Little Fires Everywhere

Greetings, and thanks for still being here… I appreciate it’s been a while. Apparently my paid plan needs renewing this week, so I am once again faced with the decision to invest or close shop! (Thus, if you are still here please do give me a wave, as it will no doubt help the discerning process!)

It’s been a funny old year since my last annual bill… positively teeming with stories that I probably should have communicated by now. I guess my excuse for not doing so is that a lot of them are deeply personal and multi-layered; sculpting them sensitively and doing them justice seems to require a mental capacity that I simply haven’t had. Which, I think, is what I want to talk about this evening.

See, this past year has provided some real Spiritual arsenal. God has showed up and showed off, as it were. My story bank is overflowing with words and pictures, gifts and dreams; detailed answers to prayer that have spurred us on from one complex situation to the next. It’s been an absolute privilege to witness some of the things I’ve seen this past year alone; to observe the loving hand of God in the lives of others because He has allowed me close enough to look. On the other hand, however, it has been deeply, brutally painful… and I wonder if that is talked about enough.

What am I trying to say? In lots of practical, physical and even Spiritual ways, life is very good… and yet this weekend I indulged in yet another mild emotional breakdown. The trigger was nice and complex (aren’t they always?), but as I sat by my grandmother’s grave and sobbed (because no one asks questions if you cry in a graveyard!), I acknowledged that this wasn’t a lone incident. In fact, this latest pastoral nightmare is just another freak wave in what has felt like a seemingly relentless tide. It seems the moment one wave breaks and rolls over, another comes out of the blue and takes us again by surprise. All year, it seems, I have been charting a certain course; observing, navigating, catching and rowing… only for the wind to change, the boat to tip and throw me overboard.

And I can swim. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not drowning, not yet. I am well accustomed to the dark and the deep by now and have learned to expect the feet of Jesus on the water, well before I can see Him. He’s here, He’s with me, I’m holding on, and these are exactly the kind of conditions in which miracles happen. I know I am where I’m meant to be.

But flippin’ heck … it’s exhausting.

The problem is I often feel guilty for even saying that. See, the waves, the incidents, the triggers themselves seem a little pathetic out of context, or in isolation. They’re just uncomfortable conversations, misinterpreted relationships, diversions, disappointments, decisions or moral dilemmas. I have my health, my husband, my family; a roof over my head, the freedom to live and love and believe. And so after each minor incident, I move swiftly on or else turn it into a ‘positive learning experience.’

And thus it builds and builds and builds, one wave thrashing at a time, until I find myself tossing and turning in the night wondering… can trauma build up over time?

Can all of these incidents, these situations, combine to traumatic effect, whilst I shrug them off one by one and berate myself for being over-dramatic?

I mean, by all means, don’t dwell or mope or brood; don’t cling on to hurt, don’t bear a grudge, don’t speak negatively over yourself or others… “take hold of every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

But, I wonder… is there something to be gained from keeping hold of these thoughts and examining them for a second longer, before we throw them out? Is there a necessary part of healing that involves sitting with and confronting these sources of pain- feeling the feels and acknowledging they’re real- however small and selfish they seem?

I mean, honestly, my heart has been broken several times this year, and I’ve had the rug pulled from beneath my feet so often I feel I’ve sustained concussion! I fought long and hard to acquire an elusive visa for a refugee who almost immediately questioned if she needed it. (Obviously her dilemma was much worse, but whilst her toddler trashed my house and thrashed my kids, the three month debate over whether to leave or remain made it incredibly difficult to adjust!) Meanwhile, I pioneered a local vision with a long-established national charity… only for them to abruptly close their doors just as ours were opening up. Then there’s the shock suicides, the pastoral fights and the friends in context who were all too ready to throw the Vicar under the bus… and the deeper cuts, the fractured friendship, the huge, retracted trip that I was finally ready to book. And the latest one, another refugee, who should have been a doddle to host… surprisingly known for links to Russia, our simple attempt at hospitality offends all the Ukrainians we know!

I mean… really?!

The positive thing is, God is here and has been moving all the time … He’s communicating and speaking and guiding, and I know I’ll see rhyme and reason in time… but it doesn’t make it any less painful or confusing. And maybe it’s OK to acknowledge that? As an energetic, passionate person by nature, there’s been real investment and energy and build-up… dreams and visions that have required emotional and mental stamina… deep Spiritual work that has been done… only to be abruptly changed or adversely reframed or simply taken away. This year I’ve felt many, many positive emotions, alongside wonder and awe of our deeply personal God. And yet, I have also felt unappreciated; rejected, unworthy, misunderstood and forgotten. It’s not the end of the story, it’s not who I am nor who God has called me to remain. But I’ve felt those things, and not without reason. Maybe you have too?

And the combined result has been… I daresay… traumatic.

And then here’s me wondering why I’m so tired! I don’t even have a job…

So why write this? I don’t know. Maybe it’s time we collectively acknowledged what a ridiculous few years it’s been?!

There is REST, hope, and joy in our source and our Saviour,

… If only we can recognise that’s exactly what we need.

