Posts Tagged ‘faith’

I sing in a girls voice choir. More specifically, I sing in a non-auditioning choir that I personally founded, together with  a music teacher friend who in his own words ‘likes a challenge’. In the last two years,  it’s grown from being a madcap idea, to a firm university fixture, with biannual concerts, over a hundred students singing, and sell-out concerts. Choir is something I am so proud of, and I’ve loved leading it for the last two years. Now, I’ve handed it over and am no longer involved in choosing music, arranging socials, or sorting the finance – and it’s been a bit of a wrench. I’m someone who, for better or worse, needs projects. I’d decided to really try and let the new committee do it their way, and not stick my oar in – but I also really miss it. I miss being in the loop and being at the forefront of decisions. It’s been a great community – there’s something about single-gender groups that you just don’t get when you mix, much as I love my male friends.

Anyway, I bumped into the new president this week, and was asking how all the arranging’s going and if everything’s in place for when the new term starts. She asked me if I was coming to the committee meeting, and I said that I didn’t want to step on any toes or get in the way (which realistically, I may well do, as I care about it so much) – when she said –

‘but we WANT you there! We will always WANT you there – there is a Char-shaped space in choir that will never go away! And you are the only one who fits in that space. We want you there.’

Sometimes I think the most powerful words we have, are things like this. Everyone needs to hear those words – I want you, there, I want you, here, I need, we need, you to be with us. There is a job, a role, a space, a void, that only you can fill. When you’re not here, we are not who we were. We are not who we should be. We are not complete.

This was something I hadn’t realised I needed to hear – this last year, I’ve had to step back from a lot of things (choir was the only thing I kept up exactly as I had before), and at times, I’ve felt replaceable, and un-missed, and unimportant. Depression made me feel completely missable – that if I lost to it and gave up, no one would notice and nothing would be changed. It made me feel pretty worthless, and stuff like that takes a while to shift. Slow-grow.  I don’t always feel like I have a firm place in my different communities, whether it’s the medical school, my church, or the other groups I’m involved with – I don’t always feel that they miss me when I’m not there, or that God put me in there for a reason, for a task that no one else is quite suited for.

To be clear, it’s not about achievement, either – it’s just about knowing that your voice counts, that your hands have a task and your personality is there to make a difference. I guess it’s about having enough self-awareness, or self-love, or whatever you want to call it, to realise that you’ve got a part to play in this whole vendetta of living, that your name is in a book somewhere, written on a wall somewhere, etched on someones heart, somewhere.  It’s about knowing that there’s a little bit of land, a space, a gap, just for you, a perfect fit, that no one else can fill.

This reminded me firstly that God has me where I am for a reason, even if sometimes I don’t see it, but also that if we’re going to encourage others, the place to start is where we tell them how much we need them and want them there alongside us. To bring up Lord Kitchener again, it’s all about the YOU being the biggest word there – we need YOU. We want YOU here. Not the person to your right, not the person to your left, not the taller one, the smaller one, the cleverer one, the funnier one. You. It doesn’t matter, that I’ve spent two years ending emails to choir with a statement that every voice is wanted and needed. I needed to hear it myself. Once again, I am not ‘practising what I preach’. Room for improvement. I’m learning.

If you’re reading this, someone wants you here, too.

And just to round off, here is my favourite song we’ve sang so far  (it’s not us in the video obviously, it’s some mixed group, but it’s still beautiful)

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This week I had a ‘first’ in my life as a medic. I had a young woman come to see me in my ‘student surgery at the GP’s last week with a first presentation of depression. I’d taken a history, done the questionnaire etc, and suggested some medication (and referred for psychotherapy), checked everything with the GP, who agreed, and we asked her to come back in ten days to see if she improved. Because my allocated psychiatry block was with an intensive home team, and how my other placements have happened to fall, I’ve never actually seen someone with mental health problems improve in a clinical setting. When she came in again on Friday, it was like seeing a completely different person. It really did seem like a miracle. Antidepressants, when you get the right one, for the right person, at the right dose, really are life-changing. She wasn’t crying, she wasn’t thinking about killing herself, she was sleeping and eating better, all round, it was so good to see. Such a difference to how she was before. Incredible. She was also really thankful that we’d managed to sort her symptoms out; I felt like I’d been part of making a difference. It’s a good feeling. Obviously, this person will still have a long way to go before she’s fully back to ‘normal’ – but hopefully she’ll get there a bit sooner than I did!

