The Ex Files and Going it Alone

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Man portrait

Man portrait (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

I don’t see Ex as much now and it is helping me. I do miss his company but one needs to detach and, anyway, why would you want to spend a lot of time with someone who has not only rejected you but chosen to be with someone else, albeit after he ended the marriage?

But I did talk to him about how we singles can get so tired of having to cope with everything on our own. I wasn’t accusing and he was very sympathetic and did not try to fix my problems, which is good (boundaries).  I used to be the sorter out anyway but at least in the marriage you felt you were a team – of two. (Though this can be an illusion, as often married people are not in the SAME marriage.)

Ex asked me if I was doing anything about my single state. That misses the point. I wasn’t  saying that it was a problem that needs to be solved sharpish but that the reality of going it alone can be hard. All my single church friends feel this way at times.

I text him the next day:

“I am doing something about my single state. Finding out who I am, what I believe, and what I will or will not accept in a man and so on. I am the most important person in my life right now! I do know some great single men but just as friends. x x”

He said that sounded like a sensible approach. Pity we could not talk as calmly when we were together as we do now. But they say that relationships fuel the fire of intimacy – hence, all our issues rise to the surface, to be worked out in the relationship. Sometimes this working out is brilliant and supportive and sometimes it turns destructive and unhelpful.

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Rereading King’s Cross by Tim Keller

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Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

And this time I’m making notes.

I loved this book first time around but  I appear to understand more this time. Attending church sermons, listening to CCM, going to Life Group – I must be learning even though sometimes I feel like a right thicko!

I have reached Chapter Five.

Am following Tim Keller on Twitter. Had the audacity to qualify a comment he made. “Bold, very bold!” as Julian and Sandy from Round the Horne, would have said. Keller is the man Newsweek described as: “A C S Lewis for the twenty-first century.”

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Making Yourself Heard | Research

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Research as preparation for public speaking, preaching, by one of the pastors at My Church.

ON THE WAY

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I often get asked for help or feedback about preaching, teaching and general public speaking. In the next few posts I will pass on some of the things that are useful for me. Obviously they will reflect my particular field of communication – but I am sure that some skills are transferable.

Let’s start with the research that is needed prior to the delivery.

 Prayer is your first step in preparation. That way you acknowledge your dependence and humble submission to serve Him and His people. Ask God for guidance/clarity with regards to your message. He might guide you through a passage, an idea or sometimes just speak on what you are passionate about or what you have been asked to.

 Read the passage(s) at least 10 times in different versions of the Bible (see http://www.biblegateway.com). Read slowly and carefully, underlining or circling words that catch your attention…

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Ladies Matter

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Frustrated ‘cos I can’t go to this do at the church called tonight called Ladies Matter.

(Probably quite of lot of Ladies Natter, going on too!) There is no Life Group tonight.

I’ve been out with my ex-mother-in-law today and had other things on and am in quite a lot of pain.  But I have to keep telling myself that I could not go to anything at church or elsewhere for six weeks or more when I was under ‘house arrest‘ following surgery… And I must remember that one’s journey is not just about going to church and other churchy do’s and getting a  buzz from being with the people and doing/hearing spiritually uplifting things.

I guess it is about going beyond the Be Thou My Hobby syndrome.

LADIES HOME JOURNAL, SWIMSUIT LAYOUT

LADIES HOME JOURNAL, SWIMSUIT LAYOUT (Photo credit: George Eastman House)

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The Christian Life – No Cakewalk

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Cover of "Care of the Soul"

Cover of Care of the Soul

“Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean life is suddenly a cakewalk.” I paraphrase words I read somewhere recently.

Religion has been called “the opiate of the masses” [Die Religion… ist das Opium des Volkes] – Karl Marx. Or a comfort – like a snuggly blanket. It does not seem to be like that at all when you are in it.

Choosing to live a Christian (Christ-like) life is one of the hardest things you can can do, surely? It means not taking the easiest path, staying true to a moral code that feels right and healthy, not flirting with the cute guy in the O2 shop (well, maybe a very little), not expressing anger (or ‘ire’, as I prefer to think of it) inappropriately, not being a wimp, not being too guarded, not being paralysed by fear (for submitting to God – a higher power – means giving up control), not indulging in envy (I do covet my neighbour’s ass, and I mean that in the material not bodily sense!), not popping a pill/shooting up to numb emotional pain that needs to be healed, not sticking your head in a vat of vodka for same, not getting into co-dependent relationships, forgiving what can seem to  be unforgivable… the list goes on.

