The Smoldering Wick: Suicide and Faith

Caroline Colwill
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In Acts 16:26 of the New Testament, Saint Paul and Silas were in prison when the prison doors miraculously flew open.  “When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew [his] sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped.”  Selflessly, rather than in anger against someone who had held him captive without good cause, St. Paul “shouted out in a loud voice, ‘Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.’”

The jailer in that moment decides not to commit suicide.  He instead asks them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  The Bible only tells of St. Paul’s initial words to the jailer.  It doesn’t give all of the specifics as to what precisely gave the suicidal jailer hope.

I view St. Paul as usually being sincere in wanting to help people.  A lot of people don’t care if someone else is suicidal, even if that person has done nothing wrong to them.  Some people do care, and some of them believe in the mental health industry for the suicidal, which may or may not help someone.  It may even do more harm than good.  Some mental health professionals do care about suicidal people.  Some of them care more about their income and status than they do for the desperate person sitting in front of them.

Some suicidal people may only benefit from the extraordinary selflessness and profound empathy demonstrated by St. Paul to his jailer.  Credentials don’t measure for that.

When I was 28, my life had reached a crisis.  Much of my life had been excruciatingly terrible.  The career that I had always thought I wanted, I realized that I didn’t want, but I didn’t know what I did want.  My friends had abandoned me, because I was too depressed and having financial problems that were simply unacceptable at that age.  I was waitressing, broke, and I couldn’t keep up with the usurious interest rates on my credit cards.  I had nothing going for me and no hope.  All signs pointed to the idea that I was doomed to a life of pointless, joyless, impoverished, and meaningless wage slavery to lenders who would never forgive me or stop terrorizing me.  I felt I had no reason to hope.  Not only could I not achieve great things, I couldn’t even achieve an ordinary, relatively happy life of mediocrity.

I decided to commit suicide with sleeping pills and alcohol.  As I was going to sleep, I prayed.  I prayed, “God, please forgive me.  I just didn’t know what else to do.  Please forgive me.  It’s in your hands now.  Do what you will with me.  I give up.”

I didn’t die, but was in and out of consciousness for about a week.  Sometimes I would get up and walk around the house and interact with my family.  My Mom said, “You look like you lost some weight.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I had just tried to commit suicide, and all she cared about was what I looked like.  I had well hidden my suicide attempt from my family, but was thinking emotionally, rather than rationally.

I tried again.  This time with a bunch of allergy pills.  I didn’t pray this time.  I wanted specifically to choose to die. When I woke up, I had a low-grade fever of a little over 100 for about a month.

Eventually, I started reflecting on what I had done.  As I had in the past, I turned to my Christian faith for solace, but this time ferociously.  I started realizing that suicide is a sin.  Not a sin that therefore condemns those who are successful at it, but one that saddens a perfect God.  I felt that in God’s view, every life is precious, and that included mine.  All of the various exclusivist ways of valuing people, I felt, would necessarily exclude me too.  The ideas that you have to be financially self-sufficient and “responsible” in order to have a place in society.  Social beliefs that you should have an education in order to have a right to a living wage or any dignified place in society.  I had a ninth-grade education and a GED.  Other social beliefs that you are supposed to have hit certain milestones by certain ages.  I didn’t measure up in Christian circles either, where a woman’s value is as a quiet helpmeet and a good mother.  And the way a woman dresses is a greater indication of her love for God than whether or not she has a sincere bone in her body.  So, I didn’t want to believe in those things anymore.  A person with more money, power, or social privilege doesn’t have more worth, just more advantages.

I found viewing suicide as a sin helpful in curbing my own desire to just end it all.  I decided that I shouldn’t do anything that made me feel suicidal.  Working as a waitress and being terrorized and publicly humiliated by debt collectors made me feel suicidal, so I decided that I shouldn’t work anymore.  Answering the phone and thinking about the debt collectors made me feel suicidal, so I stopped answering the phone and tried to think of other things.  I decided that if vicious debt collectors and other financial monsters wanted to spend their lives hurting and destroying other people, that was their choice.  But as for me, I would serve the Lord.  I was fortunate that I was living with my parents and they were able to provide for my essential survival needs at that time when I needed not to work in order to not commit suicide.  I had wanted so much more than mere survival, so it made me depressed, but not suicidal.

