Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reflections: reading my words back

I am about to sit down and do something I have never done before and I'm kinda nervous about it. This week will be my 12 month anniversary of being home. It will see the curtains close on what I would call a gap year, a year dedicated to God, to laying down my life and placing it in his hands in an effort to reconnect to myself and my purpose. Overall it has been a year of tuning into the small quiet voice that lives deep inside and following it. 

A lot has changed in my world this year, I have worked through a lot of messy emotions, revisited some of the ideas I had about myself and my life and reevaluated a lot of my dreams. It has been a hard year but a great year and I have documented every second of it..

As I sit here there are 9 journals by my side - 4 of them are bursting with words written by me, they are documentation of my daily life; one is a visual journal half filled of images of hopes and dreams for the future; one is my emergency journal kept in the overnight bag in my car just in case something happened and I had to spend a night at mum & dad's - it contains a few entries written in the spare bedroom of my parents house late at night after watching my father be tormented by the voices in his head; one is dedicated to visions of the future; one contains my reflections as I slowly work through the gospel of Matthew and the final one is a baby journal that I picked up last week to document the end of this transition phase. Between them they capture the bulk of my year.

There are also a few books from evening college that document the weekly classes that really pushed me along on my journey with God. I also have access to my online spaces, this public blog and two private blogs which document specific parts of my journey and healing plus there are the brief moments captured on twitter and facebook. Every moment of this year will be captured somewhere which both scares and fascinates me and I am both terrified and excited by the thought of reading them..

The person I am today, the peace and joy I feel, the foundations on which I have built my life, the decisions I make.. all of it is soooooooooo very different from what my life looked like as I nervously packed to come home.. for the first time ever I feel happy and free perhaps it's because I actually feel like I know myself. I feel like the hopes and the dreams I have for my future come from a place that is in me and not from the outside world. I guess I am curious to discover how I got to here so I am going to read the words I wrote, the things I went through to get to here.

For the first time in my life I am going to take some time out to reflect. I am a person who reflects and processes as I go, scribbling notes, cutting out images, having conversations in the moment but rarely (if ever) do I go back and read what I previously wrote. The idea of it makes me a little afraid but at the same time it seems like the perfect way the end my gap year, so over the next few days that is what I am going to do...

I am going to be still and examine the last year of my life. I am going to take time out to remember the things that God has brought me through, to remember the wounds that have been healed, to remember the people that allowed me to get to here.. the friends who sat back and watched as I stumbled into myself loving the me that lived under the baggage, those who guided my steps, those who held my hands, those who encouraged but most importantly those who allowed me to love them and in doing so taught me to love the world again.

I am afraid of what I will find but I am also excited. Much of my reflection will be offline, in my baby journal or in my private spaces but I will share some moments here because this space was one of the biggest leaps of faith that I took this year.

So my prayer today is simple and somewhat selfish, I pray for the courage to revisit my year and to honestly reflect on the moments that have changed my life xx

Thursday, December 9, 2010

genuine inloveness

Excerpt from A Sever Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

What was happening was happening to us both.
I believe it is always so, mutual and, at least at first, equally intense, if it is genuine inloveness.
The actual thing - inloveness - requires something like a spark leaping back and forth from one to the other becoming more intense every moment, love building up like voltage in a coil.
Here there is no sound of one hand clapping. unreciprocated love is something else, not genuine inloveness, I think: perhaps it is infatuation and passion or, perhaps, potential inloveness.
I believe that genuine inloveness is less common that the romantic novelists suggest. 
One who has never been in love might mistake either infatuation or a mixture of affection and sexual attraction for being in love.
But when the "real thing" happens, there is no doubt.
A man in the jungle at night, as someone said, may suppose a hyena's growl to be a lion's; but when he hears the lion's growl, he knows damn' well it's a lion. So with genuine inloveness...
... A sudden glory.

For my 50th post I thought I would share a beautiful piece of writing that has touched my heart xo

praising through the pain

As I drove away from my mother a single tear welled in my left eye and trickled slowly down my cheek, I blinked and looked ahead at the traffic as another tear fell softly onto my lap. Why was I crying today, was today really so different from any of the other days.. Dad has been like this before, I have seen the torment in his eyes, the inability to concentrate, I've listened as the paranoia rises from his mouth mid-conversation and watched as suddenly he disappears, lost in a world that we can't see or understand. This has been our life for months now, we have watched him get worse then improve slightly then get worse again, he is trapped by his own mind and out of our reach.

You see when it takes over we can't quite get to him, he disappears into this place that lives inside his mind, a place where our love can't reach him. It's like he doesn't hear our words or if he does then it is like we are speaking a language that he can't understand. Sometimes it feels like I've lost the ability to talk to my dad but worse than that I've lost the ability to do life with him. He comes along to things, he tries to join in but he is only half there, he will be looking over his shoulder, ever alert to the impending danger in his mind. Peace, security, joy and understanding are no longer a part of his life because torment, danger, fear and frustration have taken over. The worse part is that for him this world in his mind is real and he lives with it every moment of every day and so do we..

