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At Soul Survivor there are two main sessions every day, where everyone packs into this massive tent, sings, listens to talks and prays/gets prayed for. These sessions have two parts for me. The listening (and in my case, prolific note-taking) and the participating, which is the bit I often have trouble with.

I wanted to be out of sight, out of mind. I mentioned the shame I brought with me in my last post. Another word banging around my mind during the singing particularly, was containment. Most of my energy goes into containment, I continually work to clip myself so I don’t get laughed at or rebuked, and so that I can function without becoming overwhelmed by the shit my mind conjures up for me. The last thing I wanted was for my mum or my sisters or even my husband to see me lose control. I felt a whole bunch of stuff welling up inside me, preparing to erupt. So I had to contain it. And there was no way I was going to allow God to mess with that.

The lyrics in one of the songs we sang were “no more shame” and “overwhelm us”. I dutifully noted them down, because I did go to SS hoping that God would sort me out a bit, I just hoped he’d do it quietly, without frightening or embarrassing me. I wrote “overwhelm” down, repeating “no, no, no, no, no, no, no” to myself. Good luck, God.

Mike Pilavachi said a bunch of stuff that morning and I took my notes, which admittedly are looking a bit confused now. I think I wrote some of what he said and some of what my thoughts were about what he said, so I can’t quite figure out what was going on there! He said something about us being set free and I immediately asked, from what? Can I be set free from my illness? Or from something else? He said that Jesus wept. He saw pain and he knew that he was going to make things right but he cried anyway. He feels what I feel and he cries when I cry. Blimey, he must cry a lot then! Poor bloke.

But he also raised Lazarus from death. Mike spoke strongly, Jesus is not just love, he is also power. He weeps and raises the dead. I noted it down.

Mike also said (and I think the link is that Lazarus was Jesus’s friend) that Jesus wants to be my friend. He won’t humiliate me. He wants me. I can’t remember if those words were mine or Mike’s, but it’s what struck me anyway, knowing what steaming shit I carry around with me. And I smiled because I found out recently that one of the women in our group said that if I lived nearer her she reckons I’d be one of her best friends. That made me feel really happy because I don’t really understand why someone would want to be friends with me. Even though I have some evidence to the contrary, I think people just kind of put up with me, laughing about me or rolling their eyes when my back’s turned. So when he said that Jesus wants to be my friend I thought that this is like that woman wanting to be friends with me, but way better. As I was told a few months ago, “how much he must love you if I love you just this little amount”.

Moving on, and I’ve forgotten the link this time. When God told Moses that he was to lead his people out of captivity Moses was well freaked. Who am I to do this? And God didn’t answer that question. He said “I will be with you”. It must have been quite annoying actually, to ask a question and have someone answer a different one.

I’m looking at this post and it seems bitty, but that’s how the week was. Lots of bitty things, which exploded. It’s like I could see electric blue lines running between all the different bits and I just had to sit back and see what happened.

So I was sitting there and taking notes and thinking this is kind of interesting. And then I could have killed Mike. The format of these sessions is usually a load of singing followed by a talk followed by a response to the talk, along with a load more singing. That response bit freaked me out quite a lot the first time I went because it’s proper charismatic stuff. People get a bit Pentecostal and I want to tell them to get a grip and remember we’re in England. Actually this year was quite a bit calmer most of the time, less noise. Mike will pick on a group of people, like those with health problems, or addiction, or baby Christians, or tired youth leaders. And this time it was those who’ve had a really bad year. Those who’ve found life really hard and feel they’ve been set back, who are still finding it hard, life is still horrible. He instructed those people to go to the front to be prayed for.

It’s interesting to note that massive amounts of people starting trailing to the front. Mike was visibly taken aback and emotional.

All I heard in my head was swearing. Shit fucking bollocks fuck fuck fuck. Are you fucking kidding me, God?? The first morning? Seriously? Couldn’t you have fucking picked on someone else? FFS. But I walked to the front because I knew I fitted into that group. This year has been relentlessly shit and I do feel that I’ve been set back, emotionally, mentally, functionally, spiritually. I was so grumpy about it, glowering, arms folded across my chest, swearing under my breath the whole way. So much for not making a spectacle of myself! Everyone in our group saw me go. FFS.

All that happened was that as soon as I got to the front I started my period! (Sorry, TMI) I felt it and became even more grumpy, hating every minute I was there, knowing I wasn’t in a mess yet but really could do with going to the loo. So I did. I walked away, sorted myself out and joined everyone else for the rest of the singing. Some of the words were about obedience and trust and I asked myself, does what I did even count? Did walking to the front and being grumpy and swearing and leaving within minutes count as being obedient? Oh well, I reasoned. I went. It’ll have to do. If God’s not happy with it he can sod off.

I’m such an awesome Christian. Touch me, I’m so holy.

Later on I went to the loo (sorry for all the loo mentions in this post) and had a thought while I was sitting there. Then I remember thinking I should take a notebook with me to the loo. It’s the only time I get any peace at SS, maybe that’s why I had the thought. Mike said that Moses asked the wrong question. Who am I? Why’d you pick me to do this? I’ve got a stutter, FFS, and you want me to go talk to Pharaoh? I thought during my toilet reflections that I might have been asking the wrong question. In my conversations with God, my question is this: but what about my borked brain? That question is always there. It’s never been directly mentioned by God. It feels circumnavigated. Like Moses. More song words:

So have no fear
He is alive
He is with us

I’m on a roll now so I’ll keep writing but I’ll leave this post there. It’s over 1,100 words and I really think blogposts should have a limit somewhere.