Friday, 23 October 2009

Week Off

Well it's half term this week, and I've kindly been given it off. It's nice to have some time off, but I must admit I'm at a bit of a loss in terms of what to do with it, and glad it's nearly over! It's given me lots of time to think and reflect on the past few months, and my new job, which has actually been really helpful. I don't feel like I've had anywhere near as much time to reflect on my faith, and on theology since I finished my degree, and I've found that quite difficult. It's something which is key to me in everything I do - especially my job, and it's been hard not to have that time, or place where I can discuss with others.

Speaking of my course, I graduated last week. It was such a special day. It was in London in a place in Westminster. I got all the official photos through the other day, but out of all of them I think this has to be my favourite. The graduation ceremony was really special, and I had a great day, but I don't think I really realised how well I'd done to get a first until I got the photos through this week. It made me sit back and reflect on all the work I'd done, and how ill I'd been over the last year. I had extension after extension, and changed my dissertation topic three or four times, but I still managed to do it, and come out with a first, and that means a lot to me.

In the evening of the day Bob took to me Gordon Ramsay's Maze Grill. It was sooo nice. The food was fantastic, as was the company :) I'm so glad I've got Bob. He's everything to me.

I've been reflecting a lot on the youth work project this week, and sometimes I feel a bit out of my depths with it all, wondering if I really am capable of it. I came accross this cartoon on Asbo Jesus earlier:

Its made me think a lot about how young people see the church, and how a church which has very little contact with young people can work more closely with them in the future, to help knock down the barriers and views that church is fuddy duddy, or guilt trips you, or is full of expectations. Of course there are churches out there like that. I so often look at these cartoons and think 'I agree'. But if I agree, then surely I should be doing something about it. Especially in the role of Church Youth Worker. But it isn't always that easy to change people's perception, and it isn't always easy to make that initial contact with young people, especially when there is a perception there that Christians are judgemental.

I love my job, and I feel that I've done really well in the last few months to get to a point where I'm in the local high school, making contact with the primary schools, and working with the youth group already there. But I am left wondering 'what next'. And I guess that's where I've really got to pray about my options, and get to it.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Taize, Archbishop of Cantebury, The job and Delilah

Things have been crazy busy ever since moving. They've slowly started to calm down, but things have been intense, and although starting to calm down, still rather hectic!

The first week of August I went to Taize for my third year. This time was different for a variety of reasons. Bob came, which was brilliant. I've been longing to share that experience with him ever since I first went, and no matter how good they are, a prayers with songs service can never be the same as Taize. You aren't surrounded by 4000 other people for starters. There isn't the simplicity that Taize offers, there are people from all over the world there, and it's just a massively powerful experience. It was different because since Taize last year I've been forced to face reality in many ways. Experiences I wanted to pretend never happened, and my self esteem which is destructively low. Last September I was encouraged to go to the doctors by a few people. It's the first time I'd been with mental health issues in well over two and half years, and I wasn't really very happy about having to go. But at that point, it was that, or take my own life, and so I guess where I was at a point of sheer desperation rather than much else... But I went. And I'm glad to say I have been blessed with a very good doctor and an amazing therapist, who are both still seeing me now. So taize was a place where I came back to, a year on, re-reading things I had written one, and two years prior to that. It was a place where I reflected on comments I made in my journal such as 'for the first time in my life, I've realised God loves me, not based on who I am, but the fact I am HIS creation, his child'. I thought about the fact I had such a negative outlook on my life, and myself, and how this could be changed.

This reflection was painful. I think things like that, where you're forced to look at what you see, and what other people see always are. Yet I had to do it, and Taize was a place where I was able to do it safely.

One of the biggest reasons it had been so different to the two years prior however, was due to Archbishop Rowan Williams being there. He arrived on the Thursday morning and stayed there with his family until the Sunday after Eucharist. It was immense, and greatly though provoking. I felt amazing priveledged to be there at the same time, as someone who is seen as both a great theologian, and so high up in the church of England. We got to see him preside a Eucharist in the church or reconcilliation, talk on Thursday evening, and have a question and answer session with him.

He said a number of things which will stick with me, but two which I hold onto, and reflect on a lot, both in terms of the life I live as a Christian, and as the person I see myself to be. I guess these two things SHOULD be inter-twined, and yet this is frequently where I fail. I'm the first to admit it how negatively I view myself, yet the last to want to admit that it's wrong of me to do that, as Gods child. When he talked about the Transfiguration, he reflected on what it means to be a Christian, and commented 'To be a Christian is to everday look into the face of Jesus... If we learn to look into the face of Christ everyday, we may see the face of our neighbour'. So often I reflect on the pain and suffering Jesus suffered, the love He had for us all to be able to do that. And yet I seem to by-pass the idea that Christ is within us. We can see him both in the face of our neighbour, as they should see him in us. Maybe I need to get to a point where I can see him in myself also? Get to a point where I can love myself. The greatest commandment is to love God and our neighbour as ourselves, yet how can I claim to do those things, see Christ in them if first I cannot love myself. I have so much work to do on it, and yet it seems I always fall at the first hurdle. My prayer at the moment, is that God continues to pick me up, and that I can race through.

