Time to get up off the mat.

Somehow it’s been eleven months since I last wrote a blog post. 2022 has been a full on year; I started a new job in January and it was very much a ‘in at the deep end’ sort of experience. Even though I’ve still been part time, with two very full on preschoolers I’ve struggled to find much headspace. In the spring I preached at church a couple of times so I consoled myself I hadn’t been able to write because I was prepping a preach instead. But the preaches felt hard as I was snatching moments and although I didn’t disgrace myself it just felt I hadn’t been able to give my best. My last preach was Easter Day which was a privilege but I haven’t accepted an invitation to preach since for a number of different reasons. And despite having various thoughts I’ve wanted to write about I haven’t done it. Life has felt just too busy.

But when I’m really honest with myself about why I haven’t been writing or preaching, I think truthfully I’ve been struggling with a low level of depression. Not serious, I’ve been able to function okay, I do enjoy parts of the very good life I have. The underlying sadness has probably not been noticeable to most folks. But it’s been there, slowly eating away at my confidence and killing my ability to write. The busyness of life has undoubtedly contributed to how I’ve been feeling; self care has been pushed out, mental headspace has been lacking, quality time with Mike has been hard to come by. I’ve felt so tired.

At the end of the summer term I’d already made a decision to step back from a couple of commitments at church. I felt that doing that would give me a rest and some space to then commit to other things I felt more energised and enthused about.

But then I didn’t have the best of summers… I work for a school so in theory I had the luxury of six weeks off work and that should have a left me revived and ready to start a new term at the beginning of September. But it didn’t work out that way.

In reality I had to work a bit during the summer to keep on top of my job. A number of other things happened too over those weeks culminating in a two week holiday away where bad went to worse and I returned home feeling physically, mentally and emotionally broken. I dreaded returning to work and people expecting me to be bright and refreshed and ready to take on the world.

Thankfully in those few days before I started back at work I was able to share what had happened with a few trusted people who listened, were gracious, offered perspective and most importantly prayed for me.

God got me into a fit state to return to work but I was left still with big questions. I was wrestling with working out the truth of what had happened and the implications for my emotional and mental resilience, my practical abilities as a parent and in my working life and most fundamentally by integrity to lead and serve at church.

For several weeks I felt really lost but I kept seeking God and working my thoughts through with a few wise people. And then there came a week where God spoke clearly in several different ways, through different people and through his word (The Bible). There was a series of text messages and a really helpful phone call from a friend who God had been prompting to get in touch with me, there was a timely blog post from our senior pastor Simon Benham about ‘leadership and failure,’ there were specific Bible verses that just kept popping up again and again and the resounding message was:

“It’s time to get up off the mat!”

It wasn’t that the things that occurred in the summer were all resolved or that they were no longer important; it wasn’t that work was suddenly a smooth ride or that my underlying sadness was wiped away. No the word from God was that despite all of those things he wanted me to stop languishing in defeat but to get up and use the gifts he has given me to serve him – those negative things may hamper me but they don’t disqualify me because the power of Jesus working in and through me is bigger than them all. If I wait until I’m perfect and I’ve got everything sorted then I’m going to be waiting forever.

I’m not saying that I don’t need to work to resolve all those things. Far from it, I’m sure God wants to work with me in it all; but He’s saying that I don’t have to rush it, that I can take a step at a time, with His guidance and encouragement and timing. And part of that process is getting up off the mat and letting him use both my strengths and weaknesses to bless others, to bless Him and to bless me!

I was excited and enthused to hear from God in that way, but the reality is, that was a several weeks ago and it’s still taken me this long to write this post. And that’s because it then became clear the call was not to rush to the front line it was simply to get up off the mat. Life is still full and complicated, I still have two small boys with endless energy and who bring home an endless carousel of virus’s and bugs (I’m suffering my fifth since September). Head-space is still limited and I’m still tired! So instead I’m having to learn to accept my limitations right now and listen carefully to God’s guidance as to what to say yes to and where to say no, allowing myself to continue to heal slowly and gradually extend and push myself in His timing. And in the midst I’m choosing to try and live in one of the messages God gave me that week as he lifted me from the mat.

  • BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS
  • DO NOT BE AFRAID
  • DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED

Because my Lord and God will be with me wherever I go!!

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