agoraphobia, depression, anxiety, chronic fatigue, cycling,, anxiety, Breast cancer, mastectomy,, change, Prayer, suffering

A dream 16.10.18.

 

Last night, almost a week after my mother’s death, I had my standard, repetitive, university undergraduate bad dream for the millionth time. It goes like this: I have just returned for the next academic year, but am already missing lectures and falling behind with my assignments. I have far too many conflicting things to do. I’m not coping, and feel acutely stressed and anxious. 

However, last night’s dream had some new features. The first was that I bumped into an acquaintance whilst walking through the crowded campus. We talked briefly about the many people we knew who had dropped out of their courses. In fact, he and I seemed to be the only ones who had returned from the previous year. 

The second fresh detail was that I spontaneously joined in with a children’s game, dancing around the outside of their circle, to increase their pleasure and excitement. At the same time, I was keeping a close eye on how each one was coping, ready to tone down my approach if it seemed to be too stressful for some of them. The children belonged to the university crèche, and were playing out of doors with their carers. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed being with them, as this was something I had never experienced before. 

Then came a third new ingredient. I was walking back towards my room with two women students I’d just met in a campus clothes shop. One went a little ahead on her own, whilst I linked arms with the other, chatting in a friendly way. The first woman had seemed cheerful earlier, but now she was silent and looked very tense. As we continued to walk, I found myself wondering whether she might perhaps be feeling anxious, or even panicky. 

Then, suddenly, I saw myself in her – my repeated attempts to get a degree, each ending in failure and breakdown because of suicidal depression, acute anxiety, and severe panic attacks. All these issues went on to become a chronic, ongoing struggle with mental illness and agoraphobia that has dominated my life.

I turned to my new companion, explaining how I thought our friend might be feeling. Then, to my great surprise, I heard myself say that I wished I was working on the campus, perhaps in the clothes shop, or at the crèche, rather than studying. That way, I could still escape from my mother and have something of a university experience, but without the unmanageable demands of academic life on top of so much mental pain.

As I said this, I realised how significant it was, and that I didn’t have to put myself through the impossible stresses of trying to get a degree. For the first time ever during these repetitive university dreams, I saw that I had a choice. Other paths in life were still possible, perhaps even enjoyable, and although I was already part-way through my degree course, it wasn’t too late to make a change. At this thought, my heart leapt with joy, and I was filled with new and unaccustomed hope. Then I woke up.

My university failure dream has never ended like this before, so I decided to catch hold of the experience before it faded, and to share it with you, my online friends.

 

References

Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

The lame will leap like a deer (Isaiah 35:6; NLT).

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11; NLT).

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Breast cancer, mastectomy,, solitude, silence, stillness, darkness, contemplation, prayer,

In silent prayer

 

In silent prayer,
I face my inner wasteland.

In silent prayer,
I face temptation, too.

In silent prayer,
I face my fears and failures.

In silent prayer,
I face my self, like you. 

 

References 

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16; NLT).

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1; NLT).

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Prayer, suffering, life, courage, help, bear, illness, mental, physical,

I go with you

Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

He has known your walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord your God has been with you (Deuteronomy 2:7; HNV).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

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Lord,

I go with you
Into my wasteland, 

To walk among the ruins 
Of my years –

Abuse, fear, loss,
Depression, mental illness;

Sickness, failure,
Sinfulness, and tears.

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Prayer, suffering, life, courage, help, bear, illness, mental, physical,

The way to God

He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland (Deuteronomy 32:10; NLT).

He has known your walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord your God has been with you (Deuteronomy 2:7; HNV).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

The Lord is close to all who call on him (Psalm 145:18; NLT).

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The way to God 
Lies through our howling wastelands,

Through suffering and failure, 
Pain and fear;

Through brokenness, and grief,
And sharp temptation,

For when we’re in our desert
He is near.

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change, spiritual development, personal growth, faith, exploration, wholeness,

Change

My enemies refuse to change their ways (Psalm 55:19; NLT).

They refuse to change their evil ways (Jeremiah 15:7; NLT).

Change your hearts before the Lord (Jeremiah 4:4; NLT).

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Whenever we try 
To make someone change

We are already doomed, Lord,
To failure;

For we are the ones 
Who are needing to change,

In the light of the other’s
Behaviour.

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Prayer

Candle

He blows on them and they wither (Isaiah 40:24; NLT).

He will not extinguish a smouldering wick (Matthew 12:20; NET).

The Lord will not cast off his people (Psalm 94:14; NKJV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

 

Lord
You don’t blow me out,
Like a trembling candle-flame.

You don’t extinguish me,
Like a smoking wick.

You don’t snuff me out,
Despite my many failures.

You don’t cast me off,
Despite my many sins.

 

 

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Prayer

Failure

Failure 

‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’ (Luke 18:13; NLT).

“Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you” (Luke 15:18-19; NLT).

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere (Ephesians 6:18; NLT).

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).

 

Father,
Be merciful to me,
For I am a sinner
Who fails you every day.

I forget to stay alert,
And to be aware
Of your presence.

I fail to follow Christ’s example,
And to see you
In others.

I neglect to pray in the Spirit,
And to be thankful
In all circumstances.

Please forgive me,
And help me to do better,
For the sake of your dear Son.

Amen.

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