Friday, 23 January 2009


Tonight, sitting alone in the lounge, I cried. I had spent all of this evening at home, watching TV, and watching the news, I I suddenly realised how terrifying the prospect of growing up in this world really is.

And actually, sitting here crying, I could think of no friends who I thought could help me. I longed to run to my Father and to hide behind his legs and cling to him for dear life. I longed for him to wrap his arms around me and let me know that it was all going to be okay. I longed for some sense of not being completely alone. Because I just didn't know how to cope with it.

Thoughts of not wanting to go on anymore plagued me constantly as the reams of news reports and current 'crises' ran through my mind. I thought of the implications of having to grow old in a world like this. But most of all, I desperately clung to the tip of my Fathers coat like a small child reaching for safety.

Sunday, 18 January 2009


When it came to sharing testimonies on the Thursday, (as is the tradition on Training Week) it was a massively emotional time for me and for the rest of the group as well. As we shared with each other the deep hurts and vulnerabilites that we had all mostly hidden until then, we became a group. We cried together. We laughed together. And we shared in that deep and personal bond that only occurs when we realise how truly broken and vulnerable we all are. That is the kind of unity that comes from Christ, and I think Paul talks about a lot in his letters to the various churches.

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.
Honor one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
[Romans 12:9-13 NIV]

So I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't be afraid to be open. Through our sufferings, we learn to have fellowship with Christ. We share in the pain and death of each other, and together we share in that which He endured.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Box: Prt 2

N.B. continued from Part 1 ...

I sat alone in the chapel for a long time after the evening worship finished, reasoning desperately with God to take away the darkness that I felt inside. We sat in the worshipful silence for a long time together, and finally, I realised that I needed to write the feelings as they came to me. As I started writing, a song started playing that goes like this:

"What a friend I've found, closer than a brother
I have felt your touch, more intimate than lovers
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, friend forever

What a hope I've found, more faithful than a mother
It would break my heart, to ever lose each other
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, friend forever."

And as it played, I began to cry. Not bucket loads, but a gentle flow of tears. And that's when I knew it had begun. It was the first time I had cried in about four and a half months, and I was so relieved. As I let the tears fall, I began to write, and write: all those things that felt as raw and as heartbreaking as on the day they happened. For over an hour, I sat with God and I poured my heart out onto paper. I picked at every memory, and ripped it from my box. And I ended up with about 9 pages worth of feelings and emotions and memories that I hadn't really thought about in a long long time.

Over the next few days, I typed up and added to what I had written, and I found that the more I wrote, the better I felt. It was, one of the hardest things I have probably ever had to write. But it was also completely necessary and useful. There was no way that I could have gone on much longer with those things inside of me, because they held me back so much from being the person that God wants me to be. There was far too much of Ami-then trying to dictate how the Ami-now behaved. And it just wasn't working.

Coming back to Avenue, I shared the stuff I wrote with Phil and Rachel. And for once in my life, for those moments afterwards when they talked to me, I didn't feel like I was holding anything back. I could look them in the eye, and I could smile, without feeling ashamed or guilty or unworthy. It was amazing, and I want more of that. I don't want to have a past that I am ashamed of. Because I've realised that everything that happened back then, it made me who I was today. Not in the bad way, but in the sense that I can be strong, because I have endured. I can be sure, because I have been restored. I can be beautiful, because I am shining with the light of God's glory.

No more boxes.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Box: Prt 1

N.B. (I realised how long this entry was going to be, so I've split it.) I guess sometimes it is necessary to go back for a while before you can move forward. I've been at Training Week. Its been amazing.

On Tuesday evening, Andy Clarke was leading the worship, and towards the end of the response he said about letting things go. Forgetting the things that God wants you to let go of. It was kind of ironic, because I was still struggling with the last thing that God has asked me to do, and it was pretty much the opposite. I shall explain.

Back in August last year, I felt God telling me that it was time that I went back and faced all the things that I had been locking away in that box in the back of my mind that very rarely got opened. He wanted me to clear it out, throw everything away, because He didn't want me clinging to it anymore. He decided that it was time to start the healing process, but He couldn’t do that until I brought it out into the open where it could be seen. (I guess now I realise what that analogy Kat had a year ago was all about.) Knowing the reason why I had originally put all those things into that box in the first place meant that I did not want to open it. The whole point of putting it in a box was so that it could be locked away and never brought out, surely?

If I'm honest, I was terrified that if I really looked into that deep pit of hurt and pain that I knew was inside of me, I would fall in. And as September approached, and with it the thought of returning to Avenue, I really began to feel the pressure of what God had asked me to do. How could I bring into the open things that ran deep within my conscience and unconscience thoughts, the very root of why I am the way I am and why I react to so many things? More scarier than that, was the thought of having to share all those things with people that I love dearly, and that I work with every day. What if they rejected me? What if they didn't understand? I had no idea how I was going to do it, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted them to know the truth about me, because I wanted them to know who I REALLY was, not just the person that hid behind a mask all the time.

