Tuesday, May 31, 2016

With all my heart

The greatest commandment is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

What does it really mean to love Him with all my heart?

For me, it means that when I come to him in prayer, praise and worship I bring Him the emotions that are in the depths of my being.  There is no part of me that is an unacceptable offering when I bring it to His altar.  I bring Him not only my joys, but also my tears, my anxieties, even my depression.  My whole heart, nothing held back.

I love psalms.  I love the way the full expression of all human emotions are expressed in prayer and song.

For so long I have battled against the lie of not being good enough.  Especially when I find myself yet again in this valley of darkness.  I don’t know how long I must walk through this, but I’m not afraid because I know I don’t walk through it alone.

More important, this darkness is not going to hold me back.  Having depression is not going to stop me from going deeper into scripture, deeper into prayer and deeper into worship.

Having depression doesn’t disqualify me from the gifts and abilities He’s granted me.  It doesn’t prevent me from bringing His blessing to others.  It doesn’t disqualify me from my dreams and hopes.



Friday, April 29, 2016

Brave Girl

I have written several draft posts over the last few weeks, but for each one, when I've read over it I've felt "I'm not ready to share this yet.  It's still too real and too raw."

I want to be authentic, real and honest with you.   I want to be able to share what's really going on in my life below the everyday stuff, to go deeper than the small-talk kind of posts.  But I'm also very aware this is a public forum.

So it has taken a few weeks to process enough to blog about this event from the beginning of the month.

I was an attendee at the first ever "Brave Girl" conference, hosted by the inspiring Steph and the team at bravegirl.co.nz.   

Photo courtesy of Manda J Photography and Brave Girl NZ
I was feeling down and vulnerable.  My black dog seemed to be getting worse, and it felt that I was going around in circles despite doing all that I should and could in terms of self care and well-being and processing through my "stuff".  I felt that my lack of progress was a reflection on my strength and my faith.

Photo courtesy of Manda J Photography and Brave Girl NZ
Even during the conference I was fighting against the darkness. I'd woken up on the Saturday morning feeling down, and instead of dissipating the feeling kept welling back up.

Photo courtesy of Manda J Photography and Brave Girl NZ
I didn't quite know what to expect, but found the weekend like a soothing balm.  The messages and stories of courage and hope, were what I most needed to hear.  

Photo courtesy of Manda J Photography and Brave Girl NZ

To understand that He is with us in and through the storm.  To learn about the different types of depression, and the amazing relief to finally understand that being prescribed medication does not represent failure.  (I mean, I knew that before, but it seems I didn't fully believe it applied to myself).  To have some much needed time of support and prayer.

Photo courtesy of Manda J Photography and Brave Girl NZ
Thank you Steph and your team.  Thank you for being brave enough to take the risk that hosting this conference would have been for you.  Thank you for your effort, your honesty and your compassion.  I'll look forward to seeing you again next year.

This is NOT a sponsored post in any way, just my own personal review of this event. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Redemption, Atonement and Salvation

Earlier this month I found myself face to face with those long standing foes: rejection and failure.

As much as I tell myself (and others assured me) that it wasn’t personal, no reflection on who I am as a person or my abilities…
.. but I still feel pain.

As much as I tell myself (and others assured me) that everything has a season, and this is just the end of a season…
...but I still feel grief.

I’d catch myself thinking that if only I had stronger faith then I wouldn’t feel like this, and have to remind myself yet again that my emotions are no reflection of my faith, since in this darkness is when I cling even tighter to His love, mercy and grace.

I followed the emotions and thoughts back to find their roots.  I followed a shadowy strand into what seemed like a hidden cave in my mind. I followed it through a maze of many twists and turns, down shafts and through tunnels and passageways.  

I finally found myself in a subterranean chamber inside my soul facing a dark pulsating blob of hurt, rejection and shame, looking like something from a Dr Who episode, filled with the following thoughts:

"I am unworthy.  I am undeserving.  I am unacceptable.  I am nobody, I have nothing.  I am unattractive, and unlike-able"

I could see from this thing tendrils snaking back up to the surface, affecting all the areas that I'm struggling in, both in the present and as far back into my past as my memory would take me.

