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Learning to stand
by janice moorcroft
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One of the things I've always found hard is speaking in public, even in a small group. A few years ago I got involve with teaching Sunday School.Something that I found really difficult and scary. We also discussed starting having all-age-worship in church.
In October I went to a ladies meeting called “Coffee pot” The speaker gave her testimony and I sat thinking “I could never do that” At the end of the meeting she invited people up for prayer to ask for the courage to speak in public....I wasn't going to go up but I kept feeling like I had to. So I did.
I can't say anything amazing happened!
However over the next few days I felt God saying...”I've given you the strength to do this now go and be obedient!” That Sunday in church I knew that I had a chose...to obey God and trust Him or to stay where I was. I stood up and spoke! I'm not even sure what I said, but I knew that I was choosing to walk in God's healing by obeying Him.
Since then I've found myself standing up in church a lot!! Firstly it was Advent and Christmas, and all the Sunday school stuff, but also, since January 08 we've begun having All-Age Worship services every five weeks. I've found myself up front on quite a few occasions. Each time I find it hard to believe that God has taken someone who had severe social phobia and given me the strength to stand in front of a whole church to ask for volunteers for sketches and to help with readings and even to share stuff. I don't find it easy, I get really really scared and I know it would be easier to turn the clock back. But to do so I'd be throwing God's gift of healing back at Him.
In April 08 we got the news that my father-in-law's partner had terminal cancer. I really struggled with the situation, I felt wrong praying for her healing and prayed simply that she had a good life and a good death. She died in the July, we got the news as we were leaving for an aunt's funeral and somehow all the messages got mixed up in my head. I cried at that funeral but I'm not sure who for.I kept waiting for the grief to hit me but instead I went off on a high followed by numbness.I didn't even cry much at her funeral.In fact the evening of her funeral I was at a youth service and having a pretty good time...the next morning I was in work. It hardly seemed to touch me.
But as the numbness wore off the guilt started to set in. Had Joyce died because I hadn't had the faith to pray?
I was also struggling with the whole idea of grieving. It felt too much like depression, and months earlier I'd dared to believe that God had taken away the depression that had been part of me for so long.Each time I started to feel sad a voice whispered...”you're throwing God's healing back at Him” or “well that didn't last long..I knew you didn't really believe it” And I pushed the feelings away.
I'd worked in a hospice too long to really doubt that going through the grieving process was normal,but still the fear of plunging back into a depression was so strong.When I did finally start to grieve it was edged with guilt and embarrassment and re awakened old habits of sending emails and text messages until told to stop by the recipient!!
Around this time (and just before the prize-giving service) my friend who was the leader of our Sunday school told me she was leaving church and handed over the reigns to me! I had 16 children between the ages of 2 and 14 and 5 of us to teach them. I couldn't see how we could do it, and still have time in church. I knew that I wasn't ready or able to lead. I cried lots of tears and came up against lots of brick walls over the summer. I just felt totally over-whelmed.There was no Sunday school over the summer but it hovered over me and got bigger as we got closer to September.
I was fighting images of self-harm too, but I felt that if I shared it sounded like I was saying “pay me attention or I'll hurt myself”
Just before the end of August I spent time in prayer and woke up knowing how we were going to run Sunday school! (if only I'd done that 6 weeks earlier!!) Sunday school is now “God's Gang” a name chosen by the children and the church together. We started off as all together but as now we've got more teachers we have two groups,youth and kids, it's going well, we're now on our summer break and the older ones are planning a service for the end of August,all themselves...should be interesting!(but they always do us proud!)So where am I now?
I came to see that what I prayed for Joyce was what the Holy Spirit prompted me to pray and that what I asked for was given. Joyce died quickly, but she didn't have the lingering death which she dreaded, and she got the chance to put her house in order and say her goodbyes. My father-in-law seems to be coping much better than I thought too.
The images of self-harm are under control again thanks to prayer from friends, and by God's grace I didn't give in.

At the beginning of 2008 I remember my pastor talking about us asking God to stretch us, and thinking “I don't want to be stretched any more, because I'll snap” God has stretched me and continues to stretch me, however, gently and lovingly....I haven't snapped yet!

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