13 years ago God called me to write. It has been a long road from then until now and even though I never forgot my promise, or turned away from it, I have not exactly finished the book I promised to write. 😦
A few years ago, I was given some advice by the man who performed the memorial service for my Dad when he passed away. This celebrant had helped other writers to get published and told me to join up to a particular writing club in my State, and to start a blog.
So I began writing blog posts for the next 2 years, while battling grief and depression, I hadn’t joined the writers club and had still not created a blog site on which to publish my posts.
Here I was procrastinating, unable to face my fear and let the world into my place of intimate writing. In March 2012, God gave me a small taste of the most painful time in my life, a time I had been through a few years earlier. I won’t pretend I wasn’t scared. Reliving my worst nightmare is not something I take lightly. I was desperate to not have to go back through anything like that again. A huge upheaval shook my peace and after a few coinciding signs, one sentence stood out to me which I could not disregard. It spoke clearly into my heart.
“2012 could be your worst year or your best year. The choice is yours.”
In light of the threat of reliving my worst year, and the promise I had made to write, I made a choice to go forward to bite the bullet and push past my fear and so created Inner Angels & Enemies.
The level of growth, peace, connection and joy that I have received since I began blogging is paramount compared to anything I have experienced before. Yet, I had all but forgotten that warning back in March, at least until last night….
In a very casual manner, I was relaxing and enjoying watching some episodes of Boston Legal (both mine & my Dad’s favourite show, we used to watch together). Funnily enough, 3 episodes were based around the Christmas/New Year Holiday Season. As the last episode on the disc came to a close, the two main characters, played by James Spader (Alan Shore) and William Shatner (Denny Crane), were sitting out the balcony reminiscing on the past year.
Denny – “Shoot a bad guy, save the life of someone you love, what a great year!”
Alan – “I have thought of myself as many things Denny, but being loved is not one of them, yet twice today I have been told that the opposite is in fact true.”
Denny – “Happy New Year my friend”
Alan – “Happy New Year? How could next year possibly top this one?”
They clink their glasses and the credits roll……
“How could next year possibly top this one?”
Up until I heard those words, I had forgotten that warning earlier in the year! However, God did not let the year end without giving me a clear reminder of all He has done and ALL He can do!
We can only go forward in faith when we push past the fear and hold tight to the promises of the Almighty! Is fear preventing you reaching God’s promises in your life?
With God’s power, next year has the potential to be far better than our wildest imagination!
God’s Blessings to you all in 2013 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
One day He will return, One day we will witness the end of this world as we know it and a ‘New World’ will be brought into reality…
“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36
In a panicked tone I say to my 7yr old daughter. “Put that down, don’t touch, you will break something!” I’m holding up a canvas with a painted flower on it, rocking the pram cradling my sleeping baby, with my other hand. My head is spinning, my chest is tight, and my heart racing as I hurriedly try to finish off my Christmas shopping. All the requirements to survive Christmas in an acceptable manner hang heavily over my head, but I’m not paying enough attention to notice how heavy they are. I am completely lost in the whirlwind of meeting everyone’s expectations and the ticking clock. I believe I am capable, I know if I push myself really hard I can outrun any possible guilt of failing to impress.
A million questions buzz around the racetrack in my mind, it’s anybody’s guess which one I will ponder long enough to be satisfied with the answer… if at all. ‘What do people really want for Christmas?’ ‘How can the gift appear worth something without blowing the budget?’ ‘What haven’t they already got?’ ‘Maybe I could make something?’ What if I run out of time and don’t finish it?’, ‘What if it’s not good enough?’, ‘What if I’m not good enough?’ ‘What if I ruin the meal and everyone will be left unsatisfied?’ ‘What if it falls apart and my facade drops and the quivering failure inside is revealed for all to see?’ ….
“I will just keep going, I have no choice, I will push harder, I won’t fail”… I will just smile and make it feel like a Merry Christmas!
That was me before my car accident…. There were moments I let myself enjoy the company of family and friends, of gifts and carols. There were times of joy, only they were tainted with deep insecurity that creeped it’s way into so many areas of my life.
After my accident I spent the next few Christmases, trying to stay sane inside a mind that didn’t want to play fair, trying desperately to resist the list of unmet expectations. I spent those years numb and defensive against the world with it’s mountain of pressure, which I could no longer push myself to climb. I clung frantically to my faith, begging the Lord to drag me out of bed and into the Christmas spirit. I was crumbling under constant migraines, anxiety, exhaustion, shoulder pain and self-condemnation, drowning in a sea of judgement and depression. Eventually I withdrew, I folded into the smallest version of myself, hoping I could fly under the radar so that no one would notice how useless I was. I took Valium and I slept….a lot.
To add insult to injury, smack bang in the middle of a grueling compensation law suit, and right before Christmas, my Dad lost his battle with cancer. He hadn’t been sick long enough for us to be truly prepared. We knew it would be quick, but even though we thought we were ready, we were kidding ourselves. So many chapters of the book left open and only half read. It sent shock waves through the family and I drowned my sorrows at a wake that lasted for weeks. The weight of his passing distracted me from finding true Christmas joy, so I fed it Vodka and sang carols loudly to the Lord, and I took photos of children opening gifts, like any good Mummy does. Each year has gotten a little easier, yet still carries a sense of dread.
