Looking back – Goodbye 2013

Yesterday I was going to tidy the spare room but I didn’t get very far, because on the floor, from the book shelf was my ‘black book’ which I had named the notebook I had used as my journal in April 2008. Periodically I find it, read it, get emotional, put it back on the shelf and move on. And so I found it yesterday, read it, but have not been able to move on from it as I usually would. I tweeted some of the pages I found, and it deeply deeply moved me, more than ever before, that this book contained so much pain and hurt. So much rejection, thoughts on suicide, pleadings to die. So much darkness. I only wrote in that book for just over a month but its blown my mind how many black thoughts could be written in such a short space of time.

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I wanted to die. And was devastated that I didn’t. That was in 2008.

So, why am I writing about this now, in my ‘saying Goodbye to 2013’?

Because 2013 has been a life changing year in so many ways. I am unable to look back on the year that has just been without including the years that went before it, specifically some of the hurt and pain I have experienced and have had to journey through, and am still journeying through.

It’ll become more clear towards the end of this blog.

But for now, a quick run down on 2013 – the year which saw:

  • the start of a new job at the very very beginning of the year and then get into full swing at the beginning and for the rest of 2013.
  • volunteering at Spring Harvest (!) with the youth team specifically working with those with special needs which was amazing.
  • my first ever plane flight (I was so petrified of flying it was unreal but it was ok!) to Portugal for a holiday.
  • continuing to work with young people each week as a volunteer, but ending that in December.
  • friends get married, and have babies.
  • getting out of debt (credit card debt) after 5 years of paying them off!
  • sickness, lots and lots of sickness. In fact I’ve spent most of the year being poorly. And several occasionals when poorly became critically ill. Notably the 31st October, when things were dangerously close to death, too close than I’d like now a days!
  • discovering that along side the Asthma issues which I’m still learning to navigate having only had for 18 months, that my immune system is not working properly, and at the moment is being totally suppressed in an effort to do something with it.
  • a new church (!) – something I had stopped looking for, had given up on finding, and stumbled upon totally unexpectedly. But I am so glad and thankful that I did and have, and that they have become friends and family so quickly.
  • lots of tears – running along side finding a new church came a new found ability to cry- lots (did they know what they let themselves in for when I walked through the doors?!). Thankfully they have a ‘kleenex team’ on standby who seem to magically appear tissues when needed the most without intruding.
  • finding God again. 2013 has been the year of recommitting my life back to God. Rediscovering who God is, and how He works, and what that means for me and my life (something I’m still working on!).
  • feeling a real sense of needing to change in relation to my ‘online presence’ and identity. Something that is ongoing, but that also made me bring the life and times of ‘fragmentz’ on both blog and twitter to an end, and become who I really am and always have been – Helen.
  • for a few weeks, towards the end of the year saw me being plummeted back into the dark times that I saw so much of in 2008. After recommitting my life back to God, life took some turns that I was not expecting. 10 days later I found myself fighting for life after an Asthma attack and for quite a few weeks I found myself back in a place where dark thoughts over ruled, where when I closed my eyes all I saw was black. Fear, self hate, rejection, self hSarm, suicide all became running themes in my mind, and nightmares that I experienced on a never ending cycle became worse. It was a really disturbing time, during which many times I felt like giving up, especially on the God stuff was the best option. I’m grateful for people who surrounded me during this time.
  • for the first time in my life, I saw direct answers to prayer. One day I will write more about this, but for now all I will say is I received prayer, and things changed. Life changed. God broke through. Properly. Prayers were answered.
  • Nightmares have gone, over a month now, and counting.

As you can see, 2013 has been a mixed bag. Some really amazing high moments, and many more I have not remembered right now to write about. But some really low, and even lower moments. And the toughest being towards the end of the year, as I mentioned, when life took some dramatic and crazy turns. Where I nearly died and it felt life was caving in, and I was running backwards again. All of the things that you see written about in my ‘black book’ in the pictures above came flooding back. But as quickly as they came, once I started to pray and be prayed for, and after one particular prayer time they went again. And have not come back.

Someone said to me recently that once you have seen the glory of God, the real glory of God, even if it is just the smallest of glimpses, you cannot just turn your back on Him. And they were right. You can’t. Well, I can’t anyway. So I’m committing myself and have committed myself to journey this life with God again. Whatever that means for the next year, I have no idea, I’ll write more about that in my ‘Hello 2014’ blog which is to come.

But for now I’m thinking back. About 2013, and as I said, I can’t do that without thinking about the last 5 years. And especially with the events that unfolded in the last few months, the blackness returning for that short time, it felt so poignant to find the ‘black book’ that I wrote so much into in 2008.

The thing is, having battled through and having continued to fight, as always, I read the stuff in this little black book and felt oppression return. Yesterday and today. Reading it. All the stuff in it. Every word. Against myself. Every word I wrote against God.

2014 is a year of change. A year of adventure. A year of Jesus.

And having that book, those words, and the things it represented then, and more recently is not good. And so tonight, at the end of 2013, as I think back over the year, and start to think forwards to the 12 months ahead, I felt it time to lay down these before God.

A quote that impacted me hugely recently, which I used in the last couple of blogs I wrote on Fragmentz, as my Goodbye Fragz was by the leader of the church I’m going to now and it was this –

‘We cannot alter the past BUT we can bring the past to altar’ – (Pastor Chris Bowater)

And I’m taking that quote, and a couple of others into 2014 with me.

But that has meant, that tonight, I’ve given some things up to God. Including my little black book. Which included the pages above.

So – the little black book has gone – see the video below. As I say goodbye to 2013, a year of ups and downs, I’m also saying Goodbye to some of the things that affected me so badly 5 years ago that are written on paper, paper I keep returning to read. I’m saying goodbye to the physical writings of darkness, and death. And choosing to believe that there is a better future ahead.

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