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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Hand-me-down grace

Do you have older siblings? If so, like me, you probably spent your younger years clothed in their cast-offs, that were too big, too small, too long or too short more often or not. They weren’t your choice or your preference. They didn’t fit you as they should and didn’t have your stamp on them. Someone elses name was in the collar. My big sister went through a major tom-boy phase where she cut off all her hair and wore only items of clothing featuring the ‘teenage mutant hero turtles’.  Four years younger, I was also a kid who spent a childhood up trees and down holes and hanging from bars and falling off fences – but I was happy doing it in dresses, too. I didn’t want her old ‘boy’ stuff. I hated that I only got to wear her clothes. I hated having her old school jumpers and her old jeans. I hated that I wore t shirts for camps I hadn’t been on and places I’d not visited. I hated it.

What made it worse was that people confused us so much, as we were both academic girls in a non-academic school, with brown hair and a tendency to be picked on, who both played the clarinet, both were involved in Girl Guiding, etc etc, ad infinitum. I went through school as ‘bigsister’sname-nowaitwhat’syourname?’.  Her name was written on my school reports and in the labels of my uniform. Looking back, my teenage years were a mess of a long-played identity crisis- she drowned me out. Even now, I often define myself as what she is not, rather than what I am. When my families problems kicked off, I was left muddling through, and made the mistake of defining myself on circumstance, not substance. Through all my counselling, it’s become clearer that I chose the wrong things to define myself with, when I’m able to at all. One of the things that most awes me about God is that He is who He says He is; I am that I am. If I asked you, ‘who do you say you are’, would your answer be the same today as it was ten years ago, and will be ten years in the future? Unlike God, e change, we grow, we alter, we question. God is not someone who has ever had an identity crisis.

When it comes to my faith, sometimes I kind of feel as though the grace set aside for me is just grace that someone else first in line didn’t use – that I’m a left-over Christian standing at the back of the queue, waiting to see if someone else before me has some scraps I can scavange to save my soul. It doesn’t feel like it fits me and my issues and my anxiety and my doubtful nature. It feels as though it should be worn by someone clean and sure and spotless. It makes me feel as though I’m wearing a robe that’s so long I trip over the hem, or a hood that falls down over my eyes so that I cannot see – and item woven for someone else that I somehow stumbled on and inspite of all my hoping, all my longing, still marks me as an outsider, without an invitation, standing in the dark at the back amongst the brooms. As a late comer to faith, often I make the mistake of thinking that God will only get to me after he’s dealt with everyone else – that my prayers haven’t racked up enough church-time to be taken seriously, that until I can list the books of the Bible forwards, backwards, and upside down, I’m stuck on hold.  My hand-me-down attitude to grace is hard to shake.

However, sometimes I remember, again, that the grace God gives me has been reserved for me since the beginning; it’s not second hand, or second best, it’s not handed down or man-handled, it’s not too big or too small or too long – it’s just the right size, the right fit, and would not match anyone elses need the way it matches mine. This reminds me that even when I’m feeling small and vulnerable, more hedgehog than eagle, God has me written in his book (an address book? I think so) and in his story. His Goldilocks grace gives me a firmer place to stand and the courage to stand there. This is one of the reasons I hate it when people talk about the ‘unchurched’ – because they might not be destined to stay that way, and God has their grace cut out and on hold, until they get there. We’re all born ‘unchurched’ at the end of the day. Our grace is enough.

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Serendipitous opportunities

First of all – I’ve calmed down a little since yesterday. I’m still a bit miserable and bitter, but at the end of the day, I’m only human and sometimes I need to have a strop. This is where I have my strops because this is where I’m honest. Onwards and upwards, eh?

