Just over four years ago I felt like God was saying I needed to start writing and set out my story in words – it felt incredibly vulnerable, there were a lot of “what will people think” moments but the words flowed and I felt like there was much to say and most of all it was the start or at least a key part of an amazing journey of healing.
Four years ago I was pretty broken, I am not ashamed to say that 8 years on from losing my lovely husband I was still struggling, that that grief still weighed heavily, as did the rawness of losing my Dad. I was in a job that was sucking the life out of me and without meaning to sound over dramatic I don’t think I was that far off a bit of a breakdown.
I haven’t really written for the last year and party because of time and energy, or rather lack of, but also because I haven’t had that much to say. Not that life hasn’t been full or good but there has been no burning desire to set words to paper. There has however been a little bit of me that has missed it………so here goes again and maybe this will be a one off and maybe not. We shall see!
Christmas marked the 12 year anniversary of John’s death and my friend, also a John, asked me how I was feeling. I told him that actually I felt good, that it all felt like a lifetime ago and that actually I felt overwhelmingly thankful. And whilst I would never have wished John to die in a way I felt an immense gratitude that it had happened because of the story, all it had given me, all it had taught me and the ways in which it had changed me.
I know that I have known a totally transformational healing this last four years – I don’t recognise the girl from those first few years (can 8 years be classed as a few?) of loss and grief.
I came into 2019 not really having thought about the year ahead – I didn’t have any feel resolutions or aspirations – I was a little tired and weary after a tough few months at work at the back end of 2018 and was just thankful to be coming out the other side of that.
But as the weeks have passed I have thought about the overwhelming thankfulness I had felt at John’s anniversary, about how the immense transformation that I know has happened in my life blows me away and how I stand here today a very different person to who I was 12 years ago, to who I was 4 years ago. Today I no longer feel defined by being the girl whose husband died when she was 6 months pregnant, or by being a single parent whose child did never and will never know their father, – I know life again and a freedom from those tragedies, I have made peace with the past, with my God who I don’t always understand (I know I am not meant to understand him but oh I did I try for a long time to) but who I have learnt to trust in a much deeper way.
That being said I still prone to irrational anxiety at times, which I can see is clearly linked to the past. My child’s text to tell me she had arrived at school doesn’t arrive and I go into a crazy panic that she has been abducted. A close person, is unwell, and they don’t text back to answer a question, and in my head I am already at their funeral and imagining life without them – on admitting this crazy thinking I am met with eye rolling!! I am working on those anxieties.
What I do know though is that I have known transformation in my life in a very significant way and I know that this year I want to see it in the lives of the people I love and people I don’t even know.
So as I stand in this place of immense gratitude and a longing for change, for more healing, to see miracles come, to see situations changed and lives bought to life again I am believing and trying live out these truths:
- No situation is beyond hope or beyond repair.
A few years into losing John I was at a social justice conference in London. It was at the end of the conference and I probably hadn’t engaged that much given at that stage I was very much still wrestling with God and faith. I was sat a good few rows back from the front and everyone had dispersed to get prayer, have a drink, to chat and I was sat on my own, disengaged and probably miserable. This young girl, in her 20s came up to me, and said she had had a picture of me – I had been sat in my life, nice and safe, with what was like a glass cover over me. When she said that I sort of saw me and my life inside one of those glass cake covers you find in a café. She said she could see that something had happened that had smashed that glass cover to many many pieces, that it felt like it was all so shattered that it could never be put together again. This girl had no idea who I was or what had happened in my life over the few years prior to that moment. She said she felt God was saying to her that he was going to take those broken pieces, that felt beyond repair and rebuild something beautiful.
I have not thought about that conversation in years but it came to me a few weeks ago as I was reflecting and I thought WOW – he has built something so beautiful, and by that I mean the story he has woven in my life, the significant moments, the people (so so precious – I am a blessed woman to have so many people that are such a special part of that story- I love you all), the passions and compassions he has set in my heart, the desires, the fight, the strength – the things that actually I can’t actually put into words because I don’t really know how to explain them.
So I don’t know where you are today and what is going on for you. Or maybe it is a heavy heart for someone else. I have those heavy hearts for people I love, for situations I don’t understand, situations where I have prayed and prayed and prayed some more and the answers haven’t come as hoped. I do know though that these times pass, and it may be a month or in my case 8 years, but they will pass. Healing and transformation are possible and probably the story will not look like you hoped or wanted but nevertheless it can be beautiful. God is good. As a precious friend reminded our church in his sermon last week, God is the beginning and he is the end, it starts and ends with him.
I am praying for more healings, more transformation this year because I believe passionately that it is never the end of the story, and that there is always hope and always beauty however messy and broken it all is, feels or seems.
- We are all in it together.
If its too hard, if it feels too much, too overwhelming – be honest, be real and be vulnerable. I know it feels so hard to do that but I believe passionately in bringing the darkness into the light. That by speaking those battles out loud it takes some of the power out of them. And I know it makes you feel weak to have to keep saying its hard but we all get to those places at some point in our life and we will all probably get there again numerous times before we get to the end and there is no shame in that. It is part of life and I don’t believe we were meant to do any part of life alone let alone the tough parts.
If you are watching someone breaking in front of you – listen, pray and fight – please don’t give up on them. My people never gave up on me and I promise you they would have been totally within their rights to. Eight long years they stood by my side and I will be eternally grateful because they were so significant in that transformation.
I heard someone say the other week that “loved people love, healed people heal” and my soul said a loud amen. I know love transforms but I also know that it can be a long drawn out, messy process but again it can be the most beautiful of processes, one which I am so thankful for in my own life, so many times over.
- The lessons to be learnt in those dark, difficult places are the most precious.
As I have touched on already I had a few months at the end of last year where I was struggling with a few things work related and the anxiety was all consuming. It felt reminiscent of old job stuff and it scared me. This time tough it was different – I knew it was a battle that I wasn’t going to let win. I spent a lot of time praying, I had key verses on my phone which I looked at 20 times a day, I just kept asking God to show up, I chatted it through with a few safe people, asked them to pray and it slowly started to pass.
Weirdly though some part of me didn’t want it to pass (although I am very thankful it more or less has) because I felt close to my heavenly father in a really precious way, in a way that perhaps isn’t always as easy to find when all is fine and that desperate need for him isn’t quite as strong.
I know that God will always turn up, will always change us, and will always do the impossible, the unimaginable, the miraculous and the wonderful if we let him. For me it is about surrender, perseverance, and a willingness to trust that He is good and He has it – not that I always get that right or do it well.
- Pray, pray, pray and pray some more.
Say thank you for all the good things. Acknowledge how great He is. Tell him how you are feeling – your fears, your hopes and dreams. Tell him where you have messed up, what you want to change, what is breaking your heart.
It’s so powerful. It has the power to change people, situations and our hearts.
Pray on your own. Pray together. He doesn’t need big eloquent speeches; he just wants to hear your voice.
So those are my thoughts as I have sat down at this laptop tonight – I am thankful for the one who brings hope, who brings peace, who brings joy – for the one who never gives up on us.