There were many biblical passages that I clung to during this time.  In Matthew 10:22, Jesus said, “You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”  And, “If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.”  (John 15:18)  I did indeed feel that entire world hated me.  So many Americans hate the poor, especially bad debtors.  It is seen by many as a greater moral failing to be a poor bad debtor than a wealthy CEO who exploits his workers and lays people off simply to gain greater profit for himself, the company, and shareholders.  Such a person may even be given awards for great leadership and be featured in leading publications as an example of success.  I felt at that time, though, that Jesus loved me, and that’s the only opinion that should matter.

Isaiah 42:3 says, “A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench.”  This speaks of the tenderness of God.  No matter how small or weak my faith or I was, it was never God who desired for my ruin.  The Christian proof was this: rather than harm anyone to save himself, Jesus accepted suffering and crucifixion.

Jesus said, “Blessed are you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours” (Luke 6:20).  I had a pretty much impossible ability to see how such a financial situation was a blessing.  But as I felt I had nothing else, I was open to the idea that God might somehow specially bless me.  Somehow faith might justify my existence in the world.  The idea of turning the world’s logic on its head appealed to me too.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’For I know well the plans I have in mind for you,’ says the Lord, ‘Plans for your welfare, not for woe!  Plans to give you a future full of hope.’”  I wanted to believe in this, though I don’t know so much that I did.  I still cling to this verse sometimes.

St. Paul wrote in the Bible, “If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that” (1 Timothy 6:8).  I had never before thought of intentionally embracing a life of poverty and/or simplicity.  Modern life in the US seemed to demand so much more just to get by.  And I still wasn’t happy about the relative simplicity that I was forced to embrace.  Deliberately choosing a life of simplicity for the sake of entering a religious order seemed more like a rebuke of materialism and that it might open up greater focus on more important things.

In Isaiah 53:5, it says, “by his stripes we were healed.”  This is a prophecy of Christ’s redemptive suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection.  I yearned for that healing.  I really had no idea what that would consist of, as I felt my whole life was a disaster.  I had no idea where God had been during my life.

Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon”  (Matthew 6:24).  I started realizing that as little as I made, I really was living my life at the service of money, rather than God.  Yes, my financial problems were a big and damning problem, but I needed so much more than money.  A purpose.  Higher, life-giving goals.  Meaning.  It had always seemed to me that the only way to attain those things was to have enough money to begin with.  But that wasn’t my situation, so I had to make do with what I had.  I recognized too that the debt collector terrorists also had the wrong priorities and were wasting their lives as well.

The Bible says, “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  So, I felt that if I was actually some terrible sinner, I had a lot of company—everyone.  This is sort of the equalizing factor in Christianity.  No sinner can claim that they are more fundamentally deserving of a better life than others through his or her own merit.  A good life is a gift.  And the many harms that many people endure are typically an injustice or a tragedy.  A recognition of the universality of sin came as a relief to me in another way.  I am not God.  I am not perfect, and I don’t have to be.  I hadn’t thought that I was God, but had felt intense pressure to be perfect in everyone’s eyes.

St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance.  For this we toil and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the savior of all, especially of those who believe”  (1 Timothy 4:9-10).  This gave me a sense of God’s pluralism and mercy.  He wasn’t eager to damn, or divisive in order to gain power for himself, or cruel.  Those were the actions of people.  Salvation in this view meant that one needn’t even be a Christian, thus making faith a true choice.  Jesus said to enter through the narrow gate, not the narrow mind.

I could probably cite half of the Bible in terms of what I found helpful, but some of it was scary.  At the same time, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).  I kept thinking about Judas Iscariot who was one of the original disciples and a friend of Jesus, yet he committed suicide.  I thought that maybe some of us were just doomed.  Yet, Jesus said, “When I was with them I protected them in your name, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.”  Even Judas’ tragic death was made purposeful by God.  And my story hadn’t been written yet.  It might not end in suicide.

Jesus’ sayings about the world’s hatred gave me a new kind of freedom to make choices that I felt were in my own genuine best interest despite social convention and whether or not anyone despised me or attacked me for it.

I once heard a priest on the radio say that it’s normal to feel suicidal when your life is very bad.  That made me feel better.  It was a way of not judging understandable human emotions, rather than pathologizing and drugging them, as the mental health industry does.  Some of the biblical prophets even felt suicidal at certain points, and they’re considered prophets.  Not so much a character flaw or moral failing as it is a sign that something is wrong.