Something a little unexpected happened this week. I met the student worker from my church for a chat as we’ve never really had a chance to get to know each other and he suggested meeting up after I emailed to ask if he knew of anyone who’s not found their feet at church, who’d be interested in being in a girls’ Bible study me and a friend were planning to start. The upshot was that he’s wanting to re-organise the student side of things a bit to include a return to more traditional ‘small groups’ after the church moved away from that model a year ago to focus on more missionally orientated groups. These student pods will have about 12 in each, with two leaders, who will, well, lead stuff and arrange everything, including prayer triplets and Bible studies every fortnight. The leaders will then have a monthly meetup with one of the married couples at church, where the husband is an elder  (and a doctor) and the wife is generally very involved too, too make sure they’re supported etc. I’ve been asked if I’d like to lead a group.

This is a bit weird as obviously it’s about a hundred miles from anything ‘church related’ I’ve done so far, and more than the small group I’d planned, and could see myself managing. On the other hand, I’ve not had any ‘input’ from someone mature at church for over a year, and have a feeling that this is something I need – I get lost and confused and waylaid, and could do with someone further on who knows me, and cares enough to signpost the way. As I come further and further out of depression, I’m going to need some guidance from someone I trust. This could be a good way of getting that. I’m also a much better speaker on ‘paper’ (electronic or otherwise) than out loud, so leading a group of students would push me to extend my faith in a way I’ve not really cracked yet. I know I get the words out here, but in public, I am, as always, more of a hedgehog for Jesus than an eagle. I know that I can do the leadership side, practically – I’m a good organiser, and good at looking out for people – but am not quite so sure about how good I will be about being honest about where I am with God, as, afterall, the last time I was that honest with someone from church ended in disaster. I still sometimes fall into a trap of not quite believing that my skills are relevant to church either – that it’s some holy place where only other people have a right to serve, and that I’ll never be good enough to lead anything with a Christian tag to it, because I’m not holy enough, or good enough, or clean enough. It’s going to need me to wipe that slate clean, leave my unease behind, and focus on being a good follower of Christ who can help other people follow too. Tall order? Pass me the stepladder.

I don’t really know what to do – as a fifth year, I’m pretty busy, but on the other hand, this could be a way of really deepening my faith and getting back into the community after feeling pretty forced out, after the dreadful encounter last year. It kind of has that ‘oooch’ feeling of knowing that God has put this in my path for a reason. It has that kind of niggle that it’s too well timed to be down to chance. It just fits too many spaces in my life, right now. I’m off to Nepal anyway, in January, so it would only be short term, which also makes me want to accept.

Thoughts, anyone?

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Work in Progress

Today I went on a home visit with one of the GP’s to see a very old man, in his nursing home. Before we got out of the car, the GP turned to me and said, the picture of nonchalence, ‘by the way – he might ask us to euthanise him – just so you know. He asks every time we visit him.

Sure enough, this man, who is over a hundred, with no living family, no friends to visit him, and incredibly frail health, started asking about what it means to die, and when it would come, and could we, please, please doctor, help him, now, right now? And of course, we sat and told him that we couldn’t do that, and that we didn’t know when death would come, but that when it did, we hoped it would be peaceful.  And he talked, for a long time, about what lay behind in his youth, and what lay ahead, in his dying, and the loneliness in the room was so heavy it felt like we were sitting in thick fog. Then, the time came for us to go and move on to another patient, and it made me wish, as I do so many days, that I was training to be a magician, rather than a doctor. There’s just aren’t enough magic wands in medicine. I wish there were more.

It’s things like this that remind me how good the church, or any similar group, for that matter, can be. Now that our communities lack the cohesiveness and closeness of the past, it falls to groups like the church to come in and reach out, and keep people connected. I’d like to think that if this man was a member of my church, that someone would be going to see him, taking him Communion, dedicating time to those questions that are still for him, so painfully unanswered. Patients in hospital have access to chaplains and ministers; it’s when they leave, that they so often are left lonelier than ever. I’ve been so proud to see the student charity I founded two years ago grow, to be able to provide regular visitors to elderly patients across three hospitals, if they don’t have family to come and see them – but there are so many older people alone in their homes, that we can’t reach. It’s painful. I want to do more. I want it to be better. There are so many gaps in society that I want to help fill. I know that I can’t fill them all. None of us, can fill them all.

