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Faith and Belief

The three headings I posted last time were kind of meant to be only headings because I keep meaning to blog about them and keep forgetting. I figured that if I put the headings up, I might actually get around to posting about them!

Advance warning – I think this is probably going to be a very long post!!

Recently, I’ve been asked a few times about my faith. Alien was (of her own choice) baptised last week, and in talking about that at both her school and the school I work in, the question has come up. Also when talking with the other leaders of the Rainbows unit we’re setting up, it was asked about. I’m part of a group of people writing some ‘evangelistic / nurture’ materials for our church (I was suggested to be part of the group, rather than volunteered myself!) which has meant some interesting conversations and thoughts arising there too.

I’ve just returned from our church weekend away, so have had some time to think about these questions, which I thought I’d share. Not entirely sure why, but then why do I ever blog?!

My response to ‘what my faith is’ a couple of the times was that I simply go to church to operate the sound desk and just because I always have been to church. I think I tend to answer like this for two reasons – one was that I simply didn’t really know where I was with faith having not sat and thought about it recently, and the other is because I don’t like the ‘image’ that religion tends to have.

This weekend I’ve thought about some of the different aspects of ‘religion’.

  • The Bible. It’s good book, with some good stories, and some good moral guidance.
  • Church. Good community and family support, good way to regularly ‘top up’ / renew spiritual stuff.
  • Jesus. Struggle with accepting any form of love, sacrifice and the concept of the cross / birth etc.
  • God. I struggle with accepting any form of love. There’s definitely ‘something’ – we must’ve been created by something, maybe a loving God. However, I’m not sure about current ‘activity’. There have been a few examples of potentially answered prayer. But am never sure. I don’t believe God will or wants or maybe is able to respond to / answer prayer.
  • Evangelism. I think the totally best type of evangelism is where people see a difference in the person and ask why. Why don’t you do this? Or why do you do that? Which can lead into a discussion about faith in a gentle way, rather than, ‘do you know Jesus, if not, why not?’. I want to avoid the traditional ‘church goer’ label. I’m embarrassed by what people think of ‘church goers’ (or maybe it’s what I perceive that people think!).

I don’t consider myself a Christian. I try to be ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ to others. My vicar once said that the important bits are “love God, love others”. I try to do that, and don’t feel able to do any more. According to someone I was talking to over the weekend, a Christian is someone who believes and accepts that Jesus died and rose again to forgive their sin, and has repented and asked to be forgiven. Well, I can’t do that, cos it hits all my ‘insecure spots’ – since my CBT I’m getting better at the whole ‘liking myself’ concept, but still find it incredibly difficult, and to attempt to accept that a random person a long time ago might’ve done something for *me* is just too far away to even begin to understand / believe / accept.

This weekend I have definitely felt that kind of longing for something, but because I find it so so difficult to accept / receive love / care from myself and / or others, that creates a huge barrier to anything to do with God / Jesus.

Then there’s that ‘God speaking’ thing… having just written / thought lots of the above, in the next session we sang a song with the following words which seemed to be ‘speaking’ very much linked to my thoughts.

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide

If I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside

And never be the same?

I took a book to read, which had been recommended. It was about unanswered prayer. Having read the first chapter and a half I decided it was pointless reading it because I don’t expect / believe prayer will be answered. I certainly pray and hope (though usually for others rather than myself), but it is not with any expectation or belief that there will be any response. Even when there is , and it seems like it’s just *too* convenient to be total coincidence, I still struggle to accept it.

 

Hmm… I think I’ve probably clarified my thoughts more about my beliefs, even if it is to simply say, I don’t really know what I think or believe!! Maybe I need to think *even*more!

Last CBT soon

I have my last CBT session next week. Part of the this weeks homework was to review what I’ve learnt and how I’ve changed over the 5 months of having CBT. There were lots of different aspects I had to think about, and it’s certainly been an incredibily difficult, but incredibly successful journey. I feel I have changed a lot, and now have lots of things I have to remember and to continue to try to put into practice.

One of my thoughts at one point was about trying to share some of the ideas of the journey with close friends so that they can continue to remind me of them, when I forget or get too depressed to carry out some of it. I might still do that, because I know that I will ‘drift’ and will need prodding occasionally.

Anyway, I thought I’d share my kind of summary list of what I’ve learnt.