I had been struggling all summer with things, and I reached the point where I just needed to get it all out of me. I needed to know that I wasn't alone, and that I had people who could support me and be there for me when the time came for me to face all of those fears. And so when it came to returning to Southend in September, I arranged to talk with Phil and Rachel, so that I could share with them some things that I had only shared with a few people since moving to Southend. When it came to it, I managed to share a small, but honest part of my journey, and I am so glad that I did, because instead of finding rejection like has happened so many times in the past, I found some friends who were willing to walk the road with me.

As the days went on, I began to struggle more and more with what God was asking me to do. I fought to stay as far away from the dark abyss of unknown hurts that I possibly could. I struggled a lot in those few months, not wanting to look too closely at the darkness, and yet needing desperately to clear it out of me. I walked around it for a long time, feeling the darkness closing in around me, and only dared a few times to lean over the edge to look inside. The scariest part was probably not ever knowing how I was really feeling. Good times could come crashing down around me within minutes, and I never knew why. Intense feelings of anxiety and fear would overcome me, and being unable to cry, my stomach would just tie itself into knots, and I would lay awake desperately trying to gather my thoughts.

Chatting to Jo/Emma online throughout September/October, they both helped me to discover more of what God was really asking me to do. They helped me to realise that the fear of falling into my abyss was greater than what would actually happen if I did. That in order to clean it out and move forward, at some point I would probably have to allow myself to fall in, and to explore all the things that were hiding there in the darkness, stirring up emotions that I didn't understand and grabbing at strands of recollective memory in order to bring my world crashing down into the darkness. (I guess it was working.)

But, ever since then I had been falling through the darkness of the world inside my head that no-one ever gets to see and attempting desperately to see those things that lurked in the shadows. It'd been really hard trying to discover the things that lay at the root, and often I felt like I was hitting a brick wall when I tryed to explore deeper the reasons why I did things. So when Andy told us that it was time to forget all those things, I just couldn't, because I knew I needed to remember them and get them out of me first.

continued in Part 2...

Friday, 2 January 2009


N.B. I'll take this time to say that I hope everyone had a good Christmas and New Year. I know that circumstances often lead to a lot of people feeling worse over the last few weeks than they normally do, and I know how much that sucks. So to those people, I give my condolences.

I've been sitting here for a while wondering what to put in my Christmas/New Year blog, and I find that so often at this time of year, the tendency is one of two things, a) to look back at the time that has passed and rejoice on the good times and console ourselves that the bad times have gone, or b) to look ahead to the future and expect better times; hope for better times; and prepare ourselves willfully to survive all that might come our way. And although in essence, I have done both of these things recently, I would like to take a moment to pause in the here and now and reflect on just these last few hours.

I went for a walk down the sea front today, and took some photos of the murky water as the sun faded away behind the blanket of clouds. It wasn't any kind of spectacular sunset, the sky remained a dull white as it began to fall through the darkness into the night. I spent quite a bit of time sitting on some steps that led down into the water, watching the lapping waves and listening as families passed on the road behind me. And as night fell, I found an overwhelming urge to just sit, and to just be myself, alone with my thoughts, as scary as that is for me sometimes.

For a while I sat and watched some birds hopping along the tips of the groynes that remained above the water. And as I drifted into thinking, I saw there an invitation to go deeper, a calling that under the surface of that salty liquid was an experience beyond anything I could ever imagine. It was a bewildering feeling that overtook me in those few minutes, when I saw an end to the feelings that build up inside me as if I were drowning in that place. And for a while, the loneliness of sitting there excited me, and goaded me to enter that murky water as if nothing else mattered.

But when I closed my eyes and thought of those times in the Philippines when I sat and watched the sun set over the beach; when I ignored the bitter wind, dropping temperatures and the sight of Kent across the water, then for a minute or so, I could actually believe that I was back there once again, and that behind the dusky mist that lay on the horizon was actually the sight of mountains and palm trees and the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. In my minds eye, I had entered the world in which I found so much within myself, and where I began to lay my anger to rest. I was back in that place where I accepted that God would be with me always, even when I try to chase Him away. And within those minutes of believing I was there again, I found a peace that calmed my raging fears. I found a home that beckoned my return, and I found a reason to carry on.

Just before I travelled to the Philippines last year, I wrote a blog, in which I reflected on some things that were affecting me, and how they had, in one way or another, found their resolution. And so I shall end this blog with the same words. 2009 is ready to begin. It will bring its challenges, and it will bring its joys. I shall take each as it comes. Life is a continuous journey, and we must not dwell too much on what is behind us, for that has gone, nor what will come ahead of us, for the challenge is not in path ahead, but in the momentary step. There will be times when old wounds come to the surface needing to be healed. There will be times when pleasure is cut short by sorrow. But every day has a sunset, and the morning brings the sunrise.