Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Psalm 42 and the blues

Hello God.

I suppose I've been keeping my distance lately. I'm not sure what to say. I'm definitely struggling to pray at the moment; I keep planning to find quiet time; to sit down with my Bible and my books and maybe my computer and to find some time to think. To write down what I want to say because I can't seem to pin down my thoughts when I just try to pray in my head. I start and then within seconds I'm distracted. I can't seem to focus or find words unless I'm formulating sentences to write. 

So I guess I'd better write. 

Lord, it's Autumn. It's raining, and the trees are shedding leaves and the flowers are dead or dying and the ground is soggy and it's dank and dark and miserable. So am I. I don't like this time of year. I know you have your reasons; I know about the cycle of nature and I know about hibernation (yes please - can I just hole up till Spring? Will everyone leave me alone for a few months?) and I know about the need for energy preservation and dormant periods and so on but it still doesn't convince me that you couldn't have found a more cheerful way of doing it all.  Why can't we have blue skies and sunny days that lift our spirits? Why does it have to be a long, slow, depressing slide into Winter? 

I'm really in need of something. I think I'm properly depressed and I can't seem to get myself out of it. I'm alright on one level, getting up in the morning and going about my business, but then someone asks me how I am and I go to pieces. As long as I don't have to cope with anything - rise to the occasion, so to speak - I'm fine. But if something happens, then the poise that I've spent years mastering disappears in an instant and I dissolve.

Earlier this year I was really going well. I was excited and expectant and I felt you close by and I was loving it. Things went wrong but I bounced back and I knew you were with me, teaching me, showing me things, leading me forwards. It was great. I was on top of the world and I had an amazing sense of anticipation. I thought that you had something in store and I felt ready. That's all gone. 

I've been reading Psalm 42 and it really strikes a chord with me.

'As the deer pants for streams of water,
So my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?'

It's ok for David to speak like this in the Psalms, in the Bible, Lord, but I suppose I feel a bit daft comparing myself to a deer. And the panting thing...not sure...but I just feel as if I'm longing for the closeness that I felt only a few months ago. I was in a place where I thought I could hear you. I was full of ideas, so much so that sometimes my head was so full that I couldn't scribble on scraps of paper fast enough. I was full of enthusiasm and optimism and plans for the future. Plans that I thought were your plans. I thought anything was possible. I want that back.

'My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me all day long, "Where is your God?"'

There are lots of tears here at the moment. It sounds like David was weeping rather than eating but you know that it's not how it works with me, God. I do the eating as well as the weeping. I lost a lot of weight earlier on this year and it's creeping back on - so that doesn't help morale any either. Where are you when I need you?

'These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.'

Yep, exactly. At Easter this year I went to church at every opportunity. Well, that might not strictly be true and I know that there's no fooling you - but I was there loads. I was involved in lots of things, I contributed, I went to pray, I went to praise and I went to be with my church family. Right now I feel like running away. I can't pray, when I try to worship I start to cry and I am avoiding people because I can't make conversation without appearing unhinged and pathetic. I started to cry in a meeting the other week and I can't be doing that. People will think I'm nuts. 

'Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?'

I could give you a dozen reasons why I'm downcast and then I could think of a dozen more. Life is hard. I didn't want to come back from our wonderful holiday because I knew that reality would hit back and it has; being prepared didn't help. I've spent the last few months coping with breast lumps, financial problems, employment issues, business difficulties and illnesses of members of my family; Katy's surgery (twice) and now the children are struggling with school. My littlest girl who has been through so much this year has started school and she's sad every morning and hangs onto me and it's just the final straw. 

Take this morning.  Lizzie has been separated from her friends in her new class.  The other girls on her table were together before in the other class and today they were exchanging party invitations. Each of them ended up with three and Lizzie watched as they laughed and compared notes but there was no invitation for her. My heart broke and I just wanted to say, 'Come on my little love. Let's go home.' 

Onward to Katy's class and she clung to me like a baby monkey. Her eyes were big and tear filled and her chin was trembling. Her teacher wanted a word (because she was upset yesterday at lunchtime) and Katy's little shoulders heaved even though she didn't make a sound. I was steered towards the door and as I turned to wave bye bye she beckoned me with a small movement of her hand, tears rolling down her face. The classroom assistant moved over to comfort her and her teacher told me to go. I walked away from my little girl and I so wanted to scoop her up and tell her it was alright, she doesn't need to stay if she doesn't like it. 

That's why my soul is downcast. My soul is all over the place. I don't know how to cope with my worries and I'm having nightmares that disturb me too. 

'Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?'

Everything is going wrong, that's why. I need you and I can't find you.

'Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
My saviour and my God.'

Oh Lord I do hope in you. I keep hoping that I'll stumble upon you sometime soon; that you'll tell me the answer to some of these problems. That you'll show me what you want me to do about all the uncertainties and difficulties that I'm in the middle of at the moment. Things that need sorting out quickly and things that are more long term. I do trust you. It's just that I need to act on some of this stuff and I don't know which way to turn. 

I do sometimes get a glimpse of how life might be if I did manage to hand over these things to you. If I did actually manage to give you my worries and not take them back. Even now, I know that what I'm struggling with is the sense that I can't feel your presence; I do know that you are there. I really don't know what I'd do if I thought that you weren't there at all. How much worse life could be if there was a genuine absence of you in my life. If there were no God? I believe; I just have so many questions and I don't know how to wring an answer out of you.

'I say to God my Rock,
Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?'
My bones suffer mortal agony 
as my foes taunt me..'

You are my Rock. I am holding on to you as if the tide will wash me away. I know that you haven't forgotten me. I'm sure David did, too; and I am aware that the stakes for him were higher than mine are now. He was King of Israel - Big Guy from the Bible; I'm just a stay at home mum who's got the blues. I am going about mourning. I keep trying to focus on positives because I know that what I dwell on will increase in size and all I'm doing is compounding my depression by analysing it. Someone yesterday asked if there was nothing positive I could tell him and I honestly couldn't think of anything at all. 

A wise friend told me yesterday that maybe I just have to stand at the moment. Not move on, not do anything, just stand. As the waves break over me, just stand. I can see the sense in this; the poetry, even, but what I don't see is how I go forward with all the stuff that I need to sort out at the moment. Phone calls that need making, letters that need writing, decisions that need making. So I can stand, difficult though that might be at times, but I can't just do nothing indefinitely.

'My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me...'

I don't suppose my bones suffer mortal agony; I think I might have arthritis in my left thumb and my hips are often stiff, but I suppose I should be thankful that my bones are not in mortal agony. Thankyou for that. My foes aren't exactly taunting me, either. I do worry that in my own home my current defeatism doesn't exactly help your light to shine in my life. If I could bounce back again from this latest onslaught I'd be a much better witness to you than I am in my current miserable state. 

'Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
My saviour and my God.'

Amen, Lord. I don't have many options really but to keep on keeping on and to trust that you have it under control. I know that you hold the universe in your hand and I know that you love me. You know what you're doing; it's just that I don't, and I'm hurting at the moment. I'm like Katy with tears rolling down my face and I feel as if you're walking away out of the classroom door and I don't know what to do. It doesn't seem fair that I'm on my own. I want you to pick me up and carry me. Just give me an idea of how to go forward, Lord and I will. If you want me to step out in faith, Lord, just tell me which direction?

I will praise you because I know that whether I feel you there or not, you are there. I will put my hope in you because I know that you haven't yet let me down and you won't let me down now. I will praise you because you deserve praise - you are my saviour and my God. 

I don't understand but you have told me that I don't need to understand, only to believe. 

Come soon, will you?

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