Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Dredging up the past to replenish the present and shape the future

beach replenishment dredger

I was reflecting recently on how much I owe to the counselling I had quite early on in my current appointment in the life of the church. From time to time I had become aware of emotional ‘buttons’ being pressed within myself,  and of a sense of energy being expended just keeping things together, which suggested that there were issues deep down which needed to be addressed. Believing and trusting Jesus when he says that he wants us to have ‘life in its fullness’, I decided to do something constructive about this and sought professional help to move towards greater healing and wholeness.

beach replenishmentHaving explained this to a very wise and skilled counsellor I embarked on a therapeutic journey which took me from the time prior to my birth through to eighteen years of age. Some of the stuff which was dredged up from the depths of my psyche I had expected to see, but there were things which took me by surprise too, awareness's and experiences surfaced which I simply did not know were there. Through the anguish and tears of recollection, revelation and sense-making a whole load of stuff was brought to the surface and put into a good,  godly, healing place. It’s dead-weight was at last released from my being. With all of this hidden emotional material laid out in the calm daylight of grace I was  at last able to replenishing beach using dredged sandtruly understand and befriend myself. I really knew what St. Paul meant when he said that there is nothing love cannot face. Through the expert accompaniment of my counsellor I had discovered something of the freedom and fullness which Jesus promises.

This healing process replenished my Spirit and helped me to reshape the landscape of my identity and my vocation. What was dredged up was used to build new and exciting contours of possibility and practice. And still today, understanding how I come to be who I am enables me to be gentler on myself and not to despair when the ‘old psychological demons’ pop up. Now I feel that they are for the most part disempowered and rendered harmless. I have learned to look upon them with kindness. Like the highest of tides, I know that such moments of disquiet and feeling ill-at-ease, rare though they now are, will withdraw and calm will return.

Along the coast of Lincolnshire our beaches need to be periodically replenished. As you can see, when needs be the dredger lifts thousands of tons of sand from the seabed and pumps it ashore. The diggers scoop it up and reshape and remake the beach to better withstand the erosion of the tides. Having experienced the psychological and spiritual equivalent of this for myself I simply want to encourage others to really trust in the promises of Jesus and, through whatever means are appropriate and right for them, to seek freedom and fullness of life for themselves and for those they love. There are some who go through a whole lifetime with their ‘stuff’ still hidden and buried deep. That seems so unbearably sad to contemplate. Others present as remarkably free and light of Spirit anyway. Whatever one’s history and context, the images speak of God’s desire to transform our lives through the power of Grace and the love which can face up to anything. We need not be afraid.


  1. :-) sounds remarkably like my journey...

  2. Oh my goodness me...In the wake of some recent conversations and advice from a wise friend, this is kind of overwhelming first thing in the morning.
    Thank you (I think...she says, nervously)!

  3. It sounds as though you found someone who was really able to help you 'dredge' through your 'stuff'.How did you set about finding someone......I don't mean names but what was the process you went through to find the 'right' person?

    Thanks, not only for this post but for all your posts.....


  4. Thanks for this and many other posts and phots you have given us. My problem is when you have found that freedom how you cope when it is squashed by institutional church and fundamentalist views....:)

  5. Thanks to everyone who has commented. Sally, thank you for sharing. And Kathryn, if you are contemplating going down the route that Sally and I chose, be really encouraged that it is worth it; scary but good! Allan, I went through the Churches Ministerial Counselling Service ( use a counsellor whom I knew from previous experience to be simply superb. The Regional Organisers can recommend someone to suit. And Susan, I am so sorry if your hard-won freedom has been squashed by the church. Perhaps your inner-freedom is the solid ground on which you now stand - and that can't be taken away from you. Churches need to be held responsible and accountable for what they 'do' to people. No one should have to put up with being squashed like that. Fortunately it is possible to find alternatives within the institutional mainstream where violence will not be done to your spirit, and where you will be encouraged to flourish in God's love for the unique you you are. I really hope you find such a place.