As we came out of chapel, I felt drunk! As we walked, (well, it felt like I staggered) to the car I managed to say/slur, “Rachel, I need to talk to you. I don’t know what happened in there but something happened to me.” I was unable to speak much in the car on the way home; I felt far too loved up on God for words. So we did what this girl is likely to forever do at pivotal moments…we went for hot chocolate! And in that hour, I became more and more convinced something had changed and was continuing to change within me. A new hope, a sense of calling and purpose for the future, a feeling of contentment I’d been dreaming about my whole life seemed suddenly very present. Positivity and peace weren’t confined to the movies or novels anymore – they were there reverberating around my heart.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed my energy levels have changed. Sometimes I feel tired but it’s a different kind of tired; a healthy feeling, not as oppressive as it used to be. Night times are very different. When I wake I’m not anxious like I used to be. Over the first couple of nights it felt like a deep sense of peace and pleasurable wellbeing almost rocked me quietly back off to sleep.
Things I suspect I used to numb some of the pain e.g. Facebook, TV, shopping, now feel renewed; not banned as evil, just here to be enjoyed without a need to rely on them. Here’s the real shocker – I’ve changed the way I think about chocolate; I don’t seem to want it so much. Don’t panic! This girl ain’t changing that much – I will always want it; I just don’t feel like I need it so much now!
I am starting to enjoy looking after myself. Eating has begun to seem less of a chore. I wear makeup more often and when I look at what I want to wear it’s with a much stronger sense of myself and enjoyment of the creativity.
My mind is a whole lot quieter than it was! Of course I still fret sometimes, I’m only human, but I seem to hear the prompt to surrender things to God quicker than I used to. I don’t seem to need to work out solutions for the world and its wife’s problems so much and I feel more able to accept life in the moment as it is.
I am trusting my instincts and am not as much of a slave to what I think I ‘should’ do. I’ve even started wanting to do the washing up (I know – second shocking statement!!) instead of wondering whether I have the energy to make myself do what I feel I ought.
I’m reading a lot more – to the point of parking up to read under a light in Asda car park on a cold February evening whilst waiting for Hannah to come out of rehearsals! I am really hungry to know more of God’s love for me.
There seems more peace and love in the Bible as I read it. I’m much quicker to notice God’s desire for personal relationships and the joy and freedom He brings. And I have a renewed desire to worship, playing the piano with new expression that I’d only had a glimpse of before. It’s been an absolute joy to play the church songs of my childhood with fresh eyes on the lyrics and a new understanding of God’s sheltering hand throughout my life.
As Rachel was praying for me a few days later, she asked God to reconnect the synapses in my nervous system. And that’s the best summary I can think of to describe what it feels like. Old negative pathways of thinking, that I used to go down so easily, seem to be travelled less often. I definitely feel lighter in my spirit about lots of things and other people have noticed ‘a new lightness’ in me.
This road to recovery has not been a divine quick fix. The work I have put in towards my mental recovery and the physical rest and medication I needed were and continue to be vital. But this latest assurance that God loves me person to person feels like a spiritual seal on the physical and mental recovery. Like a piece of shabby chic furniture the old ‘me’ had to be sanded down by crisis, primed with medication and rest, repainted in new shades of thinking and then sealed with the varnish of a personal experience of God’s love.
That’s not to say I won’t suffer the occasional knock that cuts through to the bare wood again. Of course there will be times when I feel less than joyful. Like Peter, I’d love to build a tent and stay up the mountain but life isn’t like that. Some days will be easier than others but the lightness in my spirit has remained thus far. Not through my own effort – in fact every time I ‘try’ I take a step further away from the joy. The joy is in the resting and the letting be (something I used to be desperate to know how to do.)
“Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
Ephesians 3:19b-20 The Message