I was gonna wait to write this blog post… so it might come out as a load of drivel. More than likely. One of my Sisters past away very suddenly last week. The pain is so awful. When I say it’s horrific I do actually mean that word. I won’t go into details out of respect for my family. I have no idea how to cope with it. I feel like I was just starting to lift my head after John died, I have a job at a supermarket and was getting into a routine and now I feel like I’ve been wiped out again. I know in my head I’m not really as I have built a life here in Manchester and my sister lives far away and we saw each other when we could, but I really loved her so much and respected her so much for all she had come through in her life… and now I just don’t know what to think, or do. I have no desire to do anything…ever again. I literally don’t see the point. The moment John died there has been a longing I’ve had to ‘go home’ which I’ve spoken about, as even when I am at home I don’t feel like I’m at home, now that feeling has doubled. I don’t know where home is so how the hell am I going to get there? And the killer question which is knackering me up once again, how am I going to keep my relationship with God when things keep happening that just don’t make any sense? Do I only want God when everything is going right? But that can’t be the case as I have desperately wanted God even after the worst thing in my life happened. So what does that all mean? 3 weeks ago I had a moral failing that was so out of character for me and I really felt completely out of control but at the same time felt God was very much by my side and ‘with me’ in it. And speaking to me through it. How could that have been? I just don’t understand at all. When I’m deliberately kicking Him in the face he’s right there with me, when I need Him desperately more than ever He seems to disappear? Or am I just a complete whack-job? I thought I knew what loneliness felt like, turns out I didn’t, cause this is a whole different level. This loneliness is a deeper haunting. I literally don’t have the energy for another round of ‘dark night of the soul’ and yet I seem to be hurtling towards it and I can’t stop it. Some people will say, ‘Pack it in. Pick yourself up and get on with it.’ I now understand there are sometimes when people just can’t do that. Even when John died I got up every morning and made sure I was dressed and the like. It’s 11:38am and I’m still in my pj’s. No desire to even get dressed. Lying on the sofa crying intermittently, watching podcasts about space. And I have this feeling that people expect me to carry on as normal, as after all ‘She was only your sister.’ My gosh. I truly hope people don’t think that, but it feels that way. And seeing as the funeral isn’t for a few weeks I’m in the limbo period where the full force hasn’t even hit me yet and that scares the living daylight out of me. Will I ‘get up’ today? It’s not looking good right now. Will I function tomorrow? Who knows? How will I cope with the funeral when it is the day after what would be John’s birthday? These are the cards that have been dealt me, and I really do not want to play.
Today feels like a strange day. Had to go the Accountants to sort some stuff out and hopefully the end is now in sight but there’s still a few hiccups that need sorting out. Got up early and walked the dogs, sorted out paper work and went Accountants and came back, there’s a wedding on today for two of my friends but because I was waiting to hear about a job I didn’t RSVP in time, so I am not going. Everyone in my house are and they are excited, one is a bridesmaid and they were getting ready when I got back and after spending time this morning talking about John to the Accountants it made me feel so empty when I arrived home. The sun is blazing today and sometimes sunshine doesn’t make you feel better, sometimes it highlights the sadness and the loneliness. So took myself off to my favourite cafe that some people who we used to know from running a stall on the local market run, and it is fab. Had some breakfast and they have been very sensitive and kind. Reading a book while I sit here and this line came out and grabbed me “what we learn in Hell is that we want out.” But I read it wrong at first and read it as “what we learn in Hell is want we really want.” But I think both are true. What I learnt when John died which for me is a type of hell, is what I really wanted. And that was The Lord. The Lord in as much fullness as I can get. That’s what I really want. Obviously I wanted ‘out’ of the situation and I still desperately wish this was just a weird nightmare that I can wake up from. But if I can’t have that, I shall have The Lord in as much fullness as I can get. It is the only way for me. In the words of a song – “One way, Jesus, your the only one that I could live for.”
I’m going to begin this post with a quote from a 90’s girl band.
“Water’s running in the wrong direction
Got a feeling it’s a mixed up sign,
I can see it in my own reflection
Something funny’s going on inside my mind.”
I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post but have only recently felt able to. If you have read my blog since John passed away you will kind of be able to trace the thread of this through some other posts.
