“Do I listen to myself or talk to myself?” Now there is an interesting thought. If I am honest when I listen to myself, most times its a voice that says “stay in bed”, “put it off until tomorrow”, “have another drink”, “you can lose weight tomorrow, have another sandwich”, “I’ll get to paint that sometime”. The inner voice of self is mostly undisciplined and tells me to take the easy road, more often than not, its a voice of instant gratification.
This week someone asked me a question within a discussion about an activity I am involved in with others and I found tears coming to my eyes and responded “there are days when I am just thankful that I got out of bed”. Whilst it can appear on the outside that I am moving on, involving myself in activity, setting goals and taking steps to achieve them, I have to admit every day is a challenge to not “throw in the towel”. We are so blessed in Carlisle to have at this time of year almost 18 hours of day light. I want to get up at 5:00 and walk or have a round of golf or sit in my chair and read but these days I give in to the desire to sleep. Motivation is an issue.
When I talk to myself what do I say? I was at a training day yesterday at Carlisle Youth Zone where I intend to volunteer to work with the young people 1 evening a week. As I listened to other volunteers offer contribution to discussions during the day, it stuck me again that our opinions, knowledge and belief has come from a myriad of sources during our lives. We speak them out and some comments resonate with others beliefs and values whilst other comments will be rejected as they collide with different opinions, values and beliefs.
So how do I know that what I say to myself is true and helpful? For many months after Mike’s death I would say to myself the words of King David, “Bless the LORD oh my soul and all that is within me bless His Holy name”. My body and soul did not want to do that, but as I repeated those words, I found alignment with by heart, body and soul. In other words I would talk myself into what I wanted to do and not listen to the voice that said “this is too hard, curl up and die”.
I write this morning because for many weeks I have been listening to myself, I dont want to continue doing that. It does not lead me to where I ultimately want to be. I met a man recently who had struggled with severe depression. He gave me a little card he had made and reads to himself every morning. Its compiled with various verses from the Bible that speak truth to the man every day. I need to do that at this stage of my life.
One day, Bob and Fred were walking together then Bob started talking to himself…
Fred:People will think you’re crazy if you keep talking to yourself.
Bob:Hey! I’m not crazy!
Fred:Oh, I wasn’t talking to you…
Can you imagine sitting several hundred feet above sea water, looking out over the valley where Robert Bruce (Braveheart) crossed the water from Scotland to England, seeing the lowlands of Scotland one side, the mountains of the lake district the other and the sun shining on the water as it sets in the middle. Totally idyllic.
Friends are helping Akila raise sponsorship for her year of volunteer work in Australia by donating several days for us to auction off one of their holiday cottages here in the Lake District
What is being auctioned – A holiday at Garth Cottage (worth £385).
STARTING BID IS £50!!!!!!!
YOU CHOSE the dates (subject to availability); and whether you would like to go for 3 nights or 4 nights (Friday-Monday OR Monday-Friday).
Auction Ends – 11.59pm Saturday 9th of July 2011. The highest bidder shall be contacted the next day.
To bid – Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional information – For all the information including availability please check out the website http://www.tottergill.co.uk/cottages/garth-cottage.
On Thursdays when I am in Carlisle, I like to go into town and sit and chat with people about life. I find it fascinating to watch and observe the “actors” on the platform of life that day. One of my observations is that some people come to town to “be seen and to see”. It would appear some young teenage moms want to come into town, not to shop, but to connect. To see their friends and to be seen by their friends. Through my chats I see some common themes, purpose, significance & belonging.
There are some very colourful characters who are “on stage” every Thursday. The lady whose poodle dog sits on a shopping trolley she pushes around, a man in a suite who talks to himself and wanders around looking like he has purpose but he walks from one end of the square to the other,then the regular young people who come out of school at lunch time, the “visitor” to Carlisle who is on holiday, the person on lunch break.
As I observe life, chat to people about their life, I wish I had the ability to introduce them to “the way, the truth and the life…..Jesus”. Jesus said of himself, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me”. Of course I talk about Jesus because He brings purpose, significance and belonging. My frustration is that many I talk to have their view of how God should be based on their view of how God should behave. Jesus said to the woman at the well “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4
Sky TV are often in town aggressively marketing their product and telling us all how Sky TV will bring joy to our day! In reality they are very good are marketing their product. The sad part for me is the knowledge that Sky TV will not solve my inherant need for purpose, significance and belonging. The “connect” with friends meets my needs for a while but when I return home and close the door what then? So we fill our life with activity or watching Sky TV to avoid the lonliness. The job that was great at first is now not so great. The loving relationship went sour. Home is where there is striff and dad being drunk , again.
Christ followers are probabily seen as very arragont when we with passion want people to believe what we believe. I understand that. My passion is not to do with conversion, building a bigger team, or getting people to believe. When you have experienced the Love of the Father as I have, when you have a joy that defies your circumstances, when you have “tasted a great wine”, then I want others to also have that. I want others to share in the treasure, there is more than enough. We can have purpose, significance and belonging but not in the way most of us think.
