Why Church?

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Someone said something today which struck a chord with me and I want to think about it. The statement was something like ‘I went to many churches in my younger years but I haven’t found anything that has made me want to return‘.

In my younger years, I wanted to be in church every time the doors were opened. I wanted to worship with other people and I found God in church. I learned stuff about the Bible and my relationship with God developed.

I also saw things that made me uneasy. I saw inconsistency and hypocrisy in other people. I saw behaviours that weren’t what I thought they should be. I learned that people are not perfect. I also learned that I’m not either. I saw in the Bible that we were all in good company – the people I read about in there weren’t perfect either.

To be honest, I have become slowly more and more jaded and cynical. I have seen behind the scenes. Some of what I have seen, makes me feel like – just like all is not as it should be. On the other hand, I have seen in many a very high level of personal integrity, honesty and real-ness – and I take my hat off to those people and hope to learn from them.

But, this isn’t about other people. This is about me. Over time I have stopped wanting to be in church. I don’t go as often as I used to. When I am there, I feel more like an observer than a participant. I no longer feel like this is my ‘family’ or like I really ‘belong’ – something I once felt and treasured. I feel ‘odd’ because I don’t do a very good line in pretending and I don’t wear the appropriate masks.

So, should I be there at all? And if so, why?

I’m not trying to ‘judge’ imperfect people. I know that if I find a perfect church I shouldn’t join it because I would mess it up. I know that any group of human beings will always have issues. I ‘get’ that. I am OK with that. I once said that I would be able to settle in any church where there are real believers in Jesus Christ, and where God turns up regularly.

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this.

It’s me.

I want to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to find God – I mean really, in everyday reality. I want to be honest and not feel like I need to ‘pretty’ anything up.

I once read a book called ‘Hunger for Reality’, by George Verwer. Maybe I need to read it again.

Maybe I’m just tired. Perhaps I would be better off with more energy. Perhaps I’m too idealistic and need to knuckle down and work on it. I don’t know.

I suspect that I will conclude that church is something I need to be an integral part of. But I need to know why. I need some direction and purpose in it. I have never been able to just be an ‘attender’ and I’m not that, even now.

I will work on it and get back to you….

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Avoiding a Slippery Slope

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For the last two or three years, my doctor has prescribed Valium for me. To be taken as and when needed within clear boundaries: one 2mg tablet at a time, with an absolute maximum of four tablets in any one day. So we are talking low doses here on an irregular basis. The pattern has been that I might need one on a particular day, then it might be months before I feel that need again.

Some of my AA friends are understandably wary of any ‘benzos’, of which Valium is one. This is because they are often used to help with addiction withdrawal; because they are themselves addictive; and because they can be used to mask feelings. This latter reason especially applies to alcoholics because many of us used alcohol for that exact reason – to mask feelings, to forget reality for a while.

So I have kept in regular contact with my doctor and have followed her instructions carefully. The drug was useful for me if I was feeling particularly anxious or panicky. I had also previously spent time with a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

One day, quite a few months ago now, I exceeded my doctor’s maximum and took ten tablets over the course of a very anxious and stressful day. I was open with my doctor when I next saw her and said I wouldn’t be trying that again. She rationed my tablets for a while, asking that the chemist not dispense a whole pack at one time but rather a maximum of ten each time I went to collect them. There wasn’t really much else she could do, but she took that sensible precaution.

Just before Christmas 2013, I had a packet of 50 tablets. Just before Christmas 2014 I still had 10 of those left. I asked for some more as I was aware that this Christmas would be a difficult one for me. She could see that I obviously hadn’t been abusing them as I had only used 40 in more than a year, so she cheerfully agreed to give me some more.

The holiday was hard for me. I cried a lot. I attended a lot of AA meetings. I slept a lot.

Two weeks ago, I was having a really bad day and began to use them to try to calm down. I took 20 tablets within about three hours. I had joked previously with my doctor that I would need many more than I possessed if I were to attempt suicide, which is something I consider regularly but have not planned. So I thought that 20 would really be no big deal – and these are only 2mg tablets. This was definitely not a suicide attempt – if it were, I wouldn’t have just taken 20, and I wouldn’t have just taken Valium.

When I got home that evening I suddenly started to ‘second-guess’ myself and phoned the Poison Information Hotline, which I assumed would be more reliable than Google. They said the likelihood was that I would just have a good long sleep. They also said that this was quite a high dose and in some cases this amount could cause coma or even make the heart stop. They told me I should really go to the hospital to be checked over.