When Jezebel was seeking to murder Elijah the prophet, he fled and ended up in the desert, where he prayed, “This is enough, O’ Lord!  Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:2-4).  Elijah’s prayers had been so powerful that he likely expected God to say “yes” to this one too, but God did not.  Elijah had fled to save his life, but then wanted to die.  Perhaps things had just become too overwhelming.  Maybe it was the loss of control that he was facing, and an uncertain and potentially brutal future.  Maybe he felt abandoned by God, or unworthy of his love.  Despite Elijah’s extraordinary suffering, God did desire for his good.  He went on to appear alongside Moses and they conversed with Jesus at Jesus’ transfiguration (Matthew 17:3).

The main theme of the Bible seemed to be love.  It’s something that seemed so lacking in my own world, and in the world generally.  But it seemed like a worthy goal to aspire to.  Trying to make money hadn’t worked out for me.  I realized I didn’t have any control over how anyone treated me.  I could only control how I treated others.  I didn’t feel up to the task of actively loving people who attacked me.  But sometimes in the Bible, the disciples and prophets simply escaped those who attacked them, and moved on.

I had a nearly impossible time trusting anyone at that time on any level.  I felt the Pope was maybe the only person on earth I could even consider trusting, even if only from a great distance.  I read a bunch of Pope John Paul II’s books and found many of his words inspirational.  I didn’t agree with him about everything, but felt that he wasn’t the kind of person to demand that you worship his every breath.

I realized that he couldn’t magically solve all of my problems, but I felt that he could at least pray for me.  As it says in James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

I wrote him a letter, briefly explaining my distress.  I begged him to “Please pray for me,” which I underlined many times.

I started reading more books about Christian spirituality, among them Mother Teresa’s.  I loved her idealism.  One of her books had the contact info for her convents in the US.  Wanting to be useful, and do something for love, I started volunteering at the convent closest to me in their soup kitchen.

I much preferred serving people for love for no money, rather than serving people who had money for a teeny bit of pointless money.  It also gave me a lot of perspective about my own stupid problems and anxieties.  I overheard one of the men who had just had lunch there say, “Another day on this side of the ground is a good day.”  I found that inspiring.  He was grateful for the simple gift of life itself.  It didn’t make me grateful for my life, but it helped me to see beyond the “logic” that I had succumbed to.

After many months, I received a letter back from the Vatican.   It said that the Pope had received my letter and he sends his blessing.  It also said, “He will pray for your intentions.”  I was amazed and so happy.  I didn’t even know what my intentions were.  It gave me something to figure out.

In 2005, I totally spilled my guts in confession.  I nearly totally condemned myself for every possible sin I could remember.  I didn’t make any excuses for my sins or give any context.  There was one exception.  One of my debt collectors was suing me for bad, old credit-card debt.  I felt they were in the wrong for suing a poor and destroyed person.  Wasn’t it enough that my credit was ruined and that I had been forced out of the economy?  The priest seemed to think that not paying them was a sin.  Obviously, if I had had the money, I would have just given it to those terrorists, just so they would stop terrorizing me.  The priest said something to the effect of, “If I owed money…”

I said, “There is nothing I can do about it.”

I felt that my reasoning—that people’s lives are more valuable than money—was sound.  Even thinking about it still made me feel suicidal, so I didn’t want to think about it.  Shouldn’t the debt collectors just forgive me?  This fact that other people typically never forgave me for any fault or failing or sin, whereas I forgave others of true crimes, made me feel like a sucker.

I sort of realized that everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes a big sin.  Irreligious people may not use the language of sin, but make similar judgments nonetheless.

Despite the complicated interaction that I had with the priest, he was basically a good person.  He counseled me that there was a ray of hope.  I didn’t see or feel any hope at that time.  It hasn’t been until more recently, after some major life changes, and weaning down from psychiatric drugs that I am beginning to see the tiniest slivers of hope.

At my next confession, with a different priest, I confessed to throwing out legal letters and not paying debt collectors.  I explained how thinking about it made me all suicidal.  He said, “I’m not going to tell you what to do about it.”

I said, “I can suffer.  That is something that I can do.”

In Catholicism, there is this idea that suffering can sometimes be sanctifying, not only for the one who suffers, but for others too, even if only somehow, mystically.  This can be poor consolation in the midst of great trials and tragedy.  But when suffering seems unavoidable and pointless, at least it offers the promise of meaning and good out of evil.

When the cop from the sheriff’s office came to the front door to deliver the civil lawsuit over credit card debt, I was working on a flower mural in my parents’ tiny foyer.  I remembered seeing a criminologist on TV as a child describe how when someone is attacking you, you should try to do something to humanize yourself to him.  I explained that they had been charging me 34 percent interest.  He said, “That’s a lot.”

