I haven’t wanted to write much in the past week. I’ve had an urge to hide away and become invisible. I didn’t feel able to put my life out in a space where others could see it.
I’m not altogether sure why I’ve felt like that but it may be to do with the range of issues I’m dealing with right now. If I stop to think about them for too long they become overwhelming, both in the joy and the pain.
This morning I went to church again and as I joined in with the sung worship I knew that tears were coming. Once they started they would not stop; each song leading to a fresh surge. A friend had slipped into the back row beside me, and without even glancing in my direction her arm went round me; I relaxed into the tears and stopped trying to hold them back.
I was crying for the pain of my child. I was crying for other situations of need within my extended family. I was crying because the election in the UK this week has left me concerned for the way the poor and marginalised will be treated in my country. I was crying because yesterday I did new things, with new people, and through it all my husband was with me, and as we finally went to bed in the early hours of this morning he whispered, “I am so proud of you”, and I knew how loved I am within my marriage. I cried because returning to church is painful. I cried because as the church celebrated a week of community engagement, I had no idea what had taken place because I still am in some sort of self imposed hiding. I cried because I am still hurt and wounds haven’t yet healed. I cried because God loves me. I cried because He understands. I cried because I’m forgiven by the maker of the universe and He wants me to be in His Kingdom. I cried because I want to be salt and light and the job is so big and I am just one person.
The music and the tears ended and the preacher began to speak. Maybe I have heightened sensitivities right now, but within minutes I was wincing at the ‘in/ out’ type language, and the sexist jokes (against men on this occasion) . I got up and left the service. I couldn’t leave completely as my children were elsewhere in the building so I found an empty room and began to pour my feelings onto the pages of my journal,
‘God I want to be part of the church but does it have to be this one? Must it look like this?’
I felt so alone in that moment. There I was, making a determined effort to return to the worshipping community I’d been part of, and yet it was proving so difficult. Was this really what God was asking of me? Did He understand just how tough this was?
My phone buzzed to alert me to a new email. It was from a fellow blogger – someone I’ve never met, but who shares a story with similarities to my own. She had sent me an image.
“This is for you. We all got one at church this morning, but it made me think of you. I’ve missed you around. I wish I could send you one.Thinking and praying for you.”
“I can’t download the image… I have no idea what it is but I know that it is God letting me know that He sees me sitting alone here – so desperately wanting to be part of church, but finding it so impossible as well.”
Later I saw the image.
She wrote to me ,
“You are family in Christ. Massive hugs to you. God will wipe your tears. Stand strong… He sees you. God sees you and loves you.”
I believe it. I believe God does see and know. He is there. He can prompt someone I have never even met or spoken with to send me an email at the moment I’ve just told Him I feel alone and unable to keep going with what I think He’s called me to.
My belief in God is not because the bible tells me He’s there, or because the church says I should. I believe because daily He gets involved in my life, and demonstrates his profound, unchanging and intimate love.
I’m a mess.
A crying, tired, sometimes despairing, sometimes joyful, brave mess.
And I am loved by God.