Knock Knock Knocking…

•May 18, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On life’s doors?

I’ve been feeling as though I’m stuck in limbo at the moment. The car is now paid off, the loan is done in a few months and throughout the past 5 or so years I’ve been waiting for this point to get my life going. It’s what direction that’s been making me stall. When I spoke to a friend this week she said that perhaps if I’m not getting any solid answers on my future, that to pray that God will close some doors instead.

With that thought in mind, and my complete lack of patience, I figured I should start knocking on doors and see which ones are closed, and which ones aren’t.

Ok, perhaps in all honesty it won’t be a simple knock. I’ll probably add a few kicks to be sure.

Here’s what’s on the go, and what’s in my mind.

Work. Where I work is ok. It’s tough and I’d rather not spend the rest of my life there. Without the loan to pay off I could theoretically quit and get a job that pays less but that won’t give me much wiggle room if my living situation were to change. I have sent out a few applications recently, one quite far north, but so far nothing has come back.

School. From the frustration of trying to find a new job and realizing I have zero training and only experience, I applied for a technical school within the city. Surprisingly I got in. It’s conditional though as the class itself is full. I’m on a shortlist for if space becomes available and it would be a two year course. I’d have to apply for a government loan which as I’m not finished my other loan quite yet, I’m not sure if that would go through easily. The other option is to wait a year, spend the fall examining each course and degree offered to choose one that I would do great at, something that I would find interesting, and ultimately something I could walk out of with a degree that would get me a good job. I’d prefer the two year degree as I’m not getting any younger and want to get things on the go! I’m still doing distance education through the bible college but not entirely sure what job I could get with a degree in Christian Studies. I’d need a secondary degree and I’m not sure that my original idea of going into counselling may not be a smart idea for me.

Home. Where I live is good rent even if it is challenging to live with the others in the same house. I’m mostly left to myself which I appreciate, but I feel as though someone within the house is always trying to pick a fight or create a reaction from me which I refuse to do. I pretty much just want to be left alone. Do I try to get a mortgage and buy my own place? It’s been a dream for so long but I had hoped I would be planning a life with someone by the time that happened.

No home? Here’s the odd question. What if I’m not supposed to have a home? I’ve thought about mission work before, but what if that is something I should look into? How would I start? Where would I start? Is that something I could do? I’d love to travel, see different parts of the world, and I have felt an urge to give up everything. I feel comfortable right now with my amount of ‘stuff’ and I know that if a situation arose where I would have to give it all up, I could. For some reason over these last few years I’ve gained peace about this. The big unknown is could I actually do this?

And the last awkward point… the future husband. Is there one? A friend and I joked that given we were the same age and in the same situation, we would try the whole online dating thing in September. Given my earlier stated patience (or lack thereof) I don’t know if I have any remaining to deal with the online dating scene. Is there a matchmaker option? Why aren’t arranged marriages common anymore? If I’m not meant to be married is there a way this door can be closed so I don’t spend the next few years wondering?

While this isn’t exhaustive, these are some of the questions I’ve been asking and some of the paths I’ve been following in the last few months. What will happen over the next few months is anyone’s guess but I’m hoping that by knocking (and pounding) on a few doors I’ll at least have an idea over what door is closed firmly, what is open a crack and what could be wide open.

Broken

•April 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I had a disgustingly pink teddy bear that was a money box when I was a kid. I dropped it once and the back shattered but my dad glued it back together. From the front this teddy bear looked normal, the damage was only visible if you turned it around, or knew what to look for. Many years later I dropped it again and the same spots, plus one of the ears broke. My dad took it to repair it again and it’s sitting on a shelf in the basement in pieces, and has been there for almost 20 years. I’m feeling like the teddy bear glued back together the first time, awaiting my shattering before being shelved.

Tonight’s small group was about Ananias and Sapphira from Acts 5 and after watching the 15 minute video and working our way through the questions, I remembered that this had been part of a sermon a few months back. I pulled out my notes and flipped to the page, surprised to see that while the focus of the study had been something else, our conversation had brought it back to the point I had scribbled in my book.

