the wind blowing outside, golden leaves falling from branches outside my window. I sat on the sofa staring out. I hadn’t moved from that sofa, except to go to the toilet, for 3 weeks now. Tears rolled down my cheeks, but my face stayed expressionless. I sat empty, no will to go on living, no courage to die. I was void of all emotion bar one.

Fear.

I sat there still, tears streaming down my cheeks, I knew not why. Motionless, expressionless, noiseless. The only sign of life from my body was the slow rising and falling of my chest as I breathed, the blinking eye lids, and the tears that flowed so readily from my eyes down my cheeks, no will to wipe them away. I sat there literally crippled by fear. I had met crippling fear, and I had no idea how to battle it.

That morning my mother carried me upstairs, the stairs I no longer had the muscle to climb myself. My clothes were laid out on the bed, she told me to put them on. No will to fight, slowly, piece by piece, I clothed myself. Exhausted after such a burst of activity I fell onto the bed and slept. She came back after an hour and woke me, carried me downstairs, told me we were going to the woods. I shook my head and collapsed onto the sofa. Undeterred she handed me my coat and scarf. I halfheartedly put on my coat, I wrapped the scarf around my head as was the custom where I had come from, it provided me with some comfort, some feeling of protection and anonymity.  She lifted me to my feet, linked arms with me, and got me to the front door.

At the door I finally found some fight in me. I locked my legs. The crippling fear was giving me some energy to fight. I couldn’t go out there. Not out in the open, where there were people, not out where there was no blanket to hide under, not out where everything was so unpredictable, not out there where LIFE was. She unlinked my arm. She said she would go alone then, if I wasn’t going to go. The fear of being alone overwhelmed any previous fear of going out, and so, having lost the battle I took her arm and leant on her for support as we climbed into the car.

We walked along the cleared, gravel, track in the woods, masses of trees each side. My full body weight up against my mothers frame, just summoning the muscle to keep my legs in motion, one step at a time. We walked for about a minute before I spotted a bench in a small clearing through the tress. I made my first decision in weeks and steered my mother towards it. We walked and soon reached it. I slumped down onto its welcoming wooden platform, a saviour to those all-skin-and-bone legs. My mother wondered off a ways to explore the forest around her.

Tears streamed down my cheeks and for the first time I allowed them to shake through my body. For the first time my heart was engaged as well as my eyes. I cried out into the nothingness, hoping, that there was something, someone, listening. “God if you’re really there, if you still care, help me, please.” Then again “I don’t understand, I’m scared, I can’t do this life.” A little later “If you were ever even there to begin with, why have you left me? Why have you let me get so totally lost?” Then finally “Tell me one thing please, tell me this will end. When will it end?” I sat and let those real, raw, burning, questions roar through me, allowing the tears to form right from my heart and shake through my body and spill out of my eyes down my skin.

Then I heard it, I heard him speak, louder than ever before. Shouting into my darkness, shouting out so his child, so far from him, could hear his voice, desperate that I know he was still holding onto me. He shouted to me, “Remember the Israelites? Remember those 40 years they spent in the desert? Wasn’t I there? Didn’t I use that time to raise up people who were ready for the promised land? Didn’t I remain faithful and lead them out? Didn’t I get them out? I’ll do the same for you too.” My soul stilled for a moment, for the first time in as long as my fogged up, veiled-in-darkness, mind could remember. I felt a tiny seed of courage planted to be able to stay alive. I breathed deeply and felt the air flow through my body. My mother came back and took my arm, we slowly ambled back to the car, those words playing over and over in my head.

Within hours any tiny drop of hope which had been given with those words had faded. The doubt and fear which had momentarily lightened came back with a vengeance. I sat on my sofa, huddled in my corner once more with the same thoughts playing over and over in my mind: those words were so real, but how can God be real. How can there be a God when it’s possible to be like this. I want to believe, but I just don’t know how. I do believe, but I don’t believe more. But those words, could I have just imagined it? God where are you? That’s when I remembered it. Suddenly it just sprung into my mind, like a present from God. That blog post I had read a couple of months before.

Alece over at Grit and Glory wrote a post called “My now and my not yet”.  I opened my laptop and loaded her blog, I searched for it, not remembering what it said, or what it was called, but knowing there was something in it that related. I stopped. There it was. And Her words shook me and spoke life to me. They lit up why I was feeling how I was. The transition, the uncertainty, the in-between. She shone a light on what I needed to do, to learn to trust. As if that wasn’t enough, more than that, after days of being silent once more, she gave me the words I needed to speak. The words I needed to whisper, say, throw, scream at God. “Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.”

That became my one and only prayer for weeks to come. Every time the doubt came, I’d pray it again. From those words I began to see why I was so depressed, and the triggers of it, and I began to unravel the cord bound so tightly around me. I began to work out what I was ready to trust God with, one thing at a time, tiny, baby steps, and I’d hand it over to him. Writing it down and reading out the lest each morning. I began to learn to surrender, and trust him in my now, whatever that looked like.

Now I look back following those footprints, remembering those steps, each one seemingly tiny and insignificant. I see how those small shuffles added up to bring me here, with hope, choosing joy, happy and ready to live, and live fully. Still choosing to trust, choosing to believe, fully reliant on Him. I see how God used those words, of that beautiful writer Alece, to bring hope and light into my darkness.

Most of all I see how He is faithful, how He is leading me out of the desert. When I doubt I still pray those words, “Lord, I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” When I feel I’m still in the desert with no end in sight, I remember His promise “I will lead you out.”

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I’m liking up today with my amazing (in)courage community group (in) This Season. Click on the button to the right to find out more.

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10 years.

I do it every year, a tradition of sorts. I know it’s a normal, predictable, boring, tradition; but not for me. I don’t do it for anyone else, I do it just for you. None of the others get this from me, they just get my memories and thoughts for a day. Not you, for some reason each year I give you this. A letter and some flowers. Even when I’m thousands of miles away, across oceans and over lands, still I write a note and send some flowers to that place.

Today I sit, blank paper in front of me, wondering what to tell you, and I realize that although I have so much to say, it all seems so pointless. If you were here with me I’d stay up all night telling you all the details. I’d listen as you spilled your heart out to me. We’d dream and make plans, and we’d encourage each other on. I’d encourage you this time, not just the other way round. But you’re not here, and you’ll never read those letters, they’re just words on paper.

It’s been 10 years now, 10 years since that day they switched off your machine. The life-giving one, that kept you through til you turned 16. 10 years is a milestone. I realise what they say is true, it never stops hurting, but it does become easier.

I miss you – and even when it seems pointless I keep writing – I keep buying flowers,  because it’s our tradition, just for me and you. I kept doing it year after year, because I needed to remember how important you were in my life, and I needed to honor you for all you did. I kept doing it because whether you know it or not, you’re worth it.