Spring Cleaning!

I work as an office monkey in a Care Home for people with Dementia, and yesterday I was merrily typing away when I heard sobbing coming from the reception lounge. One of our beautiful residents had tears dripping down her face, completely distraught; and this lady, who can barely put a legible sentence together spoke clear as a bell and said that she was “no good to anyone”, that “she was useless and couldn’t do anything for herself” that “everyone thought she was a pointless old woman”. It broke my heart, and as I sat there holding her tissues and praying in my mind I tried to tell her we loved her. That we loved her for just who she is, that even though she could do so much less that before we loved her, and nothing she could or couldn’t do would change that.

It was so clear to me and the people around her that she was loveable, yet to this lady she just couldn’t believe it. Her mind was soaked in so many lies about herself that the truth had started to sound like lies to her.

Cue a Lightbulb Moment for me. That whole morning I had been drenched in thoughts that people were annoyed at me, that they wished I wasn’t there, that I should never have reached out to this or that person; I would just disturb them. Where did I get those beliefs from? People had never said this to me!

medium_8564707318

So this morning I sorted through the cupboards in my mind. I looked all through the forgotten drawers, dusty corners and dark recesses. I found things I thought I’d thrown out years ago.

“You’re always a burden to people – you need to stop telling people your problems”

“You’re too shy – No matter how hard you try you’ll never really make people feel at ease.”

“You’ve got nothing interesting to say – Keep your mouth shut so people don’t realise how broken you are”

“You’re selfish, standoffish and rude”

“People are fed up with you – stop taking up their time”

No-one has ever said this to me. Just the nagging thoughts that pop into my head. These are lies, pure and simple; it’s time to clear them out.

Suddenly it dawned on me…. Oooooh so this is why I’ve been so oversensitive lately! This is why I’ve been struggling at Church! This is why I’m doubting reaching out to people my age about Jesus.

This is the devils plan to keep me silent. He’s a liar a great deceiver and he’s been laying traps for me.

Praise God who sets me free with Truth! I am innocent – because Jesus took my sins I will NEVER be found guilty. I am made in God’s image – introverted is how I’m made to be, and that’s ok! Jesus loves me independent of what I do, how I fail and who I speak to – He loves me when I have nothing to give. I am not unwanted – I am bought with a price into a family! I’m not just humoured I am adored!

Goodbye lies and dust and dirt – this mind has had a spring clean! Jesus is all I need.

photo credit: filhodejaneiro via photopin cc

No Shame in Brokenness

20130529-152931.jpg

Yesterday was the first day in about a year that I felt like my depression had come back. Everyone has something they struggle with and this is the main temptation I face.

There is a part of me that feels ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian and can spend a whole day crying, fighting thoughts of self harm and thoroughly doubting that I have a good future. But I have no reason to be ashamed. Jesus has taken my shame away; in my weakness He is strong.

So I am praying that Jesus catches your attention through what I’ve admitted. Your deepest darkest parts, your lying, stealing, jealousy, pornography, unforgiveness, bitterness, reckless and any other temptation you fight is His strength.

Keep rejecting your temptation, keep trusting in the grace of Jesus to pull you through. Keep on telling Him how you feel. Yet at the end of the day come back to praising Him. He is our strength.

1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.

Psalm 13 Niv

photo credit: col_adamson via photopin cc

Supporting Someone with Depression

I have lived with someone suffering with depression for six years, at the start of their illness I didn’t understand how to help them, I was at a loss about what I should do. Thankfully now I have a much clearer idea of what we can and what we shouldn’t do when supporting someone. So here’s a list of some of the most important things I’ve learnt.

You are not responsible for their actions/mood/happiness The reality is that small things can tip a person with depression over the edge and into an awful place. I remember that if I sat in “the wrong chair”, my Dad’s day would spiral out of control. I felt responsible and so guilty that my actions caused this. The fact was that there was no way of knowing which chair was the wrong chair – I did not cause the bad mood, the illness did. Do not take responsibility for someone’s mood, for even if you acted perfectly all day everyday their mood would not improve. We can at the most support and love someone with depression but we cannot be responsible for them.