I asked him what would happen if I couldn’t pay.  He said that he would take all of my property.  I said, “I live with my parents, in my parents’ house.  Most of the things in here belong to them.  So, how would you know what belongs to them and what belongs to me?”

He said, “That’s a good question.”

I told him I owned a car.  He said, “They usually don’t go after that.”

I showed him my painting.  He said, “It’s nice.”

I threw out the papers, because there was nothing I could do about it.  When I went back to the convent, the nuns could clearly see that I was shaken up.  They didn’t pry, but tried to cheer me up.  Finally, the Superior Sister said to me, “Don’t listen to anyone who doesn’t know God.”  I found that very helpful.

Figuring out who knows God, and to what extent, is a lot more complicated than figuring out who practices religion.  But it seemed pretty clear to me that the cop and the other debt collector terrorists didn’t know God.

Sometimes, when you feel you have nothing and no one, a faith of some sort can help.  My own faith wavers.  I have certainly, at times, felt very angry with God.  Sometimes I don’t even believe in God.  Sometimes I pray, “If you are there, and if you care…” I am, however, pretty familiar with the Bible.  Sometimes I find that helpful.

That cop and those other debt collector terrorists would probably be considered mentally healthy, because they were gainfully employed.  But I was mentally ill with depression, because I was distressed about being terrorized.

Depressed and suicidal people can seem incredibly self-centered, which can be hard to deal with.  But realistically, everyone can be self-centered without even realizing it.  Maybe that’s just a part of human nature.  People who feel badly about themselves and their lives can face much more of a Herculean struggle to justify their right to existence, and so can require greater care.

Now, I feel that not only am I justified in having a right to life, and not just physical life, but a dignified life as well, but I am also entitled to my own unique self, as are we all.  Not that everyone respects such rights, but how can I aspire to greater things if I don’t even feel that I deserve it?

There was no guidebook for what to do after two failed suicide attempts.  Neither had there been any guidebook for all the many harms that I had been made to endure throughout my life.

The mental health industry proposes a one-size-fits-all approach to help someone who is feeling suicidal. It would be great if there was some kind of algorithm or magic pill that would cure people of despair, but I don’t believe there can be.  People’s problems and what might help are as unique as the individuals.

Not everyone wears their hearts on their sleeves.  Potentially anyone you interact with might at that time be feeling suicidal for whatever reason.  A word of kindness never hurts.

Christianity is about kindness and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12), but it is so much more than that, especially for the poor and oppressed.  In her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Virgin Mary not only rejoices in God her savior for looking upon her lowliness and doing great things for her, but for throwing down the rulers from their thrones, lifting up the lowly, and sending the rich away empty.  Christian mercy, justice, and love pretty much necessitate a preferential option for the poor and oppressed.  It’s a whole different worldview than what is common in the US, even in a country that largely professes to be Christian.  And it’s a worldview that I try to incorporate into my own life.

Sometimes, an act of Christian mercy, justice, and love can be as simple as sharing, or kindness, or a prayer for someone.  But with the Virgin Mary as my model, I know that humility doesn’t necessitate victimhood.  The Virgin Mary was perfect in her deference to God, but didn’t collaborate with corrupt people in their evil.

If I am going to believe in something that goes beyond the bounds of science, I would rather it be God than the propaganda of the mental health industry.  Mercy, justice, and love are the way.

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Great article Caroline,

    I once heard a method of dealing with debt collectors who are putting pressure on people to ‘pay up’. Simply tell them that you have a bucket with pieces of paper with the names of all the people you owe money to in it. Each week when your paid, you take names out of the bucket and pay until there is no money left. Then explain to them that if they keep harassing you, you will take their name out of the bucket, and their chances of getting paid will be reduced to zero.

    Seriously though, I have been doing it tough lately and wonder why I am being left in this place where the State is authorising arbitrary detentions, torture, unintended negative outcomes for complaining about public sector misconduct, and they tell me that it is fine that legal narratives are “edited” to ensure that human rights abuses in hospitals are concealed from the public to maintain a good reputation. I’ve no idea how many people are being subjected to these vile acts but ….. I know it is happening and that those charged with ‘protecting’ the public are neglecting their duty. (the amount of breaches of the Convention I can prove is astounding, though the tactic of simply ignoring the victim is highly effective when you have the power to threaten witnesses, and “edit” documents)

    I think about it and wish I could obtain legal representation to have my property returned as I am simply sick and tired of trying to have anyone do something about these abusers they are enabling. Like anyone was going to take action over what was occurring in the ‘camps’ in Germany. Though I then think well, it was the people with the money to bribe that got out, the poor left to suffer the consequences of the insanity. I question if it is Gods will that I be kept in this place while I am continually subjected to abuse for no other reason that trying to ensure these abusers hurt no one else. They (the State) made it very clear they would ‘fuking destroy’ me, and that included my family. Why I have stayed when the jail door has been open I really don’t think I will ever know.

