So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
Yesterday I signed a form to become an employee of the NHS for the first time in 19 years. At the age of 23, my dreams were in tatters as I quit my job as a Speech & Language Therapist. My mental health had deteriorated so badly that I had been off sick for two months and I knew I couldn’t go back. I had only lasted nine months after qualification. All that work for my degree, all the striving towards the four A grades at A-level to get into Newcastle University – it felt utterly wasted.
During my time off sick, I took a retreat to Parcevall Hall in the Yorkshire Dales. It was early Spring and the gentleness of nature soothed my soul. I vented to God – this didn’t make sense. What on earth was I going to do with my future? I have the carefully scripted pages of my retreat journal in front of me today. It’s a plain red exercise book with lined pages faded to yellow, but it is one of my most treasured possessions. During the retreat I kept coming back to the book With Open Hands by Henri Nouwen. I began to realise that letting go of my career was an important step. It was going to require radical trust. I believe God spoke during that retreat and here is what I heard:
Allow me to meet your needs
Love, security, value, purpose, worth, significance, dependence
Nothing else will satisfy your longings – allow me, precious one
Allow me, dear child
As I drove away from the interview yesterday having been offered my bank post as a Peer Trainer, it felt like my dream of working to support people in their recovery is slowly coming back to life. Like a snowdrop emerging from its dormancy, heralding the hope of Spring.
I didn’t know at 23 that I would go on to struggle with my mental health for another twenty years (and will probably continue to struggle). I didn’t know that my dream of motherhood would be tested to its absolute limits through the haze of psychosis and the dark, relentless agony of depression. I still don’t understand this path, but I know there is the capacity for immense beauty in it. My daughters are pure joy in human form! My husband has been utterly faithful to his vow to love me “in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health”.
I feel like I am allowed to dream again. I am still learning to be dependent on God, but I get this feeling that he is smiling too at the beauty of a snowdrop.