Monday, 28 November 2011

My Testimony - Part 4

So followed a very mixed year.  At first my relief at being out of a very bad situation felt amazing.  I had missed out on so many aspects of life for a long time, and was determined to make up for it.  I got to spend time with my girl.  I was able to speak to people without fear of being checked up on, and was able to socialise!  I even had a trip to Yorkshire to see my best mate from years back.  It felt great.  For a while a least.

I went through a rough time with my ex harassing me, and was left with a financial situation that I just couldn’t handle.  Eventually a harassment order was issued against my ex, which he broke twice, both times leading to a court appearance and him spending time in prison. 

During this time as well, I, well, I was a complete prat to be honest.  I started drinking heavily, and would often turn up to work hung-over.  I wasn’t sleeping well when I was sober, and wasn’t eating properly either.  I was a crap mum.  I also had a couple of casual relationships, which left me feeling terrible after, but I didn’t learn from, and I got badly hurt at a time when I was least able to deal with it. 

In the meantime, I was becoming noticeably more stressed and difficult to be around.  I reached breaking point around Easter this year, and was told to take three weeks off work to get my head together.  My Karate instructor had also noticed a down-turn in my spirits as well.  I visited the doctor, and was diagnosed with severe depression and prescribed anti-depressants.  

Just like my Dad.  

This was the lowest I had ever felt.  If it hadn’t had been for the determined advice of those around me that I acknowledge this illness, I dread to think what could have happened.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

My Testimony - Part 3

So late at night, my partner had got back up out of bed.  I lay very still in my bed, on my side in a foetal position, tears running down my face and I silently prayed to God.  I asked God to help me.  I asked him to give me the strength to end things, and not back down.  (I had previously tried to finish with him a couple of months earlier, but his reaction led to me retracting this).  I also asked God to see me and my girl through this safely.  A few days later, God answered that prayer.

You have to remember that despite my ex not being particularly big, and me being a (lower-grade) karate student, I was scared of him.  As in, stomach-churning, every muscle tightening up, and feeling very small and weak, scared of him.  His drug use made him unpredictable, and he had a temper on him.  So facing him down was a daunting task.  Somehow though, the words just fell out of my mouth.  It was like it was someone else driving me, and I was just sitting back watching the events unfold.  

That’s not to say I wasn’t scared – far from it.  But somehow, I made it through.  The situation led to a neighbour’s assistance in calling the police, and his arrest for breach of the peace, as well as him having a bag of cannabis taken off him.  I made it through in one piece, with very little physical damage.

This was most certainly an answered prayer.  Too bad I didn’t recognise it as such at the time.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

My Testimony - Part 2

My Dad and my step-mum decided to move home to try and make a go of things.  So they moved with the remaining kids (there’s 8 of us in total) to Northants.  I stayed in Milton Keynes and moved in with my at-the-time partner, in his sister’s house.  After a mere two weeks of playing house together, we split up.  And, just a minor complication, but I was also pregnant (and hadn’t told anyone).  When I was 7 months gone, I moved to my Dad and my Step-mum’s house.

I soon delivered this tiny little bundle into the world, and was the proudest mum ever.  She was (and still is) perfect.  Living in a small house with my Dad, my step-mum, my baby, my little half-brother and half-sister, my step-sister and her partner and various dogs, cats, guinea pigs and tropical fish wasn’t always the easiest though.  I felt very claustrophobic at times.  I yearned for my own space, for time alone with my baby, and most of all, to have a ‘proper’ family.  When my now ex came along, he seemed to offer exactly these things.  Despite a rocky start, we moved in to a flat together the day following my 21st birthday.  Shortly after, my Dad and the rest of my family moved to the South Coast, leaving me up in Northants with him and my baby.

During the spring of 2003, I found my Dad was getting ill again.  He was paranoid his wife was cheating on him, and would call me nightly to tell me so.  He spoke of getting away from it all, but promised me he wasn’t going to try and kill himself again.  I begged him to come up and stay with me, but he wouldn’t.  Then lunch time on June the 7th, I got the phone call – My dad had passed away.  He had hung himself.  My whole world just stopped.  The other half was out at the time, and didn’t have a mobile on him, and me and my girl were alone in my flat.  I was absolutely devastated.  I’d always been close to Dad, and without him, I felt very alone and very scared.

Following on from Dad’s funeral, my partner and I carried on with life.  By this point, my partner had lost his job and was struggling to find another.  I had started college and my new friends left him feeling threatened.  Things took a definite turn for the worst between us then.  Slowly over the next few years, he became mentally and emotionally abusive, bordering on physical at times.  He would manipulate me for money to feed his drug habits, refused to find work, and would fly into jealous rages.  I soon lost any sense of who I was and became a shadow of my former self.

Eventually I got to breaking point, where realised it was him or me.  My fighting spirit determined it wouldn’t be me.  I was still scared stiff though.  I lay in bed just days before break-up day, and did something I hadn’t done for years, since I was a little child in infant’s school.  I prayed.