While we answer the questions we go all over the place, new topics popping up and rabbit holes investigated. While we don’t always stay on the proper topic, we stay within faith, and it works out well in the end. Tonight we ended up on the subject of community and how back in the early church the sense of community was radically different than what we experience today. One of the ladies brought up that even with the church body we struggle with community. We discussed how as a body we are generous, we give, do charitable works but on the inside we aren’t necessarily being true to ourselves or others.

On Saturday night I attended church as I had to work Sunday, and I was not in a great head space. It had been a hard day, after a hard week and I was getting pretty fed up of mentally beating myself up. I walked in wanting rest, peace, and to be left alone. It’s days like this that I dread the welcome and greeting portion as I paste a smile on my face, say hello and be friendly to the person next to me in the hopes that no one can see past the act.

The sermon was great and I took tons of notes but the point I took home was about how we are the proof that Jesus has changed us, within our testimonies and who we are versus who we were.

Tonight at small group, one of the ladies said that it’s hard within a large church to know who is broken and how much brokenness there is as people hide it. Within our study on Acts 5 we discussed how Ananias and Sapphira lied thinking no one would know. Looking back in my notes from this sermon in November, the point I had written down was ‘are we caught in a secret sin we don’t think is harming anyone?’ Both points, six months apart, still hitting home.

The lady in my group was saying that by us hiding our secrets and putting on a happy face at church we are giving the wrong impression to those that are coming who know they’re broken and don’t know what to do. We discussed how pride could have been a factor in the couple from Acts 5 being unwilling to give all that they said they would and how we too would react with pride to giving up our belongings, yet wasn’t it also pride that kept us from showing how we really are?

There is so much going on around and within me, that I can’t keep it straight. I’m being pulled in numerous different directions as to what to do next and I need to make some decisions quickly as some have deadlines. I feel focused one moment, distracted and frustrated in the next. I am feeling broken but only if you know what you’re looking for. I’ve had far too many years of smiling and hiding.

Am I Allowed To Be Angry At God?

•March 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I am… quite angry. If he were here in this room in some physical presence I would throw a book at Him. Probably His own.

I’m currently reading Lee Strobel’s ‘Case For Christ’ as I have read one of his books (Case For A Creator) shortly after becoming a Christian and this book came up in a discussion with my last class. I’m not very far in, the first or second chapter that discusses why evil exists if a loving God does also.

It was interesting to read whilst sitting in the lunch room today, rational even. It made sense at the time. I see evil in our world but I guess it never really has hit me personally. The part that hit me was about how a loving God can allow bad things to happen to those that follow Him. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other illnesses were labelled as being bad things that a loving God allows His people to suffer. Again, interesting read but not really affecting me at that point in my thoughts.

This evening I heard some bad news from a Christian friend. Several months ago she was raped and is now pregnant with twin boys (not 100%, but from the ultrasound). She chose, based on her faith, to keep the babies and give them up for adoption (though at the time she assumed it would be just one baby). She has been struggling with intense fatigue and anemia so the doctors have been running a lot of tests to determine if it’s pregnancy related or something else. It turned out to be the latter. After several days of more tests she received the answer today.

It’s ALL Leukemia and she is being told that she needs to make a choice and fast. She told me that the doctor informed her the cancer spreads very quickly and they need to get her on chemo and are trying to find a bone marrow match for her. They are encouraging her to end the pregnancy immediately. These two boys can’t survive outside of the womb for another 5 weeks, and the doctors are pressing upon her that she doesn’t have 5 weeks. They are stressing that unless she begins treatment immediately, she risks losing her life. Even if she begins treatment, the chance of her beating this is not great.

She’s a bit of a wreak. She’s an 8-10hr drive away from me so I can’t go and comfort her. She isn’t close to her family but has some friends through the church she attends. I’ve been talking to her all night long, but I don’t know what to say. I sent out a prayer request through my small group and I’ve been asking God for healing for her except at the same time I’ve been shaking my fist at Him.

I don’t understand why. Why did this series of events happen to her? True, the chances of her discovering this cancer until it was too late are huge as she wouldn’t have been having regular checkups and blood work if she wasn’t pregnant. But why this on top of the other? She now has to chose, her life or the two boys. How can you make that choice?

Right now I’m angry. I’m praying, but for her sake. I can’t see anything good in this at the moment. I can’t imagine what is going on in my friends head at the moment.

