"We will have eternity to celebrate the victories but only a few hours before sunset to win them."
Hello dear ones,
How are you faring out there today? I have just turned 53 and am continuing to 'find myself' for want of a better expression. This isn't the kind of search which involves barefoot treks to mountainous places in search of a guru to guide me with a mystic chant but the prayerful sort, a commitment to a posture of curiosity about myself in God's narrative.
I wrote a friend last week who is facing the difficult task of therapy after years of self-neglect and abuse, outward and within. I wrote:
". . . you're having to overcome a lot, I know what a long and difficult process it is to find yourself under the rubble . . ."
More often than not, through the influence of our environment, family, culture, society, job, religion, we're shaped and conditioned from birth into someone we might not choose for ourselves.
You is buried under you.
Anyone who has tracked with me for a while knows about my start in a spiritually abusive so-called church. I never set out to talk about these things but it seems to crop up often and is as much a part of me as my left foot.
When I first left that place I didn't know my own mind; what clothes to wear, what music to listen to, which decision to make? You lose your ability to trust yourself and more importantly, God. There's so much piled upon us throughout our lives, labels, opinions, other people's expectations, it's like rubble heaped upon our soul. At some point we take stock of things, milestone occasions such as a birthday, new year or health crisis, we begin to hear a faint little cry from somewhere deep down.
Can I tell you why I'm committed to this process? Can I share a shocking story I'm ashamed of but which perfectly highlights the why that drives me?
My friend's daughter was an alcoholic, she'd sadly struggled with substance abuse for years and for whatever reason could not break free. She'd even received a life-giving second-chance liver transplant at a younger age but she still couldn't help going back to the drink. The ongoing assault on her body created other health complications and sadly Elaine underwent a few procedures to remove toes which had poor blood supply. One Sunday, after church, her mum approached me with desperation in her voice and eyes, "Will you go visit my Elaine, she's in hospital again, she's so down and lonely, can you go cheer her up?"
I was a couple of years into this church journey by then, heavily in leadership and buried under so many expectations. Additionally I'd been scolded numerous times for 'stepping outside of my area of authority', so when she asked me this question, a mixture of resentment, fear and abdication came upon me. What I said next shocked us both. "I'm sorry, that's not my department, go talk to Ros."
As soon as the words left my lips my heart plummeted to the floor along with her countenance. You might as well have held up a 6ft mirror in front of Quasimodo! I was sickened at myself. What and who had I become?! This wasn't me, this wasn't Jesus. What had I allowed these leaders, this environment to shape me into, a monster?
I did go and see Elaine. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and so good for my soul to love and care about her in that terrible place. I came away humbled, broken hearted, and all the better for it. Before being in that cultish place I had a free and abounding love for the Lord and people. I'd think nothing of it to drive daily to my friend's house just so I could take her to work as she couldn't afford to run her car, then go back at 5pm and take her home. I did that for 6 months. There was a deep joy running through my life as I served others and felt close to Jesus. I wasn't in a box, I was free to be me.
Reconnecting with your true self is reconnecting with God. It's about being able to fully love and live as you feel to and not as someone else dictates. Don't let yourself become another person's version of you. A lesser you. A less giving, less loving, less alive and beautiful you, because that's who others need to see. That's who you need to be.
I hope that helps someone today.
"For what it's worth, it's never too late, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be . . . . I hope you live a life, you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."
F. Scott Fitzgerald
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