Decisions, decisions… (or the importance of theology for me)

Since John passed away I haven’t really made many decisions. Partly this is a conscious decision (hmmm?) because my mind has been everywhere and I don’t want to make a rash or wrong decision. One decision I made fairly soon, in fact a matter of hours after John died, was that I would still carry on with my theology degree. This has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made…ever. To be honest studying theology has kept me in the game so to speak. Even though there have been times where theologically my mind has been so trashed due to the events that have happened in my life, somehow by studying theology I have managed to stay grounded and found strength to carry on. One major factor in this is the institute I study with. It is interdenominational, charismatic which means I get a breadth of teaching and also Word AND Spirit, not divorced from each other. While it is an academic setting, it is also a setting where the gifts of the Spirit are displayed and enabled. This for me is the linchpin of it all. I can learn in an academic setting and there is more than enough room for the Spirit of God to work. I cannot express how much I have needed that since John passed away and now my sister. The times of worship and prayer in the morning and evening before every day are opportunities to let God do his work in all that I have been learning and highlight things in me that He wants to. Yes there have been times when I have totally freaked out about what I believe and what I think about God but it has always been reconciled one way or another. Right now I am having a melt down that I maybe a raging Liberal but I know it will all work out over the next few lecturers, days and weeks as God shows me more of himself and more of who I am in Him. I really don’t have any of the answers I thought I did when I started 3 years ago and have even less answers now and it’s actually a really freeing thing. I don’t know many things and what I don’t know doesn’t bother me as much now, as I’m confident God will teach me what I need for what He has for me. I honestly love Westminster Theological Centre and am so grateful for it being in my life. God had used it in such immense ways especially since John died. The staff and teaching faculty have been amazing and I have seen God’s care and concern shown through them. I know I have another 3 years left but I never want it to end.

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The (kind of, ish) lighter side of grief

My mum told me that when I was really stressed I would sleep talk and sing adverts in my sleep, particularly around the time of my exams and John told me I slept talk when I really stressed and he would have full conversations with me and I would have no memory of them in the morning, so I’m aware that when I’m stressed I do strange things in my sleep, well I’ve evolved… woke up this morning with my phone in my hand and an email typed out to an email address of “Marie” no @ or anything else and then 2 sentences of gobbledygook. Just random words. Was so confused when I woke up. I also switched off my iPad, random .com

Part of me was worried what I else I may have done, have I sent text messages? It’s amused me a little today which was a tough feat. Work was horrible, I’m finding it so hard to concentrate, it’s such a battle and it’s exhausting. It’s 11:50pm and I don’t really feel like I want to sleep but I know I’m shattered. Hoping I leave my phone alone tonight.

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I’ve been trying to find my blog post where I talk about my uni residential in January but I can’t find it… maybe I dreamt that I wrote which is a high possibility. At my January residential 2 lecturers independently of one another spoke about the importance of silence and quiet days. One of the lecturers did an exercise with us (…I’m sure I’ve written about this…) where we asked the Holy Spirit to give us all one word that we can hang on to. So we prayed and everyone received a word. As they were going round the room, words like “Child” and “Love” and “Sword” were being revealed… what was mine? “Silence” and at that current time on January if there was one thing I didn’t have, and desperately avoided it was silence. I would do anything for the house not to be silent, the moment I woke up I put on a podcast or a teaching, anything to fill the silence, so you can imagine how I pleased I was to receive that word, but I was good and when I got home from resi I didn’t switch on a podcast straight away and I did have moments of quiet… fast forward to Feb and March where I have such awful jaw tension I can literally do nothing. All I could do was sit on the couch with my eyes closed, the moment I thought about anything other than Jesus it would flare up, I couldn’t watch tv, or listen to anything, I was in a forced silence, but it worked. The past few weeks have been so horrible and I have felt so mentally fragile, I knew I needed to do something and was looking at a pilgrimage but I just don’t have the time, I really really want to do one though. So as I mentioned in my last post I booked myself in to a quiet day at a retreat centre one of my friends I used to work with years ago works at. The chapel there is called The Chapel of the Holy Spirit. When you go to somewhere with a name like that you pretty much know there’s a high possibility it’s gonna be good. And it was. I didn’t get any amazing revelations or words from God but it definitely calmed my mind and my spirit. I feel clearer now and not as fuzzy. I feel like the inner dialogue has chilled out a bit as it was deafening. Now I understand why people recommend quiet days and retreats and why it’s important. Go on one. It’s so worth it. Therapy tomorrow, pray for my therapist, she may need it as there’s still an awful lot that I need to go through regardless of the calmness I now feel… but that’s life right?

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Pulled in every direction.