It is VERY hard to trust that ‘every little thing’s gonna be alright’, as Martin Smith once sang, ‘cos God’s looking out for you. Following a Christian, spiritual path is HARD. But it feels right. On a deep level.

“A spiritual life of some kind is absolutely necessary for psychological health.” Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul. Man’s got a point.

Mark Hall, of Casting Crowns, talked about the song ‘Slow Fade‘. It’s about how we gradually slide into morally dodgy practices: “People don’t crumble in a day. You don’t fall, you fade. In your mind, there’s that pride that says ‘I’d never do that’… but you don’t just do it, it’s a slow, series of compromises, little ones that go there eventually, until you’re sitting in a place you’d never go, doing something you’d’ never do… and yet the way you’re living totally makes sense to you somehow because you’re so numb….No one crashes and burns. They just slowly fade away one little compromise at a time.”

 

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Utterly Puerile Verdict

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Austin - South River City: More Home Slice - N...

Austin – South River City: More Home Slice – Notorious B.I.G. (Photo credit: wallyg)

I have seen a turnaround in my music listening over recent months. I was giving Notorious B.I.G. a spin the other day (yeah, I know… at my age…) and I thought, ‘This is utterly puerile!’ I do like the laid-back sounds but the lyrics are nasty – but not even in an Eminem uber-Gothic way. Misogynistic.

I think one’s ‘walk’ does affect how you listen/see things – in a good, refreshed and renewed way.

Am not giving up my R Kelly though! Thing with Kelz is that his lyrics have a lot of humour  – and that gospel singing background and his religious upbringing make him a more complex artist. Plus the man is a modern day crooner, big time. I find listening to his music so relaxing. Reviews of his book Soulacoaster say R Kelz comes across as a bit of a jerk. But a jerk with humour is more acceptable to me!

See Mark Anthony Neal for more on R Kelly. 

Having lots of Delirious? moments this week.

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Sensual Celibacy

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Cover of "Sensual Celibacy: The Sexy Woma...

Cover via Amazon

Currently reading Sensual Celibacy by Donna Marie Williams. She writes so clearly and with real compassion and understanding. She is a Christian but not connected to any church. She is inclusive and, I feel, non-judgmental in how she talks about sex. I love this book.

The book is actually a program to follow but I was doing all the things she recommends anyway – and for the same reasons. Read it to see what they are! You’ll be surprised.

I only made a definite vow to remain celibate (until certain key elements are in place) quite recently even though I have been so for some time.

God is a bit of a joker, though, cos since I made that commitment I have received more attention from men (not church men, outside of it). He likes to test us. It’s great to enjoy attention but to know that I’ll just walk away with a mysterious smile – and my self-respect in tact!

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Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats

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Walter Langley - Silent Sorrow

Walter Langley – Silent Sorrow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thinking about why I blog. Came to the conclusion that one of the main reasons is ‘cos I suffer from a long-term physical illness. I mean, really long-term. You would notbe able to tellby looking at me or even spending some time with me. ICI – invisible chronic illness – is very isolating.

Blogging takes my mind of things – distraction, I guess – but it is a way of reaching out also. Doing so semi-anonymously helps.

I once read that the chronic illness sufferer lives a life of constant sorrow, is perpetually grieving for the life not lived. How true. How acute this grief is does ebb and flow.

At the moment I am prey to what my friend A calls ‘energy envy.’ EE is the pits. Hob-nobbing with my church friends has given rise to EE lately. They have so much energy and some of them do in a week what would take me eons to achieve. The person I currently live with, paying guest, is also a powerhouse of energy (he is only 27 though). It staggers me how much he can do in a day.

I ask God what I have done to deserve this chronic and acute suffering for so many years. I’m pretty hacked off with God! There is much theological debate on suffering and so on but when you are the one who has endured it for… well, I won’t say how long… it’s difficult. It just feels like words. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many worse off than me but I think I’m due a break. I pray for breakthrough. I’ve done the acceptance part but today, this week, I’m over that!

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‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby

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I do worry that the only times I seem to be happy, socially, these days are when I am doing things with the Church or my Christian friends – and a few other non-Christian friends. 

