DANCING WITH THE DEVIL … AND PRAYER

This post is dark … again. I tell you in advance as you may be so sick of hearing of my negativity that you wonder when there will be a respite from this torture and whether any experience of positivity is going to return? I wish I could let you into my world where I have secrets so deep, you couldn’t dig them out from the depths of hell. My shame has no end – I know that I’m dancing with the devil and now I have engaged in this dance, I can no longer pick the tune. I feel that I will spend the rest of my days terrifyingly and extremely reluctantly tied to this dance partner.

I listened to a sermon at church today (a place that I have no right to be as the bearer of my sins). It was about God loving each one of us despite what we have done. The first step would be to turn away from my sins which are, admittedly, not entirely of my own making, but they are now so great and I have sunk so low that I am too far down under the ocean to see any way back up to the surface.

I prayed so hard for God to show me a way out of the unfathomable mess I’m in, but there were no answers other than my knowing I will either spend my eternal days in hell if my sin remains only in my conscience or the alternative is for my sin to be exposed and I then spend my living days in damnation with my entire world having fallen apart around my ears until I die. And on that day, my feet will know no other way to tread than in the devil’s footsteps.

Dancing with the devil 2

“Father God, I praise You with all that I have and all that I am, deficient and insufficient though that might be. Forgive me, I beg, for my dreadful sin and please, Lord, free me from the captivity of the enabler and partner in crime who lives so closely alongside me emotionally yet they are not here in my existence now and I know that You already know this fact and were fully aware of this before I even put my pen to this paper.

I thank You for all the good that You have given me throughout my life. There have been many difficult and painful experiences along the way as there are in many people’s lives but I feel that, on the whole, I have learned from these and grown although evidently, not enough to right the wrong that I am doing currently and have been for some years.

My Father in Heaven, I plead with You to show me how to help myself to get out of this mess that I am in and in turn to become purer in thought and deed. I ask all this with all of my heart and everything I have in my soul, in Your Precious Name. Amen”

PRINCE GEORGE (THE CASE AGAINST)

Well, sadly, that’s the end of Charlie, my wheelchair. He has finally given up the ghost and gone to that great big wheelchair heaven in the sky. I’ve been without Charlie for nearly a month now and have been cooped up indoors, slowly climbing the walls and developing a serious bout of cabin fever. Oh, it’s so sad and so hard to let him go after four long and faithful years.

Farewell, Charlie x

Charllie front

 

Introducing ‘Prince George’

I have now had to acquire a new wheelchair, although due to a serious lack of funds, he is somewhat, or should I say, considerably, inferior to Charlie. So, let me introduce ‘Prince George’, ordinarily known as George (and will possibly become Georgie if he behaves himself and endears himself to me a little more).

George 1

Today was my first full day of driving him and, oh boy, am I feeling it now?! Ouch! Prince George has so far shown himself to be very inconsiderate despite the deceiving ‘go faster stripes’ on either side of his back and his smart blue paintwork. I have noted the following points of comparison in the case against Prince George:

  • His back is tough vinyl whereas Charlie was comfortably upholstered.
  • George has four wheels, much more difficult to drive than Charlie’s well-balanced six wheels.
  • Parking is a nightmare … Charlie could do a nifty three-point turn. George just about manages it in fifteen points, (give or take a few).
  • Charlie had a neat, flip-up footplate whereas George has two very stiff footrests (I think he’s developed arthritis at an early age) .
  • George feels every bump in the pavement and he feels like he’s climbing the humps on a Bactrian camel’s back.
  • The armrests are plastic, as hard as cement which is tough on the elbows, as opposed to Charlie’s softly-cushioned arms.
  • I came home today totally exhausted and with my back feeling like I’d run a marathon in stiletto heels.

