Retreat (part 4) Body and soul

The morning after the night before – feeling better, but not feeling good.  Face to face with the underbelly of my life, the shadow-side, the struggles and failures.

Physical pain and frailty affect mood and emotions and vice versa. Usually it’s aIMG_3807 combination difficult to disentangle. Having had the ‘scab’ ripped off – as it were – I was feeling sore. My mind was full of all the tragedy and loss, my immaturity and shortcomings, the barrenness… moan and groan.  Now I was facing the whole truth of my life. I’d been here before and it can be a sink-hole leading to despair. The point is: THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAVED FROM! It isn’t easy to make the choice to start looking up, but the point of the gospel is that God knows we can’t change ourselves and isn’t looking for perfection: that’s why he sent Jesus! I eventually realised it is a form of pride to want to be good, to feel that I am good… it’s a dead-end. Just accept yourself, ‘warts and all’ – because the good news is, God does! YES, I am a broken woman with a stained record, but as in Ezekiel 16 the Lord passed by and picked me up, washed and anointed me, dressed me in beautiful clothes… amazing but true!

IMG_3602Again Glen helped as he encouraged me to focus on things I am grateful for… Thankfulness, that incredible key to life. Some may call it ‘positive thinking’ – it’s certainly about focussing on positives… I have been depressed for years, on medication since Sam’s diagnosis in 2010. My emotions don’t respond normally, it’s hard to feel positive and as I said the tears are very close. But somehow as I started to look at my Saviour and recognise once more His love and grace I found a song rising within – a real response of gratitude. It is all about accepting things, really, having the humility to say, ‘I can’t do it – but You have loved me anyway’.  Jesus identified with us, suffered with us, took it all on, understands – and doesn’t judge us, but shows us the way through.  I had to repent and turn to Him again, and as I honestly did that my mood lifted 🙂

God is only looking for honesty, you know – for the humility that says ‘I need You’. He’s not asking for “sorry, sorry sorry” and hair-shirts and whips and penance, but just for us to confess, own up, stop pretending, refuse to hide and cover up. We are called to ‘walk in the light’ with each other too – imagine that! Total openness and accountability with others, no self-protection and projections of persona. That’s what God’s family is supposed to be like, demonstrating love to the world  – with God Himself as the eternal Father who loves their child whatever they’re like, always ready to embrace when his wayward son comes home or his daughter admits her shame. Bad behaviour is forgiven when we repent and enormous loads are removed from our shoulders.  “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden…” said Jesus, or as The Message translation says:Screen Shot 2018-09-22 at 08.48.17

a sky full of swooping swallows. Light, joy and clarity – and feeling small

Having faced the whole truth and gone through my low point I rediscovered the grace of God. It was time to stop navel-gazing and look up. Time to change some bad habits too – which is what repentance is – ‘turn round and change your ways’. My physical exhaustion, aches and pains had been improving as I was actually resting. I realised my back pain was so much better that I hadn’t had to take any painkillers for it – just through resting. Which meant that all the pushing through and keeping going had made it a lot worse. Which meant that for the past 2 months I had been pretty stupid, refusing to curtail activities to allow myself to heal, not looking after myself properly!  Perhaps this is another symptom of pride, not accepting the limitations of ageing, insisting we can still do what we did when we were young…   Seems to me getting older is all about learning to die by degrees – to let go, accept loss, yield.

But at last I was at peace, body and soul, no longer weeping or striving, able to hold in tension both sides of my story, the terrible losses and difficulties and the redemptive grace and blessings. I was sobered but relieved to be completely known yet utterly accepted and loved. I had even been able to make some practical lifestyle decisions, straight paths for my feet’ for the coming months. I wouldn’t have missed this rediscovery of salvation – setting straight my crookedness and refocussing my faith – for anything.

And there were still another 24 hours to go!



3 thoughts on “Retreat (part 4) Body and soul

  1. As I sit on my bed, icing my injured foot, I take your wisdom about resting properly with a new weight. It’s so hard to stop trying to do things- we worry what will happen to us, how even recovery will change us. It takes guts and insight to ‘go another way’ and trust that there’s light down that path too. I really need to relearn that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interestingly Saturday my friendly Jehovah’s witnesses came (will tell you more about that relationship another day!) and as they were leaving he said they were sharing 1 Peter 5:6-7 with people
    “Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he might lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties onto him because he cares for you”. Then later in the day I read this from you and to me the 2 just fitted together.
    Also what you have written and this verse are really helping me to sort out how I deal with some tough decisions here with the Castle, etc.

    And did you get Abbey of the Arts email this week? That, I think, fits in the with looking at God, being grateful and trusting him
    love you XX


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