I sat in the dark, pulled my knees up to my chest, wrapped my arms around my legs and rested my chin on my knees, looking at this dark mass of lies, and asked Father, "Now what?  How do I deal with this?"

His answer was:
Isn't that the point of My grace and mercy?
Isn't that the point of redemption, atonement and salvation?
Isn't that the whole point of the Cross?
 
It only takes a single droplet of light to begin to dispel darkness.  And in that one drop of light was a distant hill, a chanting crowd, a suffering God.  

We hear a lot about the message of the Cross being forgiveness for sin.  And it is. But that’s just the surface of it.  Atonement offers so much more. This sense of unworthiness goes deeper than the wrongdoing that is usually meant by “sin”.  This darkness is not guilt, I know I have been forgiven and my conscience is clear. It is rejection, hurt, failure and shame.



Carried on his battered and bleeding shoulders was my black shape, the lies that have been burdening my life.  As the nails were driven into his flesh, they drove also into this darkness of mine. As he cried out “IT IS FINISHED” and breathed his last, the blackness was finally defeated and destroyed.



I wish I could say I’m not feeling these emotions any more.  But this is a journey and a process, and it seems these things take time.  I must still guard myself against the lies, and cling tightly to Truth and Light.  This is all I must do, the rest has already been done.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hold onto Hope

A glimmer of the possibility of something positive.

You don’t want to get your hopes up, now, I found myself thinking, You know this most likely isn’t going to work out.  You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

I fought back tears as I scraped vege scraps into the compost bin in the garden.    No, it probably won’t work out.  It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work out.  I don’t really care if it doesn’t work out.  At least I’ll know I tried.

Then I suddenly realised – when did I start making a habit of talking myself out of hope?  The refrain “Don’t get your hopes up” has been part of my inner dialogue for as long as I can remember.  Reinforced by well-meaning advice from many different people over the years.

But if it’s true, why do I feel so much grief at the loss of hope?  No wonder it takes so much energy to push through the doubts, if I have to convince myself that it doesn’t really matter anyway just to get started.
Surely hope’s not a bad thing?
Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12, ESV).
So why do I find it so hard to allow myself to hope?  Because I fear disappointment?  Surely the grief at the loss of hope is as painful as, if not more than, the potential disappointment would be.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation
(Psalm 42:5, ESV)
For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him
. (Psalm 62:5, ESV)
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12, ESV)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1, ESV)


It’s okay, I told myself, You’re allowed to have hope.  Go ahead and hope as much as you want.  If disappointment comes we’ll just deal with it then.
 
But it was too late.  Where the hopeful glimmer had been was now just hollowness again.  But I’ll be watching myself next time so I can learn to hold more tightly to hope when it comes again.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

So this happened: again.

This hit.
It's chaos inside Briscoes following the earthquake.
Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/76869691/photos-christchurch-hit-by-57-magnitude-earthquake

Just as I started my Love Your Bible study group.  I was just getting to the "drop cover hold" point when the assistant pastor ran into the room yelling for us to go outside.

Flashbacks to 5 years ago. I sat in the carpark while the building was being checked, trying to concentrate on breathing and explaining to a more recent arrival to this City why I cannot get used to this.

Once the all clear was given we continued our study, but once I got home the emotions hit. I got the the curling up into a small qivering ball stage
.
I had been getting better.  I am confident I will do so again.  But I will  never  get used to this.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Dreams become reality

Five years ago, back when this city was still reeling through aftershocks, the council set up a city-wide brainstorming session for the rebuild called "Share an Idea."  This was Young Lady's contribution:


It appears every other child who contributed had a similar suggestion, because nearly five years later, here's the reality:


 

 

 

 
  

This is the generation this city is being rebuilt for.   This is the where the future vibrancy and creativity that is the outstanding feature of the New Christchurch will come from.

After so many frustrations with the slowness of the recovery, the delays, insurance companies, red tape, it's encouraging to see something wished for, hoped for, dreamed actually come to pass.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Holy Love


Holy Love, calling to me,
”Come with me, come further in.”
Take my hand
to lead me through shadows,
If I stumble,
you won’t let me fall.
Holy Love, bring me home.