I guess that brings me onto the second thing that stays with me very clearly. And that is his comment on prayer. Prayer is something I have always struggled with, as all Christians at many points do. How do we know if God has answered a prayer, how should we pray, more to the point, what is prayer. He said

'Prayer is like a river between Jesus and the Father. When we drop into that stream, it is like we're dropping into thar fast flowing water, and being carried along'

It was such a powerful metaphor, and yet something I had never considered up until that point. That idea of Jesus being the river, that communicant between the Father and ourselves. Being carried, in the way the Bible so often refers to. It was beautful, and made me realise just how important prayer is in our christian lives, and how important it is we trust we will not drown, but float.

We got back from Taize on August 10th, and I've got to admit work has been difficult since then. I've found it so hard to adjust to working from home. I know it takes time, and I know I must learn, but it doesn't make it any less painful. I guess that's where it is crucial I hold onto my relationship with God. Especially those key, restoring moments like Taize.

One thing that has made it that little bit easier to work from home - a bit of company is having a cat. We got her last tuesday, so she's still quite unsettled, and not the biggest fan of love and cuddles. I hope that changes in time, but equally, I know all cats do not like it, so I would never push the issue with her. The main thing is, she is beautiful, and she's massively theraputic. Her names Delilah, shes 10 months old and a persian cross.

Not really much else to report on. Life is slowly ticking by, and stuff is pretty good. Bob's basically moved in officially now, and it's completley wonderful to have him round. We went to North Wales on August bank holiday which was very much needed - I'd not been on holiday since I was 17, and we also had my nephew a few weeks ago on Bobs birthday weekend. We had an amazing weekend, and it meant the world to me that Bob got just as involved, and on his birthday. I love him so much. I just couldnt be without him.

Monday, 13 July 2009

New job and other things

So I've now moved house, and changed job etc. I've got to say, for one reason or another the last couple of months have been stressful. Bobs Grandma died which was quite difficult, whilst it was expected in some ways, it's still upsetting, and there was a lot for him to sort on top of his new job which was pretty stressful for him. My nan was pretty ill. She had to have a lump removed from her gall bladder. They're pretty sure it was cancerous. She had to have some ofher liver taken away as well, just in case it had spread. We're hoping that they got it all in time, but only time will tell.

My nan's brilliant. They've been through a lot over the years. I rarely speak to them, and since it's all happened, I've really tried to make a bit more of a effort. They've caused a lot of pain and upset over the years for us all, but deep down they mean so well. I care so much for them, and it was awful when we found all this out. Was so worried.

Money was really tight for a while, Bob was out of work, and I didn't have a lot, because my student loan had kind of dwindled. It was stressful to say the least, and the pressures of having to find a deposit and first months rent for a house was difficult, but my parents and Leicester diocese were awesome, and now I'm slowly paying them back bit by bit. We struggled for a while, and basicially just brought food, and not much else, but we managed, and have been really blessed since. Bob was really fortunate to get some money from his grandma, and we've managed to put a bit of it towards a HD tv. It was our one big treat, and we felt rather guilty about such a splurge, but it's good, and we feel very blessed, and like we deserve it.

A couple of friends of ours (Bob's mainly) accused me of taking money from them a couple of months ago. That was really difficult to deal with. The one thing I hold most important to me in both my personal and professional life is integrity, and it hurts to think anyone could think I was capable of anything like that. I'm a pretty open person and wilst there's things I don't tell a lot of people, a lot of tht comes down to trust, and past experienes I've had of foolishly trusting people. Because of that though, I know how important trust is, and I just couldn't do that kind of thing. I guess the thing that upsets me the most from the whole situation is that Bob's lost friends who he'd been really close to for a long time. That pains me. And the one thing that I keep trying to get my head around is why would I risk Bob's and my friendship with them, and with myself for one moment of blind weakness? I wouldn't. Money was tight, and I can totally understand and accept why they could think it was me, but I love Bob more than anything. The relationship I have with him means the world to me, and I'd never do anything to hurt him or the friendships he has. I'd also found two people I genuinely cared for, and trusted. It upsets me, they didn't trust me as much as I initally thought.

The past few months have been so painful for Bob and I, and I keep re-living bits of it over. I guess it's easy to do. The thing we've learnt most though is what an amazing team we are. How right the relationship is. We laugh lots about how we were ever friends. It's bizarre to think of! I'm so happy he's in my life in the way he is. He's just wonderful, and is slowly helping me to believe in myself.

I'm so proud of him. He's doing amazing in his new job, and we're really building a life together up.

