Entire of itself (Island -Daily prompt).

The poet John Donne once proclaimed”No man is an island, entire of itself”. Poetry can be a tricky thing to interpret. Is a poem meant to be read in a literal sense or is it merely symbolism to convey an idea or subject the author is pondering? We can never know for definite and that is one of the things I love about poetry and art. It is left to our subjectivity and the interpretation we choose. 

However in this case I think by reading further on Donne is merely saying that we’re not meant to live our lives alone. We’re meant to live in community with others and it’s only when we have that interaction we are truly ourselves.

The Bible speaks of us being members of one body, again portraying how necessary we are to each other and it speaks of us rubbing each other’s rough edges off”as iron sharpens iron”.

The truth is we need each other. I’ve said many times I’m an introvert. I find small talk painful. I don’t find social occasions easy. Often, even with people I know well I stand there frantically searching my mind for something to talk about.

But I try to persist because I value the people in my life, past and present, whether I have the courage to voice it or not.

I’m grateful for women who came alongside me in my lowest moments of depression. These women sat with me when I was afraid to sit alone. These women shopped for me so I didn’t have to think about what to feed my children and cooked for me too. They sat and sorted and folded my laundry pile when it was stressing me out to look at it. These women and men came up trumps the last few years when money was tight and the future looked precarious and uncertain.

Food gifts would appear on our doorsteps, money and coffee gift cards through our letterbox. They walked the walk. They showed they cared.

I’m grateful for those whose preaching I sat under, those friends who opened up the word and things of God to me, in church and in their homes. I’m grateful for the times of fellowship that went along with these times and the many people who fed our large family.

I’m grateful for the people who trusted me with duties and roles in the church and in the job world and painstakingly encouraged me the very many times I doubted myself and if I actually had anything to offer.

There were times as a teenager I felt I could die from loneliness, despite being surrounded by friends.

I felt like that island. Alone and isolated. Cut off from people and land. Left to fend for myself.

Today I live in a house populated by a small army I created myself, as the saying goes. I know every parent says it and thinks it but my kids are amazing.

All different characters, all different traits, all good at different things but all kind and helpful and loving. Don’t get me wrong, we have all the sibling rivalries and arguments and family dramas but we are a unit, a stronghold. And on the days I am seeking a little peace and a little solitude and the only place I can find it is the lavatory(normally with someone banging on the door asking if I’ve almost finished!) I reflect on the fact that I need these people. I’m not an island and I’m glad of that.
Till next time.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/island/

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Nothing a glass of wine can’t solve?

The last time I suffered from depression a good friend of mine told me ” to put my feet up with a glass of wine and some chocolate and a new book and I’d soon feel much better” .

I know she meant well but it wasn’t as simple as that. I wish it had been….

For her , when she got an occasional touch of the blues those were the methods that worked for her. Spoiling herself, giving herself a treat.

Thankfully it’s been a long time since I was that prone to depression but I still suffer an occasional case of the blues. It’s usually only a couple of sad days and I feel it before it hits. There isn’t always an obvious reason it occurs….

To be truthful  I don’t have a set way of dealing with the blues. Different measures work at different times. Sometimes I try to get away for a little “me” time. Sometimes getting out in the fresh air for a brisk walk helps.

The only thing I try to remember each time this happens is that this feeling won’t last and I won’t always feel this way. That usually brings me through.

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Image from Pinterest .http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/prompt-singing-the-blues/

A New Year’s Eve Retrospective.

Forgive me because I know your reader will be full of blog posts like this but the end of this year wouldn’t be complete, for me, without a backward glance at 2013.

I think I will christen 2013 as the year of surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant.

January 2013 saw me in a totally different place to the view that is now mine to gaze upon. We were an averagely content family who were of the belief that our major trials were hopefully behind us . We had found and committed to a church that felt like home, we were living in a beautiful house, my husband had an ok job that came with a few bugbears but we were learning ways around them and how to put up with them.

The first 6 months of the year were pretty much the same as usual for us.

In July just before the Summer holidays my husband lost his job in terrible circumstances, the repercussions of which we are still coping with.

In a way, I have grieved for my former life. The whole gamut from disbelief, anger, and finally acceptance.

The same time this was happening things were stirring under the surface of our church life too. This eventually, sadly led to the resignation of our pastor and our own leaving the church.

This situation is in the process of being resolved and we are settling elsewhere.

Someone has made a spoof of the poem “desiderata” which reads “if you can keep your head while those around you weep you’ve obviously misread the situation”!.