 It’s things like today that make me want to go and shout from the rooftops that until we have a society that has a place for every person in it, we have no society at all. We talk about the community of church, so often, and yes, it’s fantastic, the things that happen when a group of people get under a steepled roof and lift up their hands and cast upwards their eyes, but does any of it matter, if we’re not taking it to those places that need it the most? Does any of it matter, if there’s still an old man, lonely, or a young mother, not managing, or dare I say, a student, dropping off the edge of depression? The people most on the outside are the ones most in need, and hardest to reach. There are so many places that just need someone alongside someone else. There are so many places that just need a hand ontop of a hand, a heart beating next to a heart.

We all know that according to Genesis, one day, God looked at this world and said that simply, it was ‘good’. For now, I’ll pass over God’s extensive use of the understatement.

Now – forgive me if, thanks to my hazy knowledge of the Bible, I’m off the mark here, but from what I know, God’s not said that, since. Our world is not being looked at and passed as ‘ok’. Can you imagine what the world would look like if God still thought it was ‘good’? I’m not sure I can. It’s so far away, from what I have seen. And I know, that Jesus changed everything and set the wheels in motion for it being ok, more than ok even – perfect – I know, that before Jesus we were living in a spiritual cemetery, and without Jesus, we’re still sitting amongst the gravestones – but our world is still not good. We, are still not good. No matter what you believe, we can do better. We need to do better. We need to sort this stuff out. We need to figure out how to stay connected. We need to figure out, how to get our hand on top of the hand that is shaking. We need to figure out, how to get our heart beating next to the heart that is failing.

Let’s all try and figure out, how we can do better. We’re all works in progress.

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On gentleness

My church’s latest sermon series has been on the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5. Whenever I think of the ‘fruits’, it’s always the ‘gentleness’ that makes me think the most- it’s not something we think and talk of often. I’ve prayed for help to be more loving, more faithful, more controlled, as many of you will have done. Had I ever prayed directly for more gentleness? No – not until I realised I hadn’t, anyway.

As I thought more about it, the lack of emphasis given to being gentle, in many circles, including churches, struck me as stranger and stranger. God has many characteristics and many facets, but when I was wobbling between uncertainty, and fully opening myself to belief, it wasn’t his omnipresence, or omniscience, or omnipotence, that lead me to faith. It wasn’t images of the ostentacious miracles of the Old or New Testaments that called me to Jesus. It wasn’t the loud, blunted shouts of the major prophets, it wasn’t the jubilant songs of David, calling me to rejoice, calling me to joy, it wasn’t the modernity of the worship band or the radicality of the lyrics. If anything, these things kept me away. They freaked me out.

What caught me was this quiet promise that God was gentle enough that coming closer wouldn’t hurt me more. It was the promise in James 4, that if I drew near to God, he would draw near to me, without lashing out, without the need to fear rejection. You can’t draw near to an angry being. You can’t come close, to someone who wishes you away. It was the whispered, dark-of-the-night voice that came alongside me and told me that if I was brave enough to trust, brave enough to follow, then all of those things in my life that seemed so wrong and messy, would find something new to focus on. It was the feeling of a hand on my lonesome shoulder as I sat in a lonesome prayer room in the small hours of dark mornings, telling me that yes, I was flawed and imperfect, broke-down and weary, but that there, in the shadows, was someone who could bind my wounds and heal my bruises. It was knowing that when I opened my soul and let down my walls, Jesus would protect my heart, as one of his own. I’m not saying that it wasn’t a gamble, or that it was easy; it wasn’t, it wasn’t at all, but in the end, that gentleness wore me down. I couldn’t hold off, anymore. Something had to give.