    I think in the end it might be best I sell my gold teeth and use that money to leave, rather than wait for them to unintentionally negatively outcome me and take the teeth anyway. These ‘good people’ know the truth, that was how they managed to conceal it with the fraud. And I live in the hope that there is some place God has in mind for me where those who claim to be ‘health workers’ do not spend their days plotting the fuking destrution of people they have already harmed, and try to deceive others that what they are doing is ‘medicine’.

    I look at the two sets of documents I have showing very different legal narratives, and think about the boasting of our Health Minister about the ‘protections’ of his Euthanasia Act. What I can say is that when the State can go back and “edit” legal narratives to make what was criminal into a lawful act, it’s time for me to leave. Their ‘delousing’ program seems to be having some serious side effects.

    All sounds crazy, and oh how I wish it had been some illness I was suffering from. I would willingly accept their drugs if that had been the case but…… what a disgraceful bunch of people they are. I can’t even begin to think what sort of person investigates a complaint of torture and kidnapping, finds that it’s true, and then goes about psychologically destroying the victim and pushing them to suicide. I say I can’t think of the sort of person, but I met some who were ‘pleasing to the eye’, though had hearts as black as pitch.

    Thanks again Caroline. In as much as I don’t believe God wants anyone to commit suicide, I also don’t think He wants us to be silly enough to put our lives into the hands of abusers. And when they refuse to deal with the abusers within their ranks, the best thing to do is avoid them.

  2. Hi Caroline, you are a great writer.
    Raw emotions laid bare, in a thoughtful manner.
    People get cornered and want to escape which is truly natural.
    Assessing options and what is happening, should be collaborative.

    Society adopted the most insane ways of coming to the aid of desperation. It creates chaos
    in those who look at the desperation. One time people were so shocked at desperate escapes
    that they reserved hell for them. A nice little spot reserved by the judges of our cultures.
    That evolved into winding up being stared at by people who call it illness. Not one tried to
    reason in a rational way that since it is a common desire to escape hounding and being judged,
    it must be part of something that is actually just looking for a way out of a mess, and it might be
    worthwhile to see what the entrapments are. Responses are not “wrong”. Not “illnesses”. However
    there is a whole lot wrong with the way we approach fearful people.
    We are all fearful and is why we want to shut down fear in others.

  3. Thank you for this very beautiful and heartelft offering, Caroline. I feel the grace of your heart from your writing. It is truly inspirational and very moving.

    I’m with you 100%. Being in service is fulfilling in and of itself. To feel spiritual abundance in our hearts, grounded to the Earth, and supporting the uplifting of humanity–especially in these uniquely trying times which affect us all–brings us all we need and want, if we trust the flow of the universe to support us as we go. That is a powerful shift in focus, and in our self-identity, based on our own personal experiences of moving through suffering and toward our true spirit nature, for relief and more toward discovering our wholeness as divine beings having a human experience.

    That was my experience with healing, in any event, the perspective which saved me by putting me in control of my own life journey, taking my power back from where I had given it unwittingly, putting it trustingly into the hands of oppressors and the corruption they practiced and supported, whether they were conscious of it or not. That was the program, what we were raised to believe. Live and learn, eh? Often the hard way, but at least there is a path beyond all of that, thank God! We still deal with all kinds of challenges in life, of course, but when we are in our light, this is our guidance forward, toward our true power of personal life creation.

    For this reason, I appreciate getting on in years and leaving behind my ignorance about the world, which looking back, I can feel the vulnerablity of this, to underestimate the destructive nature and power of social bullying and abuse, and how it wreaks havoc on people in so many ways, not to mention society on the whole.

    If we learn as we go and keep waking up to our spiritual truth, I find that life actually gets easier and invigorating rather than more and more burdensome and exhausting, because we can better maintain our well-being as we go if we know our spirit and clear hearts, moving away from fear and abuse and more toward compassion and faith, which I believe are matters of living with positive self-regard and having clear and self-loving boundaries–despite protests from the outside, which is oppressive.