This made me think about two things:

1) I sometimes let my own experience of antidepressants colour my view of them – seeing a clear case where they actually significantly helped someone, has sort of renewed my faith in them as options that actually can work. I get a bit cross when they’re handed out like sweets as an easy option, but it’s good to remember that there is an evidence base behind them, they do work, and they do make a difference, and it’s not just that other options are more expensive to deliver. If I am going to give hope to my patients, I need to have hope myself that these drugs will work for them, some of them, anyway.

2) I gave up on antidepressants. I clearly wasn’t given the right one for me, and had a horrific six months of putting the dose up, and up, and then stopping it myself as it completely accelerated my dangerous thinking and gave me a tremor that frankly scared me senseless. The second time it was increased, I didn’t eat anything at all for four days and only realised that when I fainted and was asked when I’d last eaten- that’s how out of synch it made me. I wasn’t fortunate enough, like so many are not, to get put on the right one. And when I lost faith in fluoxetine, I lost faith in all of them. I was afraid to try another one in case it also pushed me close to the edge. I was too scared to use something else psychoactive. Sometimes, I wish I had been braver – I was not brave. I was more scared than I’ve ever been. Sometimes, I wonder if this whole episode would have lasted the full year it has, had I been put on citalopram or sertraline from the word ‘go’ – I’ll never know that. I only know that doing it cold, was tough – but I didn’t really have anyone encouraging me to try it another way.

People ask me sometimes how I manage being ‘hard core into science’, and a Christian. I love science; I love being involved in research and finding new things out. My specialist areas are across neurodegeneration, plasticity, and molecular genetics, and I love learning about how our bodies work on the most intricate level. I love that someone worked out what’s going wrong in a disease, and someone else engineered a drug to target that mistake. These things only strengthen my faith; when I see someone improve as I did this week, it’s as though I’m seeing the tools God has given us to start to put right all the stuff that’s wrong, all that’s not ‘good’. God so often gives us the keys we need to set things right. For me, science is a big part of that. Medicines, are a big part of that. I’m not saying they’re the only solution, at all – but it’s been good to remember this week that often they are a big part, of a solution. When science works, it’s pretty cool.

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Leadership lessons

On Monday, I met my friend E for a drink and a chat, but came away with a little more than I’d bargained for. E is a few years behind me in medical school and we first met through the university windband, when he joined as a first year three years ago, the year I was band’s president. After that, we crossed paths again when we both started at the same church at around the same time, and with a similar amount of uncertainty (ie a lot), and this was when we got to know each other more on a par, as with band, I’d always been ‘in charge’ and leading things, and he’d always been following. We’re very different in some ways, and after a hard year for both of us (he is resitting a year after failing a lot of exams before finally being diagnosed with dyslexia) I really value his friendship.

We were discussing what we’ve been doing in the last few months and I was talking about the mentoring scheme I’m heading up and what’s happening with the choir and hospital volunteer scheme I founded two years ago, and he asked me why I’ve not ended up ‘in charge’ of anything at church when I seem to fall into leadership in most other things I do. And I replied that I’ve never really thought that I’m able to lead, or gifted in leadership, or however you want to put it – in ‘church life’ – that I’m always a bit unsure of what part I’m supposed to play, what space I’m supposed to stand in.

This lead to what I’m going to call ‘affectionately being completely shot down.’

E basically asked me if I honestly thought that God’s gifts were different depending on whether I was standing in church or somewhere ‘secular’, and then (somewhat amusingly) went a bit Lord Kitchener on me (your church needs YOU! Your God needs YOU!) and told me to step up and stop drawing a line in the sand, so to speak, between the parts of my life that are lived in church, and the rest of my time, where my faith is perhaps not quite as much on show.

All I could really say was ‘oh’. The phrase ‘you got told’ comes to mind.

He’s right in a lot of ways. I do have a tendancy to separate things out and think that I’m not really that useful to any church and that I don’t have any gifts, that in the world of 1 Corinthians, I’m one of the less vital, more silent, body parts, whereas it’s fairly true that outwith that, I feel confident in leadership roles (I even got an award from the university for it once) and like filling gaps I see and changing things I think need changing. I’m a project person – I’ve always got some scheme on the way, whether it’s getting the patient library together, or currently, this mentoring thing. It just doesn’t always carry over to who I am ‘at church’. Sometimes I fall back into thinking that I’m just kind of gatecrashing the party – that everyone else has an invite and a reason to be there, whereas I’ve just snuck in through the back door, and am listening in the dark at the back, and God can’t be bothered to chuck me out.