I have been a Christian for almost two years now, and although God’s goodness amazes me, his power bemuses me, and his control at times escapes me, it’s his gentleness that brings me back at every turn. When I am feeling far away and disconnected, it’s those smallest, most heartfelt prayers that seem to bring me home when I am at my most vulnerable. It’s that brushing against my heart that tells me, reminds me, that I’m held in the same hand that holds the Earth, which secures me. It’s the still, small voice that speaks as I shake and cry, that shows me the way I need to go. God has been gentle, with me.

Last week I met with the person who mentored me at church before moving back to her home country a year ago, when she came for a flying visit. She is who I think of when I hear the word ‘gentle’. Being with her for a few hours, after going a long time from being truly honest with a Christian after a pretty horrific encounter at the height of my depression, reminded me of how important gentleness is. She was nothing but gentle with me, both when I was having a hefty tug-0f-war with respect to my faith last year, and since then, when I’ve faced obstacles of a different sort. And in the gentle way she walks through life, I see more strength and power to touch the people around her, than I see in the louder, more exuberant Christians who so often end up at the frontline of churches and communities. I’m not doubting, in any way, their love of God, or their calling – but sometimes, I think it’s gentleness, that will open the most doors, heal the most wounds, and glean the most followers. I think it’s gentleness, that brings us most closely into step with Jesus. I think it’s gentleness, that will change things.

She also reminded me that they’re called ‘fruits of the Spirit’ for a reason – they don’t spring up overnight. As someone who measured a Christmas tree seedling every single day for two years as a child, I know full well that growing takes time. I get frustrated sometimes, that God’s timeline is different to my own, that it took months for depression to lift even a little, and it’s taking months more, to gain back all the ground I’ve been steadily losing for so long. I get cross with myself that I don’t have more faith, or more self-control, and sometimes seem to lack the passport needed to get within a hundred miles of real peace – but I know that these things will take time, and that with time, they will come. I will learn. If you take Genesis at face value, it was an apple that lost us the Kingdom; funny that it’s ‘fruits’ that will bring it back. In the meantime, I’m praying for more gentleness.

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It’s been a busy week. I’ve been feeling quite run down and as my city’s in turmoil with a major arts festival, the noise at night has pretty much ruled out the chance of a good nights sleep.

My new GP practise is…….kind of hard, actually. The staff aren’t really that welcoming, and just really don’t have any love for what they do. General practise can be demoralising, particularly since the changes to the NHS mean that it really is made to focus on running as a business, not a service, and resultantly, there’s a lot of box-ticking and back-covering. I can see how it really can seem like it’s just day after day of conveyer-belt healthcare, with constant streams of patients, many of whom aren’t always very respectful and in some cases are downright rude (WHY can’t I have a sickline? Who are you to say I’m not ill!- err – that’s what doctors do, and you are not ill enough to need one!). Two of them also had some fairly harsh things to say about patients with mental health problems, which I find hard to listen to – both as a ‘patient’ but also as someone who gets fed up of the stigma and the lack of interest from many health practitioners. Antidepressants aren’t just ‘smartie placebos’ – and though I do think that they are handed out too much as an easy option, when the best treatment for mild to moderate cases is a course of psychotherapy, which has such huge waiting lists and is so underfunded, a prescription that costs about a pound a week suddenly looks enticing, and for many people, they do work. They do get people through a rough patch. They do get people sleeping again. I’m not saying they’re wonder drugs – but they’re not just a waste of space – and if doctors think they are, then they should be more active in campaigning for better alternatives. If you don’t like something, you should work to change it. People who put down, and complain, but do not act, get my goat. I need to be more accepting.