    Expanding our consciousness beyond the physical world to know our spirit truth in conjuction to our human desires is, to me, THE healing because that is how we align with our truth, walk our talk, and create a positive momentum in our lives, from a completely different perspective than that to which we’re accustomed–as you say, all about money, conforming, “winning,” etc. That has been our downfall, I believe, by creating a cut-throat competetive and conflit-oriented society, which drains us all eventually and bears no fruit whatsoever. We fear not having money (not just because of surival issues but also due to stigma and marginalization), and so we can easily sacrifice our highest values in order to acquire it, coming from that level of fear/terror.

    Having the integrity to live in our spiritual truth will go against the grain in a corrupt society, so indeed our power and strength is to go by our own very personal inner guidance by honoring our emotions, how we feel from moment to moment, rather by the judgments outside of us for not honoring social norms, or whatever others go by. We are unique in how we live our lives, and so when we dare to be different, we embody the change and actually become it. I have found this path to be heart expansive, which has made all the difference in what I’ve created around me. The conneciton is mystical and profound, and very evident to me now. I think it’s pretty awesome, kind of magical. Life is more intertesting and creative for me now that I have found my spiritual voice in addition to my heart’s truth, and how they intersect.

    It takes a lot of courage and faith to evolve and grow past social conventions in order to live in our authentic truth from moment to moment, and to share your evolution along the way for greater understanding within the collective. Hats off to you, and big blessings along the way of your inspiring journey.

  4. Thanks for an authentic and inspiring piece Caroline. I am really glad you continued on your journey of hope to find a better place and through your experiences gained insights to offer others who are still searching. As you say not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve so it’s important to always be kind.

    It can be such a bizarre world to navigate at times but the realization of how the mental health industry treats people who are facing challenging life stressors is probably the most bizarre and cruel of all. Best wishes to you. Keep writing!

  5. I really loved this blog, Caroline, especially as I’ve been thought ‘weird’ for following Christ since I was a little girl (over 60 years now!) Weird by my family, weird by society and latterly, weird by my (former) Anglican church: a small parish in the south east of England.

    As human beings and tribes, we create scapegoats. The scapegoats are useful because it means we don’t have to change OUR perspectives or ways of doing things. Scapegoating is horrific, and it is everywhere in society. That’s why I belong to so few groups, as it makes me feel very ill when I see it (and I do challenge it, and have for most of my life, which makes me very unpopular. So be it!)

    After my mother’s death in 1993, I returned to my faith and the lucid dreams I’d had as a kid soon returned, setting out a completely different future to the one I faced: well paid, but mostly depressing work, working far too many hours and not nurturing my soul, nor my son. I quit that job in 1996, and there followed financial hardships for 6 years, after which I abandoned the 3D material and often superficial life, to follow my dreams. Let’s be frank, this lifestyle was tough for my ever-patient husband, who would have preferred a ‘normal’ life.

    I’ve had 18 really adventurous years, but 12 of them were hard, because of my drinking. I was on the verge of serious psychosis when I finally did in 2015: my father and younger brother had had bouts of paranoid schizophrenia and I didn’t want to go down the same rabbit hole. In particular, to be sectioned, and put on very strong anti-psychotic medication. Quitting, together with 2 years of Open Dialogue therapy, has healed me, so living from my soul is natural and daily.

    My faith and my loving compassionate mother (long dead, but always compassionate) taught me humility, honesty and patience. I talk to and encourage addicts to recover (primarily alcohol misuse), for 5 1/2 years. I talk to and buy food for homeless people and have done so for 18 years. I donate to Food Banks and listen and give hugs, up until the pandemic hit. Many don’t make the time, or are only interested in superficial things, which is so sad. A diminished life, in my book. I am content with what I have.
    Yes, my dad and younger brother had mental health issues, but they were gentle people (my dad after his breakdow, before then he was very egotistical.) My mother and twin brother, Roy, were always
    gentle too. I was lucky!

    My biggest joy is sharing what I’ve learnt and what I have with others. It gives my life incredible meaning: synchronicity and miracles are the signs that I am on the right path. This is not one of power, which you already know, but embodied love and grace in the exact way Jesus taught and lived. May my life be used for good, that’s all I pray.

    And you are fulfilling your mission in the way that you have already shown us. There is enormous Grace in abject failure, that’s what I know to be true……..

    Peace to your heart.

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