Another road to faith
Another Road to Faith
Firstly I want to give a bit of backround information. I was married for 14 years and I have been divorced for 7 years. It was not easy to be a single parent but I learned a lot about myself and what I wanted to do. I have two children, a boy of 7 years and a girl of 10 years, at the time of our separation. My children stayed with me and saw their father every second weekend. Counselling was my career and it is still today, in some way. I worked in Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centres, lecturing about addiction. The creative activities helped with team work as well in understanding of their own emotional behaviour. I found a full time position at a church and became the manager of their counselling centre. I also did volunteer work at the police station doing Trauma counselling. I have learned about Trauma, Depression, Grief, Divorce Care, Single Parenting and Step Families, Christian Counselling, Teens and Kids.
12 Step Program
The 12 step program of the Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous taught me quite a lot about life, even though I was already teaching it in the recovery centres. It is such a good foundation when it feels like your whole world is falling apart.
You can use it for anything and not just for addiction. It is a spiritual program and it helped me through my divorce.
The Serenity Prayer helped a lot to make decisions
“ God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”
When I was the manager of the counselling centre, I helped and encouraged people to get more support around them when they struggled through something. I belonged to a single mom support group for about 2 years. Life is not easy and we can’t do life on our own. Networking was important to me and still is because other people and organizations have skills and people who specialise in certain fields and can assist us.
There are support groups for Depression, Trauma, Grief, HIV, and other illnesses. When we learn to reach out and ask for help then we will discover we are not the only ones struggling through life.
A New Seed was Planted
There were a couple of things I learned about depression that got me out of a dark hole. I had to change my thoughts about what I thought of myself, to have a plan and to create something new. It also helps to go for a walk while I put my plan together.
There was a shift inside of me as if my eyes could see a bit wider. I wanted to try something new and different and decided to start my own counselling business
CARE ( Creative Artistic Rewarding Expression).
“Brokenness has a purpose”
It was scary and exciting at the same time. I bought a laptop and I was trying to do marketing to get more clients. I got an office in a church building and made colourful pamphlets that I handed out.
Then I had my car accident. It was a write off and I couldn’t afford to buy another car again. I couldn’t keep the office because the church had to move out of the premises as well. My children had to go and live with their father because I could not take them to school without a car anymore. I had to move out of my three bedroom house that I was renting because I didn’t have an income.
All that I had left over was God and my question was. Why?
The 5 Stages of Grief began and I was in shock and cried quite a lot
“This can’t be happening to me” was in my thoughts for a long time and I tried to make desperate plans of finding other work and getting another car again.
I was hurting and the situation was so unfair and I felt powerless to do anything
I pleaded with God that I will do anything for Him if I can just have my kids back, work and a car. It didn’t happen that way and I had to make a plan to move to something more affordable.
I was angry with God because I didn’t understand why all of this has been happening to me. I was angry with my ex-husband because he had all the say over the children. I was angry at a lot of people because they thought they knew all the answers.
• My situation looked so hopeless and a feeling of sadness was beginning to fill my heart because I could not see that the situation would ever change.
• I wrestled with God and I was looking for answers
• I saw my children over the weekends but had no say in their lives
• I lived with other people in a house and tried to avoid any conflict situations.
• It is one thing to have the knowledge of a certain topic or subject, it is another thing to apply it.
• I have realized that my life will not go back to the way it was and I must work with what I have in front of me. I must use every resource, physical, intellectual, emotional and creative gifts I have to move forward.
• Life happens and how we respond to it is all up to us.
Time for a Plan and Letting the Seed Grow
It was time to stop living in isolation, to face the world and look within.
Making a Plan
• I have decided to learn how to use the public transport system to get around so that I can get my independence back. In South Africa it is quite a challenge but the more I got used to it the more I experienced the feeling of freedom. I have also learned about other cultures and felt that I was part of a community again. There were people struggling as well and that I can actually be very grateful for what I have. We all have our stuff that we have to cope with but when we travel together then we are united for that period and we can laugh and help each other to get to our destinations.
• I found another office to do counselling from and it was a Halfway House for recovering addicts where they were in an outpatient program. I had a reason to wake up again. My transport was sorted out to get there and I taught them how to pray and had devotion with them every day. I was there for only 3 months when the property was sold.