I’m trying really hard to be positive, but it’s hard, when I find myself disagreeing with the doctor I’m mostly attached to – he just doesn’t seem to care about patients and is a bit sloppy. He’s going to be assessing my consulting skills, so I need to get my head around being able to look and learn from him – but at times, I think he’s a complete eejit. At least I’m learning how I don’t want to do things – which is often valuable in itself, if slightly infuriating. I’ve got another three weeks, and in that time am hoping that it’s just first week blues, and things will pick up as the staff get to know me more, and I them, but it could be a hard slog, and after this I’m off to surgery for a month and I am so not a surgeon type, so it’s not even as though my next placement is something to really look forward to…

I talked at the LD group yesterday, on Zaccheus, after being invited for tea beforehand with the man who leads both my group, and the one I was speaking with. This man is so lovely – he’s got such a huge heart for these people, and is probably the best example of a Christian I will ever come across. Getting to know him and his wife is lovely – I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve been invited to dinner with non-students in my entire time at university. They are honestly so full of love for the lord that I think they might actually explode at some point! Anyway – the talk was a bit mixed as a lot of the group didn’t come, and the ones who were there, were more towards the lower end of ability – and I realised that they probably wouldn’t quite engage with what I’d written, which was pitched more at my group’s level, who are slightly higher functionning (living in sheltered accommodation and holding small, unskilled jobs, as opposed to needing round the clock care). This was a bit nervewracking – but I just went for it and sort of changed my style from a more standard preach, to more of a story-telling structure (with voices – oh yes). It seemed to go ok.

Sometimes I think that with these groups, and even with church as a whole to some extent, it’s not actually the ‘gospel’ bit or the preaching that’s important – it’s the community we build that really enables people to grow. You can have as many theology degrees under your belt, you can have read the Bible umpteen times, but if you’re not in a community that show you and guide you, and support you in your faith and life, what sort of Christian life do you have? With both my group, and the one I visited, the part I love the  most is the sharing of people’s weeks over coffee at the end – I really love seeing our members being supportive and caring towards each other and taking charge of a small task like putting sugar in tea or handing round the biscuits – but a lot of them don’t get much chance to help in their homes, or don’t feel confident doing so. I love listening to them pray aloud (something I struggle with still) and hearing their faith in their voices. It makes me think about all the emphasis on the ‘greatest and the least’ in scripture – these people I love, they lead small lives, by many definitions, but they are still such rich lives.

Sometimes I sort of wonder if I’m pushing myself enough by helping with yet another LD group or cause – which I’ve done on some level since I was a young teen, helping with the support base at the local primary school. It’s an area I feel comfortable with – thought sometimes I wonder if I should be throwing my mission hook elsewhere in another area that I’m less familiar with. I find it so easy to love my group, and others like it – but should I be seeking out people I find it harder to love, to see Jesus in? Should I be actively trying to think where I need to learn to see differently, on a practical level? On the other hand, I know I can’t just chase after every single good cause I hear of (though I do try…..there’s that restless spirit again) and that finding an area I love and feel comfortable in, is such a blessing in its own right. I guess, only time will tell – I’m 23, after all. I’ve got plenty of time to do stuff. There’s no rush. Sometimes I need to slow down.

And after a week of being completely unable to get that Zaccheus song out of my head, if you have been similarly afflicted, please accept my most sincere apologies…xx

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I’ve helped with a church group for adults with severe learning disabilities for about a year now, and it’s honestly been one of the things that has the biggest impact on my faith. It’s true – I’ve heard some brilliant sermons and sang some heartfelt songs, I’ve listened to famous preachers and read books by some of the leading Theologians of the last century, but spending time with people who need to take the Bible at a bit of a slower pace than I do, is the thing that has taught me the most, both by looking at the more experienced leaders build a loving community that churches speak of often, but rarely attain, and also by having to pare back my thinking when I’m given the responsibility of leading a meeting.

