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I went to an event last weekend that gave me a lot to think about and I’ve been meaning to blog about it ever since. Blogging helps me to clarify my thoughts. It’s in writing that I pull lots of threads together. But I haven’t because this has been an odd week and every time I started writing I ground to a halt in minutes. Things still feel odd to me now and it’s very hard to write but these things have been bubbling away for a long time so I have to write and just accept that what emerges could be disjointed.

I realised last night that I’m experiencing a certain amount of derealisation. I’m not a huge fan of jargon but it’s easier tonight than detail. I am disconnected to everything around me, things just aren’t quite real. I can’t talk, I don’t want to talk. I just want to be cuddled all the time. Yesterday I cuddled in my friend’s arms and was content to just be there and let myself drift.

So I’m playing a game of connect the dots. What has brought me here? I’ve been worrying impressively recently, mostly about my job. This is a big step for me and it’s just beginning to sink in that I’m in quite a responsible and high profile position in the university now. So I worry. Of course I worry, it’s what I do. But I remember my therapist positing the theory that I worry because it’s my default nature, I’ve been doing it so long that I buy into it instantly. Worry about something –> try to work out what I’m worrying about –> fail to find anything –> search harder. Or worry about something –> try to work out what I’m worrying about –> find something –> search for reasons why this thing is the end of the world.

He suggested that perhaps I should change the nature of the search. Worry about something –> recognise that this is what I do –> search for evidence to support the theory that I have nothing to worry about. That was quite mind blowing to me. Look for all the things I’ve done well? Really?

He went a step further. He wondered if I worry to stop myself going to dark places I don’t want to visit. If I indulge in my well known habit, then I can avoid anything more unpleasant. What on earth could be more unpleasant than stomach-lurching fear? Well, at that time he asked me what was the hardest to bear – the constant worry or the grief I felt at the loss of loved ones from my life? Grief was worse. So I went round and round with the worry.

What could be worse than the constant worry now? It’s actually hard to pin down because I’ve been zoning out so effectively that I can’t see clearly, not always restricted to the metaphorical. The instant I finished the first sentence of this paragraph I spaced out. I’ve come back now but it’s like seeing something out of the corner of your eye that disappears when you try to focus on it.

God seems to be drawing my eye to it though. It was him who gave me some stuff to think about last weekend. And he prodded me again this morning during our sermon at church. He won’t let me forget, not completely anyway. Odd sentences strike me and penetrate this fog I’m in.

Jesus, you’re the author of my heart 
Told me you wanted every part 
And now my life and its demands 
Are resting safety in your hands

Every part. That’s what’s going underneath. Last week some words embedded themselves inside me:

What about now?

I was at the recording of a new album by Worship Central. I didn’t feel good and I remember becoming disconnected from what was going on around me. I warmed up as the evening went on and God spoke to me very clearly. It’s not that long since I noticed how distant I’ve been from God in the last few months. I have been mulling this over and asking God to bring me closer and to make me very distinctively his.

What about now?

Now I’ve been knocked flat? That’s the thing popping in and out of the corner of my vision. I feel like I’ve been knocked over and flattened. When I noticed the coolness in my spiritual life I was feeling good actually. MA over, new job, mental stability. So why? Why did this have to happen now? Surely I’m more useful to God as a stable human than as a mess? I can not go back there, I just can’t. That’s what’s worse than the constant worry. I want out. I want out enough to want to sleep forever, to never talk again, to never interact with this world or anything in it again.

What about now?

The words came back just as clearly this morning. I barely remember the sermon or much of the service but I remember listening intently to the pastor as he preached and suddenly the words blew into my life, parting the fog. It’s easy to say I want to put Jesus first in my life when I feel content and happy. What about when I’m fighting in a cage, when I can’t draw my gaze away from a terrible monster? But he won’t let go.

Rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

I do not want to hear this. But I can’t get away from it – my declarations of faith are worth nothing unless I still declare them when I’ve been knocked flat. I’m not saying God has caused me to slip recently, but I am saying that he wants every part of me even now and that my times of feeling like shit can be used to refine my faith.

My answer last week came gradually as the evening went on. What about now? Yes. I still want you to have every part. My answer was the same this morning. Nothing has changed. I’m still disconnected and struggling to make sense of what’s going on around me and inside me. My mind is sabotaging my life. The circle of panic, exhaustion and plain old feeling down has resulted in an unfortunately timed shutdown. So although I know I’ve told God I give him everything, I’m not sure what that means now because I’m too far away to connect those dots. A song tonight has poked its way into my consciousness so I’ll rely on someone else’s words and try to wait patiently for whatever comes next:

My life is up and it is down 
I try to keep both feet on the ground 
Your love is all that gets me through 
All I need on this earth is you

And I can hear your voice reciting:
“I’m here
I’m closer than your breath 

I’ve conquered even death 
I am still here 
And just like I was then 
You can’t remember when I was not here” 

Jesus, you’re the author of my heart 
Told me you wanted every part 
And now my life and its demands 
Are resting safety in your hands 

And I can hear your voice inviting:
“I’m here 
I’ll never leave your side 
My stubborn weary child 
I am still here 
Please let me lead you on 
Your race is already won 
I am your God”

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