The moment John died it was like someone had put an atomic bomb inside of every thought I ever had about everything. There was total devastation in my mind. It’s not an exaggeration to say it touched every part of my thinking, but there was one part that I couldn’t handle whatsoever, and I was scared, really scared. It came to a head in the following post, which you may wish to read or not.
I went to Manchester Cathedral, and I had it out with God. I told Him I had no idea where we went from here. Even just thinking about that time sends a cold shiver over me. I don’t think I have ever been so brutally honest with God before and it was so painful. I am now on a fascinating faith journey, one which I have discovered has a title, and it can happen to different people, for all kinds of reasons. It’s called deconstruction. Deconstruction is a bit of a buzzword at the moment in certain circles so let me clarify what I mean. I do not mean I am abandoning my faith or becoming cynical. That is not what is happening. However, my faith (and my whole life) was blown apart in every which way when John died and so I have to go over it piece by piece. Some parts are no longer there or are so broken they don’t fit together anymore so I have to deconstruct bits that may still be together to be able to reconstruct it in a way that means God and I can work this through. I was very fearful of this cause I had no idea what I was going to or should do. I just told the Lord I didn’t understand anything anymore but I did still want to believe in Him and I still loved Him despite all that had happened.
I held tight for a good few months through the summer and towards the end of last year just dealing with the shock of losing John wearing slowly off and all that came with that and found myself at the start of 2018 finally able to acknowledge the state of my heart and faith. I discovered that God had put people in my path that knew precisely what was happening with me. Firstly I had a conversation back in sept 2017 with my favourite lecturer at my college residential who had said a number of things I wasn’t expecting from him. These got me thinking in a different way. Another thing that prepared the way for this back in the autumn was I did an essay on Penal Substitution (a theory of what happened on the cross. Too long to explain here, try google :0). After reading Brad Jersak’s chapter in the book Stricken by God? which made all the hairs on my arms stand up, I cried and sat in silence for about 45 mins, as I realised this was answering a multitude of questions I wanted to articulate but couldn’t for so many years. I went on to write my essay and concluded that I had rejected penal substitution. On reflection, this seems essential to my faith journey as I found that there was a way of looking at things that I could ‘handle’ again, and this helped me incredibly.
By the time January hit I was ready for who God had in store for me, they were 2 very different lecturers, and the things they taught and the advice they gave after listening to my story was exactly what I needed. They didn’t give me any answers they just pointed me to different teachings and exercises and material. They reassured me and told me it was ok, and I didn’t need to be afraid. I thank God for them, cause they made me see a way through the devastation.
Come to the end of January a few weeks after the residential, and I probably had cognitive fatigue as I had watched a crazy amount of youtube videos and read a crazy amount of books from Brad Jersak, Brian Zahnd, Bruxy Cavey, Paul Young, Baxter Kruger and I had terrible Jaw tension. Looking back I know exactly what that was over, it was a weird expression of fear for all physical things that might change for me (they still might even as I write) but also the upheaval of dissecting my faith in so much detail so quickly, I was left in a state. In Feb there was a theology evening with my college at a local church and it took me half an hour to get out the car as my head was spinning with everything and my heart felt so heavy as I just didn’t know spiritually where I was headed. Thankfully God provided a song, and the lyrics said: “If you can calm the raging sea, you can calm the storm in me.”
It is still true there are many areas to pick over, and I haven’t made my mind up about a lot, but I have found some amazing things as well. Paul Young and Baxter Kruger’s teaching on the Trinity has totally transformed my spiritual life and has given me a fantastic way to connect with God. Brian Zahnd’s books and teachings and Brad Jersak’s ‘A more Christlike God’ book helped my relationship with God and Jesus more than I could explain in this blog. Nomad podcast, The (De)constructionists podcast, teachings from Greg Boyd and Bruxy Cavey have all been so helpful, along with many of Brad’s lessons in college and my therapist who has had to listen to me drivel on and on about everything but made some helpful observations and gave me a few pointers but turns out she was in line with my lecturers and the stuff I was reading all along.
So what does all this have to do with a quote from Girl’s Aloud? When I was listening to that song today these words hit a chord (no pun intended) within me. I felt like how they describe for a very long time. Thankfully I am much much more at peace now and very relieved. I’ve embraced my deconstruction.