  • “Is that a helpful thought?”
  • “Simple, but not easy.”
  • “Breathe”
  • “Must-abation and should-abation are good.”
  • Challenge / argue with negatives.
  • The way I spend/ use my time is important. Often need to ‘plan’ time – including relax time.
  • “I” am all the different “me”s – they’re not separate to different places / roles. “I” am one.
  • If I look (sensibly / rationally) at the evidence all around me, there is plenty of proof that people really do like me and want to spend time with me.
  • Showing vulnerability is okay (in the right places)
  • It’s okay not to be perfect. I can be good at things, even if it’s not all the time. No-one can be good all the time!
  • It’s okay to be pleased / proud of things I’ve done / achieved – it doesn’t (necessarily) equate to boasting and being big headed.
  • ‘Simply’ hear first, then accept, then believe. Even in everyday actions / reactions / comments.
  • ‘I’d prefer if I…’ rather than ‘I will…’ means you can’t fail, only achieve if you do it.
  • Try to pick out positives rather than negatives. Find a positive.
  • Think about what you’d say to another person in the same situation. No, it’s not different!!

A genuine email exchange from ‘work’

I am currently enjoying working for my lovely husband, packing flags and flag stuff for him. Occasionally, I make mistakes when packing. Here is an email exchange between my husband and a customer (obviously with names and order number changed!!)

Date: Tues, 19 Jul 2011 10:01:03 +0100
Subject: Re: Order Number ######
From: Customer
To: greensofgloucestershire

Dear sales team, first may I commend you on your prompt dispatch of goods, I have recently taken delivery of a 50 piece packet of pirate flag sticks, which are in perfect condition and amusing to look at, these comical tooth picks however are not the lapel pin badge which I had ordered. Could you please send me the article which I have ordered and include a self addressed stamped envelope which I shall use to return to you in perfect saleable condition the package which you have mis-erroneously sent to me.
Many thanks, Customer.

Date: Tue, 19 Jul 2011 14:57:03 +0100
Subject: Re: Order Number ######
From: greensofgloucestershire
To: Customer

Hi Customer,
Firstly many apologies and I will make the packer responsible walk the plank…
Secondly please keep the cocktail sticks with my compliments and I
will arrange for dispatch of the lapel pin in the next post.
Once again many apologies
Manager

I then dispatched the correct item, adding a note saying something about being soaking wet and apologies for the mistake.

From: Customer
Date: 21 July 2011 13:49
Subject: RE: Order Number ######
To: greensofgloucestershire

Dear Capin Green an his Motley Crew.
I have gratefully received my lapel pin badge which is now gracefully adorning my foul weather waxed jacket, it was with great mirth and merriment that I read the amendment which had been made to the delivery note, I feel that the dripping wet plank walking packer may have been dealt with a little severely for what can only be described as a minor digression, maybe a gentle flogging would have sufficed, but that is a different website entirely. My regards to Pants and good luck in your future endeavours, if ever I feel the need I shall not hesitate to transact with your company again.
Many thanks, Customer of the good ship Lollypop.

Revelation!

Today, as the ongoing effects of the CBT continues, I had a revelation!

During church services, for quite a few years now, I’ve really not liked The Peace and receiving communion. I knew it was linked with the whole feeling worthless, but today I realised what exactly it is about it that I don’t like.

Lots of the discussion in nutman sessions are about how difficult I find it to even hear anything positive or nice toward me, or anyone say anything which shows care in any way at all, let alone believe it. It makes me ‘squirm’ and feel a huge ‘discomfort’ – physical and mental, such that I just want to escape and go and curl up and block it out. Seems an extreme response, but that’s just how it is!

Anyway, I realised today that when sharing the peace, there is some expression of caring (although not from everyone, some just do it because ‘that’s what we do’ in the service!!) and in communion, there is also an expression of caring, from God / Jesus and the person giving out the communion.

Since one of the things I’m meant to be practising is trying to actually hear and receive these sorts of comments (then next step goes on to believing!), I have decided that I need to be partaking in the peace and communion.

This has turned waffly and doesn’t seem like a revelation / significant moment… but it was, to me, this morning!!

I’ve Googled and I still can’t find the answer… help!

I remember, when young, that there was a rhyme that used to be said which involved using a piece of grass with ‘seed’ on it. You used to hold the grass and say the rhyme. It started with a tree in summer, and at one point you slid your fingers up the grass to remove the seeds so you had a bare tree (winter), and then you had a ‘bunch of flowers’ and finally you threw the seeds up in the air for ‘April showers’. But I can’t remember the whole rhyme, nor can I find it!! Was it just me and the girls in my school that did it?!?!

What I’m Grateful For…

Jackie for linking to / telling us about Sticky Fingers Blog which I’ve enjoyed reading and because it’s made me think and do posts like this one!

For lovely strange internet friends… DSC00456 and the community they come from.

For my little girl, who can be so beautiful 23Apr11 but so crazy Crazy girl.

For nature Turtle @ Dick Whittington Farm Park and the fab camera that helps me capture it.

For my gorgeous kitten who, it often feels, is the only one who loves me totally unconditionally. Percy

For my bike bike me3 which I totally love!

And for pictureless things such as my hubby, my ‘nutman’ and my RL friends.