At times I have felt that applied to myself. Things that should have shaken and rocked the core of our marriage have actually served to strengthen it. My husband has been able to have an abundance of time to spend with me and the children and it’s been amazing.

Those things that were meant for harm that are written off in the bible, God has used for good and to refine us. Why should we accept good from Him and not trouble?

Some wonderful friends of ours have seen to it that we’ve been kept supplied with the necessities like food but also luxuries like coffee shop vouchers. We’ve even been blessed with free firewood.

We may not have had all we wanted but we have had what we’ve needed.

To end this before you lose interest, in September I began this blog and it’s been a lifeline in itself in keeping my spirits up.

My most successful post was “Can Christians suffer from depression?”. This post had the most views. It’s also one of the posts I’m most proud of.

Just as an aside, people from all walks of life suffer from this tenacious disease. In the church particularly, it may not always be the ones you suspect.

We have learned to wear our masks well and aren’t usually sitting in the corner crying. In fact we are usually the ones who are fairly extrovert, friendly people who you think have it all together.

It’s an illusion of course.

It only remains for me to wish you a Happy New Year for 2014 and to thank you, once again for reading my blog.

Till next time.

Can Christians suffer from depression?

I am aware this is a topical subject at the moment, particularly in the light of such cases as the suicide of Rick Warren’s son Matthew recently. Before you read on it might be helpful to know that I will not be able to give you an unbiased opinion on the matter having suffered from depression myself.

I believe there is a difference from having a case of the blues for a few days and a full-blown case of depression. The one you could eventually perhaps talk yourself out of or be talked out of, the other is completely the opposite. Whether you believe that depression is a chemical or hormonal imbalance or simply a natural response to a tragic set of circumstances, depression is no respecter of persons. It can strike at any time. Rich, poor, celebrity, unknown, old, young, Christian or non-Christian. People who would say otherwise are people pleasers or partial truth speakers.

It is true to say that in most cases there is some sort of trigger that seems to set it off but not always. My own bouts of depression were baby related or supposed illness related. There seems to be a school of thought that godly men and women cannot be affected. This is categorically untrue. A person’s position in life does not protect or safeguard them from going through such things. In fact, if you look at the bible and some of the characters of the Old Testament particularly, we see indications of depression in both Job and King David’s lives.

Some Christians would tell you that it is wrong for Christians to be depressed, that it is a result of sin, or looking away from God, or being self-indulgent or not having enough faith. This is rubbish. My husband often says that the problem with the illness of depression is that there are no outward symptoms of it, unlike a broken leg where you can see the actual injury. Therefore some Christians do not believe in it. This is terribly unfair. Yes, as Christians we have God on our side and we can reach out to Him in prayer etc but the trouble is many of us leave it too late and by then there is no quick fix, not that I believe there is one anyway.

All I know is when I was at my lowest God felt far away. The huge black pit I felt I was in was too deep to climb out of. It is an awful way to feel and something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I would have done anything, taken any pill to make myself feel better. Believe me, no one wants to feel that way.  It is not something you can persuade yourself out of.

It grieves me to the core that we can look at our fellow Christians and think we have a right to judge them . That saying about not judging someone till you walk a mile in their shoes has a lot of truth in it. People that are depressed need love and support, not criticism and gossip. Sometimes it can take such a small thing to tip you over the edge. Also telling a depressed person they shouldn’t be feeling the way they are then piles on feelings of guilt too, and they have enough to cope with already.

I feel Pastor’s and leaders are in a particularly vulnerable position because they lead such stressful lives and have so many plates to spin. A recent survey I read(can’t remember where unfortunately) indicated that 70% of Christians(it may have been just Pastors) will suffer from depression at some point.

If all this is not painting an attractive picture of God then I apologise. There is no doubt He is able to heal someone from anything including depression but the harsh fact is sometimes he seems to allow such things for His own purpose. Not because He is unjust or uncaring though. Indeed He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother.

The reality is we live in a broken and fallen world and original sin has consequences. Just because we are Christians does not make us immune to trouble. Jesus said ” In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world”. Not you might have trouble but you will!

Sometimes it seems, for all of us, life just sucks and a quick, Get over it, pull yourself together is not helpful.

I am blessed to be the other end of the tunnel now but I’m not naive enough to think I will never experience it again. I do recognise the warning signs now though. We need to be real and deal with life the way it is and not how we would like it to be. It will never be perfection this side of Heaven.

Life is messy and hard and frustrating but there are some beautiful rainbows in the midst.

Till next time.

PS I have not given advice on how to overcome depression because I feel  unqualified, I can only speak from my personal experience.