The way home

 

The Next Adventure

Writing those songs really helped me. It opened the way for conversation between me and God. I still wasn’t totally sure if I believed in him; and I wasn’t free from the pressure of ‘saving my mum.’ Then one day something really weird happened. My mum and I were having lunch together (are you seeing a pattern?) and she brings up God, and how she’s beginning to wonder if He exists. I thought about telling her that I wondered that too, but decided to keep quiet. She continued to tell me that she had noticed all these little coincidences going on in our lives that made this journey a whole lot easier. For example,¬†we had by complete accident run into one of my mum’s school friends (a lovely lady my mum hadn’t seen since she was my age!).

I wish I could list the other examples my mum gave, but I just cannot remember them. But I can remember my own. I had left the city which I loved, because I felt like God was calling me home. A man had left his job at a local charity that meant there was a job open for me when I came home, which enabled me to put into practise what I had learnt working in the city. My flatmate had moved out in January, meaning that I had had to move home in March, giving me my last few months with my mum. My boss at the charity was Donna’s husband, and when we found out that my mum was terminal, he let me go on compassionate leave to care for her and enjoy those last few months together. It seemed as though God had been working on the details of my life to make sure I was home, with my mum. And then it occurred to me: if God could work all the details of my life for me to have these final days with her, did he really need me to introduce my Mum to Him? God is God, and I am not. He does not need my help.

My Mum shared ideas about God with me, and encouraged me in my faith. Hearing my mum speak about God, knowing that she had began to notice him during my month of atheism, when I was definitely not trying to make her a Christian, helped to me to believe that if there was a God, he was not dependent on me. In fact, the timing seemed to suggest that He wanted me to know that.

However I was still not totally convinced he existed; questioning whether he was real had allowed so many hurts to surface, times where I felt God had let me down, or that Christians had been fake. I still could not read my Bible without coming across a passage that put into question God’s goodness.

Could it be that my Mum would find God and I would lose him?

Within You…

Within You...

 

… is a wealth of strength
… is an abundance of peace,
… is a mighty ROAR,
… is life,
… is joy to overflow.

Rose,

You are wonderful and very inspiring.

Thank you for encouragement, it means a lot. Not just your words, but the fact that you are here and doing life, here with friends and family, iron sharpening iron.

God sees your heart, dreams, ambitions, worries, anger and everything in between. He will never leave you – never. His love for you is constant and without limits.

Kim x

 

photo credit: Key Foster via photopin cc

With Love

photopin grandmother

Dear Rose,

I feel like there should be something profound I can say that makes this whole thing easier, but if there is, I don’t know what it is. All I do know is that the world is full of people who love you, and I hope you know I am one of them.

I know that you are brilliant, and strong, and that you will be okay. I know that, but I also know that sometime’s it will be hard, but that it is okay to hurt. Losing my step-father changed my family in ways I didn’t expect, and in ways I knew it would, but the one thing that did surprise me is that it didn’t mean that he was gone, not completely anyway. He was still there in the notes he had written, and the books that he had chosen, and the memories he had made. Stupid things that didn’t mean anything at the time, they were the things I remembered afterwards, and they made me smile.

Sometimes when I think about when we were younger I remember the number of times you told the story about asking your mum about the dinosaurs, or when she would drop us at school sometimes, or when she and my mum were telling us off for getting muddy before school and other silly little things.

I suppose what I am getting at is that everyone who met your mum will carry a little part of her with them, and that is a good and happy thing.

The only thing I can’t not say, is that it’s important not to get too caught up in looking after everyone else, it’s good to feel, and it’s good to feel whatever you need to. It’s okay not to be sad, and it’s okay to laugh, and to be happy and it’s okay to cry and be angry. I know all of this, but I know I felt pretty sucky for not being as sad as I felt I should be, I don’t want you to.

I know everyone will have said this, and I have said this a bunch of times myself, but if you need anything, even if it is something stupid like cake, just let me know.

With love,

Anna Banana

The reply

The Reply

Hi Rose,

That’s great news re job, thanks for letting me know. Thanks too for sharing how you are feeling and your honesty, this is such a tough time and hardly surprising you are struggling to make sense of it. It sounds though that you are doing ok and I hope you can go easy on yourself and be kind to yourself in all this.

I’m pleased to hear you are talking this through with Donna. I can’t offer easy answers but wanted to reassure you that doubt, questioning God, being angry etc. is all ok and probably even important as we grow in our faith. It may not help but I still ask some of those same questions and battle with doubt. In fact as someone said, if we knew for certain, it wouldn’t be faith!

God is love! That is who he is, his essence, and so he can do no other than love. He loves your mum and knows her heart in a way you do not, he longs for her to find him and know him and his grace is what matters not whether we think she has responded in the way we think she should. I think we often limit God and the work of the Spirit because we think it’s all about us and making that commitment yet we don’t see Jesus demanding that response, he treated everyone differently. Your mum has suggested an openness to know more and God will work in that, with or without our input!

