It’s funny, I don’t really know how I’ve been lead back here. I’ve just rediscovered this blog that I was using a few years ago, purely by chance, to be honest. I’ve sat and re-read the blog posts I wrote, and been reminded of a time in my life which I now look back on as so unbelievably precious. I guess it’s not that long ago, really. My most recent post was in mid 2014, and it’s now early 2017 – so maybe 2 1/2 years or so. Aged 22 to aged 25. But wow, how much has changed in that time. And now my own words are in front of me, with no-one but myself that can be held accountable for the challenge they present the slightly older, slightly more jaded, slightly weary…me.
So why not, I guess. Why not check in with this little community and see who is still here? You’re all a very safe option, in a way – because the chances are I won’t ever actually meet any of you – but, after a little notification pops up in your window, you just might read my rambling thoughts, and as a result, I’ve shared my heart with someone…however confused it might currently be. So here it goes…allow me to pour out a little of myself, and what’s happened since that little post in mid 2014.
Well, I sort of finished that degree I was talking about, in 2015. I managed 2 out of the 3 years, and left with a HND. I did well, although it was a struggle the whole flipping way! By the time I got to the end of it I had clearly forgotten some of the little lessons I so readily shared on here in my first blog (The Principles of Training), and decided that I wouldn’t continue with the third year. Whether that was the right decision or not I am still unsure…but that’s the decision I made. I had gained a new circle of friends, one friend in particular, who shared my enjoyment of the outdoors and opened up a new realm of activities and possibilities. Suddenly I had someone to go climbing, canoeing and mountain biking with. This friend is not a Christian, but we got on like a house on fire straight away, and to this day we remain very good friends – I love her dearly. In fact, I now live in her house…but we’ll get to that in a few paragraphs time! It was also in 2015 that my dear friend and mentor, who’s house I had shared since 2011 told me that she felt God was leading her to move across the country, around 300 miles away, to be closer to her extended family. This is the woman who had held me up and taught me almost everything I now knew about Jesus. The woman who had walked with me, prayed for me and counselled me almost every night as I was stripped and broken, and as I was only just starting to be rebuilt. The only woman whom I shared every struggle, fear, prayer and joy with…without fear of judgment or criticism. She had truly been gifted to me from God, and was now to be removed from me by the same. The process was quick, and within about 3 months she had moved away. Of course, we spoke very often and were very much a part of each others lives. I visited every month for the first 6, and we kept up to date with each others comings and goings. She spoke to me when she met someone, and when he asked her to marry him. We spoke through it all, but of course, it was different. She was gone, and suddenly I had to stand on my own two feet. I started to understand the definition of ‘second-hand faith’.
Before my friend had left, we had a third woman from our Church move into our community house, so I now lived with one other. She is super lovely, but after 6 months or so I began to feel the itch to move on. The house just didn’t feel the same anymore without my friend. After all, I’d moved in there to begin with to be mentored by her. I’d also gained a job in a town about 15 miles away, with the college I had studied in. It was shift work, and the journey home in the middle of the night was my perfect excuse to justify leaving the house. I looked at my options and one stood out as my route forward. My new friend (who I mentioned in the last paragraph) had a spare room in her house, and had mentioned that I’d be welcome to lodge in it. If I’m honest I had dismissed the idea to start with because I didn’t think it was a good idea to move in with a non-Christian. I knew how easily influenced I was, having only been treading my own path on this faith journey for a short time – but decided in the end to go for it – I needed the change, and it would get me closer to work. So I moved, about a year ago now. (I am happy in this house, and intend to stay as long as I am welcome.)
Now, there’s a side-line story here – happening adjacently to the one I’m telling – and that’s what was happening at work. I’d started my new job full of optimism and enthusiasm. Right industry, working with young people which is where I saw myself, and more money than I’ve earned before. Win win! However, only 2 weeks in to my new job I made the unfortunate mistake of making a distasteful joke about a colleague. No offence was meant, and it really was rather harmless – probably borne out of lack of confidence, and an attempt to ‘test the waters’ with the new people around me. However what unfortunately followed was an official complaint, a long, drawn out, formal grievance procedure and (worst of all) a permanently soured relationship with a new colleague. I struggled for the next eighteen months with what eventually became a workplace bullying issue, until I was totally depressed about my work life. I had lost the enthusiasm and zeal I started with and instead dreaded going in to the office. All the while I remained in denial about what was actually happening, refusing to believe that I could be ‘bullied’ and therefore refusing to address the issue with my line manager, colleagues or even friends.
Now, pair this work situation with the fact that I had removed myself from Christian community and I’m ashamed to say that the passion and assurance of God that is so evident reading my old posts diminished quickly. I gave way to apathy, resignation and self-protection. My old barriers went back up and although I maintained communication with certain trusted people, I was quickly reverting into old attitudes and habits. When my one remaining good, Christian friend went to Australia for 6 months in September I had nobody left to question the changes in me and all too easily I dried up. In April last year, I decided to take a month off from Church, in order to assess my motives. I wanted to see if I would miss it, or if it had become a thing of habit. Regretfully, I haven’t been back since. Now please understand me, I’m not justifying this at all! I know I need to be in fellowship. I want to be in fellowship! I miss fellowship! But I have become jaded and now struggle to see a way back. I am still trusting God, and know that in all this He has not changed. His heart towards me remains the same, and if anything I think I am more aware of His abounding mercy and grace as a result of my situation. I know He has purpose and I still know His purposes will prevail! But there is struggle, and I am sitting in the midst of it. As a Christian, I was taught what to do when I am persecuted by others. I was taught how to cope with grief or hardship or suffering. But no-one taught me how to react when the trials are of my own making…When we give in to our own temptations, or fall into old sinful habits. This is a unique kind of struggle which is lead more by guilt than anything else. But it is just as real. Just as much a part of the human condition, and of the faith journey we choose to walk as believers in Jesus.
I am thankful for the roots that were laid in my early life, and through the short years of training and discipleship I had, because what I do know is this – “that there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and that “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” and that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” and finally that “the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
So here is what I have once again realised today. Finally. That although I am sitting at my desk in the middle of the night, weary, lonely, jaded and doubting – with more questions than answers, and more problems than solutions…my God has not changed. He is still in control. He is still faithful. He is still working in me. He meets my unfaithfulness with faithfulness. He meets my doubt with certainty. He meets my confusion with His glorious plans. He meets my pride with His humility. He covers my sin with His Son.
And He still see’s me. He still wants me. He still loves me.
I’ve been hearing the voice of the one who knows my name, but calls me by my sin. Lord let this be the moment I silence that voice in place of the one who knows my sin, but calls me by my name! Amen.
“I will not cause pain without allowing something new to born, says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:9 NCV