Tag Archives: religion

Ring In the New

New Year is traditionally a time for making resolutions, something I am never quite sure of. To be effective and lasting they have to be more than promises or good intentions. I prefer to see it as making a new start; a letting go of the old year and ringing in the new.

This is particularly relevant to me, as the three months up to Christmas were very difficult and painful. Continue reading

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Acceptance or Resignation

Speaking with someone with chronic fatigue, the other day, made me think. She said she had accepted the illness and this brought peace inside. A fact that I readily agree with.

Accepting that we have an illness is absolutely key to moving on and allowing God’s healing to take place. I struggled with this for a long time. I just loathed what was happening to me and I complained a lot. I was being real and had to work through all the feelings, including anger that were boiling inside me. Through this expression, I did eventually come to the place of acceptance. The way I would put it, is that I yielded to Father God in the situation.

However, that’s not the whole story. Acceptance is not the same as resignation. Resignation can be saying something like, “This is my lot,” a sort of powerful sentence spoken over you. I didn’t believe that God wanted me to stay as I was, but I knew healing had to start with acceptance and surrender. That to me seemed like taking an enormous risk. What if God does not do anything? But that is like saying that I don’t trust God!

Resignation can have deep roots in our lives. Despite having parents that did all they could for me, there was a lack of emotional and physical bonding. The childhood needs for affection to be demonstrated to the degree that I needed, just were not there. At some stage I must have said to myself, “This is as good as it gets,” and I buried the emotional pain, covered it over and got on with my life, compensating for the lack, in whatever way I could.

It was only after I came into the knowledge and experience of God’s love that I allowed these feelings to surface and found freedom. This involved a changed mindset. So far as the illness was concerned, I was not going to take it lying down. I wanted to live life to the full, but surrender meant something in me had to die. So acceptance brought hope, expectation and the healing journey to commence. From a worldly viewpoint that’s a paradox.

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Daddy Oh Daddy

This was a time when the child in me was deeply touched and moved by the closeness of Father God. I had never written a song before, but these words, simple and personal, just burst out as I walked along the beach. I offer them to you now, just as they came, unfinished. There was a tune too, but I didn’t write that down.

Father Oh Father
I love you I do
I want you to come and love me too
I want to feel you close to me
To walk and talk and play with me
How I love you Father I do
I love to dance and walk with you
I love to see the twinkle in your eyes.

Son, Oh son, I feel so proud
When you come and reach out your hand;
Something happens inside of me
When you want to walk and talk with me.

Daddy, O daddy, I love you too
I love to dance and skip with you,
Come and put your arms around me.

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The Seventy-five Percent Rule versus Intimacy

I am enjoying a period where I am stronger and best of all, the fog has lifted. To be clear-handed with unclouded thought processes is deliciously exquisite and I revel in it! It’s like a breath of fresh air. I know enough now though, not to make any special claims, but just to be thankful to God that this is how it is today. If it’s the same, or even better, in a year’s time, that will be a different matter.

I have also learnt that I have to be especially careful at times like this. It is so easy to get carried away when I have a spurt of energy and overdo things. I have to be aware of the danger. Adrenalin kicks in and it can feel like I can go on forever and before long I’m back into relapse again. You cannot live on adrenalin, it just does not work. I have been an adrenalin junkie in the past and I discovered where that can lead.

This is where the ‘sacred’ 75% rule for chronic fatigue sufferers comes into play, although I have never found it easy to apply. For example, what if you are out for a walk? How do you know when to turn back and still have 25% energy in reserve at the finish, without being finished yourself? There has to be something else!

The something else for me is intimacy with Father God. Trying to stay close to Him and having a peace, knowing that what I am doing is right. I know that is when the Holy Spirit provides the strength needed and I am at my most efficient and economical with energy. In other words, I am in the flow. So there is a supernatural help, but at the same time I am human and afterwards have to rest and recoup for the next time.

This poses the question. What is the difference between Holy Spirit power and adrenalin? I could come up with a response, but I am sure there are those who could provide a more theological answer.

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Surprised by Angels

I once thought of angels as fluffy beings with wings, like the images portrayed in books, magazines and greeting cards. I was aware of recent reports and biblical angel encounters, but their existence remained theoretical, outside my realm of experience. As a pragmatic male, I believed Christians should concentrate on following Jesus, rather than an “experience”. While grateful for those blessings, or ‘consolations’ I received, I had no idea I was destined for my own very personal angelic encounters.

I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome after several months of acute loneliness that defied any human solution. It was a most painful emotion of abandonment and anxiety, that kicked in after an eye operation that didn’t go to plan. I felt I was the only person in the whole world, like an infant, left out in the cold. I didn’t know which way to turn, except to God. The problem was He seemed to have left and was nowhere to be found. I had no sense of presence or awareness whatsoever. It was my own Dark Night of the Soul.

Even though He seemed far away, God had caught my attention as never before. I wanted to trust Him to take me through, but desperately needed answers and reached out to Him the best way I could. I spent time searching the bible, to see what was relevant to my situation. I recorded in my journal all that spoke to me, including my feelings at the time.

I liked to be outside in the freedom of the fresh air and was in the habit of going down to our beach. I used to sit on a low rock, just ‘being there in my wilderness!’ I became very aware and sensitive to those things close to hand, such as the surf gently washing in and rattling back over the shingle. I sat there one day, when I became aware – I can’t put it any other way – of Jesus kneeling at my feet, saying “What can I do for you?” This just stunned me. This was my God, kneeling at my feet, desiring to meet my needs.