Protect yourself. one of the most important ways to be there for someone is to not become worn down and depressed yourself. Take breaks, laugh lots, make sure you have good supportive friends around you, move forward with your life goals and make your own health a priority. Depression tends to suck joy out others – make sure you fill up your own joy and happiness regularly!

Do not define the person by their illness. Whenever possible treat the person as you would have done before. In your own mind don’t see them as a new or separate person now, keep in your thoughts the person before the illness. This will be hard for you, expect to grieve a bit for the person you are missing and let yourself feel that. But don’t give up – keep remembering your loved one at their best.

If you are a Christian pray for them. I debated leaving this one out, but I have honestly seen such an improvement since praying for protection from God because of what Jesus has done, I would just feel dishonest if I left this out!

Do not feel guilty. I felt crippling guilt that I couldn’t make my Dad smile, that we had no relationship and barely spoke. I felt like I needed to do more, even though I did my best. Don’t fall into this trap, you are there loving them and caring the best you can – there is no reason to feel guilty. You can’t make a blind man see colours, no matter how hard you tried and there would be no case for guilt – it’s exactly the same with depression.

Forgive hard, forgive often. This will make hardly any difference to the person you are caring for but will make all the difference to you. Be generous with forgiveness and you will quickly feel better yourself.

Do not allow yourself to be abused. If you are being emotionally, physically or in anyway abused by the person you are caring for stop taking it. Depression is not an excuse and you are not helping them by letting them get away with it. Leave the situation and it will benefit you both.

This is not a perfect list, or a complete one. I may be totally wrong in some points or for certain situations but I have needed to learn these things myself and I truly hope they will help others too.

When Breaking up is the Best thing to do – Part 2

medium_2934355876

Ok, so the way I left this yesterday was that me and my fiance had just broken up, I was heart broken and utterly confused, yet what I couldn’t see at the time was that this was the best thing to have happened to us. To read a bit more have a click here.

I was heart-broken because I loved him, but also because he had become so strongly linked to my future, my hope and my healing. I had so many hopes pinned on him, he was “The Perfect Christian Guy” after all.

I was so sure this was the will of God for me, that when it fell through I, and my faith was left in tatters.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/michelangelo_mi/2934355876/”>στρατός (formerly known as Michelangelo_MI)</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

When Breaking up is the Best Thing to do

20130524-164128.jpg

Today I found myself texting a friend saying that all good couples break up at some point! She had just got back together with her ex, who is a great guy and I am so happy for them!

It got me thinking about how breaking up with my fiancé was the best thing we ever did.

Firstly, don’t worry, we are obviously back together – hurrah! But we probably wouldn’t be planning our wedding in September if we hadn’t broken up. Let me tell you why…

We met when he came to my hometown to do a years internship as a youth worker. It wasn’t really love at first sight at all, we worked together at lots of youth groups, I found he brought out my fun side and taught me how to celebrate life, I introduced him to “deep conversations” and he found that sometimes, only sometimes mind, he enjoyed them. Soon enough we fell in love with no clue the other felt the same (although apparently everyone else did!).

The only problem was that he had signed up to do mission work in South Africa in a few months time, and had no plans to come back to my home town. I was devastated to be honest, and prayed and prayed and kept trying to stop feeling things for him.

Then, on a sunny barbecue and football filled day (England vs Germany in the World Cup…. Not a great match but you can’t have everything!) he told me he’d fallen a little bit in love with me, that he knew we’d be far away from each other but he’d rather miss me as a girlfriend than miss me for no reason at all. It was amazing!

We gave the long distance thing a try, and anyone who’s been there knows it. Is. Not. Fun. It’s horrible, sad and so hard to do.

We lasted out the year apart, barely scraping through. He became ill with a parasite and I had started wallowing in self pity over being stuck at home in a horrible situation. We fought and fought and I cried and he distanced himself.

It was not the kind of relationship that was pleasing God, each other or ourselves. There was only one thing to do and that was to break up.

I have to say it wasn’t my choice. I was heart broken, absolutely crushed and at the time I thought it was the worst thing to happen to me for a long time.

I was wrong, it turned out to be the best thing to happen, we had gotten things all wrong at the start and needed to refocus everything.

To find out how we worked things out you’ll have to read my next post because it’s just too much for one sitting!

photo credit: Corie Howell via photopin cc

How Depression stole my Faith

This is my testimony about how my faith was affected by the illness depression. Another blogger (who also focuses on hope!) asked me if I had any posts about how my depression changed after I met Jesus and so here it is!

