Nurturing Confidence

I have always had low confidence in myself period. It doesn’t matter which area of life we are talking about from my appearance to my talents low confidence seems to be the trademark. Do I want this? If a person was to describe me, what would they say? In the past, especially with my talents, I would manage to turn a compliment into self- induced pressure. I would stress about living up to that compliment next time.

During my childhood I had more confidence in comparison to my teen years. In primary school I participated in the district schools cross country where I would come last by quite a lot except one year I came second last when a girl sprained her ankle yet still finished. Every year I competed everyone would stop what they were doing to cheer me across the finish line; I ran faster at their encouragement.

Late primary my confidence started on a downward slippery slope that only accelerated as I got into my teen years. In Letting Go I wrote: the bullies each managed with great success to erode my confidence and self – worth. The primary school bully ruled the social scene dictating who would be in the ‘in’ group by getting the potential new members to sing a song (as a way of discouraging people from joining). I tried but I am certainly not the next Adele let alone being able to sing in tune. What can I say? Singing just isn’t one of my gifts. Needless to say I was not welcomed into the group. Being a small, country primary school there were not many kids and a lot of my friends were in this group. In high school a staff member was the bully from laughing at me when I got homework to being critical about me biting my nails, little maybe, but constant.

Through those experiences I subconsciously built a wall around myself not wanting to be open to vulnerability; some people did manage to become my friends through that time in my life but they first had to scale the huge wall allowing me to trust them. Much of the time my friends got a filtered version of myself. I was scared that if I shared my real self the friendship would be over and I was much too insecure to allow that to happen. Truth be told it wasn’t just the bullying that lead to the greater loss in confidence. My body changed a lot while I was a teenager (like everyone) but I hated the changes, mainly the weight gain and acne; but I also hated the events that had shaped me and the things I couldn’t change like Cerebral Palsy. I wanted to fit in. But I only saw all the things that made me stand out. I couldn’t brush it off as easily as I did when I was a child (even then it still hurt).

It took until I started university that I made the conscious choice to find more confidence. Fake it ‘til you make it if you will. I was done having regrets over my character namely my confidence. I was done simply admiring other people’s confidence. It became a little, and I mean little, easier during university as I made more friends. But it was after university when I discovered I was truly loved by Jesus. With Jesus’ help I began for the first time to truly love me and to believe others when they said they loved me; rather than internally saying really? While knowing I am truly loved has helped to develop my confidence in many areas, such as my appearance, there was still a gaping hole in my confidence; that being with my talents and skills.

Many reasons contributed to my decision to withdraw from a Bachelor of Commerce. One of them was the realisation that even when I finished the degree I would still lack confidence to complete everything the degree said I could do. The piece of paper could give me a lot of things but it couldn’t give me confidence. I get frustrated with myself over having a weakened characteristic I admire in others but that doesn’t produce the desired characteristic; it only increases the disappointment in myself. I did say weakened; I am taking steps to strengthen my confidence.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

How? Through volunteering. I get to use my skills and talents without the weight of expectation. During my interview I was taken aback by how interested they were in having me help out – I didn’t even have to beg. My supervisor is lovely; she has complete confidence in my skills and gives me tasks to do, that are not only helpful for everyone, but also uses my skills. Jesus knew I needed a supervisor like her. I find Jesus places people in your life when you need them the most. During university I had a lecturer that would inspire confidence as she explained the assessment to the class. I was less daunted and more excited to see where my ideas and creativity would go. This lecturer’s positive impact flowed into my other classes.

I don’t think my confidence will ever grow to epic proportions and I will still struggle with self-confidence because a) I have flaws like we all do and b) I have had low confidence for so long it is easy to slip into old habits. But I will give it a go.

Love,

Cathryn

Sunset and Sunrise

I wasn’t going to write this; I was going to hold onto it a little longer as I come to terms with yet another label that goes right to my core and infiltrates everything. Two weeks ago I went to the doctor and explained that even though I struggle with anxiety the feelings of deep sadness, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts were new and they worried me. After a lengthy discussion I was diagnosed with reactive depression.