Will I detach from other friends/acquaintances and be left high and dry? Am I a victim of the Be Thou My Hobby syndrome? Yet… another part of me thinks this is who I am becoming, that this is the real deal. I hope so.

My main concern about My Church (i.e, this particular church) is that many members are conservative in nature and Conservative politically whereas I am from a Left-Liberal background.

Spring Heeled Jack as depicted by an anonymous...

Spring Heeled Jack – Cover of an English penny dreadful (1904) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I made a comment, quite a long one, in Life Group the other night and I did feel that they hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. It related to modern day versions of the Penny Dreadfuls like Chat and Take a Break and how publishers use them to make the poor and disenfranchised feel like their situations are not so bad after all in comparison to the horror stories they read.

There are people who are more on my wavelength in the church. They are a more intellectual (not saying I am, but I was quite political at university and so are some of my old friends and my Ex). I live in a fashionable, liberal area of a small city about six miles from the church. The church itself is in a semi-rural area.

My home area gets on my nerves, TBH, but I kind of fit its profile. It’s the hot spot for Guardian readers, public sector workers, same sex couples, Greens and liberals,  and snooty-nosed bicycle riders from down South who have settled here. (Actually, it really does get on my nerves!) 

In the church, female friend BL, Pastor 3, male friend SB and a couple of women who go to the divorce group seem to be more…thinking. Male friend SB is definitely the one person I’ve met since my separation who I have most in common with. (We are just friends and likely to remain so). He is a bit ‘out there’.  He can’t be classified easily. I’ve made assumptions about how he might think in the past – then he surprises me. That’s a good thing!

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All Night Long

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A collection of lit candles on ornate candlesticks

A collection of lit candles on ornate candlesticks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new experience came last night when I attended part of an All Night Prayer Meeting: 10pm start through to 8.30am with communion at 7.30am.

You could go for the whole night or just for a while, praying for community, healing, breakthrough etc. I made it for a couple of hours (due to my health issues). It was nice. The little church was lit by candles and there was music and singing and prayers, then chatting and snacking. A little tent had been erected too, in the church, with pillows and books, for peaceful retreat!

Most of the prayer warriors there are experienced Christians so I felt like a novice but that’s okay. I did not do much ‘out loud’ praying but I did write out a prayer and pin it to the cross and added names to various prayer sheets.

I’ve also started helping out with a pastoral team project. I can’t afford to tithe so thought that offering to ‘serve’ was a good measure.

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When Church Goes Wrong

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Loved this. Upbeat, funny and thoughtful at the same time.

The Undercover Christian

firetruck

I wasn’t at church this Sunday, but apparently during a particularly vigorous rendition of ‘Let Your Fire Fall’ the fire alarms went off and the building had to be evacuated.

I’m told, by the way, that it wasn’t a traditional ringing alarm but a slightly more unnerving recorded announcement that went something along the lines of, “there is an incident. This is an emergency. Please stay calm and leave the building by the nearest emergency exit. There is an incident…”

There are few things more likely to endanger my calm than the ominous-sounding word ‘incident’, which makes what is presumably a mundane electrical fault sound like a virus-triggered zombie apocalypse.

It’s wonderful when things go wrong during church services. From when the worship band sing different verses (and sometimes different songs) to those put up on the screen, to when visiting preachers accidentally swear during their talk. I have a faintly apocryphal story…

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‘Will You Still Care? Will You Be There?’

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Ludwig van Beethoven

Cover of Ludwig van Beethoven

 

This post comes from my other blog but is so apt for this one.

 

When Michael Jackson died in 2009 the song that was played most was Man in the Mirror. It spoke of his urge to bring people together, to look at oneself and change behaviour so you can help others, and talked of deprivation and discord. But it was not a Michael Jackson penned song. More appropriate would have been his sacred song ‘Will You Be There?’ from the Dangerous album.

 

Why so?

 

Firstly, it sounds like a negro spiritual. In fact, I was shocked to discover it was not an old tune but one written by MJ, though it was inspired by an Indian song, according to Wikipedia. Secondly, the lyrics, and especially the spoken part, speak, nay, shout out and resonate with the experience of his life, especially in the latter part of it. No matter what you think about his responsibility for some of the messes he got caught up in Michael Jackson himself must have felt very uncertain that the God he had always believed in and turned to was there for him. This is one of his least angry songs.