I guess the most important thing to us now is leaving the past behind us and moving forward together. Sometimes that's dificult, especially when things have happened which we can't change and are beyond our control. The one thing I feel sure of though, is that the place we are in now is very God given. We are both in jobs we want to be in, and I have a beautiful house, which is slowly becomming ours. We're happy together, and the future with Bob brings nothing we can't handle together and with God

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

everythings changing

I've not updated this in a long time. Things are good, but I've got to say really scary. I left my job on Friday. I was offered a job as a youth worker in a small parish church in Leicestershire. I'm so excited about starting it, but it's a lot of change, and with issues around my mental health etc, it's a scary change. I keep wondering if I'm ready for it. I totally believe it's where God is calling me to be, and I believe I can do it. I guess I doubt myself, and don't feel like I can stay above water with it all. I guess it's a matter of keeping faith, isn't it?

I've just finished college. I still have my dissertation to do which is frustrating because everyone else has finished theirs. I keep thinking about how I'd be feeling now if I'd managed to hand it in when everyone else did, but I guess it just wasn't ever going to happen, and it's a matter of remembering why.

I'm moving house this afternoon. I'm so excited about it, but really scared!!

Thats about it for now... I want to do a proper update at some point, but have been a bit too busy of late... I'll definitley get back into blogging soon!

Monday, 23 March 2009

...or so they say

Ok, so something has been really confusing me of late. People keep telling me how amazing and wonderful I am, and I just don't get it. Am I actively seeking it out? I don't think so? Am I down at the moment? Yes. But that doesn't mean I want peope to feel sorry for me, and it certainly doesn't mean I expect people to sing my praises, because I don't.

I just don't get it. Surely they are lying? I'm no better than the average human being. I *am* the average human being... I really don't get it. I've had three or four people say it to me just in the last three days and I've been horrible person to be around.

I am suffering from mental health issues, and I feel it is important to be open about those to an extent. Sure, most of the people who know me, know I suffer from chronic depression, few know much else, and I don't want people to know much else. I don't like people knowing the ins and outs of why I feel this way. What I am willing to share with people is the pain it causes me, and the pain it causes those closest to me. The one thing I desperatly want to do is help people. The stuff I've been through hasn't been pleasant, and if I can possibly do one thing with it, it will be use it to help others, relate to others, and accept others no matter what they are going through, trying to treat the in the best possible way enabling them to get better, and to break free from the shackles that bound them in such a debilitating illness. One of the most profound images for me is that of the wounded healer. To be as Christ. The great pain and humilation He suffered was for us. No one can relate to us better than Christ Himself. Yet it is only through him being fully human, and through the suffering he went through that he can understand and accept us.

Yet I do not think it is that simple. We cannot just be the wounded healer, and help others through our own pain without first enabling those wounds to heal. For those wounds to become scars so that they cannot open, and they cannot cause us pain, apart from that dull itch, the dull reminder, of what once happened to us. It is not fair for us to help others until we have helped ourselves. We cannot be the person that goes in and fixes things, unless we have first focused on repairing the deep wounds we suffer from. I know there is a great amount of healing I need to go through before I can be the wounder healer, but I do realise that even now there are parts of my story that can help others, andI need to be willing to embrace those, and use those to help others.

The fact is though, that does not make me amazing. It doesn't. And I don't understand why peope think it does. I'm doing what any half decent human being would do. Making something beautiful out of sheer misery. I want to be a person my friends can depend on, turn to in a crisis, knowing I will not turn them away. Whatever I am personally going through, I want to put that to one side and allow people to be real with me, show me their truth, their story, and their pain. God has put that in me. It's part of my ministry, if you like... That doesn't make me amazing, just a person wanting to dedicate their life to God

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Broken Reflections

I've not updated this blog in a long time. Partly this has been because I've just not been sure what to say, but I think some of it is about where I've been at. I've either been majorly happy, or majorly low. Mostly the second if I'm honest. I just want to experience some kind of inbetween the two extremities for any period of time.

The last few weeks have been difficult. I'm at the lowest point I think I've ever been, and it's horrible. I don't want to be here, and neither do I feel like I have any right to be here... I'm just so low though.

One of our college modules this term was Human Personhood Through Popular Art. I didn't really engage in any of the lectures at all, however I really enjoyed the assignment. It was to create a piece of art. The picture here is a photo of what I did. I smashed a mirror and placed it on a large piece of white chipboard, over a burst a colour. It's supposed to represet Christ's death and ressurection, and the fact that whilst the image we see of ourselves is in shards, through Christ God is desperatly trying to piece us back together, trying to mould us into the beings he created, and so longs for us to be.

The red right at the centre of the cross represnts Christ's blood, and the purple around the outside, and the shape of the burst of colour represent the purple robe he was placed in and the crown of thornes placed upon his head. The humilation and he suffered is beyond human comprehension, and yet still, he went through this to re-unite us with the Father, to enable us, in all of our brokenness to come back to the foot of the cross, and bow our heads in prayer.

Nouwen writes: ‘Our life is full of brokenness---broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God’s faithful presence in our lives’ (Nouwen, 1996:123). I guess often I focus on my own brokenness, the immense pain I suffer from my depression, and yet I forget I am living in a world full of brokenness, a world full of resentment, and bitterness. The only way this can possibly be overcome is by returning into the grace of the Father...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Different World, Different Life

I don't really write poetry anymore. Not because I don't want to or don't enjoy it Rather, simply because I seem to have had writers block for three years and can't seem to work out what to write at all. This was one of the last poems I wrote. It was inspired by a few other poems I had read, and I spent a lot of time thinking about the way of the western world. During the current financial climate, I guess it made a lot of sense. Yet still people (myself guiltily included) spend hundreds on clothes they do not need, on cars, on having the best gadget and the best types of found. Surely we've got our priorities all wrong...?