I think it’s important you make those memories with your mum, pray for her and with her especially when discussion is difficult, read the bible to her if you can to reassure her of God’s love and presence but most of all, continue being the best daughter you can be ( it sounds like you are already!) And let God be God and take care of her knowing he is with her and you, even when it doesn’t feel that way.

You are doing great so keep going, keep trusting and may you know his presence and comfort as you walk through the valley (psalm 23:4).

The Email

work

This year I have been doing a internship with the Anglican Church, alongside working for a charity.

During the last intern training day, several weeks before my mum’s death, we were asked to leave an anonymous note in the box at the front saying what we had learnt about God during the internship and what difference the internship had made to us. I wrote something along the lines of, “This year I have seen teenage girls suffer and struggle with abuse, I have sat with people who have tried to kill themselves, and I have known one of them to succeed. I am tired, and I wonder where is God in the midst of this? I joined this year, excited and ready to change the world for God; now I wonder if he even exists.”

I thought the box was anonymous, apparently not. The next week I received a message from the course tutor telling me he was concerned, and would I like to talk?

This was my reply:

Hi Dan,

Thank you, I appreciate it.

I’ve just been accepted for an apprenticeship in administration for a small family business not far from my hometown. My mum’s best friend runs the company and she offered me the job. I’ll be doing an NVQ in admin whilst covering for a girl whose on maternity leave for 12 months, but even though it’s an apprenticeship, they’ll pay me minimum wage.

It’s great because it gives me some financial security of my own for the next 12 months, but it also gives me more time to work out whether I want to pursue ministry or not.

We had a meeting with the doctor last week, who told me the average time between cancer spreading to the brain and death, and we will definitely receive the life insurance which will cover the mortgage, so that’s one less worry. However, my mum doesn’t believe in God and the more time stretches on, the less she reasons like herself and the more I feel that any commitment she makes to God now would not be fair as she is often not in her normal mind. She cries randomly, reasons like she has aspergers, and she can get nasty. It’s not just the emotional effects of cancer, her personality is changing. My Dad isn’t feeling well and is sleeping on the sofa so I am sharing her bed, in case anything should happen in the night, and nearly hourly she sits up, puts the light on and writes. It’s really weird, but I can’t reason with her.

2 years ago, I prayed that God would make sure someone would be with my Nan when she lost consciousness before dying. She wasn’t particularly ill, but being in the city, I thought it a good idea. She died of pneumonia the night I went back to the city, being robbed by a drug addict. If that’s what happened with my Nan’s death, I don’t feel I can trust him with my Mum’s death.

I already struggled to trust him because of the girls I’d worked with who had such a rubbish ride; some were abused or raped as children, and several tried to kill themselves. One of my friend’s died of a heroin overdose in February. If God is all-loving and all-powerful, how could he watch these children and young people suffer and not make himself obvious to them? How could he watch as those Korean school children drowned? It’s horrific to imagine what drowning would feel like to a frightened teenager and yet that’s how God killed all the people in the great flood. Every man, woman and child. It makes me wonder, what kind of God am I worshipping?

God’s watching all that’s happening with my family now, and I feel like when I believe in God, that he is real and good and powerful, it is so important that my mum comes to know him before she dies, and although I know it is not my responsibility, I find my mum stops being my mum and becomes my mission and that’s an awful pressure to hold. In those time’s, instead of being able to appreciate the time we have together and using it to make memories, I worry and try to find opportunities to talk about God. When he’s not real, it’s not a problem, we can just relax and enjoy the time left with no agenda. I feel frightened that she may be so close to finding him but that he’ll kill her right before she meets him. That I won’t be quick enough, or worse that the quicker I try, the quicker he’ll kill her off because he doesn’t want her to find him.

I’ve been trying for weeks to get my mum and Donna to meet up and every time I set it up, something got in the way, be it other visitors, my mum being ill or nurses coming over. Last week, after telling me that God’s not real and if he is, he’s a shit, she admitted to Donna that one day, she would like to talk to her about God and dying, but not yet. My mum think’s she’s got a year, but it’s really more like a month or two. The cancer’s like a ticking time bomb in my mum’s body, but God has the ability to slow it down long enough for her to find him. The idea that he may choose not to, makes me angry with him, but I don’t want to believe in a God who isn’t loving, so I’m not sure I believe in him at all.

On the flip side, all of this past year can’t be enough to destroy everything I’ve already seen and experienced of God, can it? I’ve got to believe that God is an all-loving, all-powerful God. I’ve seen and heard too many things for it not to be true.

So I’m not quite sure whether to believe in God or not, but I think that’s okay. I’ll work it out in the end and this apprenticeship will give me time to think about it.

That’s a really long and ranty message, I only meant to say thank you and tell you I’d got a job :-/ Nevermind, sending it anyway.

See you next Thursday,

Rose