Friday, 6 December 2013

The Big D, the Gift We Don't Want.

You can sympathise and support, however until you experience it, until it hits you like a truck, it’s difficult to truly understand. I do the same things as I always did – but somehow it’s completely different. The way I see myself and the way I see other people.  Like a light going on. Depression. This is what it feels like. Everyday.

Sometimes, those who’ve faced similar darkness can bring the most light.  When you’ve lost someone you love. When you’re tired or depressed or addicted or sad.  It’s a lonely place.  And being understood makes a world of difference. 

“Christians should be happy.  Or hopeful at least.  Thankful, even when they feel yuck. They keep on praying and keep on trusting and if they do then they will feel better.” But is there such thing as a depressed believer?
God’s a triangle of love and I’m circling outside. It’s Salvation 101.
Where is God in This? How can I feel better? That’s what knowing God’s love is all about. Being happy. Feeling the love as well as knowing it.
Life and struggle and faith and God…an endless, nauseating drop.
…You’re dizzy with falling, but underneath the everlasting arms.
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord; And He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; Because the Lord is the one who holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
… My brain’s a hole and I can’t make sense. First question:

If you know something, but you don’t feel it, is it still the truth?
The truth that’s bigger than the feelings.
“For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” (2 Cor 1:5-6)
At the time, they just feel rubbish.  Pointless. Painful. Meaningless and empty. Sometimes we never work out what they were about. But they’re always a gift from God to us.  And they’re also a gift from us, to others.

Dependence is a funny sort of gift – up there with batteries, Christmas jumpers and Toiletries gift sets… I’d rather have an iPod or a remote-controlled airplane. But without the batteries, your plane’s going nowhere.  And until I know my complete need for Jesus, His blessings make no sense.
The Bible talks a lot about gifts.  We’re all given them, but they don’t belong to us. Some are easy to spot: teaching, hospitality, generosity, service. But what about this as a gift…

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29)

Really? Brokenness, sadness, hard times? Can these also be “gifts”? In a sense, yes.
Don’t despise your gifts.  They might not look the way you expect.  But God will use them and use you too. Our experiences matter. Even – and perhaps especially - the bad ones.

Friday, 12 July 2013

The Return

Following on from my first blog when I told my story about my new journey with Jesus as a new Christian, I am excited to announce that on 12th May 2013 I was baptised by full immersion at Grace Church in Nottingham. My emotional and spiritual journey leading up and shortly following this event was strong and positive; however as life goes I have recently faced a huge relapse of issues that first affected me prior to having a relationship with Jesus. As these issues have become bigger and more prominent in my life, totally consuming me over these past few weeks I have felt myself slipping back once more. Recognising this I knew that I had to keep holding on, to keep praying, reading my bible and doing everything in my power to stop depression and anxiety from coming between me and God. It has been tough and there have been days, weeks when I have felt very detached from God and my faith has been very much overlooked or forgotten as the issues overpowered. The familiar struggle of each daily routine has been hard if not harder, regardless of God being actively present in me, however the support that God has provided for me through friends and family as well as Church and University has been a huge. I have a strong wall behind me preventing me from falling too far back and pushing me up again and I just need to recognise this, praise God for his love and support that he has provided through all the amazing people in my life and help myself along the way too.

God has a purpose for each of us and i know this life was given to me for a specific purpose. Although sometimes to carry on living my life seems like a huge uphill struggle and the fog in front is thick and cold and prevents you from seeing the light. You've had enough, done, you want to give up, but God will let you know when he's ready for you and until then you have got to keep pushing through to get to that light. God gives his greatest battles to his strongest soldiers and until that day when he is ready for you, you have fight the demons, the anxieties, the stresses and the hard times. Keep on fighting because one day the light will break through.
Being Emma is hard. It's tiring, draining and testing but as I journey along in life I will come to know that it will be alright in the end and living the life of Emma, set out by God, will be totally worth it.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Power of Prayer

Sometimes I marvel at how long I will struggle in a situation before thinking to talk to God and listen for his voice and guidance. We grumble about our problems; we grumble; we murmur; sometimes we tell our friends; and we talk about how we wish God would do something about it. We struggle with our situation in our minds and in our emotions, while we often fail to take advantage of the simplest solution there is: prayer. But worse than that, we then make perhaps the most ridiculous statement: "Well, I guess all I can do is pray about it." I am sure that you have heard that said before or maybe you have even said it. We all have. We are all guilty of treating prayer as a last ditch effort and saying things like "Well nothing else is working, so maybe we should pray." But do you know what that says if we were to believe it? It says that we really do not believe in the power of prayer as we should.