God has given us an inbuilt desire to understand. As humans, we deconstruct something, an animal, body, machine to understand how it has been constructed by the designer. We function best when we can operate within a framework of understanding. Once we understand, we have peace. Unanswered questions leave us frustrated and a quest for resolving the query of our mind.
There are times when we read or hear something and it “clicks into place” something in our psychic. I was listening to the radio yesterday and I heard the tail end of a discussion where the person said “loss is permanent, grief is temporal”. For nearly two years I have been processing both our loss of Mike and the journey through the grief process. They are two very different issues, at the same time, so intertwine. The permanence of loss has been a horrendous fact to accept. Mike was away from home for 6 months on a ship at 17. We missed him being around, but we never expressed his absence as loss. The subconscious knowledge that Mike could in theory return home any time, countered any sad emotion of absence. One of the hardest issues with death is to accept the permanence of the loss. My eyes saw Mike’s dead body leave the house, but for days I would be imagining him coming through the front door. Those memories of Mike at the forefront of my mind have by the reality of time, been replaced by more recent memories. This whole summer season, where the aftermath of our storm happened, brings Kathy and I to a bewildering state of “how an earth did we survive”? Its not a question of how did we survive the loss, but how did we survive the grief.
How do we cope mentally with the consequences of a tragedy? When grief hits, the last thing I thought was “this is temporal”. Grief is powerful, it controls, it can be master, it can do great damage. We need a GPS to navigate life through the storm of grief. We need an auto-pilot that taps into wisdom of a Captain who has navigated this route before. Most of us are not prepared for grief, we don’t get trained or even advised of a check list of sources of help when it happens. Grief causes an emotional upheaval that brings desires for unwise change and decisions. If we act on them, they may well have a more negative influence on our lives than the loss has. There are many sad stories and statistics of the devistating effect of grief. There are plenty of books on the process and stages of grief. I have not seen “WARNING, DANGER, BEWARE GRIEF CAN KILL OR HARM”. I know of divorce, bakruptcy, substance abuse, rebound relationships, job loss………..as consequences of being ship wrecked by grief.
Faithful One, so unchanging,
Ageless One, You’re my Rock of peace.
Lord of all, I depend on You,
I call out to You again and again.
I call out to You again and again.
You are my rock in times of trouble.
You lift me up when I fall down.
All through the storm
Your love is the anchor,
My hope is in You alone.
You know when you meet someone and they are a very nice person. As you get to know them a little more you start to see the human flaws in them. Many people I have met around the world have a belief that if they are “good”, they will go to “heaven”. Jesus taught in Matthew 5v8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God”. Your blessed when you get your inside world, your heart and your mind put right, then you will see God in the outside world. Is my heart and mind dirty or cloudy or crystal clear and pure? We can display many external behaviours that can be interpreted as “good” but on the inside, the invisible, there is another reality. Purity of the heart opens spiritual eyes.
In the aftermath of Mike’s death, I would daily sit in my chair, either read the Bible, listen to Christian songs or just be in the presence of God. I had never experienced the presence of God like this before. It was as though I had found a secret door that took me into a very special place. As I came out of my rabbit hole and engaged with life and people, I would come home and say to Kathy, “I feel contaminated”. I started to see my clean and pure heart get cloudy and dirty again. It was so amazing being in that place and I wanted to stay. For a brief moment in time, I got a glimpse of what we hope for, what Christ has promised. My life was devastated, in that devastation I was emptied of self, I was in a heap with nothing. I had no answers, no passion, no desires, no words. In that state, I experienced the love and presence of God. Now feeling is back, my heart and mind are back to their sinful tricks. Well not totally, I believe purity comes from a life style and behaviour which is being obedient to God, not feeding the sinful appetite but “hunger and thirsting for righteousness”.
Psm 24 Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
5 They will receive the Lord’s blessing
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
6 Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob
My friend Matt Redman wrote the song with the lyric, ‘When the music fades and all is stripped away’. In the weeks that followed Mikes death, my mind was melodic, thought came in rhymes, my mind was intense and multi colored, and then it faded. Not only did it fade, it went blank.
Grief also was fading at the same time, I so wanted to hold onto grief, I now recognize that it kept me close to Mike. I felt like I was on a conveyor belt, desperate to hold onto something, pain, which connected me to Mike. Mike and grief have gone.
Jesus asked the sick man at the pool of Bethsaida “do you wish to be well”, today I understand that question. In all honesty, there is a part of me that wishes I was still grieving. I wish I could have grieving and be well.
When it all fades, its just me and Jesus, you and Jesus. Off the platform, when the curtains of ‘life’ close and you and I are all alone in our thoughts, who are we? When the activity stops, when its all stripped away, who are we? We so love those close to us, Mum & Dad, wife or husband, children. But when we are on the plane, bus, train, room etc and they are not there, when we are caught up in our own thoughts, who are we? What hope do we have? How do I know whether what I believe is truth?
I am flying back from India where I spoke to a good number of people who “hope”, ‘wish’, ‘think’, they will have a happy life after death. I am so happy that Mike KNEW the words of Jesus and believed in them. He walked the path of faith in Jesus. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except by me”. Yes it has all faded, the melodic voice in my head, but its so cool that the Word of God is not temporal, it does not fade. When I read it, it soothes my soul.