Wise words, or just more advice from another guy claiming to have the answers?
Let’s get a few things straight. I don’t have the answers; in fact, I don’t have any. What I do have is my own experience, I have lessons learnt from reflection, open and honest conversations with those that matter to me, and I have time.
For me in many ways it started with writing, and let me say, being an engineer doesn’t necessarily give you the creative skills to write in a way people want to engage with you. So that in itself was a learning process, yet, one that was not as hard as I thought it was once I started.
My own experiences have seen me make mistakes, in fact some huge ones. It has seen me lose some friends, some for better, and some for worse. In terms of my mental health it has seen me do summersaults emotionally, physically and psychologically over the past 6-7 years. I would like to say, ‘in the end’ but this isn’t the end. In fact, there really is no end, there are just steps along the way that we know in ourselves (if we are completely honest with ourselves) we have achieved, or maybe need a little more work on.
If you have been reading this blog for some time you will know I have talked about what has helped me along the way. Things like, exercise, no booze, writing, study, this blog, have all played their part in getting me though the years of depression and anxiety to a place now where I am in back in control (well, mostly) of who and how I am. If you are new to this blog, go back to the start. Go back and see where I was a few years ago. I am sure you will see the difference, and hopefully some of it resonates with you and/or your own experiences.
One of the most recurring comments I get is that people love how honest I am with what I am feeling and what my experiences are. So here comes the next one…
Around 18 months ago a co-worker and friend of mine invited me to church one Sunday. To be honest I was really apprehensive about going, I had spent a life of not seeing God, nor really understanding any of the real detail other than what you learnt at school back in the 70s and 80s. At first it was an overload of the senses, entering this new world of faith and feeling like a complete newby. However, the second time I went (some weeks later) I had a very different experience, one that had me almost in tears. No I didn’t see Jesus or God appear before me and talk to me, but what I did experience was an overwhelming feeling of love. Of compassion, of ‘no one here really cares what or who you are, we are all a little broken’ type feeling. For me, it felt like home! It was a connection, one that is hard to explain in words. I knew one person at this church yet I felt like I knew them all. I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s honestly how it felt.
I went home that day and had a whole bunch of feelings running through my head. Was I a Christian now, was I a believer, or was I just caught up in the emotion of it all?
Several months later I came to the realisation that yes I was a believer and yes I now considered myself a Christian. In this day and age, labelling yourself as religious can be a liability, but for me it wasn’t really something I considered. In other words, if I lost some friends because I had decided to try and follow a way of life that for me, made me a better person then that was all the approval I needed. Some people don’t need a religion to do that, and that’s perfectly ok with me as well. After all, I spent most of my life living without god in my life. I don’t live a sin-free life, I don’t have sin-free friends and that’s OK to. I have no intention of preaching; I just have every intention of being a better person.
In so many ways I feel that each and every one of us live a religious life. If we consider religion a set of rules, guidelines or doctrine to live by, then we all fall into that category. In very basic terms a typical western democratic society is a religion all on its own. The rule of law, liberty, freedom of speech, equality under the law are all parts of the way a modern western democratic society ‘should’ function; yet they don’t. Why then do we choose to label religion as imperfect when very few people, if any, live perfect lives along side their own set of values, doctrine and beliefs. In other words, we all preach our own beliefs, but in our own alone time when we are with our conscious, are we really as perfect as we portray? I think not…and…you’re not alone!
Depression and anxiety are everyday problems today, so instead of focusing on preaching, I want to focus on helping people who need it. Sometimes just reading about how other people have handled their challenges can be enough to make them push on for another day. Let’s focus on helping you, you the one who is struggling with a divorce, losing a job, a person who has no money or hope. Lets share our victories and shout aloud when we kick a goal. I have friends from all walks of society, and by that I mean, political persuasion, gay, straight, Muslim, Hindu, atheists, black, white, and every beautiful colour and culture in between, and you know what? I love it…
In the end, the message is. Start right here, start with what’s on your mind, it might come out gibberish, it might come out as tears, but it needs to come out…start writing and it will come!