However, I do have to say in defence of George:

  • He has fitted LED headlights and rear lights for coming home on those chilly and dark winter nights when a starless sky is as black as coal.
  • He even has left and right indicators although because the controls are completely different, I indicated to turn left when I was trying to turn the speed down and I ended up having a close encounter with a brick wall which had very conveniently placed itself in my way.
  • George even has hazard warning lights – very useful in my case as the sheer effort of trying to keep him straight on a narrow footpath/cycleway renders him a hazard to anyone within a ten-metre radius.
  • George’s ‘beep’ is a tad louder than Charlie’s which means, “excuse me, please remove yourself from the vicinity if I am coming towards you”. Alternately, if I’m really exhausted and ratty, this may come across as, “get out of the way you silly idiot” (or for silly idiot, read “%$#@/&*£*”)!

So there you have it; the case of Prince George versus Charlie, with Charlie winning outright. However, unfortunately, I’m stuck with arthritic George so I’ll just have to persevere and leave the stilettos at home in future.

RIP Charlie

CONFUSED OR JUST CONFUSED?

confusion highway

God … I am so confusing at times. And perhaps that statement is confusing in itself. Is this my exasperation speaking or is it my faith?

I am aware that I have written about two strongly opposing sets of feelings or opinions within two blog posts and only two weeks apart – one spoken of in ‘A Stronger Woman (I Will Rise)’, and later in ‘Forgiveness (A Different Tack)’ and this may cause you confusion and irritation. If you find it difficult, stop and imagine how difficult it is for me as the thinker of these thoughts.

I’ve mentioned previously, I have a tendency towards impulsivity, caused mainly by my BPD although I don’t entirely blame my mental health status. As my son so rightly put it, “we’re all responsible for our own actions”, whether they be wise or foolish, and mine, more often than not, when made in haste are the latter. I have a penchant for opening my big mouth, wide and then sticking my size four foot right in it.

I wrote that first post when I was extremely enraged, almost to the point of being murderous. I don’t regret anything I said: Nor do I regret anything about my second post. In fact, it did at least, give me some peace in thinking about handing it over to God.

However, I often write, late at night; publish it and then wake up in the morning thinking, “perhaps, I should have slept on that overnight”. The same thing applies when I am trawling through the Amazon website before I go to bed – (this is asking for trouble as I usually hit the ‘Buy with one-click’ button as readily as I hit the ‘Publish’ button). Not always a good idea. At least with Amazon, if I order yet another CD when my CD player no longer functions (and I’ve yet to grasp the concept of MP3 players, i-Pods etc with or without docking stations), I can send it back to Amazon whereas it’s very difficult to suck back in a post that I’ve launched into the WordPress ether.

I realise that adding this extra post may cause even more confusion and perhaps I shouldn’t have started this conversation in the first place. Oh, God … I am so confusing at times. But, am I speaking to God and expressing my concern about my behaviour or, or am I just at my wit’s end and crying out to the world in my vexation? Or, am I just whittling on about something of absolutely no interest to anyone other than myself and do I now dare press the Publish button?

On the other hand, there is that  new CD of my favourite band that I’ve been wanting, reduced from $18.99 to only $9.99 on Amazon – and it’s free delivery….

FORGIVENESS – MY FATHER

Please watch this video before continuing to read (thank you):

This is a subject that includes something I haven’t talked about here for a long time now and I don’t intend to go into the details or drama of it all other than to say that, as some of you may know, my father for sexually and emotionally abused me throughout my whole childhood.  

This isn’t about anger or hatred or resentment (although it would have been a couple of years ago). It’s not a ‘poor me’ plea for sympathy either.’ far from it.

My father died a couple of years ago. I was in a dilemma – did I forgive him before he died or not? As a Christian I knew that was the right thing to do…..but I didn’t feel it in my heart in those days leading up to his death. However, I spoke at length to my Christian sister (who was not abused) and we prayed together intensely and I prayed continually, alone.

I’d held on to the anger, the hate, the pain, the shame, the bitterness and more for all of my adult life. I can honestly say it nearly killed me as I made several suicide attempts over that period of time. I thank God now that I wasn’t successful. My life isn’t all roses, far from it (as goes for the majority of the population). I have my fair share of problems, worries, bad memories, nightmares, illnesses etc, etc but I don’t feel sorry for myself (I used to) – not one bit – in fact I feel blessed to have this life despite all its difficulties. I have also had a fair amount of therapy, some very bad but now with a new therapist who is good. All of this has helped.

