I’m James. I’m from London in the UK (which means that yes, I have a British accent). Above all, I love to write, I have authored books and blog posts, I host a podcast. I love creativity. And I believe fundamentally, the creativity is a way we can connect with our true selves, and with the heart of our creator God.
In the last year, I’ve been confronting some pain I’d buried from my past – and working it through has transformed everything.
So let’s go back in time. To 1985, when I was 8 years old. My Mum had a severe asthma attack. At the time she was thriving, about to go back to work as a head of the French department at a school near us. Our family was thriving. Things were looking good.
And then she had the asthma attack.
It was so bad, it almost killed her. She was put on a ventilator, not expected to last the night. Things were suddenly very black for our family. We were preparing for a funeral. My Dad preparing to tell his 8 year old son and 4 year old daughter their Mum had died.
And then she survived. She pulled through, against all the odds.
But something had happened to her which would change our family forever. She had suffered brain damage to her short term memory. It no longer worked. She no longer had much short term memory. My Dad would go visit her, and whilst visiting her he would go to the toilet, come back and she would never have known he was there before.
So, of course, my Mum could no longer work. Dad had to shoulder all the emotional and financial responsibilities of the home.
But what came out of this time? Well my Mum went to therapy. As part of her therapy, she wrote poetry. A whole wave of creativity came out of this period. One of her poems was published in a poetry collection.
And, I got a stay at home Mum. A Mum always there for me when I got home from school. A Mum who had more time for me.
Ultimately, my parents marriage didn’t survive the changes in my Mum. In many ways, she was a different person. The stress of carrying our family took its toll on my Dad, and Mum, who had been so independent, now unable to be so, became depressed. And this ultimately ended their marriage.
Again, things were very black. But their separation led, ultimately to a restoration of their friendship, and healing in our family. We came together, we repaired relationships, we became close again.
Then, when I was 23, 15 years after her first serious attack, Mum had another. This one, she didn’t survive. Mum had gone.
It was the darkest time of my life. Right then, I had no hope. Nothing made sense. I was angry at God, at my Mum, and at myself for not being able to save her. No one could tell me it was going to be OK, because it wasn’t. It was hell. I assumed the worst about everything.
As a result of her death, I was left half ownership of a house.
Living in that house was a major factor in meeting my best friend. That friend brought me to the church I’m currently a member of, which was such a healing part of my life, and where I’ve found other dear, lifelong friends, and my membership of that church helped my dad rediscover his faith. The counselling and therapy I’ve had and still have, subsequent to her death, has been a key part of my healing.
And the thing is, if my Mum had lived, none of that would have happened. None of it.
Now do I wish she could come back? Yes, of course, every day. But at the same time, I wouldn’t change the process I went through, the experiences I’ve had, the lessons I’ve learned.
What happened is that my suffering was redeemed. The divine took it and used it. He said ‘this will not be in vain, this will not be wasted’. He has a habit of doing this not just with my life, but in others too, and he tends to do this culturally and historically.
Because no suffering is wasted. Darkness is never the end. Even when my Mum lost her short-term memory, me and my sister gained a stay at home mum, which I wouldn’t trade for anything.
This year, I’ve confronted the damage this did to me. How I blamed myself and punished myself for all that happened. How it damaged my relationship with God. And I’m making progress. I’m getting healing. And I’m moving forward to my life.
The suffering I experienced and the damage done, has shaped me. It’s made me who I am. In many ways, I have a deeper faith because of it. And it’s given me inspiration, a message and a pathway to encourage and support others.
So if, for any reason, you think there’s no reason to hope right now, I can tell you, from my own experience, that’s just not true. However black things are right now, there is hope. And this is not the end of the story.
Our faith has to be in resurrection, in new life, in light from the depths of darkness. In the reality that though we may walk the valley, we should not fear, because the darkness cannot overcome nor understand the light.
The reality that new life can be created from the broken, dead pieces of the old – and made into something beautiful.
I don’t normally go in for cheesy, Biblical language in my posts, but all that sounds right to me.
Things cannot and will not stay as they are. It all begins with us, choosing to hope, choosing to participate, choosing to actively create a better world. Choosing to see beyond the present. Choosing to do what we can, where we are, to bring light and hope where it’s most needed.
Are you with me?