So it would seem that I haven’t written anything in the last few months. Like, since March. Since EASTER. So I’m really sorry about that.
A little Annie update, as I have been a little busy: since Easter, I’ve started a new, proper-adult job, finished my undergrad degree, applied for a Masters degree, moved out of one house and back to another, left one church and come back to another, and today I got back from a holiday.
Life has been hectic.
I’d like to say that I’ve dealt with the ongoing change amazingly well and that I have managed to keep it together over the last few months since I last wrote to you all. The truth is, however, that would just be a lie. I’ve cried more tears than I thought I had stored up in my eyes, woken up late at night in a blind panic that everything is changing; worrying that I haven’t done enough work or revision, or that I haven’t made the most of my time and have let so many parts of my life fall to nothing. One of my ‘triggers’, for lack of a better word, has always been change. I’ve had some dark thoughts and dreams in this whole process and for a little while I was overcome with the worry that the depression I’m managing to contain and control was making a comeback.
The worst thing about it all for me was the thought of returning to places and people with nothing to show for it. As grateful as I am to my family and my church and friends here in Essex, its been a massive hurdle for me to overcome at the thought of living here again. I’m not here as a teenager anymore, but as a proper adult who pays tax and owns a car that actually works (oh yeah, FYI, Dame Judy failed the MOT test. Just in case I hadn’t mentioned it already, its Dame Helen now – and she runs just fine). The biggest lie I think I was sold as an undergraduate was that by the end of my degree I would have enough money to have my own place, and not have to be semi-reliant on my parents for a roof over my head anymore. Moving home was never part of my plan – but I guess, as always, God has another plan.
In the midst of heaving up my life and, quite literally based on the state of the unpacked boxes and semi-organised old room, I seem to have misplaced myself. The point of it all is, guys, is that my old room is now my new room. It is my room. Period. My old house is my new house, my old church and neighbourhood are now my new church and neighbourhood. It’s not that I live in a horrible place, or that the people and community here are awful and nasty, because that is also a lie. There is a lot of love for me here, and a lot of people that I love here too. But when I moved back in and left uni behind, even though I have the dream job in the bag and a lot of memories (memories that are currently boxed up as pictures and souvenirs, with a new place to call home), it felt like moving back here was a step back and that somehow I had failed.
When I was crying on my mum about feeling like I hadn’t quite made it, and all I could think about was how rubbish I am,
When in the midst of having to rebuild my life in an old-new place, and all I can see in myself is the rubbish and the sin and broken bits,
Do you get what I’m trying to say?
One of my all time favourite bible passages is this:
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives…
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour…
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise, instead of a spirit of despair”
– Isaiah 61: 1-3 (NIV, paraphrased)
God is still God regardless of the chaos that my life might seem to be in currently. He has to be, otherwise what’s the point? Recently, I have been the brokenhearted and the captive. But I have also been in the year of the Lord’s favour, even when it didn’t feel like it. I still am in the year of the Lord’s favour – and I will be next year, and the year after. For me, the year of the Lord’s favour is Jesus, and He has said that He will neither fail me nor forsake me, forget me nor leave me. God is God, and God is good.
As I settle into life here again, and I get back into church and unravel myself from all of this confusing life changing upheaval, and well, change, I can just let God be God. I can let him place that crown of beauty on my head – even though I probably don’t deserve it – and he can cleanse me with that oil of joy instead of this spirit of despair that just seems to accompany that stomach-churning sadness of change. Don’t get me wrong, change can be good – and there are aspects of this that is good, but there are also aspects that are sad, and that is definitely okay too.
Yesterday I got back from Ireland. I’ve spent the last few days trekking round Dublin with my best friend seeing the sights and doing all of the super fun tourist stuff (like the Guinness Storehouse, a Dublin bus tour, drinking Irish cider and watching Irishmen sing in a pub, etc…). Here we are Christ Church Cathedral:
(That’s Lauren at the front, and me lurking in the back. Turns out the best thing to wear to a Cathedral is a bright red mac!)
While we were on our travels, I noticed that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising by the rebels that led to independence from Britain in 1916. This post is definitely not meant to be political at all, but the point is that the city was celebrating that change and new direction for the country, despite all of the suffering and the deaths and the horror at the time. I’m not trying to compare me moving back to Essex to what is probably the biggest political upheaval in Irish history, but the point is the same. There is a lot to be celebrated around change, and a lot of excitement too.
And as for all of the old stuff I’ve moved back to, I don’t think God sees it as old or redundant. I think God sees old and new the same way; he sees an opportunity. Ever read that bit in Corinthians where Paul talks about clay jars?
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed”
– 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9 (ESV)
I am definitely a clay jar. Sometimes I feel like biggest one. I feel like the one with the most cracks and the roughest edges, the one with the biggest faults or the worst sins and just so unworthy or anything good. In all of this change, these thoughts are the ones that have followed me. In my sinfulness, I’ve then turned away from God to cope with all the change until (as is usually the case with me) I realise that God’s the one who’s got it and can sort it, and suddenly I’m biting his ear off chatting away to him about it all. Sorry, God. But anyway. As a clay jar, and a broken one at that, I might not be the ideal choice for treasure. But as I said before, God’s plan is always different – and always better. He has given me treasure and all of the power, all of the coping, all of the strength to carry on from the last few months – that’s all been down to God. So thank You, JC.
Am I ready for this next chapter? Not really. Am I a bit scared about it all? Definitely. But what I’m trying to say, is that all of this old stuff and the bits of my life in all of its changeability right now, the stuff that I would call a clay jar, God calls a home; God calls a beginning and an opportunity. After all, “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Bring it on (eek!).
Peace and blessings x