And so here we are…. Has a change really come?…
This is the first Christmas since I began blogging, and the therapeutic evidence it has had over me is overflowing into my life. I have had a number of breakthroughs and a strange sense of peace surrounds me this year. I don’t feel as burdened with the grief of Dad’s passing because I feel him with me so much more since I began sharing our history with others online. I arranged all the extended family’s presents and sent them off early this month. I have taken some extra time off work so I can just relax with my girls and am looking forward to their company of cuddles and conversation. I don’t feel overwhelmed by the back-to-back gatherings and actually feel present rather than distracted, which is becoming a more regular, blessed experience for me.
Christmas has developed a reputation of chaos and anguish, at a time of year when a light might shine on forgiveness, love, acceptance and peace. There are going to be times when these things are overlooked, yet it is possible to discover a change at Christmas, the closer we get to our true selves and learn to put the expectations aside, to strip back the hoopla and reflect on the birth of our King.
I send up prayers for all to experience some peace on earth this Christmas, to focus on being present rather than getting presents, and to feel truly grateful and blessed for the gift of Christ to us, a gift of salvation to a world in desperate need of saving.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
The third anniversary of my Dad’s passing is here, He is missed enormously.
Has it really been 3 whole years since I looked into your eyes? Really!?!?…..
Many things stand out to me when I reflect on who my Dad was, numerous good things, many difficult ones, some sad.
Today I am thinking of something I feel a pull to dig deeper into and treasure up into my heart, so I may emulate it in my own life. I am naturally a personality hungry for love and acceptance. Many of us are, yet not only hungry, starving even. I have tried to expect it, demand it, beg for it, manipulate it, wait for it and eventually … appreciate it.
This week I had an epiphany, I realised that for as long as I can remember I have felt a pressure upon me to compromise my own opinions and perspectives in order to avoid conflict. As if, to be loved and accepted, to enjoy the company of ‘everyone’, then I must alter my beliefs to keep the peace.
Please understand that I am pretty strong willed and rarely accommodate this change, I don’t back down or let people walk over me. However, I have let the feeling of this lack of acceptance seep deep into my convictions. I second guess myself often, or desperately try to justify and explain, and I search for ways to cope with forcefully opposing views. I find myself either giving in to the pressure over time, or putting up huge walls, or copying some behaviours of others, behaviours that are not ‘mine’, in order to feel I have something in common with them, something that might connect us.
When I was young, doing drugs, drinking and smoking eased the pressure off my reluctance to enter into a sexual relationship, because everyone else was doing ‘it’. I could still engage with my peers that way, without being rejected for being too different. Wanting to be a singer and actress, or a lawyer, was too far from what my peers envisioned for their lives, so I went into hospitality and became an expert at pouring a beer and carrying a tray. Being a Christian came with strange looks and the ‘Goody Two-shoes’ label, so I began dressing in an overly Gothic style and swearing like a sailor.
Do you see the pattern??
I was running around trying everything everyone else was doing, because I had no idea how to be strong and happy enough to just be me, and be different. I needed others to like me for being anything else, anything acceptable. Problem is…What is ‘acceptable’ can change with each new face you greet. It is an impossible bar to reach.
There is a need to be quietly confident in our beliefs, so that we don’t feel threatened when they are challenged.
I am not very good at this, because as the years have passed I have allowed this pressure to cause me to become very defensive of the person I am, the person closest to my ‘true’ self, without the influences of opposing opinions. Yet, I am on guard, certain that previous offenders will threaten my lines of certainty. It makes me anxious and I react badly, lose my composure, and therefore treat these offenders aggressively. The worst part is that these are people I care for, and also if I begin to fire off defensively, innocent people may get hit with friendly fire in the process or aftermath. I feel very far from quietly confident in these moments.
As far back as I can remember, my Dad didn’t compromise his beliefs for anyone except God. He held up his opinions against the word of God and against his relationship with God, and allowed God to challenge him and not the acceptance of people. He stood strong in his convictions against all who tried to manipulate him to change. This affected his family life and his social life to the extent where he spent many many years completely alone, with God. It wasn’t until the last decade of his life when he finally found a bunch of people who accepted him and his beliefs so that he could finally relax and enjoy the company of others.
So in order to still have people in our lives and achieve quiet confidence, we need to develop a loving way to protect our boundaries, without allowing the onslaught of attack and opposition to send us into a tizzy of defensiveness. Not everyone will fall into the category of peacefully agreeing to disagree. Some will always feel that an opposing view needs to be challenged and this can be extremely vexatious to the spirit.
Like Dad, I have begun avoiding spending time with people who can’t help but confront and try to move my boundaries. Lately there are much less times that I feel this pressure, than when I do. I have found my own bunch of people to be comfortable being myself with, who I can disagree with, without getting defensive, and not feel the slightest need to change in order to suit them, because I know they love and accept me regardless of our differing views. I don’t have to defend my boundaries, I don’t feel anxiety in their company. I can relax and be me and it’s all good.
I am going to keep working hard on being quietly confident, and lovingly protect my boundaries with those who I feel anxious around, without the overly defensive reactions. I will definitely need all of your prayers on this one, it’s a biggy!