I’m A Snoodle

•February 12, 2014 • Leave a Comment

For class I have to watch a Veggie Tales episode called “A Snoodle’s Tale” and I find myself sucked right in and empathizing with the poor snoodle. I’m doing the week on spiritual gifts which is something I have struggled with. In the last year I’ve filled out two applications, one for school and the other for membership, both times asking about my spiritual gifts. Both times I put in ‘I don’t know,’ though not in so many words. I’ve gone to group evenings with the church where we’ve talked about gifts and I sit there feeling lost and frustrated.

Now it’s hitting me in a kids cartoon… I feel so sorry for this tiny little snoodle. He thinks he’s got three unique gifts and as he tries to use each one (except he didn’t use the kazoo…) the older snoodles mock him. They add a picture of him failing every time to his backpack and the poor little snoodle gets weighed down until he runs away. I feel like that frequently.

The snoodle runs into an old wise snoodle who paints a picture of the little one as he sees him, which is a great little picture and makes the snoodle happy.

I understand the story behind the cartoon, yet I’m not where this tiny little snoodle is. I can’t see this picture, maybe I’m just ignoring it?

Too many thoughts coming from a kids cartoon…

Pruning

•February 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

We’ve been asked to not speak until lunch which was an hour and a half, now an hour, so I thought I’d process the best way I know how which is by writing.

I’m at the women’s retreat for the church and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to all year. This isn’t my first retreat but it’s the first one with my home church. My first retreat was quite in depth and I experienced a lot of growth out of it.

Perhaps it was because I wasn’t sure of what to expect? Everything hit me and I was quickly overwhelmed to the point where I was pruned quickly and started to heal. I’m wondering if because of that intense experience I’ve now guarded myself?

I was not afraid coming here but perhaps my walls have gone up again. If I think hard I’m sure they’ve been coming up for a while. Seems to be very cyclical for me and it’s been a while since I was on this path.

Today we heard a speaker on John 15:1-17, where Jesus talks about pruning the grapevine. As usual it resonates with me and speaks to me in ways I really don’t want to admit.

This time we are given is to go through what we’ve heard and have been provided a few prompts. I took notes and scribbled while the speaker was on and the first one was of pruning the dead branch. What are my dead branches and the examples given were pride, anger, fear, of which I ascribe to all. What about self loathing, self destruction, obsessions, panic, and as I put it, the ‘not good enough’ factor. I’m used to all of those feelings and how they fit into my life, being completely honest with myself I perhaps fuel off some of those at times. Can I pick and choose what gets pruned next? I’d love the anger to go as my road rage bothers me, as well as my tendency to get frustrated and angry fairly quickly.

In vs 4 Jesus says to make our home, remain in Him and I know God is telling me to let go but at this time I don’t think I can. It’s as though there is a fine balance within my life and it’s gone from being as thick as a road to as thin as a ribbon. I’m still balancing but if I get to a strings width I might snap along with the string. Letting anything go would mess with the balance (and probably the juggling also!) which terrifies me.

Oh wait, I see an old theme coming through, and in vs 5 Jesus says without Him we can do nothing. There it is. My desire for control and independence is right in the forefront again. I’m trying to do this my way again and (un?) fortunately it’s working right now.

Vs 14-15 Jesus calls us his friends and my prompts ask what feelings arise at hearing that. I feel unworthy, ashamed, like hiding in a corner and turning off the light. In vs 16 Jesus says He chose us… I can’t describe what that does to me. Why? Did I ever get that and am questioning it now? Or have I ever asked myself why me? I’m sure if I was diagnosed with some illness I’d be asking why me, but for this I’m not? That seems a bit backwards to me.

I think it’s time to go for a cold walk to try and think some of this through…

Temptation

•February 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I barely made it to church Saturday night. Even as I walked through the entrance and shook the greeters hand I pondered my exit. I even chose a seat at the end of a row in the very far back so if I chose to leave, no one would notice. I had it pinned on a text and if it came through, I’d head out.

No text. I took off my coat and scarf, listened to the end of the song and tried to hide as the worship leader invited us to greet someone around us. I shook three hands, being back in the corner I wasn’t terribly noticeable, until I heard someone behind me say my name. I turned and shook the hand of one of the pastors who asked why I was sitting alone in the back. Rather than tell him I was debating skipping church to do something stupid, I mumbled about being late and hiding in the back (which if you know me is true. I always hide in the back.) which he would have none of. He invited me to sit with him and some others, leading me from the very very back row, to the very, stage kissing, front row.

