Archive for March, 2012

Counting my blessings

Posted: March 20, 2012 in Help
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I was quite aware the other day that I have a tendency to be quite negative on occasion. Somehow, in reflecting about life with people I become quite introspective and everything seems to be wrong. And I would say that normally I would be a glass half full person (to the extent that I can seriously irritate those who are not) so it just makes me feel like everything is wrong when it probably isn’t.

So I decided to make myself a little journal, where I would record the good things that happen each day. Not in a ‘let’s smile and pretend that the world is an amazing place right now’ but more in a ‘well, there must be some good amidst all the general rubbish’. And it is an amazing way to record where God is working, which otherwise I then conveniently forget.

My journal has an elephant on it, to remind me not to forget the good things in life. How do you remember the good stuff in all the rubbish of life?

I’m just going to put it out there straightaway. I hate Mothers’ Day. Even the apostrophe in it seems out to get you.

I’m sure it is a great time to celebrate families, and give mothers flowers and just show a little appreciation for the fact that someone did change your nappies and clear up your sick for a good few years, before dealing with everything else you decided to put them through.

But what if you don’t have a mother? Or if yours has failed to keep up to the gold standard that society seems to demand? What if you don’t want to show your appreciation, because, it seems that changing nappies was a small price for them to pay for the damage that you feel took place instead?

One of the first Mothering Sundays that I can remember was when I was 8 or 9 or so, and somehow I had manage to wake up and completely forget what day it was. I just remember that she treated me as a criminal for the rest of the day. Just because I hadn’t said Happy Mothers’ Day. I hadn’t properly forgotten, but just failed to realise the significance of the day. And let’s just say, I never forgot again.

Things with my Mum never really got much better than that. I was always in trouble for something, or had always just done something wrong. As I grew older, I just spent more and more time in my room to escape.

But then I became a Christian, and started going to church. And then suddenly I was part of a bigger family. It might be a family that fails sometimes, but they seem to be headed more in the right direction, by aiming to follow Jesus in all that they do. So rather than concentrating on the failure of a relationship which seems to create hurt whatever I do, I want to pay tribute to all the women who have “mothered” me in the Christian sense over the past few years.

First there was M. She was lovely, and had three kids of her own who were also lovely. She helped me to see the good parts in life, and helped me to cry about the bad things.

Then there was D. She helped me to recognise that we can move on from being in a mess to the life Jesus brings to us.

A helped me by simply understanding me. And allowing me to be the person I am, without criticism. She helped me to see how good a family could be, and taught me to relax and be less hard on myself. And promised me that there was always a bed for me if I needed it.

Then we had another A, who totally opened her home to me, and told me that I was always welcome.

L offered me some of the best advice around, helping me to address the problems I have.

J allowed me to be a broken person, reminding me that God loves me still even when I mess things up. And helping me to win the battles deep inside of me, encouraging me to want to get better.

So, thank you God for putting these women in my path over the last few years. I’m so grateful to all of them, and would gladly take any for my mother. It is amazing how we can become family to one another, and I pray that one day, I might be able to help someone else just as these ladies have helped me.

A lament

Posted: March 11, 2012 in Misconceptions
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 1 I am one who has seen affliction
   by the rod of the LORD’s wrath.
2 He has driven me away and made me walk
in darkness rather than light;
3 indeed, he has turned his hand against me
again and again, all day long.

4 He has made my skin and my flesh grow old
and has broken my bones.
5 He has besieged me and surrounded me
with bitterness and hardship.
6 He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.

 7 He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
   he has weighed me down with chains.
8 Even when I call out or cry for help,
   he shuts out my prayer.
9 He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
   he has made my paths crooked.

10 Like a bear lying in wait,
like a lion in hiding,
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow
and made me the target for his arrows.

 13 He pierced my heart
with arrows from his quiver.
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people;
they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
and sated me with gall.

16 He has broken my teeth with gravel;
he has trampled me in the dust.
17 I have been deprived of peace;
I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

 25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
   to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
27 It is good for people to bear the yoke
while they are young.

28 Let them sit alone in silence,
for the LORD has laid it on them.
29 Let them bury their faces in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let them offer their cheeks to one who would strike them,
and let them be filled with disgrace.

31 For people are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
   or grief to any human being.

34 To crush underfoot
all prisoners in the land,
35 to deny people their rights
before the Most High,
36 to deprive them of justice—
would not the Lord see such things?

Lamentations 3

A few weeks ago, I heard this passage read in a sermon and I found it really difficult. Somehow the idea of God causing suffering didn’t really appeal to me. I know it says later on that the Lord does not willingly bring affliction on to anyone, but that seems to be contradicted earlier on. Life in exile was bad for the Israelites. People were killed and raped and starved and kept as captives… but God brought this on them? What sort of God would that be?

Yes, I know they had sinned. But what sin is bad enough to cause that sort of punishment? As someone who has been abused, I would not wish it on anyone.

And then at that moment, life just seemed to be very unfair. I mean, why me? What had I done? I was a child when it had happened. Maybe I hadn’t always behaved myself like I ought to have done, but this?

So I had a chat with someone wise who pointed out the difference between sinning and being sinned against. So, my abuse was a result of sin. But not mine.

And somehow, that changes everything. I can understand that that is not God’s desire. At all. In fact, He must have been having a pretty bad and sad day when it happened too. But He did not cause it to be.

And He knows that it hurts. But it doesn’t have to any more.

 

Mind the gap…

Posted: March 4, 2012 in A little about me, Fear
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Yesterday I had to travel through London going from the train to a coach and then back again later in the day. The second journey was reminiscent of the Japanese metro where they have to employ people to push people into the carriages so that the trains can still run. As there were lots of engineering works going on, and it was early evening,my return journey was busy.

I like my personal space. Just putting it out there. In fact I really don’t like being touched unless I know and like the person, and even then if i’m particularly tense it doesn’t really work and I try to move away from them. So, crowded tube is a form of nightmare.

First I was crushed against the couple engaged in the romantic pash. What a way to feel like a third wheel. Then there were the people who just pushed me around everywhere. Then someone else was completely unaware that everytime they turned round, their bag was getting me in the face.

And it was at that point that I realised that I was moving away from these people in advance of their getting anywhere near me. I don’t really even know what I was afraid of, apart from the possible lack of deodrant. I’m just glad that I don’t live in London and have to do that all the time.