Back to forgiveness and this video which really touched me, bringing back memories of those days that I tortured myself trying to decide whether I could in fact forgive such a crime. But gradually it all made sense. God gave me the answers at the right time, in His timing and at the right place. I remember it very well. In the last days of my father’s life, I decided to travel the 50 miles I needed to go to be able to see him in the middle of the night as we’d been told he didn’t have much longer to live. I went to say goodbye. I was frightened at the time, of what feelings seeing him would bring up after all these years. As I reached his bedside and saw this frail, elderly, white haired man with a mask strapped to his face; as I watched his stats on the monitor rise slightly, then dip, then rise again then dip further and gradually further, I knew in my heart what to do. I’d allowed God to lead me His way, not mine.

I sat at the father’s bedside. He was unable to speak because of the oxygen being pumped into his lungs but I gently took his hand (the same hand that inflicted the pain but it didn’t matter then) but all I felt was love and compassion and great sadness for my father’s struggling and obvious discomfort although he was on constant intravenous powerful pain medication. I spoke softly to him although he wasn’t able to reply. I wanted to forgive him; I genuinely and with all my heart wanted to forgive him. I stood up, still gently holding his hand and leaned forward. I leant down and whispered in his ear, “It’s alright now, dad; I forgive you; I love you” and I gently kissed him on the forehead, and I meant it. I genuinely and wholeheartedly meant every word and action. He pulled the life-preserving mask from his face, smiled just a little and opened his eyes just a fraction and for only a moment. He was my dad and I didn’t hate him anymore. Moments later, I watched him slip away peacefully. I wept both with grief and also relief. I prayed that the Lord would take care of him and give him peace. What I didn’t expect was to feel like someone had just lifted a ton weight of books off my back. I realized that in forgiving my father, I’d also forgiven myself and as the video shows, it has been so healing, so freeing – I didn’t expect to feel this but I still do and although I get my bad days (and a fair share of them) and although I have lifelong mental health conditions, I am alive, I am here, I am relieved of my emotional pain that resulted from the terrible abuse, I am free from that. I am forgiven too. Forgiveness starts on the inside. I’ve learned that now. Christ died on the cross so that we, each one, will be forgiven for all our sins. I am God’s child and I am forever grateful and prayerful about that. We are all God’s children. Praise God. God bless you for reading this x

A TANGLE OF WORDS

learn me slowly

I am at a loss today. This isn’t going to be a clever piece of poetry or a blog as such; more a tangle of words because my head is muddied today. Love, compassion, charity, honesty and practising at least one random act of kindness every day are important to me. Friendship too….I have very few close friends but we know each other very well and that’s what matters. I also like my solitude; time to think, feel (not always desirable), dream, hope and more…

When I love, I love with passion in my soul; not a burning desire for sexual intimacy but more burning desire to understand other’s thoughts and feelings. My own, I trash! I’ve been told that I don’t give myself the respect that I give to others. I feel I am not deserving of that. I anger slowly with others, but rapidly and ferociously with myself.

I am confused; I am angry: I am hurting; I have had ‘the book’ thrown at me in this life that I do not desire today. I have been used and abused, beaten, yelled at, abandoned, trodden down, smashed to pieces but I bear no malice and I fear conflict with a very deep rooted fear.

Yet, I know that am, too, a survivor. I know that much although remembering it is not always simple and it is far too easy to slip into the victim role. I do not want to be there! I do not want to be that! I am a tough cookie, so they say.

But still I question, who am I though? Who am I really? I am a daughter who fears terribly the thought of one day soon, not being a daughter anymore because life gets snuffed out as is the order of nature. It is so unfair at times. I am a sister; I am an aunt; I am a mother (all be it unwanted by my children); I am a grandmother (all be it denied me). I am, however, forever blessed in that I am a daughter of God, my Father. I trust God; I’m just not sure I trust the rest of the world.

