Lessons of New Year Past.

Lessons of New Year Passed

At the start of 2018 we limped over the beginning line.

I say limp because the previous two years had been some of the most draining and frustrating 48 months of our lives.

My husband was running a church in the city of Norwich. A new endeavour to incorporate a cafe, community hub and place of worship. Prior to his employment a large sum of money had been spent on renovating the large space to modernise and make it a functional and trendy environment.
He was taken on when the church only had half of his wage in hand. The other half was to be earnt through the work of his hands. And much money had already been spent on the project which was expected to be recouped. Again by him.

Let me pause for a moment.
When one is told that one is wanted for a job but the people at the top only have a small amount physically in the bank and the rest is to be gained by you, guess what happens?
It causes tremendous stress and anxiety to not only prove your worth but provide for your family, the church and the community.

Thus began a crazy time of chasing our tails, feeling overwhelmed with enormous responsibility and a crazy work schedule of six, sometimes seven days work. It was enough to break us.
When hubs was here, he wasn’t here. As he was working on emails and admin until midnight. Every night.

It’s a common scenario, I know. Being overworked and under appreciated. We all have experienced it at one point. 
And when the rest of your work colleagues are all running at the same breakneck speed, it becomes your new normal. However, normalising a frantic pace is not only unwise but incredibly detrimental to one’s health and wellbeing.

Our children stepped in to work in the cafe. Our youngest being 11, who worked long Saturdays on her feet. We are a big family of eight and seeing the man of the house constantly on his feet and at work, we, as a family felt responsible to intervene and attempt to ease the burden.

But helping wasn’t the answer. It wasn’t enough. Proved futile in the overall scheme of things.
My hubs used to limp home after being on his feet for nine hours straight, with no breaks or time to sit down. I held everything at home and felt like a single mum. We were drowning but didn’t know which way was the escape route. Like being dumped by a wave, we were tossed and bumped over and over on the ocean floor, rising to steal quick snaps of breaths before going under for the sandy roll again and again and again.

Church ministry is not all it seems. And it seems we found this the very hardest way.

On the eve of 2018, we were driving home from France to the UK. It was a long journey of well over 10 hours.
The whole way I gripped the steering wheel and pleaded with God to get us out of our situation. I couldn’t imagine the effects of not being able to breathe for another six months, let alone a year.
I missed my husband. The man he used to be.
I felt such disappointment towards the church leaders. My hubs was a grafter. He would take his last dying breath on his feet before he quit anything.

If I had known what ‘getting out of our situation’ was going to look like, I would have stopped our car between Normandy and Calais that dreary winter’s day and stayed in France the entire year.
Thank goodness we didn’t know.
Thank goodness we couldn’t see the future.

Two days later my beautiful spirited, servant-hearted husband was let go.
In a five minute meeting he was told that he hadn’t worked out.
That they were releasing him from immediate effect. That they did all they could and this was the best solution to the problem.
We were a problem it seemed and they wanted us gone.

For as long as I live I will never forget the sound of his devastated voice when he called mere minutes after he was supposed to be at the meeting.
“Darling, where are you?”
My heart sunk to my boots as I discerned his emotional and broken voice.
“What has happened?” “Where are you?” “I’m coming to you now!”

They broke him that day. But it would be fair to say, they had already broken him two years prior. 
We had our escape pass but not in the way we would have ever desired or wished.

Church it seems can wield a double edged sword and we had been dealt a mighty and catastrophic blow.

I actually think we crawled, rather than limped into 2018 and there we stayed for the entire year. Our heads so close to the dirty ground and our hearts sunk even lower.

However, whilst I would never wish this on our family again, we have gained precious gems along the way.
Jewels which now shine brightly amongst the dirty coals that once lay at our feet.
Precious stones that are deposited firmly in the fabric of our once broken lives.
We carry sacks, full of these treasures, earnt through months of sitting in the sand and hurting in that most uncomfortable and broken of spaces.

Moving forwards into 2019 with our treasures by our side, this is our motto for the year:

I’m walking into the new year with a clear heart and mind. 
If you owe me, don’t worry about it.
If you wronged me, it’s all good. Lesson learned.
If you’re angry at me, you’ve won, I’ve let it go.
If we aren’t speaking, it’s cool, I truly wish you well.
If you feel I’ve wronged you, I apologise. It wasn’t intentional.
I’m grateful for every experience I’ve received. The good, the bad and the very ugly.
Life is way too short for pent-up anger, holding grudges full of stress and pain.
I raise my glass of thankfulness and gratitude to
this New Year.
Remember, forgiving someone works both ways, so don’t hold onto bitterness, because you too will require the hand of grace extended to you one day.

May 2019 be a year of positivity and a new season of forgiveness and joy. 

Love Catherine x

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