Different World, Different Life

Watching these people on our TV screens,
Individuals dying, from water unclean
So little to eat, people starving to deathS
truggling to take each and every breath

Watching in colour on our TV screens,
Conflicts all over, no one intervenes
Soldiers dying from the constant war
Watching, but still, we seem to ignore

Watching in colour on our TV screens,
Natural disasters, changing the world so green
Houses and lives destroyed by hurricanes
Bringing much sorrow, causing much pain

Watching these people on our TV screens
Then retreating back, to our daily routines
Switching off from this life outside
This consumerist world too pre-occupied

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Word Cloud...

So I saw this on a friends blog and decided to have a go myself. Basically you put a link to your blog in this application and it sorts out the words you use in your blog. The big ones are the ones that appear the most. I found it really interesting. I actually find it helpful that the bigger words are the slightly more positive words that appear on there. Kind of supports the whole idea of moving on from things, and working through stuff...

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Please Hear What I Am Not Saying

This is ust part of a poem by Charles C. Finn. I've just taken out a bit of it. It's an amazing poem, and something I feel so often. I feel like I'm really struggling at the moment to let the gaurd down and show people my vulnerabilities. The real faces behind the farcade I so often choose to put on. Letting that down is scary. And I've still not quite fathomed out how to do it yet...

Don't be fooled by me.
Don't be fooled by the face I wear
for I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I'm afraid to take off,
and none of them is me.
Pretending is an art that's second nature with me,
but don't be fooled,
for God's sake don't be fooled.
I give you the impression that I'm secure,
that all is sunny and unruffled with me, within as well
as without,
that confidence is my name and coolness my game,
that the water's calm and I'm in command
and that I need no one,
but don't believe me.
My surface may seem smooth but my surface is my mask,
ever-varying and ever-concealing.
Beneath lies no complacence.
Beneath lies confusion, and fear, and aloneness.
But I hide this. I don't want anybody to know it.
I panic at the thought of my weakness exposed.
That's why I frantically create a mask to hide behind,
a nonchalant sophisticated facade,
to help me pretend,
to shield me from the glance that knows.
But such a glance is precisely my salvation, my only hope,
and I know it.
That is, if it's followed by acceptance,
if it's followed by love.
It's the only thing that can liberate me from myself,
from my own self-built prison walls,
from the barriers I so painstakingly erect.
It's the only thing that will assure me
of what I can't assure myself,
that I'm really worth something.
But I don't tell you this. I don't dare to, I'm afraid to.
I'm afraid your glance will not be followed by acceptance,
will not be followed by love.
I'm afraid you'll think less of me,
that you'll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
I'm afraid that deep-down I'm nothing
and that you will see this and reject me.

Charles C. Finn

Saturday, 13 September 2008

It was residential this week. I think I've finally got to a point where I have to be willing to accept that I actually do have mental health issues. And that as much as I'd like to continue denying it, I've been doing that for the last 7-9 years of my life, and it's gotten me nowhere. Sooo. Instead of just trying to get on with life and denying the way I feel, and how to deal with it, I've decided it may just be best if I actually try and deal with the underlying issues. This is hard because so far I've just had a really negative response from counsellors etc, and have got to a point where I guess I'm genuinely scared of trustsing people fully.

However, this week at residential I kind of feel like I had to be willing to start working things through and putting systems in place to enable me to even think about breaking free from the chains that seem to be keeping me down. I have worked it with course tutors and we have arranged I'll speak to one of them on a regular basis, and as well as that I'll speak to my line manager for a short period of time once a week when possible, and then have contact with the doctor and therapist, and also have all my friends who genuinely seem to love and care for me.

i guess the thing that has been most hard is to accept that all of these people genuinely care for me, and genuinely want to see me get better. I realy want to do it, but I'm so scared that I just dont have the strength, and that if I don't manage it, it will seem like I am letting people down. My course have been absolutley amazing about everything, and they worked so hard with me last week. To finally totally admit I need help, and that I'm willing to try and do as much as I can with other people if they're willing to help was probably the hardest thing in my life. For so long I've been in denial, and then although I've accepted it recently, the last two months I have been too scared to even start thinking about thinking through ways forward. But I'm ready now. I dont know whether I'll ever be 'truly happy' whatever that maybe. Maybe I will... but when I've felt like this for so long I have to be willing to at least accept I MAY always suffer from some form of mental illness. But I guess I just have to trust that there is hope and that there is people that really care. And at least with them I can at least try and start working on a way of feeling better.

