So is this really healing that is happening in my life?
Well, certainly God is doing a work in my heart, in my deepest place of me-ish-ness, which has enabled me to live in a place of peace and rest, stillness and smiles that I have never inhabited before.
As a result my life is not characterised by hiding away in fear – looking around nervously for escape routes. I am no longer living in a state of flight or fight mode, phobic of waking up to face another scary day in which I wouldn’t be good enough and in which others wouldn’t be able to make up for my failures.
Yes, life is full of mess – but now I can let messy people into the mess and messily love them there. And when your aim is to love, failure is taken out of the equation. And when failure is taken out of the equation a lot of the fear goes. And when the fear goes my need to be in control decreases. In an agenda of love rather than fear it is much easier to manage my need for order. Previously when fear had snatched the reins of my life every detail of disorder pained, distracted and tired me. When love, in the context of grace, is your aim then giving the situation to God and seeing where he takes it (5 loaves and fish come to mind) is simply much more peaceful.
In these words from the hymn Blessed Assurance:
“Perfect submission, all is at rest, I in my saviour am happy and blessed….”
When I try to give people me and my perfect handling of a scenario – a set piece as it were – then I am full of fear and tighten my grip on whatever I am doing. When I aim to give love I seem to be able to go with the flow (all be it in a very me-ish way!).
A good spell before was a season in which I managed to juggle everything really well – keeping on top of things and feeling relatively in control. But of course there always came a time when I dropped a ball – for whatever reason. Even when I felt I was winning there was always a sense that I was only just outrunning a monster that would eventually catch up with me. And when he did I would drop everything and hide.
Now the monster and I are jogging partners! I have stopped trying to outrun life.
If life is like a trip from the laundry basket to the washing machine – arms slightly too full and a trail of dirty socks and pants left behind you – I have stopped feeling the need to bend down while my arms are still overflowing with washing and pick up everything along the way.
The secret of my well-ness is not that I am now better at coping, but that life doesn’t constantly feel like something that needs to be coped with. I am not chasing after an equilibrium at the end of my to do list that simply doesn’t exist.
This means that not feeling on top of things has become normal and acceptable! A crazy day or set of unusual challenges does not cost me the emotional fortune it would have previously. It doesn’t deplete me or send me into a panic. I don’t pay for it the next day, nor the next. I process it as I go along, let go of things when my hands get too full and avoid looking back over my shoulder.
I am still me and I need to apply the wisdom I have gained over the years in managing my emotional energies, No doubt there is much still to learn and many things that will still manage to floor me.
BUT something has changed. In one sense virtually overnight, but in another sense very slowly over years and years of healing since our son’s death [and in all probability just the lifelong struggle of being a broken me in a broken world].
Over the past 12 years I have prayed and read and planned and processed. I have written and prayed and learned; reflected and prayed some more. I have read about grief and depression, anxiety and fear, contentment and trust and while I have learned much these lessons have hovered slightly out of easy reach.
But just recently I have learned – and when I say learned I don’t mean intellectually, but deep in the very depths of who I am – the very simple and yet profoundly wonderful truth that God is completely good – not just in the abstract – but personally completely good to me and that my heart is truly safe with him. I am completely loved, with no expectations on me whatsoever. I am just loved – plain and simple.
And all those other lessons which seem to have been stored away in some sort of very hard to access holding area seem to have poured into my HQ like marbles clunking noisily, but pleasingly, one by one through a funnel in a marble run.
Who knows what will happen as the winter continues and the sunshine of summer is still far off – but I do think there has been a shift in my mental health and it is linked to my trust in God. “You will keep her in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because she trusts in you.”
Basically I am not so afraid of life any more – it is liked I have finally turned on the light and seen that the shadow lurking in the corner is not the menacing beast that I thought it was, but just a coat on a chair casting a funny shadow. And take away the fear and much of the urgency, perfectionism and panic goes with it – because the realities of life are no longer the enemy. Take away the perfectionism and the constant fight with life and the anger goes. Take all of that away; and failure and human error – both yours and other people’s – become acceptable, unsurprising and non-threatening. Take all that away and life is a LOT less tiring. And before you know it love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control find some space to grow.
Phew – that was a bit of a … not a rant, but the positive version of a rant – a rave perhaps? Thanks for putting up with that – it was good to put it down.