In my world it seems like a big deal to be writing a post in 2015. I didn’t know if this blog was going to continue as The Hope Diaries once my year of Hope came to an end. I wasn’t sure if I would exist as a writer in 2015. That uncertainty was part of the process of the past year which has seen me grappling with complex issues of identity.
Up until mid-2013 I was a christian woman who had been in a seemingly solid marriage for many years with several children and decades of christian life, experience and leadership under my belt, along with career and a seemingly good life. I was heavily involved in my local church and had coped with very difficult circumstances with only one short-ish bout of depression 10 years previously to show for it.
In mid-2013 I became a woman involved with someone else’s husband.
By the end of 2013 I had ended the relationship with the other, but I also wanted to end my marriage.
At the start of 2014 I decided to stay in my marriage but only for as long as it would take to work out how to separate from my husband with limited damage to our children.
The identity questions came thick and fast. Had I become someone different because of what I had done or was my behaviour reflective of who I was? Could I still do what I did in my life before I became an ‘unfaithful wife’? Could I be part of the body of Christ in my local church ?
And what of all the things I realised about myself because of that relationship and its aftermath ? It is of course a cliché, but my relationship with the other had reminded me of who I am. Somehow years of complacency in marriage combined with the demands of motherhood and life had dulled everything to a beige hue, and it took another to see in me the colours that I had stopped seeing in myself. But given the context in which those things were remembered was it right to take them on and develop them or should I pack them away again so that they didn’t remind me of all that I had taken which was not mine to have?
Somehow, by holding on to Hope I made it to the end of 2014 still married to my husband. That was the greatest and most amazing identity to end the year with; I am still the wife of my husband; I am still within a family.
I ended 2014 recognising that I needed to choose to close the door on some things, and also knowing that it was time to begin to think about forgiving myself for my infidelity as part of accepting God’s promise that He makes all things new.
It was during the last week of the old year that my word for this year came to me.
I need to be rooted; with my feet in heaven and my head in the earth.
I have woken up to the foundational aspects of my character and soul and in this rooting I choose to acknowledge their centrality and importance, however awkward that may be for myself and others.
I need to be rooted in Christ – that is where I belong and it is where I will find my identity.
I need to be rooted in the bible – so that when the winds of emotion blow I find my stability at a deeper level; a safer level.
I need to be rooted in my present – in this life where I am a mother and wife and co-worker and daughter and sister and friend.
I need to be rooted in my town – not wishing I was somewhere else or wondering about might have beens.
And I need to be rooted in a worshipping community.
The answer to the question I posed above of ‘could I take my place in the local church’ has been a resounding No for the past year, and I really didn’t know where God might choose to root me again. Last night I remembered that the church I’ve stepped away from has an early quiet communion service and as it was being led today by a woman I deeply love I decided to go there.
As we came to share the bread and wine the celebrant prayed that we would;
‘set aside our feelings of guilt and unworthiness and accept this gift with joy’.
I have spent a year cowering under coverings of guilt and unworthiness. They have been heavy and cumbersome, but they seemed to be no more than I deserved. They made it harder to dance and they aided invisibility and stopped me from fitting in. I couldn’t go to church wearing those clothes. Surely people would know what I had done and would shun me?
Only this morning I realised that they are coverings created by me. By my feelings. They haven’t been put on to me by anyone. They certainly haven’t been put on me by God.
And this morning I heard Him tell me to take them off, and as I am rooting myself in Him and no-one else I began to listen.
Who am I at the start of 2015?
I’ve been told, even in these darker days, that I’m a bright light with the soul of a poet. I’m a writer and a curious questioner and a dreamer.
I want to live deeply in the Spirit in order that I can live in the immediacy of my surroundings and the world. I crave honesty and authenticity and I believe that life is so, so beautiful.
I want to take my place in the Kingdom and I want to share my bread with you.
And this is just the beginning.
Today, being Sunday, I am linking this post with the Give me Grace community hosted by Lisha Epperson. I love this linkup and I love the weekly reminder to focus on grace. #givemegrace
‘And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ Ephesians 3 v 17-19