More to follow in the next few blogs…
I can only speak for myself and where I am currently at but in situations where I struggle particularly where grief is involved, to feel safe, I need space. I was beginning to feel safe in church the past few months and attending regularly and feeling ok, then something happened today that has made me feel completely isolated, unsafe and has made me wonder how I will keep on going. And I’m really distraught over it. I can see it from the other side too and I totally understand it and the reasons behind it, but because of what I am going through and dealing with I can’t help but let it push me away, and that is the real sadness. There’s nothing I can do about it… I have worked so hard to get to a place where I feel ok and now that place might have been taken away… and I don’t think there is anyone that understands what I mean. Why is life so complicated when you are grieving? Wish I could click my fingers and this all be over. 😦
Haven’t written for quite a long time really. Not that I haven’t thought about it, or even mentally written for this blog, I have a few times, but I have either thought better of it or got distracted and forgotten them (Widow Brain has kicked in and I might as well have had a sieve for a brain recently.) Its been a very bumpy ride. Basically, I have been emotionally and physically all over the gaff. No better way to describe it. Up and down and round and round. My poor therapist has got a right one on her hands! I still feel like I am in some kind of surreal dream/nightmare that I am going to wake up from, and none of this will have happened. How is that possible? I really do feel like I am missing John more with every passing moment. There have been times of incredible loneliness, and whats weird is the loneliness is so intense sometimes that even when I am offered to go out with people I can’t do it. It’s almost paralysing. I don’t expect anyone to understand as I don’t. I have been applying for part-time jobs which have thrown up all kinds of things in me, I didn’t have much confidence when John was alive, now it’s practically on the floor without his love and support. I have had a chest infection and now a sinus infection that is not shifting and they have made life harder emotionally. I’m not good when I’m poorly. There are a number of HUGE situations that I need to completely trust God with, as there is no other option, and potentially I could end up in a right mess if He doesn’t bring me through, so if you pray, please pray for me. I generally feel shoved from pillar to post at the moment. I have been attending church very well recently but in a way feeling more and more out of touch with it, which is bothering me, but I don’t have the capacity (emotionally) to get involved so I have to stay on the sidelines for a bit longer. Spiritually I have been alright actually. Baxter Kruger has helped this immensely though, his teaching on the Trinity has really helped my day to day walk with God, and I am more aware of Him throughout the day. I guess that is a very good thing all things considered. Basically I am still living moment by moment, hour by hour and day by day. One foot in front of the other. It’s still all I can do at the moment.
Do not write off having counselling as a ‘weak act’ or ‘how is talking going to help!’ it is one of the hardest but MOST beneficial things I have ever done. And really if I’m honest even though I’ve been going since July last year… we ain’t really started… 35 years of stuff takes a while to untangle… yes I’m there because of bereavement but bereavement throws your WHOLE life into the air, and things you thought weren’t issues suddenly become issues, and things that were issues suddenly aren’t. It’s hard to explain. I started going cause I knew I had no mechanisms for coping with the enormity of John’s passing away, what it’s shown me is there’s a little more to it than me just getting mechanisms to cope…. I have to do things differently now, I have to deal with things differently now, I have to answer questions that I’ve shoved away, I have to reflect on things that I haven’t wanted to. I am amazed at how God has used it, in ways I haven’t even been able to see at times and I still can’t fully articulate. I’m not looking forward to Tuesday when I have my next session… cause I can feel something coming up and it’s gonna take every single ounce of strength and determination within me to not push it down or skirt round it like I have for so many years…
Back at the dentist. Never known physical pain like the past three days. Literally thought I was going to pass out at church yesterday. It is unbearable. Spoke to a retired dentist whose a friend of mine and worked specifically on jaw pain and tension and he confirmed it’s anxiety related. It’s weird cause I don’t feel particularly anxious… it must be an subconscious thing. But how do you deal with something that is subconscious? Am I pretending to trust the Lord? Is it just words? And what does all that mean if so? What a strange cycle I am in. Subconsciously anxious which causes pain which makes me tense which makes the pain worse which then causes conscious anxiety which leads to tension, which causes pain and round we go. Kind a feel a bit sorry for my Bereavement counsellor tomorrow…. hoping The Lord and herself can help.