Part of me was relieved that I finally had answers to the emotions that had been troubling me for about 2 – 3 months and that I could work towards changing things. But the larger part of me couldn’t understand how I had let myself sink so low. I have a beautiful life, far from perfect but still beautiful. How could I be depressed? Sure I had been struggling, but depression had only entered my thoughts a few days earlier as I researched the symptoms. I wasn’t caught completely off guard but neither was I comfortable with what seemed to be like a branding iron searing deep within my skin.

Psalm 13 “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

For those who don’t know what reactive depression is, it is reaction to an external event or circumstance, such as the loss of a loved one or job. For me I think it can be pinpointed to when I started my degree in Commerce; very quickly I went from seeing it as a challenge to feeling completely overwhelmed. I tried hard to be positive you knew it was going to be hard work; imagine all you could do with the degree. But despite the positivity I told myself and others, the truth was I hated it. My original reasons and inspiration for completing the degree didn’t quite stack up anymore. The doctor suggested I seriously think about whether I want to continue with the degree and what I want to do in general. I gave myself a week to decide what to do.

It was a very anxious week filled with many panic attacks. Pretty early on in the week I knew I wouldn’t be continuing to study a Bachelor of Commerce even though I contemplated taking medication to help me through (it wouldn’t take effect for three months). The career outcomes no longer interested me, they only made me feel more anxious. Yet I held onto the idea a bit longer. Why? For three main reasons a) I felt I would be walked over in business if I didn’t have the degree b) yet again I had attached my identity to my degree. I was convinced (shamefully so) that I would be nothing without it c) I wanted to make my Dad proud of me for having skills that come naturally to him. FYI (and my own) my Dad loves me and is proud of me and for the record I don’t need to be an expert in everything. If you are wondering where the need for my Dad’s approval comes, from aside from being his daughter, you have to look at my past. I look most like my Mum and so people naturally see characteristics of her in me (she is my Mother after all) but they would rarely mention my Dad. My Dad brought the athletic gene to our family but I didn’t get it. I couldn’t share the same depth of love for sports as my sister shares with him due to her natural gifting. So I guess from a young age I sort to find ways we were the same as if to say to everyone, see I am my Father’s daughter not just my Mother’s. Anyway, another idea was to study something else. I thought about a Diploma in Business Management, so I could get basic business skills or Interior Design, I love watching design and renovation shows. As I explored these options I found out that enrolments for this semester are closed so if I choose to study, it would be next year. Another idea was to volunteer to gain confidence in myself and my skills/talents.

After lots of discussion and prayer I made the decision to withdraw from my course. I was expecting to feel really anxious as I let it go. Instead, much to my surprise, I felt super relived. So what am I going to do now? Well, I contacted my brother’s school wondering if they would be at all interested in allowing me to volunteer. They were. At the second meeting I felt peaceful. I start on Monday.

Please don’t get me wrong, this blog post is not about saying my depression is worse than yours or that the answers are simple. If you are struggling with depression or otherwise my heart breaks for you; I wish I could give you a hug. Seek help, you don’t have to struggle alone.

Love,

Cathryn

Together

Last week, in The Flickering Flame, I wrote how sometimes life really hurts. This week I wanted to write an appreciation post for those who help life hurt a little less. They are like warm sunshine on a cold and cloudy day. They are like honey with sweetness that can touch the rawness in my life and make it so much better. They bring out the best me and I love them alot. They are my friends and family.

Showing vulnerability and being honest about how I am going is relatively new for me. I always hid behind a smile; scared that if I shared truthfully the joy and also the heartache they would run in the opposite direction because my messiness is too much to handle. I had to start healing from my past and start to finally feel secure in myself to open up.

Lately I have been struggling but here is a few things I have learnt from sharing together:

You are not alone: When I am struggling with life it can seem very lonely; but sharing together makes you realise that you aren’t alone, that they stand with you in the storms of life just as you would stand with them.

