A12 to Heaven Extracts

Parallel Worlds. 27/10/2006

All my life I have lived within two parallel worlds that I have never been fully aware of until now. One is happy, energetic and carefree the other is dark and woeful.

Mostly I have walked in the nicer realms, experiencing the warmth of living particularly since becoming a Christian. I have been and continue to be surrounded by so many positive people who radiate the joy of Christ. Even those who don’t know him have something of him in them, whether it be a cheerful personality or kindness or loyalty or a seemingly unquenchable thirst for living. All good things come from the Author of Life and man is made in the image of God. Therefore it is very rare to find a person so distorted by sinful living that nothing good is evident.

So have I wandered through a carefree world. Occasionally darkness has crept in and I have slipped into darkness and known something of the other world. In no particular order but during my teenage years the family dog died young, then my Grandad died from a stroke while being cared for in our house. My parents divorced, I changed house and school in the final year, I bodged all my exams and left home at a young age. Occasionally I felt I had no home at all and lost all sense of belonging. In my old diaries I have records of intense loneliness and it not hard to see why I lost track of responsible living and felt no urge to pursue a normal career. There is a scar on my forearm where the marks still remain although cannot be read. I carved in two words with a scalpel which described my attitude perfectly: “F*** Life”. Yet still I retained a carefree approach and lived recklessly, able to smile and laugh and enjoy the good times.

When I became a Christian so much changed. I found purpose and a person who had answers. For twenty years he has walked with me and brought changes within, through the Holy Spirit. A well of joy has been created and I have been gifted with a wonderful family. Laughter and abundant life, much more than alcohol or drugs or anything the world has to offer, has been mine, is mine and will continue to be so.

Yet today I walk in two parallel worlds more than I have ever done. During the emptiness and loneliness of years gone by I have never known what it is to lose someone who I really loved. Time does nothing. It does not heal, it does not replace and it is not something to wait for. Time is merely the setting within which we must face our battles and stand by our choices. We are forced to walk truly dark paths now. Bereavement comes with a honeymoon; the feelings are new and as on a honeymoon the couple are the main focus. So were we surrounded, but the honeymoon is over and the marriage has truly begun.

The names and pictures of Claire and Jenny. We used to see them and talk of them freely during the honeymoon. Now the merest thought brings a wrenching pain to my stomach. A few days ago we were at the UEA (university); what a lovely place, full of happy people – Claire would have been amongst them. People want photos to remember them by – I can barely look at one. I just went into the living room and there was Tom crying while kissing a picture of Jenny. Heather’s eyes seem always so tearful while Amy will speak in her own time – I don’t feel right to talk about it here. To never see the girls again this side of life. It hurts, God it hurts and he knows and it still hurts. Every morning, every time the mind is allowed to wonder, every connection and it actually physically hurts. Deep in the pits of the stomach it wells up and can only be countered by forcefully taking control of one’s thinking.

So doesn’t your God work then? I guess that’s your question. When it really comes to it, what’s your God made of? You don’t realise how strong we are because of Him. The evidence speaks for itself. We need make no defence because we remain standing. We walk in dark places but we carry bright lights. These paths do have to be trod sooner or later, imagine walking them with no light as some do? We will walk and if we see you fallen along the way let our light become your guide too. The Stoddart family is a family to spend time with; we are not gloom and doom, on the contrary we are conquerors of death, yet it still hurts so much.

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