My teenagers arrived home and I asked their friend who dropped them off to take me to the hospital. They didn’t ask any questions and took me there. I thought it might be sensible to not drive myself.

After seeing the doctor there, I was eventually told I could either go home or could wait to see someone from Mental Health, but that it might be quite a long wait for that and that I was physically fine to go home. A friend from AA came to collect me and took me home.

I saw my GP on Saturday morning and she knew from the hospital what had happened – although I was going to come clean anyway. We discussed it and I asked her to never prescribe Valium for me again. My request scared me as it meant I wouldn’t have the option of taking them if I needed to. I just felt that I had started on a slippery slope I didn’t want to risk arriving at the bottom of. So now I just have my usual cocktail of relatively ‘safe’ drugs that are non-addictive, etc, etc, and will just have to learn to cope with life as it really is.

I guess it’s going to be like eating an elephant, just one bite at a time.

Unfinished Year

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Another hour and 2014 will be over.

I’m not ready. Too many loose ends. Too many unfinished projects. Too many issues left unresolved. Too many decisions still to be made.

The feeling that time is running out fills me with anxiety. I’m scared at the thought of having to start a new year so soon.

I know it’s just a date on a calendar and that nothing ‘real’ is going to happen in an hour except that the clock will keep ticking and a new date will appear in the corner of my computer screen.

But still, I feel very apprehensive about this. Like everything is about to change.

I can’t remember ever feeling so nervous about it before.

Just this year. It seems so huge.

I will probably hear fireworks in the distance at midnight. I know that people out there will be celebrating and happy. They will smile as they look back at the year that is ending. They will smile more as they look optimistically and hopefully into the year about to begin.

I’m just doing what I’ve done for the last few weeks: just waiting for ‘normal programming to resume’. This holiday is like a dark tunnel between episodes of everyday life. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, but maybe it will come into view soon. Or maybe it won’t. I really have no idea about the future. If it follows the usual pattern, then eventually children will return to school, adults will return to work, activities suspended for the holidays will begin again, people will return home from holidays…… and then before we realise it’s happened again, Christmas 2015 will be here and the trip through the tunnel will have to be repeated.

Tomorrow will be ‘New Year’s Day’. Another black hole in between two sleeps.

I want to wish you a ‘Happy New Year‘, not just for the sake of custom, but because I really do hope it is happy for you. It would be lovely to imagine that someone out there is not feeling the way I’m feeling.

If you are feeling like me, perhaps together we can agree to forget that it’s happening. Just another day. Just another 24 hours to survive through. Maybe things will be better eventually, but we probably need to stick around a bit longer to find out.

My New Year’s resolution is to wake up on 1st January. Then I’ll take it from there just one day at a time.

Wading through treacle

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Sitting outside the closed café with my feet on a chair, just watching the rain and enjoying the almost-silence. My mind is wandering all over the place, which is probably not a good thing. Am not feeling as ‘down’ as I have been, but am sad as I think about my life and relationships and achievements and experiences.

I can see that God gave me opportunities and skills and direction and friends and lots more. I have messed up over and over again and have been given more chances than I can count. I am getting older now and I still haven’t got much more clue about life than I was born with. I waste time and opportunities, I rely too much on other people and not enough on God. I know and understand a fair bit about God and his ways and deeds. I have known His presence, heard His voice, seen Him act. I still don’t know Him – I mean REALLY know Him. I am nice and people like me – but inside I am full of sludge.

As layers are peeled away and the reality of who I am is exposed, it’s too hard for many would-be friends. They try, they really do, but it is just too difficult to navigate the messy maze that is me.

So here I sit now, just listening to the faint sounds of silence and wondering about the futility of continuing to wade in endless circles while standing thigh deep in treacle.

Texty Tangles

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Texting is a brilliant way to miscommunicate how you feel and misinterpret what other people mean.

Blue = Mother to Orange
Green & Orange = teenage daughters of Blue
Maroon = trusted adult male friend

Family members confide in Maroon about teenager/parent issues, as well as simply enjoying each other’s company and chatting about everything.
Orange tells Blue that she is mean and horrible and that she doesn’t want to talk to her any more – and that Maroon sympathises.
Blue knows that Maroon would not speak negatively about her and wants to clarify what he said. Sends a text to ask.