It is ok to be vulnerable: It is ok to admit you are not ok and that life hurts at the moment. I have found it to be true that when I share honestly they in turn share honestly about their own struggles sometimes similar to mine.

Gives erspective: When I look at university graduation photos where I am so happy it is easy to forget how hard it was to get to that moment. So let’s review – it was the amazing experience but not without its struggles. For over a year I questioned whether the degree I was studying was right for me. I was annoyed to be going to Bendigo and not Melbourne. I cried the first night on residential accommodation sure I had made the worst mistake of my life. I had to go home every weekend just to cope with my crippling anxiety. I had crisis talks with a friend and my Mum regularly. I struggled to let strangers help me, especially when they had to see me naked. The carer organisation I was first with didn’t listen to me and kept making empty promises which made me feel powerless like in year 7 when I was bullied by a member of staff. My health struggled as I dealt with the ever – increasing demands of university study.

And yet I stayed… and graduated. The good definitely outweighed the bad. The memories made were worth it. So as I am currently struggling with my second degree, it is nice to be reminded that the first time was not easy but the photos prove that I indeed made it despite the challenges. That I can make it again and have my cap and gown moment a second time around.

Good times: It is important to take time out just to have fun and relax.

Cheer squad: They believe in me and encourage me to achieve my dreams as I do for them. I am so proud of what each of them have accomplished.

Love: They love me and I love them. In my darkest moments when I wonder who could love me their faces come to mind.

I am not saying you have to share real and raw with everyone but I encourage you to have some people who you can be that with.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no – one to help him up!”

Love,

Cathryn

The Flickering Flame

Sometimes life really hurts. In moments like these it reopens wounds that had started to heal. Emotions are on edge as anger and sadness take turns in being the most dominant emotion. Once hopeful and optimistic to losing hope fast and feeling trapped. Knowing deep down that I am lovable but wondering how that can be. When my belief and trust in Jesus is down to all but a flickering flame that I consider walking away from my source of peace, hope and joy. Darker still, wondering for a fleeting moment if I should end it all… the hateful voice in my head saying none of your dreams have come true and who would want you in their lives anyway.

If I have learnt anything in my battle against fear, worry, anxiety and stress it is that no matter how loud the negative internal dialogue gets (I can have it screaming at me) it does NOT speak the truth. It is not truth that none of my dreams have come true. I have made friends no matter where I am and I completed a university degree; both are dreams and desires I had and they have come true. It is in the dark moments that negative internal dialogue likes to remind me of my weaknesses, limitations, broken dreams and dreams and desires yet to be fulfilled. It hits hard and hurts deeply. It feels like I am hanging onto the side of a cliff by my fingertips with raging waters beneath me. A monster is smashing my fingers with its spiky foot making me scream out in pain. Jesus is there kneeling over the cliff and reaching out His hand saying ‘let me help you’. After a few moments of weighing up my options I take Jesus’ hand.

So here I am choosing to rebuild our relationship again. To discover the trust and closeness Jesus and I shared that seems but a distant memory. My Mum is helping me, because it has gotten to the point where I am scared of reading the Bible because it has created distance between me and Jesus through my doubt. I can’t say the distance between us is a result of the dreams I have not being fulfilled yet. But of something deeper that even if I got everything I desired right this minute it would provide a band aid solution for a while but ultimately my head and heart would still struggle. Time to light the fire from scratch and search for Jesus anew. I am a little worried that Jesus wants to hit me with the sticks because it is I who wanted to walk away. But in months gone by He has reassured me that He truly loves me. I hold onto that. Jesus will help me rebuild our relationship stick by stick until it is a huge bonfire. Together we will emerge from the desert stronger.

Psalm 61:1 – 4 “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call to you as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent for ever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.”

I don’t know why I have Cerebral Palsy and no one else in my family does (a fact I am very thankful for). I don’t know why I have Chronic Fatigue yet others that go through similar experiences and leave with their energy still intact. I don’t know why life sometimes threatens to break us. I don’t have the answers. But I do know your life matters. You have a purpose for being here and Jesus loves you very much. Hold on tight to Jesus He will never let you go.