New territory. I don’t think I’ve ever sat that close in any service.

I found myself surrounded by three pastors that I know, and two wives. There was no sneaking out of church now, at least not without questions which I wouldn’t have been able to answer.

The sermon was great, I took lots of notes for reference later, yet my mind was focused on what had just happened. Here I was, surrounded by three pastors that I know, respect, and care for, and two women that I don’t know but will after this coming weekend for the retreat. God knew my thoughts and used these people to stop the temptation in my mind. It was a pretty humbling and overwhelming experience.

Stuck In Thought

•January 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I remember hearing in a sermon once that living is the most terminal condition as it has a 100% death rate. This morning I received a call that my Uncle Neville had passed and that memory hit home.

When my sister called me, crying, I had a massive stab of fear that is was my Dad. Telling me it was my uncle was expected yet unexpected. He has been declining for years, the last time I saw him was almost 4 years ago and he was starting to lose the ability to talk clearly. It wasn’t until several months later as he began to lose the ability to walk that it was determined he had suffered numerous tiny strokes and it had taken a while for the effects to be noticed. Last year he was placed in a home to receive around the clock care while his wife, my aunt, continued to live at home. On Christmas Eve he was taken to hospital and stayed there. My aunt was with him the last few days, she had been sleeping at the hospital and when I talked to her today she said she just knew that she shouldn’t leave his side. She watched him die around 4am, GMT.

He was 77, born in 1936. His teenaged years were spent in terror of a Nazi invasion during WWII, he fought in the Korean War. He built houses, not in the nail and wood North American manner, but as a brick layer, for the rest of his working career. He retired sometime around 60 after the arthritis in his hands became too bad to work with. Besides the strokes and arthritis he was healthy. One of his favourite past times was hiking, particularly in the Lake District. He died of age, his body gave out, in his sleep. He wasn’t taken by cancer, heart disease or anything else, in a rare way, he died ‘normally’.

My mother had two older sisters, the oldest being my Aunt Bernice. Uncle Neville was her second husband and he adopted her son, my cousin, Warren. Warren has a daughter, my second cousin, Ella, who adored her Gramps. She took care of him, visited regularly, and was one of the few that understood him as his speech became more difficult to understand.

My mother’s side of the family and I have not really seen eye to eye most of my life. I have always struggled with that relationship and while I understand it has made me into the person I am, there is a part of me that still is saddened by the memories. Uncle Neville was a comfort to me. He encouraged my sense of adventure, the first one to take me on a hike, accepted me for who I was, including my stubbornness and desire for independence, and didn’t treat me like a fragile girl. A few things happened before we left England that he had nothing to do with and changed our relationship. I’m sorry that we didn’t really have a chance to repair it.

While this is not the first death in my family, it’s the first death since I became a Christian and it’s hitting me a little differently. With my mothers death I don’t think I really understood what had happened, it just became a fact of my life. I have lost family members since and it was just the cycle of life (or death) and once the sadness passed it was life in a new normal. I adapt and change. We sit and remember. Ultimately our lives go on.

Now I find myself affected and stuck in a funk. I wonder, did my Uncle know Jesus? Was there any point in his life that he became a Christian? What if he did and then wandered from the path, is he saved? The alternate is not fun to think about yet I find myself focusing on it. I begin to look at those around me, specifically my immediate family, and the thought of them spending eternity in hell just can’t be processed.

A few weeks ago I was knocked out before I really knew what was happening. I could die that quickly too, as could those around me that I care about. In a blink of an eye I could lose someone forever. It was black, a void, nothing. What if death is like that? One minute you’re there, one minute you aren’t. It wasn’t until two days later that I fully understood that I had been knocked out, I would be dead without ever knowing what had happened and it wouldn’t be an option to process it two days later.

In the theology class this week we were discussing an excerpt where the author began by stating salvation is a gift but by not following disciplines it seemed as though the author was implying that we could lose that salvation. This, accompanied by my constant sinfulness, is creating fear, stress and perhaps a tad of doubt and panic within me.

This is where I am stuck at the moment and it’s not a fun place to be.

 
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