When life sucks

I can no longer apologise for, or shrink away from, self-expression. Be it public or private. This is who I am. This is how I survive and this is how I connect to others. My life has been really hard – from the beginning.

Mostly, the battle has been mental and I spent years undiagnosed, misunderstood and untreated. Despite circumstances people would long to have, I was tormented inwardly and bullied outwardly. I didn’t know I had OCD and that these random, terrible thoughts were normal for this condition. I thought I was evil and spent a lot of time confessing and trying to atone. Religious ritual and OCD don’t necessarily go well together.


My period of breakthrough came from 14-17. I found confidence, I talked with God, I made so many friends and was chosen by the very ones who had hurt me to be Head Girl of Tauranga Girls’ College. Then came burnout, then came the virus, then came the post-viral syndrome that has carried on for 23 years. And with that came the disappointment of ‘failing’ in the eyes of myself and in the eyes of others.

After this last medicine contraindication, I was tested to the absolute maximum of my limits. Like Lauren Daigle sings, I whispered underneath my breath that I have nothing left. I have been left traumatised that this can happen to a person (again). Trapped in my head, nothing being real, disconnection, severe depression, severe anxiety, fatigue, total and utter despair. Yes, brain chemistry can do that. I have tried to paint my life light pink with a bow on, looking for every bit of good (and there have been good times). But underneath is a broken-down, rusty piece of machine just hanging in there. I’m so very bone weary.

And I’m not going to go ‘yes but this good thing happened so it’s all OK’. It’s not OK. And I realised that I don’t have to pretend that this piece of machinery will ever be beautiful. It sucks. I’m angry. I’m angry that I can’t catch a break. I’m grieving. I need to grieve what living that machine has done to me. Life can have ugly parts.

But I must say, I know the thing that allows me to keep on keeping on – everything that this machine went through made me who I am today; empathetic, compassionate, strong-willed, a lover of people, creative, a lover of Christ, myself. I am no longer the machine, I am the outcome and I am proud of the outcome for the most part.

I might have unfairly lost my health, my figure, my youth, my children, my scholarships and awards, my travel, my reputation for being fun but intelligent and stable. But I gained who I am. And I would never give that up. Andrew has been dragged through a lot of this secondhand. Yet he still stands and is also becoming himself. All the beautiful gifts that people fortunate enough to know him, receive. This is not a cry for help but a line in the sand – a life statement.

And God, he’ll send an army for me.

P.S. Below is my my representation of this situation (and please be assured it has nothing to do with the breast cancer survival ribbon!).

27Tracey Egerton, Emma Baker and 25 others18 CommentsLikeCommentShare

When Christians aren’t Christ

I want to make an unreserved apology to all of you out there who have been affected by, hurt by, offended by, hated by and judged by ‘Christians’.

I used to be one of those religious Christians who ran around trying to save the world from ‘Hell’.  I did it for the good of their souls.  They had to know the truth.  I alienated and hurt dear friends. I was a hypocrite.  I didn’t understand what it was like NOT to be a Christian.

My only certainty right now is that I follow the Red Letters – the words that were recorded as the words Jesus actually spoke (and they are in red in most Bibles), and the man who spoke them – Jesus Christ.

Among them are:


Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (RSV)

Matthew 7:2: “For by the standard you judge you will be judged, and the measure you use will be the measure you receive.” (RSV)
Matthew 7:3: “Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own?”(RSV)

Matthew 7:4: “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while there is a beam in your own?” (RSV)

Matthew 7:5: “You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (RSV)

 

Jesus is clearly asking that we not judge others but instead look at ourselves and see what might be wrong with us. Unfortunately, judgement is what I see a lot of in Christian communities.  Some of us, as Christians, think we have the right to pass judgement on the ‘sins’ of others and make them feel less than good enough.  I’ve done it and it’s NOT OK.

Why does the word ‘Christian’ often have so many bad connotations?  I, myself, immediately think of extreme politics, staunch, gun-toting republicans, weird healing meetings, a church where we were told what the truth was – not the actual interpretation of the scripture in the original language or context but how it appears in English on the page, I think of 24-hour prayer meetings, Holy Spirit ‘drunk’ nights, deliverance, heavy-handedness, pseudo-professionalism and so much more.  Isn’t that sad? And I do call myself a Christian. I am not saying 24-hour prayer meetings are bad either, but that what we do is not motivated out of duty or fear, but by love.

But there is something I want you to know.  Christians are human – just like you and I. We make some terrible mistakes and we are often given an even worse name by some people who use God as a mask or a weapon to abuse, degrade and condemn.

But can I let you in on a little secret?  I fricken LOVE Jesus.  I would not be the Anna I am, the Anna I want to be, without him.  I just love him because he is so real.  I am going to take a risk here and trust that you are thinking creatures so I can do something Jesus said not to do which was to ‘cast your pearls’ (your most treasured things) before those who won’t understand. Because I hope you will understand.

You will hear me talk about Jesus. You just will.  I used to have night terrors and visitations by black beings when I was a small child.  Dad told me to tell them to go away in the name of Jesus and they did! But it left me very scared.  One night, when I was about three, I had my night-light on and I was very much awake.
I looked up to see the man whom I knew to be Jesus and he audibly spoke to me, saying ‘go to sleep, Anna.’  Not exactly what I was hoping for but I cried out to my Dad and asked if people had seen him before and apparently people had.  The sense of his power and presence has never fully left me. From that day to this, 34 years on, I don’t want to leave the side of my best friend – Jesus. The one who has loved me and chastised me and given me grace.  We have only grown in our friendship and he is altogether beautiful.
I can’t explain why he doesn’t stop horrible things from happening (apart from free will) but I say ‘sh*t happens, but Jesus is always there.’

I hope that one day you have the pleasure of meeting this beautiful person.  I will be speaking about him because it’s like talking about your best mate so please don’t be freaked out by what is very normal to me.  I have had to find Jesus and negotiate my faith by myself to find out what I truly believe, and I’m still learning! But I pray that I will not judge you or make you to feel anything other than worthy – because you are.

I know I run the risk of sounding like I am judging other Christians and I do run the risk of sounding hypocritcal and mean-spirited but I have been those things.   I also know some AMAZING followers of Christ (and some who don’t) who have been like Christ to me on this earth and who have given up everything to help themselves and others.

So Christian or not, may you be blessed and may you find a little of the true Christ in this world.

Much love,

 

Anna

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