Part of this is probably down to the last year, when standing at the back of a service was as much as (and sometimes more than) I could handle, and I’ve been conscious as I recover that I shouldn’t overfill my time or take on too much (not that I’m managing this well at all). Another obstacle is that until this year, I just wasn’t stable enough in my faith to feel as though I could really be that involved, or active in things – as Ulysses Grant once said, you can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. I didn’t really comfortable spreading a gospel I wasn’t that sure of. I didn’t really want to infect anyone else with my perpetual, and often consuming, doubt. I didn’t feel ‘qualified’ or ‘capable’ or ‘allowed’ to be an active Christian – I had too many hours still to spend working things out. I thought I was better suited to sitting quietly at the back and trying not to lose my place in the hymnbook. My trumpet was certainly uncertain for quite a while.

Now however, talking with E made me remember that everything I am comes from God, and that I need to step up more and contribute my share to the kingdom we’re all trying to build. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about where I fit and what I feel called to change, so this conversation was certainly timely. I’ve got a feeling that the Bible study some friends and I are starting might be the start of a more well defined path for me, but only time will tell, at the end of the day.

And in other news, the GP let me stitch someone’s head cut today. Sorry if you’re squeamish, but it was AWESOME. The things that make me happy…..

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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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I was back in counselling on Monday and was talking about the other week with its slight meltdown. From here, L was asking me about how I manage/express/deal with etc – anger. I hate anger, or more specifically, being confronted by angry people. I am afraid, of angry people. Angry people say what they don’t mean, and mean what they don’t say, and aren’t very good at being objective, and to be honest, scare me. I hate being angry – I hate that feeling of a red mist coming down over your eyes and distorting the world around you. I hate the way my inner voice starts shouting about the situation, or person, in ugly terms I would never say aloud (or if I did, be ashamed, afterwards). I hate the way anger crowds out my reason and banishes my sense of balance. I’m afraid of lashing out and hurting someone with my wrath, of throwing out words I can’t take back. I grew up in an angry house. This stuff probably isn’t that surprising. Apparently, a lot of kids with drinking parents, feel that way.

I know, that I’m not all that great at ‘confronting emotions’. I prefer to head off alone for a few hours to cleanse them away, and come back, calmer, rather than giving in to them. I prefer to stuff them away and slide that placid mask, back in place. Out of sight, out of mind. I know this. And sometimes, it makes me feel a little broken, a little messy – surely, I should be able to manage things coming from within, from my own mind? Sometimes, it makes me feel so past repair, as though, if I can’t even deal with softshoed feelings, what can I deal with? L was going on (in predictable counsellor fashion) the need to FEEL your emotions and LET THEM BE HEARD and GIVE THEM the TIME and  SPACE they DESERVE. And me, well, I was sitting there crying, trying to explain that I try, that if I could, I wouldn’t be so crap at it all, that most of the time, I’d quite like to not be attached to tags like ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘aberrent coping mechanisms’ and all the rest. And L, she really went all stereotypical therapist-y and started talking about tackling the ‘darkest, deepest issues’ and ‘healing the untouched wounds’ and all this sort of thing, saying that it was going to be Painful with a capital P, and difficult with a capital D.

And part of me wanted to say – what do you think this has been so far, a walk in the park? Did you think that the last few weeks, have been painful-with-a-small-p and difficult-with-a-small-d? Did you think that this whole counselling thing has not had me hurting, crying, bleeding, tearing in two? Do you not hear when I say that I struggle to come each week, that every week, part of me is too afraid to get through the door? You say the next bit is hard – then, bring it. If this doesn’t finish me off, something else will. If this doesn’t finish me off, nothing else, will. Part of me wants to say fine, do your worst, consume me, break me, burn me, brand me. You can’t do any worse than depression did. You cannot push me closer to the edge, than I’ve already been. Throw at me what you will. Scald me, where you must. Let’s get this over with, finally. Let me get over this, finally.

However, being part human, part hedgehog, sometimes I’m not quite brave enough to say these things. I’m not quite big enough, grounded enough, fearless enough. It wears me down. And so I say, yes, let’s do it, let’s open the curtains and open the wounds. And what I want so much to add is, when you do it, please don’t hurt me more than neccessary. Please don’t let me down. Please don’t wound me more as others have done. Please, be there. Be there.

The thing is, no matter how difficult (with or without a capital letter) the next few weeks will be, just knowing that I’m going for it shows that over the last few months, I have moved forwards. When I first became a Christian, before any of this depression malarkey took hold, the thought of healing was just too much for me. I didn’t want to go there. I didn’t want anyone, to go there. It was less painful, less frightening, to carry on as I was, walking wounded, than let someone in and lead me towards being healed and whole. If I’ve learned anything about God’s plan for us, it’s that it’s tailor-made and only includes good things. I wasn’t ready, then. I have to trust that if I’m ready now, it’s because God knows I am ready, and knows what He’s doing. I have to trust He knows what’s best for me.

I’m choosing to trust.

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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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