Worth knowing: this is a story about God, Jesus, Christianity. Also possibly TMI discussion of womens’ ‘time of the month’ type things and mental health potential triggering…Feel free to read on or pass by!
I am still blown away by something that has happened this week. I have been a Christian for twenty-plus years and seen God do some mad things (like seeing people get out of wheelchairs, seeing a leg grow, God telling me I was going to get engaged a certain night…) but still, what has happened I simply *can’t believe*!
Or maybe a better way of putting it is I am in awe of God’s amazing power and being reminded that truly, nothing is impossible for him. Even being lifted out of a deep depression and anxiety to go to my first day of Pioneer training!
A bit more context and back story. I have a complicated PMS condition which I’ve learnt to balance through carefully tweaked treatment over nearly ten years (and managed to have a miracle child). I have had severe episodes of depression and anxiety caused by my hormones going nuts where it is like someone has pulled out my plug; no light behind the eyes, unable to reply to messages, can’t work, string a sentance together, have to do jigsaws or Lego to recover from terrible weeping fits or panic attacks. Painting a picture?
Also, I have been thinking and praying about the next chapter of my life and how I can serve God, and the shape of this looking like ‘Pioneer Ministry’, which is basically finding new and creative ways to show people the love of Jesus when 85% of the population would never step foot in a church building apparently. So, doing charity shops, breweries, caravans, whatever seems to meet the needs when you listen to the community where you live.
This summer I found out to my delight the Portsmouth Diocese (sort of church head office for Portsmouth) had agreed to pay my fees to do a two-year diploma in Pioneer Ministry. This was such an affirming thing for me. I’d been accepted by my college, CMS to start training this year and my first day was the 13th September.
And then last Monday the 5th September, I crashed. After four years of having no episodes I found myself in the familiar muted struggle of depression and anxiety and all I described above. I realised that a part of my treatment (in addition to the patches and injection) which is my Mirena Coil was about to run out. So my hormones went haywire.
I was resigned to (and crushed about) the fact I’d not be able to start my course, while fighting the daily fog and panic of a mental health episode. It came to Sunday, the day before my course was meant to be starting. I was still feeling very ill, beating myself up, trying every little mindful thing to will myself better. I decided to go to a church launch of our friends with my hub and son. As soon as I got in the door, I crumbled and started crying, shrinking into the smallest I could make myself in a corner.
My friend Abi and then my friend Rachael came up and gave me a big hug. They offered to pray for me. I mentioned that I was meant to be starting my course in Pioneering the next day and they both said, aha, well that’s why you’re ill! (Here comes the crazy Christian stuff btw) It’s an attack. Whatever it might be, the opposite to God, doesn’t want you to start the course and to be able to follow God’s will for my life. They prayed for me to be better and to be able to start the course the next day. (Which of course, seemed totally impossible.)
Another friend (I won’t name her) approached me and said she didn’t have the faith to pray for me to be healed but did have faith to pray I could go to uni the next day. I said that if that happened, then it *was* praying for healing! Just as I was leaving, Abi and Rachel prayed for me again, and Abi suggested I should pray that night that I would be able to go, to go to prayer war, so to speak!
So that night, still depressed, I told my hub we needed to pray. I gave it all I had and also shared my prayer request to an awesome Christian ladies Whatsapp group I’m in. One of the ladies asked me to ask God what he was doing and to partner with Him.
So…over the night I got better! I simply could not believe it. On the drive to Oxford to start my course I rang each person who’d prayed for me and shared my total amazement! I guess you *could* say it was a coincidence and I just got better, but that’ s not how I see it. I was and am totally amazed that nothing was going to stop me starting that course and all God wants to do through me for my community through it.
Miraculously reaching the CMS entrance for the first day at uni after a severe hormone crash and depressive episode…
One last thing. I asked God what he was saying. And he said…leave Facebook. What? I said. A song based on a scripture came to mind
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are saved.
And I came to think about the story in the Bible about the Tower of Babel. Here is the scripture:
11 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia[a] and settled there.
3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel,[b] because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.Genesis 11, the Bible!
What I think this passage is about, having studied it a bit more today is this. The people of Babylon wanted to build a whole city, including the tower, to protect them from a flood (i.e. the Noah, ark story) so they are essentially trying to be as big as God and to do things without Him. God had told his people to go all over the world and instead folks had decided to settle. So, God changed all their languages to enable them to be more dispersed.
So…my reflection is that things like Facebook, my beloved Heat, fashion etc are towers that have set themselves up as equal to God or a way to find purpose in life but actually, the Lord’s tower is strong and a shelter for the courageous.
I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Relentless Elimination of Hurry’ and in the book it talks about every possession we have takes time to maintain and keep and I’ve had this desire to simplify my life, to do life with people who live where I live, or for people further afield to ring them up or go visit or go to stay. I’ve been noticing how odd it is that we all share pictures of our cake, party, holiday etc with folks we aren’t that close to physically or emotionally.
And also Facebook (and Heat, celebrity, fashion etc) is the mother of comparison, either feeling better than others or feeling less than them. The thought of giving up Facebook makes me feel so happy, excited and free that I think I am *actually going to do it*!
I plan to download albums, share my contact details and find someone to manage my Kickass Women group on Facebook (as that has huge value and significance to me) and then go! Pretty counter-cultural to be a person in marketing and not be on Facebook, huh? Well, I’m wanting to be my authentic self and look after my wellbeing. I will still continue to advise my clients on the best ethical and healthy ways to serve their audiences on there. And after all, Social Media is nothing but ‘medium’ from the Greek, it’s simply like a pencil, megaphone or newspaper!
So I plan to find my Babel towers and knock them down. Facebook. My beloved Heat magazine (sniff) and other things that I discern in my spirit aren’t helpful.
Well, hey if you’re still here and thank you for reading. I hope it encourages you and makes you feel seen and represented if you’re having a crap time, encouraged in your faith if you’re a Christian and well, informed if you’re kindly watching my life story as it unfolds.
If you’re not a Christian and you’re still reading and you are intrigued then please google ‘Alpha‘ and look up a local course.
Katie over and out!