Monday, 25 August 2008

I'm exhausted. I'm going to my friends in 10 minutes, but I wanted to say that God is good. God is forgiveness. God does not forgive because he has to he forgives because he wants to. I'm going to expand on this in time after an experience I had this weekend at my friends. Its an odd expereince, it may make me sound slightly weird, and people may not believe me. But I need to write it down, if not for anything else, so I can remember it, and how it has affected me.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Finding Christ Amidst the Brokenness

The last few days have been hugely insightful. Massively painful, and I fear life may be like this for a little while... but maybe I just have to accept that right? That is not me being a victim. Far from it. It's me deciding I need to deal with things, that I have avoided. It's 12am. I'm tired, and yet I cannot bring myself to even think about going to sleep until I have written this blog.

Friday night I met with K. I told him what I wanted to do my dissetation on, and he likes the idea. Is there a link between self harm and salvation? Well, to me, yes. I think there is, and I think it begins with the word brokenness. K told me about a lady he once met who used to be a sister. She had to leave the convent because her self harm was too much for the other sisters to deal with. This lady apparantly went on to explain that she could not sit in a Eucharist, because of the pain it brought her when Christ's body was broken for her. I have to say, I am on similar lines with this lady. The idea of Christ saving us, loving us that much is beyond me. I cannot accept anyone/anything would love me *that* much. Yet God does.

Slowly, over the past few weeks, I have come to realise that Christ is there, on the cross. That in my brokenness he is there. That I just need to be willing to let Him in. This is the point I fail. i deperatly desire to do this, to stop blaming him for the things that have happened, and to move on. To lay them at the foot of the cross, as I have tried so hard to do in the past.

I'm reading a book at the moment in relation to my dissertation called 'Secret Scars'. There is one quote I read last night, and literally sobbed: '...I wasnt willing to let God work in me - I didnt want him to take my coping mechanisms away. I couldn't trust him to help me feel better - I only wanted to do things my way' (Robson, 2007:53). I could have written that. In fact when I was in Taize I wrote something so similar in my journal. The way I deal with the crap life throws at me is MY coping mechanism It's my way of coping. Maybe, I do not want to deal with it in another way. maybe it's easier to ignore God, than to accept that he/she could help...

The problem is, that ignores the reason Christ died for us. It is totally ignoring Christ standing there, beside me even when my life is in shards before me. Now I know that's painful, and I know it is not so easy to accept, as to say, but I wonder if one can truly find beauty some way or another in everything. The photo at the beginning of this blog is a picture in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. It is a photo of two beams of wood that fell in the shape of a cross, and were found like that after the WWII bombings. Even amidst the pain, hatred, and brokenness in the war, Christ was there. I find that huge.

So often we forget, yet in those times Christ does not forget us.

I just pray one day that this blog isn't a reflection on how I want to feel, but how I actually feel. that it is no longer a painful hope, but it is something I can achieve...

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Taizé 2008

On Monday morning I got back from Taizé. In truth, I am still trying to process everything it meant to me this year. But I want to try and explain it as best as I can, for my own reasons more than anything. To try and process some of my thoughts and some of the experiences I had.
As I have previously said in this blog, part of me was genuinely dreading going. I expected it to be a time where I had to face up to things. A time that was painful, and a time where I would be left alone with my problems, to deal with them, and get over them. It wasn't any of those things. OK. To an extent I had to think things through. If I'm honest I didn't ever stop thinking. But it was powerful. I spoke with God. I shouted at God. And I blamed God. But still i felt close to Him. it's hard to explain, and hard to comprehend. But it was powerful. Sitting in God's presence, recognising that in fact he had not abandoned me was immense. Sitting in silence and being able to shout to God was an undeniably necessary experience. I felt guilt over it, genuinely guilty. Thinking that this was something I should not be doing. But it was necessary.
During the time I was in Taizé we spent a lot of time studying Revelation 1-3. On passage stood out to me more than anything:
'12I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man,"[b]dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
17When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades'
(Revelation 1:12-17). Jesus is undoubtedly fully God. But he is fully human. That in some ways is something that is simple because Christians have always been taught just that. Yet to actually accept it becomes more difficult. I guess it is something I have frequently taken for granted, but often not recognised the implications of it.
Recently I have felt out of my depths. Like God is not with me, and that he has truly abandoned me. yet here, in Revelation we are reminded of Jesus, the friend - 'When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!'. To put a hand on someones shoulder is a friendly gesture, a sign of love, of acceptance.... safety. Something I did not feel Christ was doing to me. I saw Him as God of power, the initial description of him something more reasonable. Yet in Taizé it genuinely felt like God was telling me that I should not just see Christ as this, or in fact as someone I should receive solely through the Holy Spirit. But actually that I can receive him, and see him through my friends as well. That the friends I have are there and have Christ in them, and are willing to stand by me, listen to me, and accept me for who I am.
Maybe this sounds trite. Maybe flippant, but to me it's been powerful, and a great comfort.
I do not feel as if I can explain the feelings, and way I felt in Taizé without it sounding less of an experience than it was. But is was wonderful. Yes painful, yes, in someways lonely. But it was huge. And simply life changing once again. Taizé is so simple, yet so powerful. I cannot explain it, it would not do it justice. I do not want it to come across that my faith begins and ends at Taizé , but Taizé is a place I can almost go back to the heart of it, but with Jesus, and renew my faith in Him so that I can come back home and continue living.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

These last two weeks have been hugely intense. I have felt lower than I have quite possibly ever felt. more out of my depth, more lonely, and more lost than I think I have ever done so. Totally confused, and isolated.