 

Thirdly, this is a “mature” song. There’s no talk of temptresses and vendettas or paranoia or dancing machines. It is a direct prayer, in song form.

 

The album version’s prelude is a lesser known segment from “Beethoven: Symphony No. 9; Fidelio Overture” Beethoven’s Ninth. Here is an original lyric from the symphony by Schiller with the translation below…

 

Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?

 

Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?

 

Such’ ihn über’m Sternenzelt!

 

Über Sternen muss er wohnen

 

 Do you bow down, millions?

 

Do you sense the Creator, world?

 

Seek Him beyond the starry canopy!

 

Beyond the stars must He dwell.

 

Those last two lines are beautiful, aren’t they? 

 

The way Jackson manages to meld this classical piece with the negro spiritual sound is masterful. Although the song, released in 1993, stayed on the UK charts for six weeks it never got the attention it deserved.

 

The full lyrics: 

 

“Hold Me
Like The River Jordan
And I Will Then Say To Thee
You Are My Friend

 

Carry Me
Like You Are My Brother
Love Me Like A Mother
Will You Be There?

 

Weary
Tell Me Will You Hold Me
When Wrong, Will You Scold Me
When Lost Will You Find Me?

 

But They Told Me
A Man Should Be Faithful
And Walk When Not Able
And Fight Till The End
But I’m Only Human

 

Everyone’s Taking Control Of Me
Seems That The World’s
Got A Role For Me
I’m So Confused
Will You Show To Me
You’ll Be There For Me
And Care Enough To Bear Me

 

(Hold Me) show me
(Lay Your Head Lowly)
told me
(Softly Then Boldly)
yeah
(Carry Me There) 
I’m Only Human

 

(Lead Me)
hold me
(Love Me And Feed Me)
yea yeah
(Kiss Me And Free Me) 
yeah
(I Will Feel Blessed)
I’m Only Human

 

(Carry)
Carry 
(Carry Me Boldly)
Carry yeah
(Lift Me Up Slowly)
(Carry Me There)
I’m Only Human

 

(Save Me)
save me
(Heal Me And Bathe Me)
lift me up, lift me up
(Softly You Say To Me)
(I Will Be There)
I Will Be There

 

(Lift Me)
i’m gonna care
(Lift Me Up Slowly)
(Carry Me Boldly)
yeah
(Show Me You Care)
Show Me You Care
(Hold Me)
whoooo
(Lay Your Head Lowly)
i get lonely some times
(Softly Then Boldly)
i get lonely 
(Carry Me There)
yeah yeah carry me there
yeah yeah yeah 

 

[Spoken]
In Our Darkest Hour
In My Deepest Despair
Will You Still Care?
Will You Be There?
In My Trials
And My Tribulations
Through Our Doubts
And Frustrations
In My Violence
In My Turbulence
Through My Fear
And My Confessions
In My Anguish And My Pain
Through My Joy And My Sorrow
In The Promise Of Another Tomorrow
I’ll Never Let You Part
For You’re Always In My Heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That’s So Not Going To Happen

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No tolerance, acceptance II

 (Photo credit: Juan Manuel Cruz del Cueto)

“You’ll repartner.” (Yuk – what a word.) “You’ll meet someone else.” “It just didn’t work out with you and your Ex.”

Tritesville, USA!

It’s a good job I’ve committed to the path of celibacy ‘cos otherwise I’d be even more pained. But not pursuing does not mean it doesn’t hurt or get lonely sometimes.

This time in my life is so reminiscent of my teens. I was always the “great girl”, the “mate”, “terrific”, and then later, “sexy/exotic” (I must have blossomed late). Always the bridesmaid…

Ex was different. He was the first man, I think, who saw me as a whole package, and a great one at that. He made me feel  like I was actually pretty not just interesting looking (like, what, weird!?). Just… special. He certainly wasn’t on a charm offensive. He veers towards tactlessness rather than charm!  But, yes, I suppose I felt accepted. Acceptance is a big deal for me. My most significant friendships are with those who accept me.

This is one reason why getting over a separation/divorce/split from a spouse can take such a long time. You do get over the person, you really do, but it takes longer to get over the issues that the split brings to the surface.  

