Category Archives: Rants and Ramblings

Just Like Me

We’re all made by God.
The rich,
the poor
are all the same
fundamentally,
under their surroundings,
if we aren’t taken in
by looks,
or our standards,
or the rhetoric
of those
who don’t care for
the “other”.

We all have the same needs
love,
nourishment,
safety,
a place to call home.

So why
do we think
we can be down
on those
whose life circumstances
have not been as ours?
Walk by them,
ignore them,
hurl abuse at them,
or question their rights?

Have we walked in their shoes?
Lived with what they have lived with?
Then we have no right
to pontificate

and every duty to help.

‘These people’*
as we are so keen to call them,
to keep them separate,
not like me
are actually just like me
and could be me,
or any one of my loved ones,
should life take one
slightly different turn.

And so I am called
to reach out,
to share,
to treat justly,
to love,
to bring hope.

Because I should treat them
as I would want God
to treat me.

* ‘These people’ are humans, with stories, lives, loves, fears.  They are people running from atrocity, from home lives we couldn’t imagine, from situations we have been a part of making.  They are people for whom risking life and limb is a better choice than where they are, where living on the street is better than any place they may have been living, where leaving their country is safer than staying there, where their life cirumstances have made them what they are and not the other way round. These are people, real people.  People just like you and me.
We should be ashamed if we treat them with anything other than respect and love, and don’t do all we can to bring them hope – that is what God requires of us.

Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23 (CEV)

The Value of a Good Reputation

22 A good reputation and respect
    are worth much more
    than silver and gold.
The rich and the poor
are all created
    by the Lord.

 

Troublemakers get in trouble,
    and their terrible anger
    will get them nowhere.

The Lord blesses everyone
    who freely gives food
    to the poor.

 

22 Don’t take advantage
of the poor
    or cheat them in court.
23 The Lord is their defender,
    and what you do to them,
    he will do to you.

Reflecting on The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman

So, after my review of The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therepy, I thought I’d share a few things that have made me think – after all, such a book is only any use if it changes something in you.

Perhaps some of these things are issues I should have ‘dealt with’ by now.  But grief and loss are like an onion, there are many many layers.  Just when you come to terms with one aspect, another is uncovered and needs facing.  The length of the situation also means strategies that have worked, no longer do, or things you had worked through need taking out and looking at again as time gives them a different hue.

There is much in this book that is thought provoking and challenging, these are some of the ones that hit me where I’m at, some of which I tweeted the quotes from.

“Look on managing your illness as useful work” (p25) That is all I can manage, however different I might like it to be – and that has to be OK.  Somehow, I have to find a way to be me, this new, alien, different me, outside of my role – whichever role that is.  What I can do now is different to what I could do.

That brings a huge sense of loss, and can go on doing so as those losses are re-enforced, or newly discovered for the first time.  I think new losses will be realised as life with chronic illness goes on, but when we come to them the loss has to be faced, stared straight in the eye, acknowledged and dealt with.  That doesn’t necessarily meant that you ‘get over’ it, but you have to find a way of living with, or else the pain becomes crippling – and were back to the Pile Under the Carpet again!

Life, reality, what I can and can’t do are very different; they look and feel so far from where I once was – a life I was quite happy with.  Somehow, this life has to become as useful and pleasurable.

So, I know I only function well for 30-45 minutes, beyond that I’m gone.  I know I’m better in the mornings, I don’t do afternoons at all (I sleep for a good couple of hours and if I don’t it’s not good) and I’m not much better in the mornings.  SO I deal in small chunks and I do it early.  What isn’t done by 11ish will not get done that day.  That is what I have learnt in being an expert on me 🙂

(Oh and try telling the DWP that managing your illness is a full-time job!!)

“love and forgiveness is costly because it means letting go of my version of the past” (p95) for most of us our past was precious.  We were having a whale of a time until chronic illness struck.  Being chronically ill is not generally a reaction to being miserable, or a pleasant escape from a life we were hating.

So, chronic illness brings up many emotions: guilt, anger, resentment, self-pity, bitterness, loss of confidence, frustration and fear are mentioned in the book.  Yup! And some…

But those emotions can easily become misdirected.  So much is lost, but am I blaming the wrong person?  Invisible illness brings with it a whole new set of possible misunderstandings – but they’re not necessarily anyone’s fault.  Calm explanation may be better than exploding – but that was never my strong point 😉

I need to take time to stare those losses in the face, acknowledge them, feel the pain; from then a new foundation can be built – not on the past, but the future.

“God is always on the move and he wants us to come too” (p117) has to speak in to that.  Whatever I have lost, there is a tomorrow.  Maybe not the one I envisaged or might have chosen, but one that God is in nonetheless – and he is still going to be working in and through me there.