Today has been a baby step forward. I know that this is quite clearly just a beginning, but it's a start to an end. No matter how long it takes I think today was the day of admitting defeat. Admitting that no, I can't deal with things on my own, and that yes, I do need to let God in. I'm still not quite sure how I do that. But knowing I need to is a step in the right direction. Amongst a lot of tears, and a lot of sadness there has been positive moments today. Moments that I want to cling onto for dear life because I know that it is something I can aim to achieve. No matter how long it may take.

Elenor Roosevelt once said: “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” And you know, I think she's right. I have been in complete denial for a long time about something now. Complete denial. Fooling myself into thinking it was ok and repressing it completley. And now I am realising I was wrong to do so. That unfortunatley, as painful as it may be to do so. I have to face it dead on. That in the long term, I will survive it, and that my character will grow.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

This weekend

This weekend has been absolutley wonderful. I have, to an extent managed to relax a little and escape an environment that was making me think constantly. I did not stop thinking by all means, but it did enable me to put some kind of positive spin on things, which was really really helpful.

Anyway, I went to my brothers girlfriends yesterday and we went to a couple of pubs for drinkies and then back to her house and played on the Wii, watched TV and ate huge amounts of food, and drank a bit more. It really was fab. Today, we ate and drank lots more, and played more Wii and cludo.

I've managed to escape a bit over the weekend from myself, and I think I needed it. I still feel pretty shit and absolutley exhausted, but I am feeling more positive, which is definitley something that needed to happen.

Tomorrow is another day, and at the moment I'm wondering how to get through each day. Desperatly trying to busy myself, but I am feeling slightly more positive about stuff. I spoke to V on Friday and she is going to organise some more counselling for me, which is a really big step. I'm hugely scared, but I so need to face this stuff. It's the right thing to do. I also need to stop drinking. I said this after Wednesday, but it seems so far I have failed at that quite miserably. So from tomorrow I also need to cut that out. And I mean completley. Just for a couple of weeksn or so, but it's something I really need to do. I can't seem to drink without want more and more. This weekend has been ok because I've been with my brother, but generally it's just not that easy...

Friday, 11 July 2008

Taize is two weeks tomorrow. I've got to say I'm not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I was really looking forward to it. But lots of stuff has happened and I'm not sure how I feel about spending the whole week thinking about that stuff. It's kinda hard to avoid thinking about when there's so much time there in the prayers left to reflect. I think it will do me good, and actually think it's probably come at the time I need it most, but I get so scared of actually facing upto myself. It's not all that easy. At all.

This week has absolutley flown by. I dont understand where it's gone. But on the other hand last weekend seems like years away. I feel like I've processed more this week than in the last two years put together, and my mind is on one thing only. I'm trying to focus on other stuff, but I'm failing quite miserably.

I just want it all to go away. I dont want to have to think about it anymore. I'm tired of it. I want things to go back to me seeing it as I did before. I just don't like it

Monday, 7 July 2008

Last weekend

On Friday I went back down to Reading to visit a couple of friends from my placement. It was so enjoyable and it was so lovely to see the people I got on with. But it was really intenese and really tiring on my emotions. I guess being in that place made me think of things I went through when I was down there, and how much I have changed since I was there, but it also made me realise there was a lot of crap I was yet to face. It's left me feeling very confused, totally withdrawn, and not really sure where to go with everything.

I guess since I have left that church I have been left with the real negatives I expereinced whilst down there and not a lot of the positives. The negative comments people made about me have stuck whilst the other stuff has subsided. So going back, was hard. It made me go back to all of that negativity I felt about the place, and I genuinely felt like most people there hated me. I don't think this was necessarily true to the extent I felt it was, but I think there was an element of truth in it, and I've found that something really hard to deal with. I've changed a lot in these last two years, and hoped that people would see that whilst I was there, but I just felt like I reverted back to old ways while I was there, and in some ways now that I've left, which really makes me raise the question of just how over all of this I actually am.

I think it had a massive impact on how I view my faith as well. I guess for a long time I have thought that I have been putting all my faith in God, when actually, since going to Reading I wonder if I have been disregaurding him for a while. I mean, I rarely pray anymore or think about it my faith, and the impact it has on my life, I just get on with my job on auto-pilate. Which is not ideal in the slightest. I think I need to take some time out to reflect on my faith, and also my actions, as lately they have not been so good. The problem is, is that when I do that I end up facing myself. I'm not sure if I want to do that...

Friday, 27 June 2008

'People are taking the piss out of you every day. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you're not sexy enough and all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are the advertisers and they are laughing at you' - Banksy

I dont think this really needs an explanation. Says enough...

