Confession and explanation time, particularly to those who have graciously chosen to follow my blog.
I’m new to this, and oddly I feel conflicted between wanting to blog in order to somehow offer something of value to you the reader, partly to disseminate so many of my random musings and eclectic (some say extensive) experience(s) – and feeling bad (a false guilt thing going on) because I strangely feel like I’m letting you down (whoever you are); and at the same time knowing that it’s been a somewhat busy season of life and finding time to write consistently on top of work, study – and the deadlines for assessments, running a home, juggling shared parenting, coaching my eldest sons basketball team, trying to keep up with friends who are likewise juggling and balancing life’s often competing demands; and so telling myself that I can’t do everything…and that’s ok!
There are times & seasons in life when cutting myself some slack is important (for those who know anything about being a first born, a Leo (if you’re into that sort of thing), with an over-developed sense of responsibility and an ever-unfolding, but still ever-present perfectionist streak, then you’ll know what I’m talking about.
So, I’m back. I’ve completed the last of my assessments for my semesters study (woohoo!!) and now have some head and time space to catch up on my blogging.
Before I do get back into it and pick up on my previous blog…in my travels I’ve met some incredible people over the past month or so.
I met one woman who spoke about hope in the midst of a battle zone. She was a Palestinian Christian living in East Jerusalem. She was inspiring and full of laughter as she spoke about what life is really like without citizenship, living under suspicion and constant conflict. But I was saddened when I asked her how she was going to go transitioning back into ‘home’ after travelling Australia.
After her 4 weeks here, she said I was the only person who’d asked how she was, and was going to cope. Way too often, people are seen for what we can get from them, including guest speakers, and we de-humanise them into a commodity and our interactions become transactional, often without intending to and realising that’s what we are doing. I’ve worked in public non-for-profit education/awareness/fundraising roles for over a decade and know the delicate tightrope of this dynamic.
I met an incredibly vibrant young woman working in the medical field. As we chatted over coffee (ironically she doesn’t normally drink coffee and this 5pm catch up kept her up until after 3am…for those avid coffee drinkers, what an amateur! lol – we did laugh about it!) she told me a story that nearly flawed me. I wasn’t expecting it and 2 weeks on find myself still reflecting on it.
She was diagnosed with cancer 5 yrs ago, a rare cancer. As she shared a little of her struggle through chemo, including how her cat would sit on her lap while spending hours on the toilet throwing up (and now gets ticked off when toilet breaks aren’t nearly as long!); and it reminded me of way too many people (including my own dad) I know who’ve battled the many murderous malicious and bastard strains of cancer – if you haven’t picked it up, I hate it! But this woman, her courage, her tenacity, she was, no, is inspiring. Her goal whilst receiving treatment came to her through a picture, she would live to walk the New York Manhatten climb. She is well on her way to achieving this goal. She’s so aware that she’s been gifted a new lease on life, but she needed a goal, a reason, to help navigate the darker days.
There’s a saying that I love “Shit happens, keep living anyway”. Finding hope is so important in the face of adversity. Having something, or someone, to pull you through the dark night of the soul (keep an eye out for an upcoming blog on this) is critical to simply surviving times of trauma, tragedy, and even terror.
The final conversation was one with a church leader, a pastor. Someone I’ve known for years who recently has gone through his own dark patch. He inspires me because of his perseverance, patience and prayerful disposition in dealing with difficult (massive understatement!) people and political dynamics in which he works – I question whether I would be as tolerant. As we chatted he made a couple of remarks that both saddened and amused me. The first was this: “I don’t see the point in counselling, always talking about things of the past, just get on with life.” And yet he recognised that at this point, for reasons he couldn’t identify, he was stuck. The second comment came immediately after: “But funnily enough perhaps I should see you.” The irony wasn’t lost on me.
As someone undertaking a Masters in Clinical Counselling this was encouraging, but not a new thing. I’ve had people make similar comments over the years in all sorts of different contexts. In a recent essay I referred to research that showed that most people don’t have a friend that will sit and listen to them for any more than 20 minutes. Having a listening ear, someone to share life with, who genuinely takes an interest and tunes in is a rare thing. I hope that you have someone who listens to you.
When (not if, I assume most people have had to deal with something) you’ve had your own battles with life, what have you found has got you through?