Finding the release valve

Since moving to Slough back in March of this year, I’ve been trying to get back into doing the things that I really enjoyed but had to give up when I was living in Abingdon. I’ve found a darts team and a martial arts class, and I’m just waiting to hear back  about a tap dancing class; but it’s all been a bit stop-start, and it’s pretty much been all my own doing. Injuries, other commitments and being too tired from playing the XBox until stupid o’clock has meant that I’ve not been doing these things as regularly as I would like, and this frustrates me. These activities are not bad in themselves though. One of my other commitments has been training with the Great Men Value Women project, learning about gender equality and how to lead workshops in schools. Unfortunately, some of these discussions triggered some past memories and emotions and I’m now faced with the question of how to handle them. My fiancé has suggested that I see a counsellor, but I have no confidence that it will work; I’m not even sure what ‘working’ actually looks like. My default action is to retreat into myself, to hide, which is where the XBox has been both a good and a bad thing. It really helps with unwinding and de-stressing and chatting to new people (plus the games are a lot of fun), but it can also be too much as I get obsessed with gaining achievements and scheduling time online over doing other things like housework. This is before we add my fears about finding a church here in Slough; not just one I attend occasionally, but one that I can go to every week and settle and feel part of the community there.

My prayer life is not exactly good at the moment. I chat to God occasionally but I’m not exactly running to Him for help. I suffer problems like anyone, and I kick myself for giving into temptation instead of going to Him for help; whether that’s prayer or just picking up the Bible and reading it (something else I don’t do enough of). Then I hate myself for having given in, and question whether I really know Christ and/or whether I’m “saved” (hint: Romans 8:1). This is just an addition to my normal questioning about theological subjects, virtually all impacting how I look at life and the decisions I make. This inevitably affects relationships and being engaged to my wonderful fiancé Sarah, the situation is compounded. Wrestling over sex before marriage and having been together for 3 years, engaged for 2 and another 15 months before we get married, it’s easy for things to get to breaking point. She’s studying for a degree which brings its own set of pressures, and we’re both mindful of adding to those of the other. Yet we still want to be open with each other and support each other through difficulties, whilst at the same time learn about each other. Trying to find that balance can also be quite stressful. Within all of it though, I’m still able to answer an atheists question of why I’m a Christian with confidence, and spend 5 hours on the phone, listening to a friend cry their heart out due to the levels of pressure they are under.

I do need to get into a routine where I can go to martial arts, darts and dancing during the week, along with any workshops I’m scheduled to run. At the same time pick up the Bible more, even if its just for 5-10 minutes a day. Weekends can be for whatever I choose them to be, they’re certainly ideal for change and mixing it up. Sometimes it’ll be an XBox day, or a visiting friends day, or catching up on my Bible reading, or planning the previously mentioned workshops, or doing something very random. Sunday mornings are my chance to hang out with other Christians whilst just being me and letting someone else speak. Some people will say this is me scheduling God, to which I say possibly, but God is everywhere, so whatever I do, He’s already part of it. Others will say that I’m very busy and there’s no time to rest. We all rest differently, and sometimes my idea of resting is doing something. Sarah likes walks in the park; I will happily go with her but they’re not really my thing. She knows this, but it’s not about the walk, its about being with her. She’s getting into playing the Xbox and learning the ways of the action movie with me. In a way, being busy is my release valve. I do need to stop feeling so guilty if things get dropped. Sometimes I feel I have to learn that by having established a base. I do get committed though, I don’t take anything on unless I can give 100% to it. This all or nothing approach does add to the pressure I already feel and does take a little while  for me to wind down from. Going full throttle helps me to escape everything else, and though being busy doesn’t get these thoughts out of my head, writing this certainly has.

I know I’m going to need to escape more than ever as I do more research into other views about gender equality. I’m going to read things I disagree with and is going to upset me. It may also put me in another firing line in a similar way that LGBT rights has done. I know that friends will let me vent, I know Sarah will too, even if it upsets her seeing me struggle with things. I may even go and see that counsellor one day. I’m still going to need to find that release valve every now and again though, I think we all do.

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