20 Comments Add yours

  1. threehundredandfiftydays says:

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us, there is much I can relate to

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for taking the time to encourage- I’m glad it was relatable, (but sorry things are tough!)


  2. Tam Bennett says:

    This reminds me of when Jesus was all “peopled out” and had to get away. Dealing with everyone else’s issues is exhausting and yes you absolutely need to proactively build in times of rest. And by the way you may not be being paid for it, but yes you are working and have a job! Please keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Tam. Yeah the work mindset is a recurring issue – definitely needs unpacking ! Hope you’re all well.


  3. rachelhudsonuk says:

    Hiya – just wanted to acknowledge your writing, your honesty & integrity in telling it as it is. So sorry it has been such a tough time for you. And yes- cumulative trauma is a very well recognized experience in the therapeutic world. It is like the corrosive stuff that builds up around the base of a constantly dripping tap. I know it well. I would encourage you to get some professional therapeutic support – (should be some available from your diocese) or maybe funding from Clergy Support Trust for private work. You deserve it. Many blessings Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rachel, always value your professional insight! The tap analogy certainly makes sense… Will look into it. Grace and peace to you and yours!


  4. Naomi Maynard says:

    Hi I’m still reading these and know what you mean, the relentlessness of ‘Small’ things, pastoral situations and being involved (by nature of people a clergy family) in other peoples really really tough times takes it toll. Thanks for expressing some of this so well. Naomi

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Naomi! Glad it’s not just me… though sorry it feels this way too, if that makes sense! Hope you’re all well. Xxx


  5. Penny Mathews says:

    Thank you for your insights
    They are always on message (dreadful phrase) and timely
    The constant crashing of waves over is even small ones does have a cumulative effect, and rest in Christ is necessary even when we cope well with what life throws at us
    Have enjoyed your blog over the years and hope you are able to continue with it
    Take care

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement- and for following for so long! Grace and peace to you and yours xx


  6. Rachael says:

    I honestly can’t remember why or when I signed up to receive these blogs via email, but your post today was extraordinarily relatable and perfectly timed. Thank you. My problem now is HOW to recover/rebound/rediscover who I am and rebuild my relationship with God which has taken a battering these last few years. Love and empathy from a fellow clergy wife x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rachael, thanks so much for taking the time to read and reply! So encouraging to know we can share solidarity even with those we’ve never met. Sorry you feel battered though. If I come to any conclusions I’ll certainly jot them down! Xxx


  7. Please keep writing and posting, I love it when a Starsinclyjars appears in my inbox. You make me laugh and cry and there is always something to make me think, which in turn draws me closer to Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to encourage this! It really means alot. Grace and peace to you and yours x


  8. Karen Oliver says:

    😐 Still here x
    I love that you are able to put into words the deep thoughts, the real struggles and share your navigation of lifes valleys & mountains.
    So resonates with me.
    Was thinking about this just an hour ago, how long does it take to rest and recover from years of giving out. Is that what retirement is or should we push on through! Watched something on TV last night that touched a few raw nerves and bawled 😭 but its just what I seem to need!
    There’s definitely a place in my life for someone who is attuned and opens their heart and mind, so impressed that you manage to get it down onto paper.
    Nothing you described is unrecognisable, how we deal with these things isn’t straight forward or universal.
    There’s no way I can keep going without room to process, ‘it’ has to be acknowledged and given its necessary thinking / praying time… otherwise I’m dragging it around and weighted down. Tears are a release, if they are collected up, then there’s a lake in heaven with my name on it!
    You decide what is right for you in this next year, thanks for the starsinclayjars thoughts, the funny, the contemplative and the recognition of shared struggles and joys of family life especially when attached to church ministry.
    We are vessels and its good to trust that God is the one who fills us up but that life does drain us dry often.
    ‘ My soul thirsts for thee, my flesh yearns for thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water…
    Thus have I beheld thee, in the sanctuary to see thy power and thy glory.
    God, you are my God, I shall seek thee earnestly’
    Amen and amen xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Karen, again, for your beautiful thoughts and encouragement- perfectly reflecting the depths of your beautiful heart! Pretty sure I’ve made a lake this week too! Xxx


  9. Lara Pearn says:

    Yes if we can recognise the need and accept it! Easier said (or written) than done sometimes. If you need a cheer leader I am happy to help. Your writing is always so insightful, wise and often hilarious. I would surely miss it if it was no longer there to challenge, encourage and entertain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lara! Really grateful for the encouragement and you’re right… thinking about rest and successfully actioning it are 2 very different things! Xxx


  10. S Boden says:

    I love your posts, their realness and rawness, their encouraging and the times they make me chuckle and also be challenged! For very selfish reasons i would love you to continue or maybe stop and write a book (i’ve always thought you would do that one day).
    Keep hanging in there, keep being you If ever you are this way, or if ever you want a coffee let me know
    Sharon x ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sharon, you’re the second person to mention a book this week 🤣 I said I’d consider collating and editing when Husband finished Curacy, but we just didn’t move- and doesn’t look like we will anytime soon 😆 who knows! 🤷‍♀️ There’s a heck of alot of commas to remove from previous posts though, will take a few years… 🤪 YES to coffee please xxxx


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