Shadow Of Victory

Tuesday, 17 December 2013


I am fascinated by another life I may well have been a therapist as I love watching the interaction of different people in different settings. People watching is one of my all time favourite activities. I have been known to make up entire life stories about two people in a coffee husband thinks I am bonkers but he does join in at times too especially on holidays when we get time to chill out and watch the world go by.

This year ...if you have been following my blog....or indeed know me and been a part of my life in the real world...has been one of the worst years on record in my life. I am not even going to repeat all the sad bits...nor the health problems...nor the confusion...I console myself with saying that 2014 is just around the corner and I am so looking forward to a new beginning and a deep hope that it wont ever be as bad as 2013 has been .

I have had a lot of time on my hands this year...way more than I really wanted or needed and it has given me time to think....Thinking is sadly under-rated...I have come to the conclusion that I need to do a lot more thinking in future and less talking or acting or doing stuff but just being quiet and letting my mind and thoughts and emotions have a few moments to themselves !

This is what I have come up with whilst letting my mind free fall.....some other thoughts on the subject of Friendship. I wrote a blog entry about my friend Bren who recently went to glory leaving a huge gap in my heart and soul and as yet I am still finding it so hard to believe she is no longer longer will I get an email or a text and I cant plan a trip down to see her. Its a weird horrid hurting gap left that I am daily praying that God will fill with peace on a day by day basis.

So...what other thoughts have occupied my thoughts on friendship ....I will just blurt them out in no particular order and not listed by their importance...just thoughts.

I have been reading and looking at the woman in the bible with the issue of blood....she has always been one of my favourite characters and I identify with some of what the story tells...( not that I have had an issue of blood ! ) but the fact of her being stigmatised...and marginalised within her community...I read a little between the lines and guess she isn't one of the people you would want to hang out with...simply because she was ill for so long. I wonder what her life was like before she got ill ...did she have lots of good friends...was her social life full...was she invited to friends homes or gatherings...did she herself have the gift of friendship and a full life within her community??

I kinda think that perhaps when she didn't get better that slowly but surely maybe her friends and her community and her support network just got smaller and smaller until after 12 years I think she was very alone....the culture of those times was that she was " unclean" so I am probably right in saying she was alone and probably lonely too.

So what am I saying here....If I am honest I have felt that the whole of this woman's 12 years has been whittled down to cover the last 8 months of my life...Previous to me becoming unwell I would have said I was blessed with some really precious friends and had as full a life as I could have around my work and family commitments. As it became apparent over the months that I wasn't going to get "better" and that the route to wholeness and wellness was going to a long haul rather than a few weeks I realised that slow but sure the contact and community I had was diminishing and days would go by with no contact with anyone except maybe a quick coffee time and then I noticed that even those were going and being replaced by txts and this last two weeks even the texts have almost died off too.

Please believe me...I am not pointing any fingers...I also hold my hand up and admit that most of the time I would make an arrangement and then cancel it at last minute if I wasn't able to cope or had a doctor/hospital appointment so I am definitely not blaming anyone. The woman in the bible probably had some good days when she thought perhaps she would be able to go see someone but then wham her issue came back again and she had to cancel again.

These thoughts on friendship have been brought to the fore of my mind mainly because of Bren's death...I can honestly say that she was the most loyal and loving and caring friend ever and no "issue of blood " made any difference to our love for each other...if I cancelled she just kept on loving and caring and keeping in touch..her emails and txts didn't stop until 6 days before she died and even then they were full of her concern for me and her love or me.

One other "odd" thing I have found is that friends who I have known for decades but maybe who haven't been a part of my everyday community have been so caring and understanding even if from a distance .. As I pondered on this ...the old versus the newer that I mean the 15 years plus versus the less than 8-10  years I have been surprised and blessed by the oldies way more than the newbies. I wonder if this is specifically because of the history we share...or is it because they don't all live nearby and don't have to put up with me and my "issue"

I have come to the conclusion its because they knew me way before 2013 when life became so hard and they remember I was not ME as I am now.

My oldest buddy in Edinburgh ...Sandra is one of the best of friends one can ever know. Sandra came into my life at the same time as Chris at least 41 years of shared history. Sandra has always been there for me...not always in the same country as she lived in South Africa for many years but by letters we kept our friendship alive and in more recent years ...texts emails and visits have all strengthened our love for one another. Sandra isn't a Christian....but she is a God believer if that makes sense.. (.I did check this out with her before I wrote this blog ) and her giving of herself and her home and her time has been a huge blessing to me. one of her characteristics and no matter how low I have been this last year she has consistently loved and encouraged me all the time. Sometimes her advice is way off the wall but mostly she is just loving me through and treating me no differently to the ME that she has known all these 41 years. One other attribute that Sandra has that allows her to shine in my life is that we can talk about my faith and she supports me in that and would never try and change the same way I totally accept that she isn't (yet) a follower of Jesus but that our friendship doesn't depend on us having the same belief ...its more dependent on  who we are to each other....The other great thing about Sandra is she loves not just me but all my family too and takes an interest in all that we are doing....its a wrap around kind of friendship that truly allows me to feel safe.

In the same category as an * oldie * is my friend Sharon....we met probably 22 years ago here in Bracknell...she now lives in Yate near Bristol. Again for many years our friendship relied on letters ( shows our age as this was way before txts and emails ) and I find now over the last 3-4 years that the distance isn't any barrier to keeping the friendship alive and well....this last few months Sharon has consistently been a support and encouragement to me and mine. I could fill a whole blog talking about how this friendship has blessed me so much.

Another "oldie" is Caroline...she lives in Amsterdam and I last saw her in the flesh 32 years ago when she visited me in hospital when I gave birth to Andrew my middle child...and altho the miles and the distance are clearly an obstacle somehow or other we have kept alive the link of our hearts which  first formed when we were five years old....Caroline is my * get real * this I mean she minces no words...says what she means...and keeps my feet on the ground... I love her outspoken thoughts and her amazing ability to remind me that life at times is a bummer but  you just got to keep going. I also love the fact about Caroline that she is just as smitten with her grandchildren as I am with mine so we are a mutual adoration society on Facebook.

Finally another *oldie* who has once more proven that friendships can and do last the test of time. Melita...I have known for about 28 years ..we have holidayed together..served God together...shared a bed together ( never again..she is not that good a friend )..we have laughed and cried and prayed and lost all hope then found it again when least expected. Melita has now moved miles away and I have already forgiven her for that...but am still working on the forgiveness issue that she lives 105 seconds from the sea. Melita is an all round friend...she is who she is and and loves me exactly as I am ...all the time...

I count myself more that blessed to share about my friends....these are the ones who despite the distance ....have gone the distance with me....I have written this to honour them .

Sandra....Sharon ...Caroline friends...please know I love and value you in so many different ways and you are a gift from God into my life especially more so in recent months.