Love,

Cathryn

Growing Resilience

Semester two of university has started this week and I am a little apprehensive. Why? Well when I received my results for semester one it was confirmed that I had failed both subjects. so the whole semester. I say confirmed, because I knew instinctively I wasn’t going to pass based on the results I had been getting. But I still took it hard. For a few days I didn’t tell anyone outside my immediate family because I didn’t want to deal with their reactions fearing they would be only negative. My perfectionist streak showed its colours; I wondered what the point of doing a degree in Commerce was if all I did was fail.

It hurt when I realised I failed, I have failed assignments before but never whole subjects and definitely not whole semesters. Each experience we have can grow and change us for the better or worse. I can see both in my own life. Some I wish they hadn’t shaped me the way they have. During my childhood I had about six major, multi – level surgeries to improve my quality of life and to prevent things like my hips being ripped out of their sockets. That experience shaped my determination; but also shaped my aversion to hospitals and medical professionals as well as medical procedures. I want my first semester of studying Commerce to shape me for the better, rather than the worse. To grow me, rather than break me. Sure I failed the subjects, but I gained in self growth. I felt my work – life balance was healthier than it ever has been, I was less critical of myself and I felt calmer. Now approaching second semester there are things I can improve on to hopefully achieve better academically:

  • I made the assumption that because I have a part – time workload rather than being a full – time student and that I had studied before, I would have WAY more time to complete everything that I needed to do. I found out quickly, but yet way too late, that I was wrong. This time I will give myself more time than I think I need.
  • I started university quickly, I got accepted on the Thursday and started class on the Monday. As a result I felt like I was constantly chasing my tail, so to speak. This semester I feel more prepared and organised thanks to the insight of first semester.
  • In first semester I never got around to registering with the disability sector of the university for two reasons a) everything got busy and I didn’t make the time and b) I thought I could complete the degree without it because I was part – time and I guess also wanting to prove I could do it; to be a regular student. My grades showed the reality that I do need some assistance. So this semester I have a doctor’s appointment in a couple of weeks (getting a doctor’s appointment in the country is hard) then I will be able to register with the disability sector of the university to receive required supports.
  • I made mistakes with the assignments and exams. When I repeat the subjects I have a few ideas on how to improve. Also completing different subjects in this semester the ways to improve can be applied.

Joshua 1:9 says, “I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”

Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. I was frustrated that my first thought was to give up rather than pick myself up and try again (thankfully the resilient thought pattern followed soon after the temptation to give up). The thing is I am still growing resilience as a character trait. The definition doesn’t say resilience equals not allowing yourself to feel, that is unrealistic and unfair to yourself. Resilience is choosing not to give up, to learn from mistakes, to try again, to not expect perfection from yourself or others.

Love,

Cathryn

Refusing to Drown

Luke 8:24 – 25 “The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.”

As I write this week my foot is hurting due to straining it for the umpteenth time (thanks Dad for strapping it). It was already hurting but making chocolate brownies pushed it over the edge. On one hand I should have taken better care of my body, but on the other hand I feel close to tears as my body doesn’t pull through for me; reminding me of every short coming I have. Not just my Cerebral Palsy or Chronic Fatigue, but my body as a whole and my personality. Why do I have to be so short? (My younger brother towers above me) Why do I walk funny? And I think if I have to cart my walking frame around anymore I will scream. Why do some of my fears still linger, can’t I be fearless? Why do I have to be tired all the time? I would love to have heaps of energy, just imagine it. Sometimes life feels like it is holding me under the waves until I come up gasping for air.