Blue also realises that Orange is being a normal teenager and that most teens say things like this from time to time.

Maroon replies that he understands and sympathises with Orange’s feelings. He does not want to be used as a weapon in family disputes and says he can no longer be involved.
Blue hears that he no longer wants to be involved with the family at all. Blue is very upset.
Next day, Blue sends a text to Maroon apologising for her ineffective communication and for putting Maroon in an awkward position. Also says that she respects his decision and does not expect any further response.
Maroon replies by text saying that Orange needs the support of Blue. Says that the family needs to support each other rather than attack; that Blue is the head of the home and needs to step up.
Blue feels hurt, attacked, criticised, defensive….
Blue sends a text to Maroon – confused about why he even feels the need to say these things. Says that both Green and Orange have her support already.
Maroon replies saying that it seems to be an ongoing problem and asks why Blue is not trying to change it. Also says that he is not trying to point blame at anyone.
Blue feels defensive and increasingly helpless.
Blue replies saying that she has done everything she can to address the situation and that she can’t read minds or control the reactions of others.
Maroon texts “This is why I can no longer be involved.”
Blue is devastated. Feels that she just lost a close friend. Feels alone, abandoned, isolated.
Blue replies saying that she had wondered why he even replied to her apology and had felt a little disrespectful to his wishes when she replied to his reply but hadn’t known what else to do. Blue says that she is sad and will miss him, but will try to make this the last message. Asks if he wants to tell Green and Orange or if he would rather she passed on message so they don’t have to bother him again.
Maroon says that he will.
Blue sends a text explaining that Green just saw that message arrive on screen and wanted to know what he meant, but that she wasn’t entirely sure herself. Told Green that she thinks it means that he doesn’t want to be at all involved with the family any more but that Green should probably ask Maroon.
Blue is very, very, upset.
Maroon sends a text to Green and to Orange. He says he doesn’t want to be involved in disputes, but that he is happy to meet with them for coffee or breakfast or whatever else.
Maroon sends a text to Blue saying that this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want any involvement, but that he just doesn’t want to be involved in disputes.
Blue says thank you for not hurting the girls and says she will try to keep her distance as she is obviously the only problem.
Maroon says that only domestic issues are off the agenda.
Blue says she has no idea how to act or what to say, but that he knows where to find her.
Blue feels bereft, confused, depressed, isolated. Feels that there is a nebulous boundary that she must not cross. In order to avoid crossing boundary, must avoid Maroon completely. Loss of friendship is very painful and probably unnecessary. Doesn’t know what to do but is tempted to crawl into a hole and stay there.
Maroon posts the Quotation above on his Facebook page……

Midnight Thoughts About DIY…..

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Turps and Glue

  1. Arriving home at 10pm with some excess energy, does not necessarily make it a good time to start fixing things.
  2. Items of clothing that you are hoping to wear again sometime, may not be ideal DIY attire.
  3. Glue marked ‘High Strength’ might stick things better than you think it will.
  4. Something that claims to bond surfaces in 2-5 minutes, may not actually take that long.
  5. Skin is a surface.
  6. Clothing that you are hoping to wear again, is a surface.
  7. Before using High Strength adhesive, read the small print.
  8. If small print states ‘avoid contact with skin’, see points 3, 4 & 5.
  9. If small print states that turps is required for clean up, it may mean that water won’t do the job.
  10. Ensure that you have everything you need for this project before you begin.
  11. If turps is required, it is advisable to find the long-lost bottle before doing practical research into points 3, 4 & 5.
  12. Before using turps to clean up the items of clothing you are hoping to wear again, it might be a good idea to Google the small print if it isn’t on the bottle.
  13. If it suggests testing a small area of the clothing for colour fastness, you may wish to do this.
  14. If it says ‘blot, do not rub, and use sparingly’, this might mean that pouring turps onto the clothing item and giving it a good scrub isn’t really the way to go.
  15. The sweet aroma of turps on ones hands is not generally used to promote good sleep.

And finally – a point not directly connected to the previous points – not yet anyway…

  1. Fabric dye is not easy to purchase late on Sunday evenings – at least not where I live.

Friendship

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Wellington BootsIf someone is willing to pull wellies from my sweaty feet after tiring hours spent hosing Primary School toilets
– then I know I have a friend.

Actual performance of the task might never be required.

The willingness is enough.

Small things can make a big difference.

Never underestimate the value of a friend
– and never underestimate your value as a friend.