It was a dream, but now it was shattered. Perhaps a new dream was to be discovered, and so we dug deep into what truly mattered.
It was happening again. The dream was being shattered. The marriage was over, the pregnancy test was negative, a redundancy letter handed out, and unemployment was on the horizon. There, in the most honest place of the soul, was a loss of spirit, drive, beauty.
A few years ago, an acquaintance opened up a cheery conversation with me by saying the words ‘Living the dream?’. After some paused consideration, I humorously said, ‘Sometimes, and then at other times, it feels like I am walking a nightmare.’
Agoraphobia had gripped Patsy Clairmont to the point where all she could manage was to make it to her neighborhood grocery store and safely home again. With grunt work and grace, Patsy discovered recovery.
She shares with us some of her story.
I was a mopey child, a sad teenager, and a depressed young wife and mom. Yet I didn’t realize that these were signs of someone who needed, at the least, a cheerleader and at best a therapist.
My moods became my daily life, and my sadness deepened. I was angry, fearful, and anxious. And still, I didn’t realize I needed help.
I was a natural saleswoman/storyteller, so I hid my oddness behind a curtain of convincing excuses and caustic blame.
Even I believed my behavior was other people’s doings and not in my control, which is a good way to stay stuck.
A feeling of being sad is something that everyone experiences. Sadness needs to be validated as being real and OK. Life hurts at times, and if we don’t embrace the pain, then we can miss a grace offered.
Permission to be sad
‘I give you permission to feel sad.’
It was a strange thing to say to them, but they needed to hear that it was ok for them to be sad, to weep and grieve.
Developing a relationship with God where we feel loved and graced upon is the most precious gift you can give your mental health. Rules and regulations without relationship will only lead to rebellion and resentment. Grace and forgiveness bring healing.
Isn’t it interesting how early experiences shape your view of life and of what God is like?
I wonder now if all those memory verse competitions as a child to get a star on a chart shaped my understanding of faith is all about effort and performance.
Then add on expectations of reading your bible in a year, every year. Praying for a whole hour each day, giving 10 percent of your income (before tax) and a myriad of other expectations both said and unsaid.
If I were to describe my anxiety, as a doctor might, it might go something like this: “An overactive nervous condition when the brain predicts and over predicts and attempts to problem- solve with or without the victim’s consent and many times without concern of her best interests.” Lisa Delay
Anxiety–it can race over and through me like a speedy stream.
I had never quite sensed that feeling of release before. It was time to have a rest.
That feeling of letting it all go and handing it on to someone else. I had been in ministry for 13 years serving as a Pastor/ Chaplain to people who struggled with ‘Normal Church,’ mostly due to Mental Illness. It had been a time of growth and challenge where I along with a team of volunteers developed a mid-week church service, ran camps and all the other stuff pastors do.
On the farm in which I grew up on we would often get fertilizer spread by aeroplane. It was exciting to see that noisy plane swoop low over the fields and hills and see trails of white powder spreading over the landscape.
I suppose it was those planes that gave me the idea to build a weathervane in the shape of a plane. I loved building plastic Spitfire and Hurricanes, but this plane needed to be built of hard-wearing material. No little fiddly pieces and ‘get a headache/ high glue’.
So out of some wood in the workshop I crafted a plane.
I can’t remember what colour I painted it but I do remember putting a plastic propeller on the front. Through the centre of the plane a nail was used as a kind of axle for the plane to spin around upon.
It worked extremely well. With every little shift of wind direction the plane would move straight into a place of least resistance. That propeller would whirr around and fill the air with hum.
It worked perfectly well for the first year, but then under the heat of the sun and the rigours of winter storms the paint started to blister and peel. The plastic propeller got worn and started to wobble on that nail.
The plane still swung around on its pivot, but now the hole seemed honed out. The plane didn’t swivel so freely.
The next wild storm blew in and the propeller broke right off.
What was needed was a rest in the carpenter’s shop. I time to clean off some of the grime, a new paint job, a repairing of the damage and a new propeller.
I tell you this story because I think it is like many of us, if not all.
We head out into life with brightness and purpose. We angle ourselves into the wind of resistance and move ahead. Little shifts of wind and we adapt. Storms come and go, rain, hail, and hot beating sun, we weather it all.
Over time we get worn out without us ever realising the change. We think we are better than we really are. We are star struck by the over achievers so we go on, until we breakdown, burnout, and collapse.
Time for the care of a carpenter. Time for care from others whom the carpenter sends to help.
We all need time for rest and refreshing. For rejuvenation.
This is a serious question.
Are you ok with being loved?
Are you ok with being cared for?
Are you ok with being told ‘You need to rest’.
The very nature of facing into the wind takes its toll on the fabric of your being.
I remember listening to a pastor who was going through basically a power battle between himself and a couple of church members. He was broke. I simply asked ‘How is it with your soul’?
The question cut right through the normal bravado to a place of personal soul weariness. He had run on the fumes of an empty tank for too long.
Is this resonating with you?
It’s ok to rest and restore, and its ok to have others feed into you dollops of goodness, truth and love.
You probably have standards and expectations of yourself that you never seem quite able to achieve. Or maybe others have them for you and remind you of your failings.
Life can be brutal at times. People laying burdens on your back until one day the back breaks and your left broken, in a ditch wondering at what has happened.
What burdens, weights of expectations, loads of worry, or pressures do you carry?
Do you fear that you won’t get it right? That you’ll make that one mistake and the house of cards will come tumbling down.[pullquote]When you are trying to please God, remember that Jesus has already done so on your behalf. There are no brownie poitns left for you to earn. David Riddell[/pullquote]
Over the past year, whenever I have replied to someone tweeting me or messaging I have used the blessing of ‘Grace and Peace’
I am desiring for the persons life to be overflowing with a sense of the Gods grace and peace.
Are you kind to yourself?
I think that much of mental anguish and unwellness comes about by carrying too heavier burdens. Levels of pressure too high for the soul to carry. The expectations of others, of society, of media and advertising.
Relentless pressures to be some thing you are truly incapable of being.
The Story of the Cracked Pot.
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, both hung on the ends of a pole, which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house the cracked pot always arrived half full.
The poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water-carrier one day by the stream:
“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologise to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side caused water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.”
The bearer said to the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?
That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.
I am that cracked pot, and you are too.
We have the cracks of being human, flawed and leaky.
It is what we focus on though that will determine our emotional and mental well being. If we focus our gaze on what we are not doing this will distract us away from what we are actually giving.
Something life giving is reserved in all of us. It leaks out of us without us even realising.
I think of a number of people at times, including myself, where we so often have such a low opinion of ourselves, yet what gets watered by the side of the road is beauty not barrenness.
The master comes, takes time to smell the roses and whispers to you ‘Grace and Peace’.
Will you be listening?
The change we are desiring comes as a gift. It is a kindness that is given, a gift of ‘Grace and Peace’.
Quote to Consider
Our anguish plays out in our distorted images of our selves, our self-centered compulsions, our need to control, and our illusions about what makes us feel we are accepted or important. In all of this, grace is at the heart of deep change. Roger Heuser
Photo Credit: The hills are alive* via Compfight cc