 

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The Vanity of the Blogger

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Writing

Writing (Photo credit: jjpacres)

I’ve separated my Twitter and Facebook accounts so I can can use Twitter to connect with the coves who follow this blog and similar types while keeping FB more generalised. This Matthew Burt character, who I don’t even know, made a comment on FB about how he was going to blog about the vanity of blogging.

Hope he does ‘cos I sit here tapping away to people who don’t know me and I think: ‘why on earth should they care about what I think or my story? What utter vanity!’

But I can’t help myself. Some people can’t resist drink or drugs. Some are sports freaks and get fired up by football or marathon running. For me communication turns me on, especially in the written form. I write a lot – journaling (believe me, you don’t want to see that heartfelt scrawl!), in the work I do, blogging, Facebooking, texting. It drives me nuts sometimes. I wish I could be calm, be still!

I do wonder if it’s part of being an Only Child. One spent so many years entertaining oneself (quite happily for the most part, it has to be said) either through drawing or writing, creating stories, that it becomes second nature. Or maybe The Only has a greater need to communicate, to go outside of being… one. If you don’t make that first move as an Only the move to connect you end up in a state of Splendid Isolation!

Maybe I must go with the flow that God created for me. I’m a (bad) typist, tapper and writer. Better just accept it.

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Emotional Maturity and the Male

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tuesday

Tuesday (Photo credit: thundered cat)

I go to this art group every Tuesday. It is a specific group, unlike others in the area. For the last two weeks a new guy has attended. Let’s call him Martin. Not sure how old he is – maybe in his 30s.  My friend and I are staggered at how emotionally switched on he seems to be. I was so impressed I told him! (He has a fiancee so pretty obvious I was not hitting on him).

It’s hard to describe but he seems to have a lot of perception.  I have oftentimes despaired at the lack of emotional maturity I have witnessed in some men (not being sexist here, but it can be quite marked).

I might live to regret my words. I do tend to be over-enthuse! Still, just saying… impressed.

 

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Single and Celibate

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017 E-9, Goddesses visit Queen Maya who has vo...

017 E-9, Goddesses visit Queen Maya who has vowed Celibacy (detail) (Photo credit: Anandajoti)

A male friend from the divorce group is keen on the practice of celibacy, especially as one ‘regroups’ after the demise of a significant relationship/marriage. It can be a a great relief to make a conscious decision to be celibate.

Once you have said, ‘that’s the path for me until….’ (whatever your boundaries/conditions are) it is incredibly freeing. You can talk to those of the opposite sex without wondering if you are a) leading them on, b) expected to ‘perform’ in some way, c) ‘giving’ yourself away. It also means you can devote your energies to other things in life.

Don’t get me wrong: the sensual world is not to be decried. The power of touch is incredible. It makes us feel accepted, beloved, takes us ‘out’ of ourselves and teaches us about giving, receiving, etc. Even between marrieds it does not always have to be loving, a semi-religious, transcendent experience. Sometimes it is ‘sex’. And that’s okay as long as you both want that.

There are so many faces of celibacy though, aren’t here? Virginal celibacy. Enforced celibacy within marriages. Renewal through celibacy after a relationship breakdown or time on what people coyly call the ‘party scene’.

Maybe I should get some books about the subject.

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Programme About Celibacy on BBC Radio Four

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SOLO

SOLO (Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go)

Beyond Belief debates the place of religion and faith in today’s complex world. Ernie Rea is joined by a panel to discuss how religious beliefs and traditions affect our values and perspectives.

 

The role of celibacy differs cross-culturally among religious traditions, with some insisting on it and others prohibiting it. Obligatory celibacy for Catholic priests in the West was introduced in 1130, yet in other traditions, such as Islam, marriage for their spiritual leaders is positively encouraged and celibacy, whilst not forbidden, is seen as second class. Is celibacy an essential requirement for real closeness to God or not? And given that it’s basis is essentially cultural rather than theological, should celibacy be optional across religions?

 

Joining Ernie Rea to discuss celibacy across religions are Professor Carl Olsen, Prof of Religious Studies at Allegheny College, Pennsylvania, and Editor of the book, Celibacy and Religious Traditions; Dr Helen Costigane SHCJ, member of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, who teaches Canon Law and Christian Ethics at Heythrop College, University of London, and Sheikh Michael Mumisa, Islamic scholar at the University of Cambridge.”

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b02mfzp6

 

 

 

 

 

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