In these moments reality stings with such intensity. Tears help soothe my heart as I cry out to Jesus why, why me? You know I have never gotten an answer as to why but I have felt His presence and goodness no matter the strength of the waves. I may struggle with the fact that I am the shortie of my family but by being short and light helped (and still does) my parents take care of me, especially after multi – level surgeries and as they getter older. It makes me cringe when I see myself walk, so much so I am trying to convince my Dad to carry me in his arms down the aisle the day I get married (future planning ;)). But it would hurt me more to be confined to a wheelchair losing the precious freedoms I enjoy, like feeling the sand between my toes myself. I may still battle with some of my fears, but it is some not all; and for the record everyone is afraid of something. I wish I wasn’t tired all the time (must be awesome to not feel tired soon after, or some days even as, you get out of bed). Thankfully it is not as bad as it used to be and that it is on a plateau most of the time (not great highs and great lows).

When I have tough days my dreams are on shaky ground. I shudder at the thought of my future husband reading my blog and gaining the wrong idea about me; that I would be too hard to marry and have children with, let alone any adventures. When the limitations are all I see, traveling seems impossible. I don’t want to let my circumstances have the final say on my life, my dreams or how I view Jesus. I may not know why but Jesus fills me with peace that He does. Life may hurt at times but Jesus is there wiping each tear that falls and easing my pain giving me strength for the present and hope for the future. I don’t know what you are facing maybe it is too painful to pray or read the Bible. I want to encourage you to cling to Jesus, who, no matter the height of the waves refuses to let you drown.

Love,

Cathryn

Determined Yet Flexible

Numbers 6:24 – 26” The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face towards you and give you peace.”

When plans don’t work out like we thought or hoped it can hurt but there will be something better for us, a sweeter dream for us to dream or maybe we need to wait longer making it more precious once it is achieved.

In 2011, when I started year 12, I had no intention to divide my work in half and complete year 12 over two years. But I struggled to keep up just doing the bare essentials thanks to Cerebral Palsy and Chronic Fatigue. So reluctantly I extended my time at High School. If I had completed year 12 within the year as planned I would have failed, no question about it, and I would have missed out on friendships when I went to university that I am grateful to have now, life wouldn’t be the same without them.

I am the queen of being indecisive. At the end of High School I was very excited I had finally decided to go to university in Melbourne and become a dietician. I was eager to shake my hometown off for a fresh start. I had finally been able to choose a potential career that matched my physical limitations and something I had a passion for. Previously I wanted to become a midwife, I don’t know what exactly drew me to midwifery except a desire to help and my love of babies. Sadly I had to choose something else because I wouldn’t physically be able to be a midwife which is the same story to so many of my career ideas. I guess what hurt most is Cerebral Palsy cancelled me out of many careers I had my heart set on; that it wouldn’t be just challenging but impossible. It is hard to change your heart. When I think about the degree I completed, a Bachelor of Strategic Communication; with its brainstorming ideas, creativity and in a PR agency setting – multiple varied projects happening at the same time, it lit my heart up differently and tapped into passions that had always been there.

Now I am back studying a new degree, a Bachelor of Commerce, after a year off. Some might term it a gap year and I suppose in a way it was. A time to press pause to work on myself and the baggage I had carried around for far too long.

Each of these changes to my plans hit hard as I struggled with my new set of circumstances. I was ready for a new beginning, a chance to reinvent myself. Not having an additional year of High School. I was passionate about health (still am) and excited to shake the past off; instead I felt the past still linger in the presence of shattered dreams. The possibilities are limitless with potential careers to Fighting Back against worry, stress, fear and anxiety that were strong enough to stop me even applying for jobs and going back to study sooner than I thought.

Panic rises up within me as I wonder what I want to do after university. A bit premature maybe but I am terrified of being in the same position of crushed dreams and shattered expectations. I have already been there and it hurts, striking you at the core of your very being. I will admit I struggle to bounce back despite setbacks. My determination has been mainly crafted through situations I have been in rather than a natural survivor tendency.

I think the reason I have struggled so much with changing plans, is that each plan I made had no room for flexibility and spontaneity, just pure determination and drive. Don’t get me wrong, you need determination to achieve your dreams but without flexibility you tend to hurt easily and lose hope (been there) when things don’t happen in your timeframe or your way.

