Tuesday, 16 February 2016

On cutting Glenn Hoddle some slack

I don't like Glenn Hoddle.
Every time I see him on TV,
which in our house is quite often,
I say something derogatory.

'Why is he even on there?
He was sacked as England manager.'
Is my usual response to his punditry.

Definition alert:
Punditry is a technical term meaning a person,
usually a man, who can talk incessantly about football.

That's most men, as far as I can tell.

On Saturday I was thinking about injustice.
I'd taken a photo of the tills in Tesco, ready for my Lent photo challenge.
But when I got home I took this photo.

Warning: Photo also contains Michael Owen.
I quite like him.
Though he has an annoying voice.
Not as annoying as Jamie Carragher.
What happened to commentators having nice voices?

Here's the photo:

Now I have my reasons for not liking Glenn Hoddle.
He was sacked as England manager in 1999 for making a silly remark about disabled people.
At the time we were leaders of a church that had a disabled lady as one of the members.
I was angry for her too.

But last Saturday,
as I contemplated injustice in another field,
I realised I was still judging him for something he said 16 years ago.

16 years...

And he'd been in a highly pressured job.
What if he had made a mistake?
What if his words had come out wrong?
What if it was time to cut him a bit of slack?

Don't get me wrong,
I'm not excusing what he said.
His words deeply hurt a lot of people.

But I'm not sure I'd like every word I've uttered over the past 16 years
recorded and replayed for all to hear.
Would you?

We all make mistakes.
I make loads.
All the time.

And forgiveness is free.
I know because I've received it more than I deserve.

I can be quick to judge.
And I have the memory of an elephant.
But I think maybe it's time for me to stop judging people,
not just Glen Hoddle if I'm honest,
for mistakes.
For words said in haste.
For actions that should be long-forgotten by now.

And maybe it's time to choose freedom for myself;
by accepting apologies I never received,
from people who have never offered them.

Maybe it's time to extend to others the kind of forgiveness I have received.

To love as I have been loved.

To view people through the eyes of Christ.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

On Time to Talk Day.

Today is #TimetoTalk Day.
The day designated to get people talking about 'mental illness.'

As I type I realise that people often focus on the word 'mental',
and don't get as far as the world 'illness'.
And that's half the problem.

I have an illness.
A mental health illness.

I don't have mental health 'issues'.

I'm not 'mental.'

I have an illness.

An illness that doesn't necessarily make me sad,
though sometimes it does.

The symptoms I get make me feel empty,
unable to hold a conversation.
and I get marshmallow-brain, or brain fog.

Sometimes I struggle to put one foot in front of the other.
Sometimes I'm irritable and snappy.
Sometimes I can't sleep for night after night,
and sometimes I can do it with my eyes shut....
Sometimes I'm tearful.

Sometimes I can hold it all together to work,
do what's required,
and you'd never know anything was wrong.
Then afterwards I'm wrung out like a dish-rag.
Fit for nothing.
At it's worst, it feels like the Dementors have sucked out my very soul.

I have an illness.
I've had it for over 21 years.
It was first diagnosed after I gave birth to my eldest son.

But he, and my other sons,
my husband,
my family,
my life,
my lifestyle,
my work,
my outlook,
my personality,
my character,
my work-ethic,
my levels of faith,

are not to blame.

No-one is to blame.
Illness of any kind tends not to discriminate.

There are things that don't help of course.
I know my limits and work within them as far as possible.

I work with people.
People of all kinds,
all situations,
all kinds of needs;
And sometimes it feels as if everyone wants a piece of me.

But I'm learning to be mindful.
To see the signs.
Avoid the triggers if I can.
And withdraw and rest when necessary.

Prayer sometimes helps.
But often it doesn't.
Believe me I've been prayed for,
People have prayed earnestly.
I have cried,
screamed at God.
God has come near, but not healed.

Depression is part of my life.
It's not who I am.
It's an illness I have.
I live with it.
As do my family.

It's not always easy for them.
But they are wonderful, independent, capable men and boys,
who show endless affection to me.
They also cook and do the washing as required!
We talk.
A lot.

On the whole life is good.
I have days when I feel a failure, inadequate, weak and hopeless.
They don't usually last for too long,
but occasionally they do.
The medication keeps me fairly level,
as does walking, yoga and meditation.

I tend to go with the flow these days.
Constant battling is exhausting,
and doesn't work anyway.
I try to be kind to myself when I'm struggling.
Much as I would be to anyone else.

So there you have it.
Life in my world.

I have an illness, not a weakness.
Let's talk about it.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

On Candlemas

Today is Candlemas.
The day that remembers Mary & Joseph presenting Jesus in the Temple.
They met Simeon & Anna;
Both prophets.
Both faithful.
Both very, very old.

God had given them a promise, it would seem.
And it was many, many years before they saw Jesus,
the promised One.
Many, many winters.
Maybe they had thought 'Is this the one?'
Only to have their hopes dashed
Over and over again.

And you know I can relate.
Maybe you can too?
I live with an illness that varies in intensity,
but never completely subsides.

And with every prayer that is prayed for me
and over me
and with me,
my hope rises.

Now Lord?
Is it now?
Has healing come?
And it would seem the answer is invariably,

The last seven days have been difficult.
I sensed 'an episode' on it's way.
This time I didn't fight it so hard.
I took some time.
Cancelled some stuff.
Watched some films.
Slept a bit.
Then slept some more,
And worked when necessary.

Today has been a heavy day pastorally.
And when I walked the dog a few hours ago, I started to notice a few things.
Buds on a branch...
Catkins on a tree...
Rose-tinted sky...

And when I got home, this....


It's a snowdrop.
Or a Candlemas bell as it's also known.
And it's growing in the middle of our recently-turfed lawn.
Just one.
Not particularly beautiful.
From nowhere, it would seem.

I certainly haven't noticed it before today.
The day that is Candlemas.
The day when Jesus was recognised as the One who would bring light to the darkness of earth.
The Light of the World.
Not just for the Chosen, but for everyone.

This flower is a symbol of hope apparently.

In the darkness.
Amid the hardness that is life.
Amongst sickness that goes on and on despite prayers for healing.

There's always hope.

Wishing you a happy and hope-filled Candlemas.