Monthly Archives: May 2012

Travel Companions

I think travel companions are pretty important. If you have ever been in a car with me, for example, you will soon realise how vital your presence is. The likelihood that I will get lost is pretty high and having a calm voice and someone to look at the google map app on my phone are vital.

In the rest of life, travel companions are arguably even more important than they are when I’m driving. Throughout my life it has been those people who have walked and stumbled alongside me who have made the days of light more enjoyable and the dark days more endurable.

The Emmaus Road seems to demonstrate to me the ultimate in a travel companion. When Jesus walked alongside Cleopas and his friend, He did not rush in with clever answers instead He listened, walked alongside and comforted the men who believed all hope had been lost when Jesus died on the cross.

For the mentally ill, having someone who cares enough to walk alongside them is more powerful than the cleverest of words and the most sparkling psychological insight. In fact, it isn’t even restricted to the mentally ill. The presence of another, a travel companion makes the most arduous journey, bearable.

 

 

Suffering Sparks Dreams

If you’ve seen the ThinkTwice twitter or Facebook page recently you can’t have failed to notice that we’ve had a bit of an exciting weekend, booking a headlining act for ThinkTwice Cafe Concert and meeting some great youth leaders at the Youth Work Summit early day at LST. Following the twitter action from the main event I’ve loved reading the quotes and catching a bit of what’s going on (though sad revision prevented me from going…but I’m not bitter, promise!).

Anyway, there was one quote which caught my eye in particular: “You want to find hope when the vision dies. Go to the suffering. Then and there the dream sparks back to life”.

It has certainly been true in the short life of ThinkTwice. On the days when I wasn’t sure I’d ever get anything off the ground, when I wonder if I’m doing it right and I’m low on energy – it is on these days that I have to go back to the beginning. Return to the reason I am doing this.

So why do I bother?

I bother because I have heard far too many stories of people being rejected – by churches and society because of their mental health conditions.

I bother because my family and I have been through too much to waste the years.

I bother fighting for because there are those who cannot fight for themselves.

ThinkTwice was birthed out of a loss of hope. A loss of hope and a desire to claw it back.

Suffering sparked my dream for ThinkTwice.

What suffering sparks yours dream?

 

Wounds that Heal?

Two days ago I completed my third year project. A 10,000 word dissertation which has been a labour of love for the past year. “Towards a pastoral response to the suicidal” was the title and it has not been easy. And yet, it has been full of hope. Writing about suicide and suicidal feelings is not the happiest, most upbeat of topics – but writing about how we can support those suffering and educate the Church and society in which we live has inspired and encouraged me.

I wanted to share the final paragraph of my dissertation, because it expresses (briefly) the journey I have been on during the writing. It reads:

“In practice, suicide prevention is more complex and nuanced than can be written on paper. It is not merely a matter of adhering to rules and guidelines, but connecting with the pain and despair of the suffering, using our own pain behind us as an easel and painting a picture of hope, rooted in the biblical narrative and person and work of Jesus Christ, His palms bearing the scars of the nails and arms open wide leading his people home.”

During the writing and researching I have delved into the darker side of humanity, and yet I feel I have been able to glimpse the light that shines from and through Christ Jesus. It is a light which is not afraid of the darkness. It is a light that fights when the darkness threatens to drown it out.

It is my hope that my dissertation will not sit at the bottom of a drawer, gathering dust -but that I may be able to put it to good use and utilise what I’ve learned in the real world. It has, in some ways formed my own pain. It has reminded me that we have the gift and responsibility to use our pain to comfort those who are still in the depths that we once fought through. It is by the wounds of Christ that we are comforted and healed and saved. I am beginning to realise that our pain becomes the fire which burns for others. It is the fuel of our compassion.

As Nicholas Wolterstorff writes so beautifully:

“By his wounds we are healed”. In the wounds of Christ is humanity’s healing. Do our wounds also heal? This gaping wound in my chest – does it heal? What before I did not see, I now see; what before I did not feel, I now feel. But this raw bleeding cavity which needs so much healing, does it heal while waiting for healing? We are the body of Christ on earth. Does that mean that some of our wounds are his wounds, and that some of our wounds heal?” (1)

I believe, have to believe, that our wounds do heal and that in the process God may show his healing power through our wounds and the healing of those wounds. It is my prayer of petition, and my prayer of praise.