At the beginning of this decade, my life was very different.
Not only was I doing that party trick of being able to walk but I also lived a very different life!
Back then I regularly attended church and by that I don’t mean that I sat in the pews listening to a Priest drone on.
Nope I was up there wearing an alb, sat next to him and on quite a few occasions it was me that did the droning on.
Now I no longer have faith, I have no interest in religion!
It was whilst I was attending a course at Brentwood cathedral that we had a weekend course on the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator. We had filled in this form based on words and how we feel at a meeting during the week and then we had a Saturday & Sunday to discuss Myers–Briggs the results and what our type means for us!
It was during one of these two days that I sat and ate lunch with a Nun, talking with a nun was nothing new as the course was led by a Sr Nuala Gannon who I connected with and grew to deeply respect.
However the Nun I sat and had lunch with on this day (name I cannot recall) talked about things that shocked me.
She had taken her vows many, many years before in a different era and she told me what it was like.
I imagined it to be a wonderful time for a young girl offering herself to prayer and service and yet as she told her story, I realised it was more akin to national service at the hands of the worst bully imaginable.
The cruelty that she had endured at the hands of her superiors was barbaric and cruel and yet she spoke about it not with anger but with understanding and forgiveness.
“Wouldn’t you like to kneecap them though?” I asked and she laughed and said she would leave that decision to God and I was baffled at how someone could feel that way?
We sat there and chatted, a small framed and gentle nun and me 6′ 4″ bald headed, goatee beard. Two very different people and yet she taught me more in that one hour of conversation than 10 years with the man who was meant to guide and support me did.
What makes me think of her is that as I look back on my 50 years of life, I have been thinking about the people that had a positive impact on my life, that somehow made me who I am today.
- A teacher Mr Jeffreys who taught me in my last year at Primary School
- Another teacher at secondary school, Mrs Brewster.
- Vic Upson who married my uncles ex wife & taught me about mechanics and how to drive.
- Colin Newlove (ex military RA) who I worked with at the MOD & who I looked up to and had massive respect for.
- Ken Rayer who I worked with in my brief career as a firefighter.
- Father Philip Denton who covered at the Church & taught and led the way it should be done.
- My uncle Brian Richardson, who taught me how to think when approached with a mechanical problem and also how to swear a lot when something doesn’t work.
But these are the people who changed my life with a positive impact and it is all too easy to just give those people and what you learnt from them credit.
Our lives are also changed and shaped by those who have had a negative impact on our lives, the people and the events that have scarred us deeply.
Sometimes the wounds inflicted upon us, even though hard to bear at the time and often for years to come, tthey can change us in a positive way in the end.
After all we learn not by succeeding, but by making mistakes and the negative is just as important as the positive!
It has taken me many years, way too many years to stop the wounds of the past hurting me today, but I have finally managed it. Well I would say 96% managed it as sometimes when I am having a rough pain day and I cannot sleep that night that it can occasionally resurface.
It was weirdly whilst reading the book ‘Bravo Two Zero’ that the penny dropped for me, well maybe ‘the penny dropped’ isn’t the right phrase but it somehow changed my way of thinking and the link above explains why!
When we stop seeing both physical and mental wounds from our past as a negative, we are freed.
I am now beginning to be free of allowing the past to hurt me now in the present and it is an amazing feeling. It isn’t easy but it is possible and should be something we all strive for!