Well… thank you.
After posting my last blog, two things happened. Firstly, a lot of people found various more eloquent ways of saying “ditto”. Others, generally just that little bit older and wiser, found ways to say, “well… what are we going to do about this then?” Both of which helped me find the courage to say: I am not OK, and something needs to change.
On Wednesday I went walking alone by the canal, because- unlike the entire month of February- I can do that now. I sat on a bank and looked out on the water, noticing how still it appeared compared to the many complex thoughts now thrashing around my head.
How do you ‘guard your heart’ without making it hard?
How do you follow the ways and words of Jesus- radically and literally– without eventually causing mental or emotional breakdown?
How do you…
“Never get tired of doing good.”
“Consider others better than yourself.”
… without becoming a kind of anti-Christian cautionary tale? The walking, talking antithesis of modern mental health?!
How do I do any of these things, without my signature wholehearted approach?
Seriously. I’ve always felt that as leaders especially, it’s important to model these things as well as possible. To practice what we preach. But… what if my ‘witnessing’ is just a warning?! What if people are looking on and thinking, “thank God I’m not a Christian if that’s what it entails!”
What if by trying to do everything right, I’ve actually gotten everything wrong?
And so the tears came again and the feeling of crisis overwhelmed. God. I need somewhere to go with all of this. I need help to unpack it and make sense of it and help me figure out where on earth I’m going wrong. I mean, people have been following Christ for two Millenia, for goodness’ sake. Trust a millennial to go ahead and make it complicated! God, I say, I need to lay it all out and work out why I commit so hard; why I react to things the way that I do; how I get to these extreme points; why I’m in so much pain from doing the things and supporting the people I really felt called, by faith, to do. Is there a knack to this?! God, please. I need help.
And then the phone rings (of course it does).
Mrs H. (Of course it is).
Now, I have to confess something right now. Whenever this wonderful, forthright woman asks her dartboard question of choice… my natural reaction is, quite honestly, to try and guess the right answer!
“Let me ask you…”
(Here we go).
“Are you allowed to be angry?”
“Yes…? Yes. Yes of course.”
“Stars.” (Oh heck, rumbled. Obviously she uses my real name and the effect is extraordinary). “Stars. I’m asking you… are you allowed to feel angry about this?”
“Yes…. Well… no. No I’m not.”
“Because… it doesn’t honour God?”
There’s a brief chat during which I am repeatedly reassured that whilst there’s nothing wrong with me, she’d like to invest in some counselling, if I want it? There’s a friend who could really help unpack some of these situations from a Christian perspective; who could hopefully equip me with some armour- and a toolbox- to conduct myself a little healthier in the inevitable future. Would I like that?
Ha! If you’re imagining snot-infused tears right now, you’re on the right track…
The week followed suit and gradually, the dark cloud began to lift and everything got a little lighter. It’s amazing what a bit of validation and solidarity can do, isn’t it?
On Thursday, I arrived at a friend’s house for a walk and found her frantically vacuuming her car for my benefit; an embarrassing situation all round really, as we ended up travelling in mine instead! As a result, I spent the afternoon treating our Henry to an All You Can Eat Buffet…
In the evening, Husband’s meeting was cancelled, so I jumped on that last minute day release to visit a friend I’d not seen for a while. Largely because this year marks our 20th anniversary… that is, two whole decades since we flew the nest and took our idealistic, eighteen year old, baked-bean-obsessed selves across 9 countries in 10 months! Now both married with three children a-piece, we planned our first ever celebratory two-night adventure with half the naivety and twice the excitement. (Definitely still adventurous, but you know, just making sure we pick a nice quiet hostel where we can get some precious SLEEP!)
On Friday, Husband had ANOTHER cancelled meeting and took me out for lunch. (A nice reminder that there are also huge perks to this job!) Later, our hostee wanted a desk for her room and we found the perfect one waiting for us in BHF. She also wanted a swivelling chair but at £50 insisted (quite rightly) they were too pricey … I dropped her home, took the kids swimming and found an identical chair for a tenner in the Salvation Army next door! Boom! The look on her face when we brought it home, however, was priceless.
On Saturday, after the kids’ club runs, I attended a surprise party for a local friend. We escaped a room, ate heavily discounted food and drank cocktails out of novelty containers. The party organiser had designed us all very personalised bags and favours, filled with treats and encouragements. Thus, while drinking prosecco out of plastic cups on the train in the early afternoon with a group of raucous women DID make me feel every inch a middle-aged Mum-on-tour, I also felt, again, very blessed to be included!
The week ended with an early morning football match, a lovely kids party-come-reunion and some quality “Bible Box” time with the kids to make up for all the Church we’d missed…
So, there you go. Last week I asked for proof of investment and have felt so thoroughly invested in that it seems only right to play it forward. I asked for a wave and a recieved a flood of encouragement, including some very welcome offers of coffee from people I do know and words of solidarity from people I don’t. This has been so timely and so, so beneficial- to the point where I think that yes, it probably is worth sticking around to unpack this life in words for another year! (And, you know, maybe make an effort to actually do it more often…?!)
So, thank you. ❤ Again.
Much love and thanks for reading… I’m off to resubscribe!