I believe I’m “supposed” to be doing this job. I haven’t any idea how I’ve ended up doing it – I have no qualifications or experience but applied anyway – all I can say is that it just “feels right.” I’ve managed to bluff my way into both organisations with vicarious talk of my ability to think on my feet, how I’m great with people and about how my personal experience being married to someone who has been both an addict and menatlly ill may have put me in some good stead. I’m not sure it did, but here I am.
When I doubt I’m in the right place doing the thing I’m meant to be doing, I find myself stumbling across Emmylou’s song, and remembering that evening, and that young man. I couldn’t help him – but he helped me. He’ll never know that, and it diminished the gravity and tragedy of his situation for me to say that’s why I saw him that evening. He was not helped, at least not be me, but I was helped to understand that I can make a difference, if I listen, and I obey that prompting. I am not one for just following my feelings everywhere they lead me, but sometimes what they say doesn’t just tell you about you – they tell you about something outside of yourself you need to pay attention to. Sometimes our feelings show us what hurts us, not so we can avoid it, but so we can run to where others hurt for the same reason.
A poem for my friend **Linda, the holiest woman I know, who happens to have schizophrenia.
Name has been changed.
God likes men, and so do I. I like their humour. God made them funny looking too, which is always super. I also like the way men think; straight up and down – in levels, zones and and boxes. Women think like tangled string. I think like tangled string. My string needs to go in a box, onto a level, then be in a zone. That’s why I keep men handy at all times. I married one, gave birth to three and whenever they aren’t available, I go out into the street and fix my eyes on one, just to reassure myself all is right with the world; I will not be consumed by string, today.
If there are no poor with you, you haven’t been listening. Jesus never said anything about the great paying job we would always have with us, or the two-storey rendered brick four bedder we would always have with us. He didn’t even say anything about the husband or wife we would always have with us, the friends, the church, or the pile of money we have in the bank we would always have with us. The poor. They are what Jesus said we would always have with us. Strange. Where do you suppose they’e gotten to?
It’s been a year, and it hasn’t been hard for me at all – the drinking part that is. For my husband, it’s been harder, and it’s an ongoing journey. God’s grace is all we have going for us, and we see it every day extended toward us in ways we could never have imagined, great and small. We are happy and love each other so much; more than w have in the 22 years before now that we’ve been married. It’s been said that he who has been forgiven much loves much, and both he and I appreciate how much the other had to forgive for this present happiness to exist. A great gift, precious, and to be treated with respect and deference. He is a drunk, saved by mercy….and I am a shrew, saved by the giving of it.
I’m done being embarrassed about my problems. I often make errors of judgement that take me places I don’t want to be, and I’m working on that. But I don’t care what people think as much as I once did. Everyone’s got the stuff, you know? If it’s a toss up between keeping up appearances, pretending I don’t need God’s grace because I’m so worked out, and looking like a loser because I need his grace like I need oxygen, it’s the latter I choose. With the grace comes Him. With me, I just get…me.
The God-shaped hole is not in the person who doesn’t know God and acts to relieve himself of his suffering. The God-shaped hole is in the one who does know God, yet never seeks to relieve another’s suffering.
In July 2003, I was diagnosed with aggressive Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. At stage 3B (there are only 4 stages, and B means it had begun spreading around my body) the tumour in my chest was as big as a saucer. My treatment consisted of three months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiotherapy. During this time, we had the wonderful opportunity to be supported by a church community who cooked my family hot meals most evenings and provided nothing less than amazing support.
However, there were times when I wondered what belief systems people limp around with, and about what was being preached in churches and printed in books about sickness and supportive care. For the information of those wishing to be a support to those with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses, I offer the following. This list will be based on actual statements which were made to me either whilst I had cancer or in the months following my successful treatment.
I want to tell those of you who don’t believe a person can be transformed, or that people don’t or can’t change, you need to come and see what God has done at my house.