I imagine that there are some similarities to teaching sunday school in that there’s a focus on parables and stories, and less of an emphasis on Bible history or theory – but it’s also different, as our members are adults with adult problems, although they don’t have the same capacity to understand or manage, as others do. They have problems with people jeering, being unkind, and taking advantage. They have worries about their loved ones health, and often have a lot of medical problems themselves. They get stressed when their carers change frequently and don’t seem to know them. They struggle in their workplaces when they feel overwhelmed and sometimes undervalued. This is why the group is so wonderful – it truly values each person and actively loves them. It’s ‘church’ at its best. Although, when I hear about some of the stuff they have to put up with, it makes my blood boil and I don’t always remember to have a very Christian attitude towards some of the people who quite literally persecute them. People can be cruel.

I’ve been invited to speak at one of the other groups, that I am not directly involved with, on Thursday. I’m a bit nervous – no matter how many times someone says ‘but ANYONE can preach the gospel!’, I’m still a bit unsure – can I do it? Or more importantly, can I do it well, accurately, lovingly, confidently? I don’t know this group so pitching the right level  is a bit trickier than when I talk with my own, whom I know. As I’ve been preparing it’s made me think about how much you can learn from really taking something back to baseline. I’ve been asked to talk about Zaccheus (Luke 19) and fascinating as it was reading about the symbolism of the sycamore tree, my eyes have been opened by having to look at how I can strip the story back and make it accessible.

Zaccheus is often a bit of a figure of fun – he’s a little, seething, greedy man. Sing the song – you know you want to. You don’t have to go far these days to see or hear the ire directed at bankers and their bonuses – and this is how the people of the day would have seen Zach – beyond reproach, with no thought for anything except the money lining their pockets. And when Jesus picks Zach, out of everyone from the crowds, their response is telling – why is he being favoured, when he is so hated, so very flawed? Why am I not being given that honour, when I tithe what I should and give money freely….. The crowds put themselves above Zaccheus, they get prideful and think that even if they’re a sinner, he’s more of one. He doesn’t deserve Jesus. They’re indignant. They question Jesus’ choice. Even though Zaccheus shows up to see Jesus just as much as they do, and has gone to the effort of shinning up a tree (and I don’t imagine he was all that graceful a climber), they don’t think he’s worthy. He should be made to wait his turn, and when the grace runs dry, miss out and go home empty handed.

More importantly is Zaccheus’ response. He seeks Jesus, meets Jesus, and is driven to change. He suddenly goes all Robin Hood on Jerusalem and gives back what he’s taken and repays the interest four times over. The Holy Spirit changes the biggest obstacle Zaccheus has, that keeps him from living a holy life – and Zaccheus steps up and delivers, in front of the masses. Could you do that? Could you publicly admit the places where you go most wrong, and in the open, put it to rights? Zaccheus gets bravery from following Jesus. This must have been a total high-five moment.

Having to teach on Zaccheus reminded me that anyone who is open to Jesus, deserves Jesus. It reminded me that I need to pray more for people I don’t see eye to eye with, and that sometimes, it’s easy to start marking ourselves up against another person’s flaws and find them wanting. It reminded me that even though it doesn’t always seem that way, the Spirit is working in me to change the parts of me that aren’t, as my church would say, ‘worthy of the kingdom’. I may not be an overt usurer, but I’m certainly not perfect. Whether you’re identifying with Zaccheus, given an honour he doesn’t deserve, or the crowds, we all need Jesus.

Zaccheus is a good example for modern life, I think – when we think of ‘sinners’, the things that come to mind immediately are people committing violent crimes, extortion, prostitution, theft, the list goes on – not the wealthy worker, quietly building up their savings by taking advantage in a fashion that’s not really illegal – but does harm, nonetheless, even if constitutionally, it’s ok. Grey-area, middle-class sinning is still sinning, and realistically, it’s this sort of sin that most of us are much more susceptible to. What if we started being Robin Hoods with our finances, time, and resources? What if we started giving back into the situations we’ve maybe used for our own ends? What if we started owning up and making amends? Scary? You bet.

Are you brave enough to do a Zaccheus?