Friday, 25 November 2011

2 Corinthians 3:14

“But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ”

Wednesday 11th August 1999 – Coincidentally, the day before my daughter was born – a solar eclipse came over the UK.  I remember walking  out to the back garden with my family to see the eclipse.  Heeding the warnings not to look at the sun directly, we all took turns to look at the natural spectre through the darkened lens of my Dad’s welding mask. 

This memory was brought to the surface recently through my Bible studies.   I’ve just read ‘The Holiness of God’ by RC Sproul, ( which I cannot recommend highly enough.  In Chapter 2, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’, Sproul quotes from scripture:

"Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 
20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 
21 And the LORD said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 
22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 
23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:19-23)

Sproul then goes on to describe how, even just glancing the back of God meant that God’s glory would be reflected on Moses’s face, to an extent it blinded those around Moses, and he needed to wear a veil over his face in order to not terrify them.  In essence, God’s chosen people, who, like all of us, were sinners, felt indescribably uncomfortable in even the reflected presence of God’s Holiness.   I’d imagine they felt an extreme form of the uneasy feeling many of us have around figures of authority, such as police officers, or the CEO of our company.  But on a scale we can’t even begin to imagine. 

I’ve been reading the New Testament start to finish for the first time, and I read this passage in 2 Corinthians 3:14 last night.  To me, the passage really spoke about how Jesus took away the need for this veil between us and God.  The reason we feel this unease in the presence of God is because of our imperfections.  There’s no way any of us can measure up to the righteousness of God.  

Thankfully, God the Father sent Jesus, His only begotten Son to die on our behalf.For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Jesus became the filter through which God sees us and us Him 

My Testimony - Part 1

As you may have seen on my ‘About’ page, I’m a follower of Jesus.  I wasn’t born into a Christian family.  I didn’t go to church every Sunday as a child.  I wasn’t christened as a baby.  I became a Christian just two days before my 31st birthday.

Almost a month after being saved by the Lord Jesus, I was baptised alongside a few other new Christians, in a fantastic baptism service and had a day that I will remember for the rest of my life.  As part of the baptism service, I was asked to give a brief testimony describing my path to Jesus.  This post is intended to be a fuller account of that testimony, free from my nervous, tearful self standing in front of masses of people (I’m not a great people person), stuttering through.  So here goes:

As a child, we didn’t talk about God much in our house.  The closest I ever got to theological discussion with my Mum was when I was little, and I’d ask the really, really irritating questions that some kids constantly ask, like why is the sky blue, who made the moon, why don’t Australians fall off the earth (I was that sort of child).  She would answer just because.  I would reply, but why.  She’d eventually get fed up and answer ‘Because God made it that way’. 

As I grew a little older, there was no time for theology.  My mum was seriously ill, and in autumn 1989, when I was 9 years old, she lost her fight with cancer.

My Dad, my baby brother and I made the best of life without Mum.  My other brother lived with my grandmother for a while.

My Dad was my hero, but he suffered with depression, making him sometimes difficult to live with.  When I was about 11 or 12, he attempted suicide.  He and I were in the living room.  My two brothers (the older of the two had returned home by then) were tucked up in bed.  Dad lay on the floor, knocking back his pain killers.  I said to him, Dad, I’m tired, I‘m going to bed now.  He said ‘No, get Bob’ (the man from next door).  The outcome was that my Grandmother watched over us for the night, and I saw my Dad being taken by the ambulance men to have his stomach pumped.

Some years later, when I was almost 18, my Dad’s depression was properly diagnosed when he attempted suicide again and was sectioned under the mental health act.  My two brothers were taken into social services care, and I stayed with my step-mum (Dad remarried not long after his first suicide attempt.)  He was soon released, and him and my step-mother reconciled shortly after.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

God Never Sleeps

Short post:  following on from a facebook discussion I've just been involved with regarding worship and it's purpose, I thought about the difference between being with God, and interacting with God.

The opening question on this facebook chat asked about whether worship songs should be a consequence of being in the presence of God, or attempts to enter God's presence.  I thought, and responded with comments about us always being in God's presence.

However, I went off to make a coffee, and tried to get my little cat's attention whilst I was waiting for the kettle to boil.  She wasn't interested. This made me think, is there a difference between being in the same room as someone and being in the presence of someone.  My cat may be only three foot away from me now, but, she's paying me no attention whatsoever.  To be more exact, I'm calling her, and she's looking at me like I'm an idiot (She's right).

God never changes.  He's always here.  Before I was a believer, I ignored His presence, just as my cat is ignoring mine.  It doesn't make me exist any less just because The Evil Spawn of Satan my cat doesn't acknowledge me.  I'll be here when Sooty the Cat wants me, just as when I cried out to God to save me, He said "I'm here".  In my cat's case, she'll decide she absolutely cannot live without me, probably at 3 in the morning when I'm trying to sleep.  She'll probably get shouted at, and told to quit scratching the door and miaowwing.  

When we come crying out to the Lord to help us, God won't throw a shoe at us and swear, and grumble about being woken up - He'll comfort us.  Because, thankfully, God never sleeps.

M :)

First Post

So, this is my first post.  Not a lot here.....  yet ;)

Maria :)