Recently I was struggling with what to do after university and when to travel. My Mum suggested having an open – ended plan which blends determination and flexibility. For instance, I could after I finish my degree plan on running my own business, yet if I find a job opportunity that I want to pursue then go for it. In the same way plan to travel internationally within the next two to three years, but if someone gets sick and I have to cancel, it is with a new flexible mindset that allows me to rebook rather than lose hope. Each example I have planned tentatively, not definitely, which is totally new for me. It actually gives me hope for the future and joy for the present and less worry. Sure I don’t have a business idea yet nor have I decided where I would like to travel to. But that’s the idea – have a plan that you are aiming for but don’t hold on too tightly so if plans change for something more beautiful or just postponed you will be able to thrive in, not just survive, the change.

Love,

Cathryn

Say Goodbye to Justify

Proverbs 16:9 “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

For a long time I went about life as though love was conditional, based on my performance, even for my own family. I had to be smarter, prettier, you name it I had to be it in order for the people around me to love me – or so I thought. It has been only of recent (as of last year) that I truly realised; that as I love the people around me, including their flaws, they indeed loved me back. But old habits die hard. Writing a new default setting takes work. Replacing old ways of life (love is conditional) with new (I am lovable just as I am) takes time.

I am challenging myself to let go of the need to justify every aspect of my life to everyone including myself. Below are three areas of my life where I have felt the need to justify myself. My actions. My choices.

No paid work: This is a classic one that whenever I am asked about work I feel like I am having a panic attack. That I have failed the society norm. Most of the time I end up listing EVERYTHING I am doing, basically giving them a minute by minute schedule.

Still single: Every time this one gets brought up it is hard not to remind myself of every flaw I have and compare myself to my sister or the entire female race, for that matter, all the while wondering ‘what’s wrong with me?’

Living at home: This one always comes with a long list of reasons and explanations that by the end of the extensive list they either understand or drop subject.

I no longer want certain topics to be off limits because they hit a raw nerve, I have found it is actually quite freeing sharing experiences and struggles with people. Furthermore, by my sharing they too share their life with me emphasising connectedness rather than loneliness. On reflection it is not the areas of my life that cause me to feel as though I need to explain myself; it is a deeply entrenched feeling of not being enough, of being afraid of being unlovable.

My counsellor gave me a sticky note in one of our first sessions with the affirmation I am lovable just because I am me regardless of my performance.

It is so true. It doesn’t matter whether we study for ten degrees, become fluent in five different languages or not, we are still lovable just the way we are. Love isn’t based on performance, it just is. So do yourself a favour say goodbye to justifying your life, to others and yourself. Let go so you can enjoy what is. It doesn’t mean you stop dreaming and hoping (I do both) it just means you give yourself the freedom to enjoy life in its present moment with no guilt and with no regrets.

I guess I am writing it down as a way to remain accountable to myself that I am releasing the seemingly endless need to justify me and my life. So if we run into each other I hope we can share about life in all its rawness and beauty.

Love,

Cathryn

Light in the Darkness

Psalm 18:16 – 17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.”

I am in a darkened room like an old warehouse with only a few overhead lights. The rest of the room is in darkness. I stand under one of the lights. A small dragon like creature is in front of me with spikes all over its body, its claws long and sharp, its face looks hungry and mean showing no mercy but rather looking to maim and kill. The creature starts circling me, growling and baring its teeth. It launches itself at me digging its claw deep into the flesh of my arm. I cry out to Jesus to help me. Jesus comes out of the darkness and touches my arm, it heals instantly then Jesus moves back into the darkness. The creature starts circling angrier than before. I tremble under its watchfulness. I yell to Jesus, needing Him very much right now. Jesus comes out of the shadowy darkness just in time to shield me from the creature’s fiery breath. I began to cry, Jesus lifted me up into His arms and said to the ugly creature “stay away from my darling” and the creature fled. Jesus held me as I continued to cry speaking lovingly to me “it is alright my darling I am here”… Jesus carries me to a hilly, grassy paddock; it is a clear night, we can see so many stars. Jesus lies down with me in His arms and I fall asleep at His reassurance “sleep now my darling.”