• I found a mediator/lawyer to help with the legal aspects of the rights I have as the mother of my children so that my ex-husband can’t just do what he likes
• Something was happening inside of me like music touched me as never before. The lyrics didn’t want to leave my heart. The tune kept playing over and over in my head. Songs just “talked “to me. It happened everywhere in the shops, radio, on my phone.
• Phrases of words were building up and pictures started to form in my head and there was this urgency in my heart to write all of this down and share it with others.
• My motivation for writing creative poems came because of the situation with my daughter who was 16 years at the time. She was angry with me for being the cause of her having to stay with her father. She didn’t want to talk to me. I wrote the poems and put them on Facebook so that she can see that I still love her and that I will still be there for her even when I can’t see her.
• The loss of my kids and what happened to me were the starting point of becoming a writer. I found that when I write, things fall into place and I get a different perspective on things.
• Writing also helps to release built- up emotions, but so does any other creative form like art, craft, music, photography, flower arrangement, dance , drama or anything which relaxes people and can be fun as well like the way children play.
• That is why I led creative groups at the rehabilitation centres but it can be used for trauma, depression, grief and teenagers or kids
A Glance Back into the past
It is not always easy to look the past straight in the face, recognise why we are doing the things we do and keep on making the same mistakes.
• I had to go and stay with my parents for three months. The experience took me right back to my childhood and what I thought I worked through and was fine with. Not. Even as an adult now with all my counselling knowledge I could not help or change my mother or father in their way of thinking or behaviour that will help them to handle life better. They were stuck in their ways and all I could do is to love and accept them as they were. The experience took me on a path of forgiveness because they were not perfect parents. Confronting them for the way I got hurt during my childhood will not help because they will just deny it because of their perception on life. I pray for them that God will keep them close to His heart.
• There are times when I prayed or just talked to God and asked Him if He could heal me completely then it would be done and I could just move forward. The answer was always the same. I won’t need God anymore and will be too independent. Every time I think I have managed to get something right then there is something else I have to work on. I can only handle just so much at a time.
• My ex-husband is my reminder of my past and he makes sure I remember the past. Forgiveness, letting go of the guilt, understanding his control and fear, boundaries and trusting God to work in his heart. Again this is knowledge that is not so easy to apply, but it is worth it when I do, because then it brings peace for me and for the children.
Who is this God that I am Talking About
Something that really stayed with me from the 12 Step programme was either to surrender my life to choose a Higher Power, but I chose God. “Have Your Way in Me”
Through everything that has happened to me, and where I ended up and the people that I have met along the way, I can only say: “ How could I have ever doubted You, God?”
A friend helped me to get a place to live close to my children’s school again and I met someone at a Depression Workshop at a church. She introduced me to the text online counselling service for teenagers on a Sunday evening. We became friends and I joined the church and found that my days of wandering were over.
My daughter of 17 years stays with me at the moment and my boy of 13 years stays with his father because it is close to his school
A Place to Belong
I am not saying that a church is the only place to feel a sense of belonging and when I was working at the rehabilitation centres the NA and AA meetings became a place of belonging for a lot of people. Support groups and any social group or a place where people have the same interests can be a place of belonging.
Our doctrines were not exactly the same and the church did things differently than the way I was used to. I needed these people and to be around them, feeling loved and accepted were healing to my soul. It can be cold and alone out in the world. There is such a relief and warmth when there is a friendly voice that invites you to come over for a coffee or asks how you are doing.
To treat others with love and kindness without judging them, can make them feel that maybe it might be worthwhile to go to church again.
I have not arrived but found another road to take in my journey.
There will be new challenges with new people that will walk with me
Together we can join hands and handle whatever come our way
Who am I
Who am I, that You chose me to love
for a greater cause than my own
You have put eternity into my heart
to believe there has to be more than what I see
Who am I, for You to touch me by Your grace
You step into my world for a moment by
stopping time to reveal Yourself to me
Through acts of love, smiles, pictures and words
I am someone in a place where things don’t make sense and
“why?” is a question that never has an answer
Pain and confusion become a way of life and
getting up is a struggle because….. for who and for what?
I am the voice for those that can not speak
To give a space of understanding that says: “I have been there”
I carry others’ brokenness and lay it at Your feet
To give freedom for healing and peace
You are the God that watches over me when I sleep
You stay consistent when I turn away to do my own thing
. You fill up the empty space inside of me when I have tried other things
You love and forgive me no matter where I have been.
Who am I, when You are God?
I am Yours to form and to love into Your image. To grow the seed inside of me because: “He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ”
By Lizelle Cloete