Thursday, 19 June 2008

21st Birthday and other randoms

It was my 21st birthday on Friday. It was absoultey wonderful and all my friends made it so special for me. I went to Bradgate Park with B, L, and J and it was so much fun. It was just a really special day :) We had a picnic, and then we played frisbee, and on the space hopper and I just felt like such a child. It was just wonderful. In the evening A came up and we had a bit of a girly night before going out to Mosh with the rest of the group. Had such an awesome night and didn't even get drunk, which is highly unusual for me. I dunno, I was just so happy and there was no need. I didn't want to lose what was such a special day/night for me.

On Saturday I went home and saw my family. I miss them. I don't go home often enough and I miss my mum, dad, brother, sister, nephew and brother in law all so much. I've got a really amazing family, and they're so special to me. I just dont see them anywhere near as much as I'd like. I spent some really quality time with my mum and dad and then had a family get together on Sunday. Bar a few down right out of order comments from my grandparents and aunties, it was really lovely.

I came home on Sunday night and I've got to say I've felt pretty lonely and run down ever since. I dunno. I've been thinking lots about being single recently, and I dont like it. I have developed so much as a person over the last year, and I'm ready to move on from the past. Problem is, the only guy that treated me right was my ex. Apart from that, I've been so let down by men, and to be honest, I'm not sure how much I trust them. I thought I did, but then you get let down again...

I just hate being lonely. And no. Thats not the reason I want to be in a relationship by any means, but it'd just be so nice to be loved/love someone.

On a brighter/funnier note, I looked at some of the stupid things I've said at college that someone has put on facebook today. It made me laugh lots. I didn't realise I was quite as dippy as these portray me!! :

Sarah- "I'm not wisdom here"
Sarah- "There's an index in the yellow pages?"
Sarah- Is there a difference between a left handed and a right handed frisbee?" (everyone laughs) "no, seriously?"
Sarah- "what part of the chicken do chicken balls come from?"
"Sarah- "how can cricketers be death?"
"Sarah- "can fish drown?"
"Sarah- "That's because we're Christians, we don't like change"
"Sarah- "I've never heard George Bush say Yo"
Sarah- "Bruce, wheres the toast for the toaster?"
Sarah- "I didn't know you could get wing mirrors in asda!"
Sarah- "It's Christmas in a biscuit!" (about Dave's cinammon biscuits)

yes. I think I quite probably did say all of these, and yes, there were all totally innocent coments. I so need to think about things before I open my mouth...

Putnam - Bowling Alone

So. I've just spent the last however long writing an essay on Social and Political Contexts. Something I highlighted in the essay was the idea of Social Capital and the demographic sprawl of recent years. I've just been reading through my blog subscriptions and what do I find but an update on someones blog about just this:

Here's a quote from his entry:

I think that this loss of bridging connections is connected to the decline of geography as a defining characteristic of a community. Think about it this way - my neighbors are the people in my social sphere with whom I am least likely to have commonality - the only thing that connects us is geography, and to a certain extent socioeconomic status. In my neighborhood are people of varying ethnicities, political persuasions, religious beliefs, interests, and life history. What do we have in common? Primarily that we live in a particular community (and to some extent that we can afford to live in a certain community). And, out of all of those neighbors, I know maybe half a dozen, and of those we are really connected with only one family in any real sense.
Our relationships have shifted to become more of a social network connected by shared interests or identity. In other words, the connections that I think most of us in suburban contexts hold are primarily bonding relationships - connections that are a result of commonality. I know and interact with people with whom I have much in common. And I rarely encounter those with whom I don't in any meaningful way.

What does this mean for a missional faith in suburbia? It means, primarily, that the most radical of missional imperatives - things like loving the enemy, showing hospitality to the stranger, and demonstrating unity in the cruciform love of Christ - are precisely the imperatives that are most difficult to practice in a suburban context.

Some interesting issues are raised here and it is something I touched on in my essay with regards to my placement. My placement is in a relaively deprived area yet attracts a majority of middle class people. Why is this? Part of me wonders if it is because it is so welcomming at the thology attracts that kind of person. The huge crossover comes with the young people who use the areas around the church to hang around. They are from an entirely different social class, and those who attend the church either havent got a clue how to respond to the young people or are worryingly, scared of them. As Christians we should be responding in a possitive way. Showing love to them, and not judging them, yet this is just not happening? Of course, these are quite often the most difficult things to practice in a suburban context, as the writer of this blog says. However, surely as Christians we should at least be trying?

Then on the other hand I am wondering if I am just as bad for condeming the people who attend church on Sundays becuase of their judgement. Am I just as bad for judging these people as they are for judging the young people? Possibly. But how can we get around this and have a positivie impact on suburbia?

This is something that God has really put on my heart, and I so want to have the answers, but I just don't. Ulitmatley I am aware that my theology is solely based on loving and accepting others no matter what that means. How I do that in a place where there is such demographic sprawl is beyond me

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Maybe it's just the alcohol talking but...

Sooo. I've been through the usual up and downs recently, and I've questioned everything from my existance, to why I am in Leicester, to if anyone really gives a shit about me at all. But. I've been at the Street Pastors AGM tonight, and it was wonderful. It made me realise just how many people I know in Leicester. I don't know if those people really care that much about me or not, but it made me realise how settled I am here, and how much I've learnt to love this place.