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I wrote about validity a few weeks ago and have been thinking about that topic since. Something I’ve realised is that I don’t just doubt my own validity and station under God, I also doubt, fairly regularly, God’s validity, and truthfulness in being who He says He is. Last night at church I was struck by this – I was listening to a sermon based around faithfulness and the preacher  said

‘perhaps you think that your inadequacies are too big for God to handle’.

Ahh, the power of the rhetorical question. This statement and my tendency to feel inferior, pretty much sums me up. I spent the first year of my faith believing that an all out, 100%  type of path  showered with gifts and graces wasn’t for everyone and wasn’t for me – that I was happy as an afterthought, sneaking in to the back of sermons, set apart by inconsistency and aching doubt, that I was content enough with being a guest in God’s house, with a daypass but no set of keys, that I was happy enough watching God work through everyone else, while I hung back, an eternal observer, a fearful loner. I thought everyone else had more of a right to be there than I did – I was the eternal gatecrasher, looking in, not quite welcome, but not enough hassle to send on their way.

And then this year, with its billowed hangings of depression, has seen me believing that I’m just too messed up for grace, for God. Sometimes I still think that – I think that somewhere along the line, I became too broken for repair and too wounded for healing, if God even looked my way to begin with, the afterthought that I am. There was a long period where I thought my depression was too big for God – that it was this blackness that ultimately controlled me, and that God had failed or just didn’t want to step in and get me back. This is a strange hubris, unfounded and flimsy – who am I, to think that my problems are too big for God? Who am I, to think that the God who parted the waters and sent down manna from heaven, is no match for my tangled views and cautious problems? Who am I, to put myself above the like of David, mad in his cave, or Gideon, an unlikely leader, or Jeremiah, weeping for his people? A strange hubris; someone who is capable of sending the plagues of Egypt is probably up to the challenge of my malfunctioning serotonin. It’s a lot less chaotic than a shedload of frogs and locusts. Pride has so many facets, and this is sort of a pride of brokenness – it’s one thing to feel wrecked and wretched, but another to convince yourself that you’re too wrecked for God and therefore more messed up, more sinful, more broken, than everyone around you. You only need to step back for a second to realise that this isn’t true. We’re all broken, in our own ways. We’re all sinning, in our own ways. We all need God, in our own ways.

Part of accepting that I too have a place and portion means accepting that God is going to be working in me aswell as the people I stand amongst on Sundays. It means accepting that God isn’t going to leave me alone, or leave me, at all. It means accepting that God has been faithful to me, that his promises have stood up, that through it all and after everything, there’s a place for me that will never be given away.

Balancing out a need to be a bit more forthright in terms of my place and inheritance from God against a need to get off my high horse and accept that God’s power and goodness is more than a match for my inflated sense of hopelessness, is tricky. Weighing one thing against another is childs play, simple – but so difficult, when you’re dealing with the intangibles of faith and living. There’s some verse somewhere about not straying left, or right, but sticking to the centre and keeping fixed on Jesus – the centre or the middle is probably what I need to be aiming for right now. Let’s see how the balancing act works out.

In other news, I meeting my Director of Studies this afternoon. This could be a little tricky – I haven’t seen him since I was at the lowest point in my depression and pretty impressively lacking in insight. It gave him a bit of a shock (understatement of the century). I’m quite nervous about it and am not quite sure yet how I’ll approach it. Then, I start a GP placement tomorrow, which has its own associations as it was on my last one, exactly a year ago, that I really started to unravel. So much has changed since then – but it’s giving me an eerie sense of deja vue and almost feels like the year didn’t happen, or like groundhog day  – I don’t know how I’ll manage it. I’ve also got to decide how much I tell them about needing time off for counselling – explaining things like this is often a minefield. I don’t want to be labelled with mental health stuff before I’ve had a chance to show that I’m more than this depression and more than this year. It’s tough.

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