We all have threads that tie us to this world. Aspects that make up our identity and how we see ourselves. Maybe it’s a role you play like being a mother or father. Perhaps it’s a particular talent, creative or academic. Or it could be how you fill your time, your work or your passions. Each strand keeps us grounded, gives us a sense of belonging, makes us feel solid and fully present. The more threads we have, the harder it is for life to shake us, the harder it is for us to disconnect from the lives we are living.
I’ve realised recently that I’ve lost some of my threads since I became ill.
I have lost some of my creativity. I used to be constantly creating something, rarely without some sewing or knitting on the go. I had to be multi-tasking, watching a programme or film whilst stitching something new. But now my tired brain struggles to hold onto one thing at a time, I have some knitting abandoned on my desk because I was just too tired to keep going. I used to rarely be seen out without my camera. I loved immortalising moments, capturing and keeping those glimpses of time for ever. My revision breaks at University were spent in the local park photographing birds. But my camera and I haven’t left the flat together in several months.
I used to pride myself on my academic abilities. My brain could store vast quantities of information. I regularly got full marks in exams at school. I could concentrate for hours on end without a break, completing eight hour revision days. My brain was a well oiled machine and I thought it always would be. But now it has dulled and rusted. What I didn’t loose to the years of depression, I am loosing to the constant fog that fills my brain. Some days I forget something the instant the thought has finished forming in my mind. My work life is full of lists and scribbled notes. My home life is a constant nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something important, only for it to come back to me hours later.
I miss the kind of friend I used to be able to be. I miss having the energy to go the extra mile, to do something thoughtful. So many ideas still float through my head but never make it to realisation. Some days I’m lucky if I find the energy to reply to a text message or email. I can be so self-absorbed, with the very effort of getting through each day, that I’m sure I miss what’s happening around me.
I used to take comfort in the fact that in spite of everything I was still good at my job. But January wasn’t a test that I passed with flying colours. I am not as fast at my job as I should be, and 12 months of hard work doesn’t seem to count for very much. And so this work thread is fraying at the edges.
This particular loss hit my hard. Or maybe it is simply the culmination of all these lost and fraying threads that is hitting me hard.
I know what it looks like when these threads get cut. I have felt the free-fall and the crash that comes after. I think I was expecting to fall again, maybe the part of me that is very tired and frustrated even wanted it.
A few weeks ago I got out of my city and took refuge with some lovely friends for the weekend. As I sat in their church I was reminded of a song that has been with me for years and is still one of the cheesiest songs I own. It is a song called ‘Held’ by Natalie Grant and was one I used to cling to, during the dark days of depression. The chorus goes like this:
“This is what it means to be held
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we’d be held”
It was as though God was saying “You can’t fall, I’m holding you”. In that moment I realised that no matter how many threads I loose, how much of who I am seems to fall away, I will always land on His grace.
I am held. Held by the love of friends and family, who will stand by me no matter what. And held in the arms of my eternal Father who knows me far better than I know myself. Even if all the threads of this world are cut, I will still be his daughter and that is enough.
Since then have come days where I haven’t felt held or protected, where I have still felt so very tired and worn down. But if I have learnt anything in life it’s that things don’t stop being true just because you stop feeling them. Emotions are an unreliable judge of truth. The storms may be raging around me, but God’s got me. That may not make every day life any easier, but I can trust that this journey has a purpose and that I am neither lost nor forgotten.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed”
2 Corinthians 4;8-9