I sat there at the beginning, and it was just horrible. I didn't recognise anyone there, and then after the talks I started chatting to loads of people, people I didn't know, but loads of people I did, people I have not chatted to in aaages, and had almost forgotton about. It was just wonderful. The AGM was nice. Good to hear about the Street Pastors updates and also to socialise and share food with others. I've just walked home. It's only a five minute walk away from where I live, and yet I met so many people I knew or recognised.

I picked up a couple of sandwiches from the food left over (I hate left overs!) for my lunch tomorrow, and then saw Lisa a homeless girl in Leicester on the way back, so I gave them to her, and we had a really lovely chat. Just short, and the usual stuff, but it was lovely. I then saw a few people from the EAGA Gospel Choir walking down the road. They'd obviously just been to a practice as they meet on Tuesday nights and they were singing. It was awesome! Then to top things off I saw B from the Cathedral. She's a mate of mine. It was just amazing.

I just realised just how much I loved Leicester and the importance of all those people I recognise. It was so nice.

I've been weighing up the option of changing placements from this coming September or not, and then I have a night like tonight. The Cathedral feels right, and then I see all those people and it makes the whole thing seem right. It's not the ideal, no. But no matter how few friends I have, I like it here. I've settled here, and I don't want to move until the end of my degree.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

After much thought and deliberation...

After a long process, painful thoughts, much procrastinating I have finally managed to write a journal adressing the thoughts of my last post. I have also included lots of thoughts from previous blogs and stuff, so I have put a link to downloading it here. If you fancy a read, please do!

Friday, 18 April 2008

Two things...

1. I wish there was someone I could talk to

2. Scouting for Girls are shit. Seriously.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Nothing can ever come between us and the love of God...

So, I'm supposed to be writing a journal for college at the moment, and I'm failing. It's a theological reflection one, and I was doing a bit of research for quotes etc. So actually, I'm not exactly failing, I just got side tracked, and I think I need to vent it out on here before I turn it into a journal. I think I need to put it down in raw terms first, and then dress it up a bit... so here we go.

I've been thinking lots these last few weeks about failure. My inability to have confidence in myself, and the sheer ability I have to turn every positive into a negative. To transform beauty into ugliness. I don't know. I'm not talking about anything in particular, maybe just everything.

In essence, I'm struggling with things a lot lately. Maybe I'm spending too much time contemplating and reflecting on things for my own good. Or maybe I'm right about it all. Who knows. I just know I need to get it all off my chest. So here goes nothing...

So, after Spring Harvest 2005 I realised that God was calling me to youth work, and that it wasn't just something I desired to do. I'd applied to Occupational Therapy at university thinking that it was what I wanted to do, but deep down I knew that I wanted to do youth work and that it was where God was leading me. Now I dont think God has one path for us, I think he can use any we take and transform them into something beautiful, as long as we are also willing to put in the time and the effort. But on this occasion, I knew I needed to cancel my uni applications and go into youth work. So I took a gap year. Honestly? That gap year was living hell. I hated every minute of it, and failed at it quite miserably. There was one or two people who were amazing supportive, and I'm still friends with them to this day. Had it not have been for them, and the grace of God I've absolutley no idea where I would be today. Somehow I got to the end of that year and still felt I was being called to do youth work so I started this degree. I love my placement, and I love the work, but I can't help but think I am still failing. I have no regular youth work happening, everything that was going on in my placement last year has crumbled since J left and I'm left wondering what the hell to do.

I'm starting to wonder if I'm cut out for youth work, or if this was all just a hope/dream of mine, and nothing to do with God. I've learnt a lot over these years about myself, and I've learnt lots about youth work, but I can't help but feel if I'm absolutley crap at it. I just wonder how it'll turn out when I get my first full time youth work job after this degree. With no regular youth work experience am I going to feel equipped enough to deal with it?

While I've been on this degree I think I've felt a series of emotions I honestly didn't think it was possible to feel. I've gone from being on top of the universe to the depths of depression. I've felt loved, I've felt lost, and I've felt compeltley numb. Maybe this is all part of me being moulded into a stronger person. But if I'm honest I'm not sure how much more I can deal with. I've become stronger already. At the moment I don't want to be any stronger. I just want to get on with life without thinking about unimaginable stuff all the time. I dont want to keep thinking I'm failing miserably, or that I cant do my job, or that the people at work think I'm a waste of space, and genuinely cant stand me. The problem is, at the moment that's the truth to me. No matter what people say, that's the truth. In my heart I dont know if this is what other people are saying, but in my head it feels that is all they're saying. I just dont know how to get over it.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

I've realised I'm not actually super woman. I've realised I need a break, and that I'm losing all ability to hold thing together, and act happy even though I'm not.

Truth is I'm exhausted. I am in desperate need of a break before I have a complete breakdown. Problem I've got, I just dont have time to have a break this next week.

I'm so so tired and emotional