Am I making any sense? Am I being rational? I think not? Sometimes (like now) I seriously doubt my sanity…I feel so often that my life and my sanity are (in the words of Paul Simon, “Slip, Slidin’ Away”.

Sometimes I wish I was……..

LEAVING THE FLOCK (CHURCH)

Well, I’ve finally done it! ‘It’ being that I’ve finally made the decision I’ve been dithering about for months. I am leaving my church to go to a much smaller community church. Having had many happy times there in the past eight years, I now find, that my church has now got too big. It is a very rich church; in fact it is the richest church in my town. The congregation now number 400 and with that many people, you can’t possibly keep up with everybody else’s lives or to think, care and pray for each individual. It is sad to say but it has become impersonal now. They have conference rooms, an absolutely beautiful building with a stunning worship hall, run a smart cafe and numerous other functions, clubs and groups. It is a very successful church attracting people from miles around and I have to say, is wonderful in its diversity. Having said all that, I haven’t attended the Sunday or the Thursday services at my church for nearly eight weeks now due to going through a rough patch in both my mental and physical health. No-one has contacted me to see how I am or whether indeed, I’m still on the planet; not one soul and I am hurt. Should I be? Am I expecting too much? Am I being unrealistic? I don’t think so. Where is their pastoral care? Where is their Christianity? Am I indeed, developing an unchristian attitude myself?

ichthus fish

I am passionate about my faith. I know I can be passionate about my faith anywhere but I want to share this with others who feel the same. I want to express my feelings about God openly, demonstrably and sharing this with others and if I do so in my first church, It is frowned upon whereas everyone is free to worship in which ever way feels right for them in my new church. However, God is everywhere. I know I can worship and praise Him whether I be in one church or a different church, or indeed at home or in fact wherever and whenever I wish.

But I am happy now that I’ve made a decision. I have found a much smaller community church which is really friendly and personal. Everybody there comes up to me to say hello and they don’t seem at all perturbed by my trusty, blue, electric wheelchair otherwise known as ‘Charlie’! I’m getting to know people quickly, and them, me. They have a small cafe (coffee and biscuits) which is open to the public every morning and various small groups in the afternoons. But most important of all is that they are passionate about their faith and demonstrably so which I love and feel so comfortable with.

THE COURAGE TO BE REAL – WANTED: WOMEN (AND MEN)

This is a selection of excerpts from the book illustrated below. All credit goes to Holly Gerth. I was so encouraged by what I read, I just had to share a snippet of it here. I also have to put my hand up in the air and say, “yes, that’s me – I need to be real”. (I have no connection with the author other than respect).

you are loved no matter what

We don’t want to see the vacuum lines in your carpet. Instead we want to hear about what’s causing those worry lines to crease your forehead. We don’t want to be impressed by your cute shoes. We want a glimpse of your soul. We don’t want to read your “I’ve got it all together” blog post when we know that inside you’re falling apart.

In a classic children’s story called The Velveteen Rabbit, a toy bunny longs to become “real” too and asks another toy in the nursery about it.

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Becoming real is a lifelong process. But we can look for those who are actively pursuing it and invite them into our lives. That’s especially true when it comes to women who are further along in the journey than we are.

My friend and fellow writer Jennifer Watson said:

I would much rather hear from a 50-something, or older, who is killing it and more beautiful than she’s ever been because she knows what really matters in life, not some woman afraid of aging squeezing into skinny jeans who is terrified that she’s no longer relevant and useful. Every day is a battle and we are nothing without each other. Maybe it’s time to stop comparing and join forces.

Who are you letting speak into your life? We need peers, mentors, and encouragers. And in all of those roles, we need people who are willing to say, “I don’t have it all together. But I believe we’re better together.”