A week or so later, when my anxiety levels were still high and I hadn’t driven far for a while, I drove my wife and a disabled friend, to visit a garden. On arrival, I left them in the formal garden while I explored a shady wooded area. I sat on a moss-covered tree stump, relishing the lush quiet all around me. I reached out to God in my isolation and almost immediately, I was aware of angels surrounding me. Some standing and some sitting, but all looking at me, protecting, waiting. It dawned upon me, that they had really been with me from the very beginning. I recalled some of the verses I had written down: I know it’s hard …. but you will come to no harm …. I will send my angels to protect you.

About three months later, after a brief appointment in town, my wife and I drove on to a favourite garden. It’s an incredible mix of several gardens, where there’s always a riot of colour, just like an artist dipping his brush in a paint box of flowers. After an hour or so, while my wife explored an old building, I wandered into a small secluded walled area. I was immediately struck by the quiet intimacy of this ‘secret’ garden. I sat on a sturdy wooden bench at the end of the close-cropped lawn. The seat was inviting like an armchair and so old, that the oak was bleached white with the sunlight.

As I soaked in the atmosphere, it suddenly felt like I was sitting on Father’s knee, with His arms around me. I could feel the warmth and comfort of His gentle embrace. I sat there enthralled, mesmerized, not wanting to move, in case He went away! I just sobbed with relief! That was a precious moment, Father and son together and possibly a promise of more to come?

Then, nearly five months after the onset, the state of desolation left as suddenly as it came. My senses began to return, the aching void inside receded and I felt covered by a warm comforting blanket of love.

I look back at that time now and just know that without me having to do anything, God did something deep inside. He knew my deepest need and just how much I could take and arranged those ‘angelic’ visitations to reassure and comfort me that He really was with me. Not the feeling, but the real God.

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You Are What You Eat

Those who take food and diet seriously, sometimes quote the phrase, “You are what you eat!” I looked it up and found it originated in the 1800’s or earlier in Europe. The German, “Der Mensch ist, was er ißt.”translates into English as ‘man is what he eats’. Much later in the 1960’s, it was adopted by the champions of healthy eating and is currently the title of a popular TV dieting series.

After I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue I looked into diet in some detail, partly because I became intolerant to certain foods. My wife and I tried various recommended diets, but they didn’t seem to produce the promised results and in any case they began to take over our lives and was in danger of becoming a god.

Recently we watched a TV programme about families who were following an extreme raw food diet, omitting all meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, wheat and flour and certain fruits. The food preparation room looked more like a laboratory, rather than a kitchen. They appeared physically healthy, but we were given the impression that it had become the top priority in their lives. A filmed teaching session was shown, that appeared very much like an evangelical Christian service of praise and worship.

So we continue to eat sensibly, buying plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and keeping fat and sugar to a minimum, plus taking certain vitamin supplements. I still avoid foods that don’t agree with me, although now most of the intolerance seems to have vanished. Having said all this, I admit that whenever diet and exercise is mentioned, I always have that niggling guilt that I am not doing enough!

My top priority however, is taking food of the spiritual variety. I have found that by opening up my life to God and seeking what He says about me personally, is life-changing and healing. When I take in His Word and inwardly digest it, it has an amazing freeing spiritual, emotional and physical effect. It reaches the inner parts that other foods just cannot reach.

I think however, that many of us would rather pop pills, follow a diet or even take part in a sponsored walk across the Mongolian Desert, than allow God to show us what is going on inside and heal us. It can be just too scary to let the hurting recesses of our hearts be exposed. The truth is that He is very gentle and we can trust Him.

I continue to enjoy my food and follow a balanced diet, physical and spiritual – I am still learning.

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The Fog of Fatigue

tn_fog.jpgI found one of the most horrible symptoms of CFS/ME, is what I call the fog of fatigue. To have aching and painful muscles and joints with little energy is bad enough, but it seems cruel that the fatigue creeps like a mist into the head as well. It felt like part of me had got left behind somewhere and was accompanied by feelings that I was growing old before my time.

At it’s worst my thinking became dulled and my short term memory would suddenly go. A reminder of the times when I had nodded off in the middle of a business meeting and was jerked to attention by being asked a question. Similarly, I would use all sorts of ploys to get round the problem. That was another aspect; I looked normal and healthy enough, but the cloud within had the effect of partially separating me from others.

Slowly I came to the conclusion that I needed this. My mind needed rest, so not to fight it, but try and go with the flow. Things wouldn’t fall apart if I had a fogged mind, in fact it was the way forward for me for a time.

The depth of fog fluctuated and could go on for days and weeks on end. Occasionally, as the fatigue lessened and I headed for recovery, the cloud would lift for a few hours or a whole day. My mind became icicle sharp and I could think straight. At first, the release and relief was such that I would cry with the joy of it – it was like being in heaven. The next day though everything turned back to ‘normal!’.

The most challenging aspect for me was that this fog interfered with prayer, which is my lifeline from God, my love source. I had to learn new ways of maintaining this relationship, which continue now even though the fatigue is less. Just to sit quietly, accepting in faith that Father is with me, even in me, is one of the most basic and powerful ways of prayer. As I surrender to Him there is a heart to heart bonding without words. I have even found that after an hour or so, tiredness and fatigue begin to diminish. Powerful stuff.

The other side of the coin is that fatigue has a way of slowing down the mental processes and can result in lethargy. Dare I say it, but it is even possible to accept the fatigued state as normal! So as a part of the recovery process, I find a need to be more disciplined, sharpen up and learn new ways. Not just in prayer and bible reading, but in my whole approach to life and the daily routine, because there is truth in the saying, “Use it or lose it!”

Not easy. It can seem like a hard battle at times, but not to forget that God is readily available. He’s on our side!

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