We carry burdens we do not need to bear- and life is much harder than it has to be- because we do not realise how powerful and soul soothing prayer really is. If we did, we would talk to God and listen to what he says about everything, not as a last resort, but as a first response.

Prayer is bigger and better than you think. Give it all up to God, depend on him and he will respond.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Because Life is for Living...

- Take one day at a time.
- Dream big and never give up.
- Embrace positive attitudes, perspectives, principles and truths and you will be overcome.
- Be thankful for what you have.
- Have courage, you don't know what you will achieve unless you try.
- If you fail, try again another day.
- Change obstacles into opportunities.
- When life gives you reasons to cry, show life that you have so many reasons to smile.
- Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.
- Love perfectly the imperfect you.
- Keep your head up and smile through the rain, because after the hurricane comes a rainbow.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A Second Chance

Sometimes in life it's hard to forget what you do have by concentrating on the things you wish you had. If I wanted, I could spend the rest of my life wishing I had hair but realistically it's not going to happen and I would just be wasting my wishes.
What I've seen in life are a couple of key principles. The first one is to be thankful. Now it may seem like there isn't much to be thankful about when it comes to losing your hair. When I first lost my hair through alopecia I told myself 'I'm never going to get married, I'm never going to be happy or have a life of purpose.' But it's a lie. It's a lie to think that you're not good enough. It's a lie to think that you're not worthy.
The second principle, to smile through genuine happiness. You know, someone said to me the other day 'how come you smile so much?' and I'm like 'well it's a long story but it's very simple at the same time.' But the truth is it's very hard to smile sometimes in life, especially through the pain. There are things that happen to you that you don't understand and sometimes you just don't know if you're going to get through it. You go through storms in life but you have no idea how long this storm is going to be around for.
It's scary to think how many people have issues and struggles. Issues with home or work life, issues with themselves, with others and just with life in general. It's scary how many people think they are worth nothing. But God put you on this earth for a purpose. You might not think you're perfect. Society might not think you're perfect. But to God, you are more than perfect.
I have a personal relationship with Jesus and he has helped me through my struggles and to become the person I am today. If you do not share that faith, well I am just thankful that I can share mine with you.
I was born into a catholic family and have been brought up learning about Jesus and his teachings through primary school, high school and my local church. However, as a stubborn teenager I dipped in and out of my faith and when I was told my alopecia was pretty much for life I became angry at God for letting this happen to me and eventually turned away from him altogether. I lived my teenage years without any faith and I will admit these were the deepest, darkest days I have experienced in my life so far. When depression takes over you it totally consumes your thoughts and actions. I recognised the irrationality and the weakness and I would be angry at myself for being so pathetic, but the new me had the upper hand and each day was a vicious spiral of draining, emotional downfall. I will never know how I managed to get through my GCSE's, A Levels, singing and ballet exams, or how I went on with life in general and made it to this point to tell the tale.
Getting a place to study paediatric nursing at Nottingham University which has the largest university based Christian Union in the country was just the start of re-finding my faith. I was 19 years old and away for the weekend in Wales with the Christian Union when I sealed my faith in God. From then was the start of my amazing spiritual journey.
After months of church hopping I have finally found settled at Grace Church in Nottingham and am in the process of planning to give my life to Jesus and be a fully fledged member of the church through baptism at some point in 2013. I look back on the years without God actively in my life and it is only now when I can talk about those dark days that I realise that it really was the longest and loneliest time.
My new faith has been my central source of strength and confidence to live my life without limits. Before my faith this time round my realisation and acceptance of my alopecia and myself was a struggle. Don't get me wrong, religion isn't some miracle cure; things are still tough, I have my down days and living with alopecia is a huge emotional battle. However, the difference is how I can call on God to guide me and help me approach and manage these dark times. Through the love of my family, friends and faith in God for the first time I can see life past my adversity and realise my life is filled with joy, purpose and light for the future.