Most days we accept the reality, we muddle along loving each other despite the circumstances thankful that we are all alive but some days, like today, for no reason at all a sadness washes over me as I leave them. Sadness and a deep despair at the situation cloud my mind, my bones ache with the pain of this reality and I am paralysed by the pain, unable to move I cry until I don't know how to cry anymore.

Yet in the midst of all of this pain I feel a hope stirring deep inside, a hope that this is temporary, that this is merely a season, a hope that there will be a time in the future when I will look into my father's eyes and see the joy that used to live there, that one day he will know the pleasure of life and that my family will be whole again. I let the hope rise to the surface where it is joined by my faith, faith in my God who loves me, my God of health and life, my God of love, my God who specialises in miracles. Suddenly his peace washes over my body and comforts my soul. The tears stop and I can breathe again, I can live again and I realise that here in the shelter of his love I can love and give and grow through this pain.

Tonight I praise my God for all he is and I pray that his love and peace and blessing will wash over my family and yours xo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

But I'm not ready to see

Confession time: I have been avoiding this space. Not overtly going out of my way to avoid it but passively avoiding it. I could use the excuse that I have been busy but I am always busy and when I want to I can always find the time to get here. Why you might ask have I been avoiding a space that I myself lovingly created, a place where I feel safe to empty my mind and evaluate my journey? A place that I look forward to being in.

Well that right there is why I have been avoiding this place.. you see for me this is a safe and empty space waiting to be filled with the strange thoughts and emotions that hide deep in the back of my mind and as soon as I get here those thoughts come rushing forward before I can stop them and to be honest I wasn't ready for that. I wanted to hide from myself for a moment, I wanted to lounge around enjoying my life wrapped up in the cosy warm blanket of busyness that is this time of year. If I am really, really honest I wanted to just avoid the fear that has crept quietly into my world unnoticed... a part of me would like to stay wrapped up a little longer but summer has arrived (albeit with some serious rain) and it's time to throw off the blanket and face this fear!

So you might be wondering what I'm afraid of. Well I would say that I am afraid of life as a butterfly. Let me explain.. most of you would know that last year after much turmoil and prayer I decided to return home to Brisbane to once again discover who I was and to work out what exactly I wanted to do with my life and that is what this year has been. In essence for me the journey home for me has been like when a caterpillar crawls into a cocoon to become a butterfly. For me this year was my cocoon, I have squirmed and stretched and grew in ways I didn't even know I could grow all in the safety of my warm cosy cocoon but now it is time to leave my cocoon and I am afraid.

I am afraid because I know who I am, I know my life's purpose, I know where I'm going and now it is time to have the courage to step into that. And yes I am excited but it is so cosy here in the land of dreams where my future is nothing more than some sketchy visions in my mind and to put it quite simply I don't know if I'm ready to look closer at those visions. I don't know if I have the courage and the strength to really look at them and to see what is required of me and to then let that happen, to take the day dream and turn it into my life. To fly.. I just don't know if I am ready to be a butterfly!

I guess in part it is because if I allow myself to be a butterfly then this is real and there is no going back but it's more than that, it's the fact that I simply don't trust myself to map out the path I need to take to make my dream a reality. You see this year has been all about me and my journey and I have simply stumbled along letting life happen but surely this next season will require a little more from me than that. This next season is bigger than me, bigger than what I can dream and I'm afraid that if I make a decision about bible college or where I will serve or how I will make time to fit in A, B & C, if I allow that dream that has been simmering to come true then it will be wrong and I will have failed at the one thing that I want more than anything in this world - wow when I avoid this space for long enough all of the craziness comes out in one big neurotic moment and then once it's out I realise the fear was all because I was relying on me and then I take a breath as I realise..

.. it wasn't me who got me here, it was God. It wasn't me who planted these dreams in my heart and mind, it was God. It wasn't me who decided that it was time for me to go into my cocoon, it was God so it makes perfect sense that it's not me who wants to get out of the cocoon but God. Right now in this moment I realise that of course this next season is bigger than me but it's not bigger than God. Of course I can't dream big enough to dream this dream because it's God's dream and I trust God. I also realise that these decisions I face are not in fact my decisions but are indeed a part of his perfect plan and that as long as I listen to his voice he will lovingly guide me along the path which he has laid before me.. and suddenly in the shade of my big God the fear becomes very small and the desire to fly grows stronger as I peer out of my cocoon to see what it might mean to fly.

I pray that this week we will take the time to sit quietly under the big tree that is God, to pull out our fears and to sit them on the grass beside us and to then look up and stare at the wonder and beauty that is God. I pray that we take a moment to see how little our fears are in the shade of God's greatness and that this perspective will give us the courage to fly!