The first thing I have to say is that becoming a Christian did not heal my depression, I was a Christian before it happened. In fact, my illness causes me to completely lose my faith.

I suffered from reactional depression caused by watching my dad and sister battle with suicide, my stress levels rocketed and my brain chemicals got out of balance. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I stopped feeling any emotion apart from despair and simple things became impossible to me. Getting out of bed felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Why did I lose my faith? Because I had conditions attached to being a Christian. Life had to make sense, life couldn’t be difficult and Jesus had to answer my prayers the way I wanted Him to.

I walked away because my faith was shallow and I started to play games with God. I put myself in situations I knew would hurt me, surrounded myself with a relationship that I knew was abusive and thought “if I stay here God will have to break in and rescue me”. He didn’t and all that happened was I got hurt really badly.

20130523-093416.jpg

When Jesus didn’t rescue me I decided He didn’t exist. I turned my back on him and things got worse, oh so much worse. I toyed with suicide and lived a secret but very reckless life.

I lost my faith and religious set of rules to this illness. I got secular help in counselling and medication. I never once mentioned to my counsellor that I used to have a faith.

I was empty; even when the drugs worked and I could function again I was so, very empty.

I am so glad my story doesn’t end there! Jesus found me, not religion or faith or a massive conversion experience but a relationship with Him saved me.

I became so down trodden I was ready to either end my life or try one last thing. I had a feeling deep down that if I read the bible all the way through maybe things would change. So I started, manically, hectically and angryly to read and underline any verse that spoke of suffering and God turning His back on people. I didn’t like the promises and praises but I read the verses none them less.

Slowly, but by bit, chain by chain, lie by lie, my mind got clearer. I had started reading in a place where I wanted to throw my life away; I chose to give it all to Jesus rather than just kill myself. The more I read about Jesus the more I could see He understood the things I was struggling with.

He suffered more than I did and I couldn’t argue with that. He didn’t need to suffer but He chose to so He could trade places with me; so that He could pay the price for my mistakes. It felt like He hadn’t turned His back on me, but that He knew I would go through these things so thousands of years before they actually happened He suffered and died so He could help when I needed Him.

medium_2921523138

I wanted nothing to do with clichés and religion and the prosperity gospel but I wanted Jesus. I read books and books by missionaries who really knew Jesus and knew that to really know Jesus you had to understand suffering.

Everyday since then it has been a two-step forward one step back type of journey of knowing Jesus. The man who died and came back to life. The man who knows me in and out. The man who rescued me.

photo credit: Ali Catterall via photopin cc

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/garry61/2921523138/”>Garrywww.visionandimagination.com</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

Is saying I Love God the Biggest Lie I tell?

Am I a fraud? This is the thought going through my head today. Am I lying to myself when I say I love Jesus? Do I really, truly understand the shallowness of my wishy-washy relationship with God?

Yes, I mostly go to Church, yes I try to pray everyday, and yes I try to thank God when I remember to. I say I live for Jesus, I’ve been baptised, I tick “Christian” on forms. Hey, I even get pictures from God! I even do mission and youth work, my heart beats faster when I think of Jesus, sometimes though not always.

How long would a human relationship last if I treated the person the same as I treat Jesus?

If I gave someone the part of the day when I’m THE MOST TIRED. When I skim read their texts or emails? When I only half listen to what they want me to do and don’t often make the effort to do it. If I never really, really, properly spoke to other people about them, if I went through my whole day without even thinking to tell them how I am? What if I never, ever asked them what was important to them. Do you think this relationship would survive?

medium_409574471

Today I’m reminded of theses words, and I wonder if I am dangerously close to being the kind of person who hears them back from the Lord…

21 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23

This is my prayer today, that God will shock me out of this domesticated rut that I am in, that he will give me the electrifying passion he inspires in people to live life with God as the main focus. I want to live seeing God as my main meal, my breakfast, lunch and tea and not just a snack to fit in when I fancy it.

Jesus, show me what it means to know you, I don’t want to lie to you with my actions any longer.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/rx_kamakshi/409574471/”>rx_kamakshi</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>