Seen my bereavement therapist. She said I was emotionally exhausted and to take sometime off work to recover. Which I have done. Of course this grief is very different to John’s grief for all the obvious reasons that they were different people, played different parts in my life etc etc. The issue comes is that I’m still grieving for John and because the griefs are so different I feel like I’m being pulled in all different directions. For instance- with John’s grief it makes me want to get up but stay at home and be quiet and I had to learn to be content in that which I did just let it do it’s thing, but with this grief I don’t want to be at home at all, or if I am I want to sleep, so at various points of the day I have a tuck to stay at home and be quiet but awake then simultaneously be either asleep or out of the house. I’m also slightly worried about how I can’t quiet differentiate between what is real or not… I know this sounds weird but I just don’t believe I’m experiencing reality and think I’m dreaming. It’s actually quite frightening, I have no idea whether the things that are happening are dreams or reality. My mind feels so fragile, I really don’t like it. I want to be able to read so I can get my head ready for my uni residential but I’ve tried to read and I just can’t. Booked in to a quiet day tomorrow so I’m hoping that will be helpful. I actually feel I need to go away alone for a time but when? I have dogs and need to go back to work at some stage. And all that keeps running through my head is “This can’t be real? Is this real? I’m not sure whether it is.”

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On way back home now from being with my family and having my sister funeral yesterday, have pulled over into the services as I was crying so much I couldn’t drive. This blog post may be a complete mess however I realise I have no idea how I am going to be over the next few days or weeks and might not post again.

Firstly I am so proud of my nephews. The eldest was so strong and even wanted to carry the coffin which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to witness. Just seeing the coffin alone was tragic but watching him carry it was almost unbearable. I so wish I could take their pain away. I would do anything, but I know I cannot. My youngest nephew had a panic attack and had to go out during the service blesss him. I very nearly had a full melt down in the service and started to hyperventilate but at the last second managed to get it under control, by thinking about the hope I have that I will see my dear sister again some day. That chilled me out then, doesn’t chill me out now though, makes me worse as I have to wait to see her and I really don’t want to. There’s so many things left undone and questions left unanswered. This is so cruel. For me personally this is like salt in my wounds from John passing away… I know it’s totally different however it is just as tragic. I literally feel like the rugs been pulled from under me when I was just getting back on it… and I’m still in shock and I’m so scared about the realisation setting in. Best get home as soon as I can to my little doggies.

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Limbo round 2

The time in between a bereavement and the funeral is what I call limbo time. You haven’t processed it all, your still in shock and the awfully sobering visual imagery and experience of the finality of the funeral hasn’t happened so you are left in a weird state of limbo where regardless of what has happened or not happened you still are not sure whether it’s all real and happened at all or you are in a horrible nightmare that just can’t be true. Went to Bereavement counselling & therapy on Tuesday my therapist was kind and yet went in hard too when she needed to. Came home exhausted and slept for 2 hours solid. Went to work Thursday but only lasted a few hours. Couldn’t remember any of my log in numbers whatsoever. Ended up sat in church in a weird zoned out state broken intermittently with bouts of crying. Was in bed by 9:30pm just wanted the day to end. Drifted through yesterday, cried a little but honestly not sure I have any tears left. Spent some time in the evening with my Pastors. Love them so much. I can feel the fact that John’s Birthday should be on Tuesday gnawing away at my soul but I feel like I don’t have the energy or emotion to deal with it. I’m a sssooo tired. I know I have to get prepared and packed for the funeral on weds but I just feel overwhelmed with everything and like a rabbit caught in headlights unable to move, so for today, I’m not gonna move. I’ve walked and fed the dogs and now the only thing I feel I can do is sit and watch some mindless tv while my brain tries to process and prepare in the background. What I’m worried about is that phase when I lost John went on for SO long. The only upside of it is, all the things I watched during that time I can’t remember any of them. I watched the entire collection of Lewis and can’t remember a single one! All I want to do is fast forward to my Theology Degree residential in September. That’s the only thing that’s keeping me getting up in the mornings if I’m honest. If I can just get there, some how I feel I’ll be able to ride a bit further, cause then I can press on till the January residential. I realise living from one resi to the next is crazy speak but I literally can’t deal with the thought of all the life that needs to happen before them and in between them. Just being honest. Only God and prayers have kept me this far.

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2 sentences and some wise words spoken to me from yesterday.

Reading through yesterday’s post there are two sentences that stand out to me. First, “This loneliness is a deeper level of haunting.” That sentence completely nails it. That’s exactly how it is. The second is my finishing line: “These are the cards that have been dealt to me and I do not want to play.” Strikingly accurate. This sums up the whole of yesterday’s blog and how I am generally feeling. Later on yesterday a good friend whose known me for possibly all of my life, messaged me and said “God has you Vick.” And those words were like balm to my wounded and frightened soul. Because that is the truth that I had let get lost in the mess of everything. I one hundred percent feel (despite everything) like God has me. I can’t explain it but that’s the underlining feeling. So with those words echoing in my head and heart I went and finished off reading a book by Greg Boyd on imaginative prayer and then drifted in and out of a mixture of sleep and imaginative prayer for the rest of the night. It wasn’t exciting imaginative prayer. Jesus never appeared. I never heard God speak. I borrowed someone’s ‘meeting place of the heart’ that I had read a description of in another book that I’ve strangely not been able to stop thinking about since I read it. And Gods presence was there but no manifestation of Jesus, and I am ok waiting in that place till He appears or speaks or whatever really. Feel a lot calmer today but still ridiculously tired. Have got up, got dressed, walked the dogs and just finished breakfast, however it feels like that is all I shall manage today. It’s 8:38am and I feel like I’ve done all I possibly can. What a horrible feeling. God has me though, so whether I do anything else today or not, He has me. And at the moment that is all I truly need.

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