“I should work at meeting my own daily challenges, not peek over the fence at my past or my neighbour” (p121) that might be far healthier!  My life is my life, only I am responsible for it.  This is how it is, and I am the only person that can live with it.  The past has gone, it would have anyway.  I can only deal with what is before me now.

“Worship is about God surely.  It’s about putting him first, focussing on him and clearing a space from other pursuits and concerns to consider his beauty.  It isn’t about how I feel, where I am or what I do with my body.” (p179) This is a biggie.  Having been a Presbyter in Circuit work, worship was the bread and butter of my life.  It challenged and inspired me – but I was also responsible for how I worshipped.  So much of my identity was tied up in worship and how it was led.  Now I have to find a way to engage with worship that works for me.  I can’t sing, sitting is not always comfortable, my attention span is assaulted – your average act of worship is difficult for me ‘get on board with’.

BUT that is all about me.  What about God?  Where is his ability to meet me where I am?

Wake up call – worship is not about me, or even what I can and can’t do.  It is a meeting with the holy God, a place of encounter, of healing (in it’s broadest sense), of finding peace and being challenged; of hearing from the God who is far bigger than anything I can or can’t do.

And then there are some things that are useful for others to know, things I’d like you to know, not to moan, but to perhaps help you to understand me and where I’m at better:

“The sick are exiled into a strange and scary place, leaving behind great chunks of their previous way of life.  It’s a lonely transition” (p2) I cannot emphaise enough the truth of this.  However ‘sorted’ I may come across, or not, I am in an incredibly lonely place.  However long I have been ill, the path goes on, and each twist and turn can be scary.  Each day is new and I am exiled in a land not of my choosing.

“Illness related fatigue is nothing like healthy tiredness. It’s like a very heavy wet blanket pulled over your head that squashes you flat” (p37) This is not just ‘being tired’ or in need of a rest.  This is an all consuming exhaustion that makes your head spin and your body shake.  Accompanying that is the inability to think straight, never mind make sensible decisions!  A sit down doesn’t make it better, neither necessarily does just sleep.  It is not possible to imagine or understand if you haven’t been there.This fatigue goes hand in hand with so much chronic illness, and adds to the delight of trying to cope.  Dealing with illness is hard, dealing with the practicalities are energy sapping and time consuming – doing it when you are already exhausted can be mind-blowingly difficult. I’ve linked to this before, but it explains this kind of fatigue so well.

“It’s painful to feel overlooked or misunderstood by members of your church” (p189) Sadly this is also a great pain and burden.  The place you want to belong, sometimes feels like the place you are most rejected or sidelined.  It is the place I should have so much to offer, and yet I can’t.  Not withstanding what I have said above about worship, church too can be a place of exile.

These things are particularly hard, when you thought people understood, only to realise again that they don’t.  Why should they?  They are not walking in my shoes, they have their own with their own pinches.

But unless we talk and keep on talking, how will any of us know?

These are just some of the nuggets this book contains.  I’m sure if I read it again different things will jump out.  There is more I could say, but why not read it and see what it has to say to you.

Love Your Neighbour #GE2015

I am the archetypal floating voter.  Child of the sixties who has seen it all, well a lot of it.  Knowing that promises made in elections are soon broken; having lived the good and bad of many a government; lived in different parts of the country where different parties had the majority; having the privilege of getting to know some politicians and what they actually stand for.  I have, in my time, voted for many different parties, because I believe in people and communities.

I believe passionately in voting.  People suffered so that I could have the vote, and ultimately if I don’t vote I have no right to complain and no opportunity to change things.

Which brings me to this years General Election, but the same applies also to local elections, and the dilemma of how to vote.

I find myself living with the despair that a coalition didn’t bring a more measured and balance government, unlike my hope.  I find myself living day by day with the repercussions of one of this governments policies.  I am fed up of hearing ‘they will do this’, whilst never actually hearing what you are going to do – or how you are going to make your fanciful ideas work.

So the question remains, how to vote.

I’m not going to make any pontifications about that.  But I am grateful to the Joint Public Issues Team for their strapline and logo, which at the end of the day is the only thing that makes any sense – and what we will all have to answer to.

I am called to love my neighbour – as much at the ballot box as anywhere else.  My responsibility is to vote, not for my favourite, the one best before the cameras, the one with the sound-bites, or the party that will make my life better (or say they will) – but for the ones who truly work for the love of neighbour.

Now, if the politicians could just stop one upmanship and scaremongering and actually tell us what THEY are going to do, that would really help.

Oh and if you’re not registered to vote – do it, and if you are use it – for the love of your neighbour. Please.