Look for these characteristics in “real” people:

  • Willing to share their struggles
  • Can laugh at themselves
  • Committed to facing fear and taking risks
  • Get back up when they fall
  • Pursue lifelong growth
  • Quick to encourage others
  • Celebrate the successes of those around them
  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Avoid gossip, criticism, and condemnation
  • Embrace their weaknesses as part of who they are
  • Don’t apologize for their strengths but instead use them
  • Love freely because they know how to freely be loved

Of course, we’re all works in progress. No one is going to fit this list completely. But if you find someone going in this direction, ask if you can walk beside them. Be open to what you can learn. Honor and respect those with more life experience rather than pretending you know it all. We need each other.

Also remember you can be one of those people for others. If people around you seem to constantly try to be perfect, it may be because in some way you’re giving off the impression they need to be. Or you may be modeling that behavior by expecting perfection from yourself. Sometimes we have to be the first one to say, “I’m struggling with this.” That takes courage, but when I’ve done so, the response usually has been a huge sigh of relief followed by, “Me too.”

There are no perfect people. We’re all mixed-up, in need of grace, learning every day people. You. Me. All of us. The good news is we’re also made new, deeply loved, extraordinary women who have so much to offer the world.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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MY MUM IS SICK

This isn’t going to be a clever or intelligent or even vaguely interesting post. It will probably be full of uncorrected spelling and grammatical mistakes but right now I DON’T CARE. I CAN’T. I CAN’T EVEN THINK. This is purely a self-preservation act. I am so stressed that I could almost ask to be admitted into my local psychiatric hospital (which I hate really) but just to get some respite, get away from this world, get relief from my problems and responsibilities and most of all to get away from my feelings. I pray in desperation to my Father who is my rock in times of trouble, (Psalm 6:2  I am worn out, O Lord; have pity on me!  Give me strength; I am completely exhausted).

My Mum is very sick. She is in a hospital 45 miles from me and I have no way of getting there to see her or be able to help her. All I can do is to phone and see how she is doing every day, and wait and pray that the Lord heals her (Matthew 4:23   Jesus went all over Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Good News about the Kingdom, and healing people who had all kinds of disease and sickness).

Mum is 85; she has double pneumonia and kidney failure and we don’t know whether she is going to make it.She has been put on a ward where there are five other elderly patients, three of whom have Alzheimers and are continually shouting and calling out. I know that they are ill too and I so feel for them but Mum is used to living quietly on her own and is so distressed by these disturbances.

I feel so powerless to be of any help to other than to be a listening ear at the end of the phone when she is well enough to speak and then it is difficult to understand her as she is so breathless when she tries to talk. Mostly, she is too poorly to chat and then I ring the nurse’s station and ask the nurse in charge of Mum’s care how she is doing. I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything much as Mum is constantly on my mind. I couldn’t bare to lose her. We are so close, in heart at least, not miles which means I don’t see her much.

Mum lives in an old Victorian terraced house that’s getting pretty tumbledown with age. It has four concrete steps up to the front door which I cannot access in my wheelchair which means I can no longer going into her house. If she makes it through this illness (and I pray she does), she may never be able to manage those steps again as her walking has been affected. That means she she will be unable to come out and I will be unable to go in. How will I ever see her again? Will I be able to see her again? I feel distraught.

GOD IN A STORM

sail boat

When I was growing up, I had an inflatable plastic punching dummy. It was about as tall as I was and had a smiling face painted on it. My challenge was to hit it hard enough to make it stay down. But no matter how hard I tried, it always bounced right back up again. The secret? There was a lead weight in the bottom that always kept it upright. Sailboats operate by the same principle. The lead weights in their keels provide the ballast to keep them balanced and upright in strong winds.

It’s like that in the life of a believer in Christ. Our power to survive challenges resides not in us but with God, who dwells within us. We’re not exempt from the punches that life throws at us nor from the storms that inevitably threaten our stability. But with full confidence in His power to sustain us, we can say with Paul, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8-9).
Join the many travellers through life who through deep waters of pain and suffering embrace with unshakable confidence the truth that God’s grace is sufficient and that in our weakness He is made strong (12:9). It will be the ballast to your soul. —Joe Stowell

The power of God within you is greater than the pressure of troubles around you.

TAKEN FROM ‘OUR DAILY BREAD’