I journaled this picture Jesus gave me recently when I was feeling particularly bruised by life. Through it Jesus whispered His reassurances that are meant for you too:

No matter what I face in life Jesus will hold me close

Jesus has my back and will help me fight

Jesus loves me very much

Despite the darkness (whatever that may be) light always shines bright

Jesus will carry me through to a new season

Jesus cares for me

I don’t know what you are going through right now but I know that Jesus will never let you go. It’s ok to admit it hurts and to let the tears fall. I want to encourage you to not lose hope despite your current circumstances.

Ecclesiastes 3:4 “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

The stormy season you are in may be rough, raw and stingingly close to your heart. Hold on, in the darkest of nights the stars still shine and after a storm comes a rainbow.

Love,

Cathryn

If Only

Psalm 139:15 -16 “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

On Tuesday I had my first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) planning meeting. It was basically an information gathering session for them to ensure the supports put in place suit me, my lifestyle and my goals. In order to do this they had to find out in, detail, things like my current situation and going back into my past to see what I participated in during High School. NDIS, although it sounds good in theory, won’t be able to give me the wings I need to soar. For instance if I was to travel in Australia the scheme would pay for when a support worker has to help me but it won’t cover their flights, accommodation, food etc. This means I will need to pay for these expenses on their behalf and it leave me out of pocket. The meeting did give me some hope; I will be able to move interstate and I won’t have to get reassessed to prove I have a disability – yay! But mostly it left me with the sinking feeling of ‘if only’.

I have constantly struggled with ‘if only’ especially in relation to my disability and difficult events that have shaped my life.

If only I didn’t have Cerebral Palsy, life would be so much easier.

If only I didn’t have Chronic Fatigue, then I could enjoy more of life.

If only I didn’t have to have all those surgeries and medical appointments, then I wouldn’t have a silly fear of needles and aversion to the medical/health profession.

If only I hadn’t been bullied in High School which lead to paralysing anxiety and low self-esteem causing me to miss all those opportunities.

If only I had sort internships sooner and applied for more jobs, then I would be working rather than studying.

Let’s stop the list there before we all get depressed if we aren’t already! The thing with ‘if only’ it makes us dwell on the regrets and what could have been. None of us can go back and change our past – I for one wouldn’t want to relive the hard experiences in the hope to change it because in all likelihood I would have the same result. Why? Because when I made this ‘if only’ list I left out an element that gives perspective and context – reality. So here is the list revised with a good dose of reality.

Sure it could be true that life without Cerebral Palsy in many ways would make my life easier. But I am still human and everyone has something they struggle with. Therefore the challenges faced would be different but not avoided altogether.

Sure Chronic Fatigue makes life more difficult but I am grateful that Chronic Fatigue is like a rollercoaster or a mountain when I hit lows (utterly exhausted) it sucks but when I hit highs (lots of energy) man it is awesome and I experience more highs than lows now compared to when I was first diagnosed.

Those surgeries and medical appointments helped me gain the quality of life I enjoy today. True I do have a lingering fear of needles but I have come a long way; I can now have blood tests without a numbing patch. Maybe one day I will be able to let go of my fear completely and get a tattoo, I have a few designs in mind.

That was a rough time in my life (High School) but I am no longer there and have had many more opportunities to make up for the few I missed. Plus the experience didn’t destroy me completely and I learnt valuable lessons such as the dangers of someone’s control over you.

I found it really tiring studying for my degree that I couldn’t physically give anymore and then after I completed my degree my anxiety did not help me at all. Not to mention I lacked the all-important experience.

Do you realise none of this surprises Jesus? He had my life planned out before the beginning of time. If Jesus wanted me to get a job I would only have to apply for one not thousands. Jesus has a plan for my life; sure I don’t fully understand His choices but I know ‘if only…’ is tearing me apart. If I always look at ‘if only’ I forget to look for what Jesus is doing despite them.

Love,

Cathryn