Today’s guest blog is written by Mark, a friend from church. Here Mark tells us a little bit about what life has been like for him in the last year and shares some thoughts on Lego.
I was talking to a colleague at work the other day about Lego. I will be honest, I am a Lego fan. I have been since my first Lego set I can remember: Robin Hood’s lair. I am sure that I had one before this but this was the one that caught my imagination. This small set grew into 2 medieval castles, numerous small sets of Knights and Dragons, a pirate Island, a spaceship and a moon space station. I loved it and still do. After a 15 year absence in my life I have caught the bug again. Lego Star Wars and Mini figures (at last count over 50 minifigures including my excellent Darth Vader Santa mini figure) are everywhere.
What I love about Lego is that the basic concept has not changed in years. Yes there are numerous Movie Tie-ins now but you still essentially pick up instructions, look for the blocks (granted the fun of this has been removed because now they have numbered bags meaning that the massive pile of bricks in the living room carpet is a thing of the past.. and parental telling’s off for their own carelessness in standing on them) and build. Exactly what they did in the first Lego set in 1949.
Of course some things do change. Not always for the better I admit, but they do. The world has changed spectacularly in my lifetime. There are countries today that did not exist when I was born. Kids TV has gone so far downhill since the glory days of He-Man and Thundercats that I feel sorry for the Peppa Pig generation. Comedy shows are not as funny as they used to be (Friends vs. 2 broke girls. Enough said) and the number of children in my class that have I-pads, I-pods, I anything is scary. Especially when you hear them chattering about Facebook at lunchtimes (Bear in mind it is a Primary School).
I have changed (and believe it or not, you have too). In my lifetime I have gone from a small child running about the Irish countryside, watching my brother getting terrified by sheep to a 30 something year old living in MK bluffing his way through teaching; along the way working in Bournemouth, Sri Lanka, Russia and Belfast. It has taken a lot to get to this point and the numerous changes are things that I have not always found easy but I have got over with a smile and the occasional sarcastic comment.
Last year, something changed though and I could not get past it. It snuck up on me with skills that a ninja would be proud of. I can remember the exact moment that things changed. I was having dinner with friends in Weather spoons a week before Valentine’s Day. All of a sudden I just felt like the world was on my shoulders. Work, friends, conversations, home, family. Everything was weighing me down. I struggled through the next week then my grandmother died. This knocked me for six. By the end of half term, less than two weeks after that fateful dinner, I had broken up with my girlfriend, was off work ill, staying with friends and was barely able to lift my head from my pillow.
I was depressed. Not the kind that they talk about in the cartoons where someone feels sad and a well-timed frying pan to the head makes it better. Proper full scale depression where none of my thoughts made sense. Where I felt no one could understand because I could not put my thoughts together. There are times where I thought to myself if it was all worth it. The answer was never no, but it was very very close at times.
It turns out that one of the changes in my life had caused all of this and after a year of talking it through, general moping around and support from some people, I have finally reached the point where I can live my life normally. I am back playing with/collecting Lego. I have a genuine smile on my face with a new job where I don’t let things get to me and am living somewhere that makes me happy. Most importantly, I have my wonderful girlfriend back in my life.
I still have my problems. I have felt let down by some people over the past year and find it hard to relate to them now. I have developed a serious paranoia of noise which I find very hard to cope with sometimes but there is one thing that gets me through.
The power of prayer is amazing. I lost sight of God and all that was important while I was ill. When I first started counselling, I will be honest and say that I had given up. Prayer did not work. My life was wrecked and God had stood by and watched it happen. Slowly, however, I could feel prayer working. There were people praying for me and although it was taking much longer than I wanted, I could feel myself slowly getting better.
Through this episode, I have a better understanding of God’s love. Of how no matter how low you feel, he will always be right beside you. Of course the human mind is a complex thing and it is not always easy to focus on that but looking back on the past year, I can see that God never really left my side. In the same way that through all of the changes in my life, he has been right there by my side.
Anyway, Smiley I have a new Lego set to build. While building it I will be remembering that God is with me (Probably shaking his head in loving despair at my childish delight when those two awkward blocks finally stick together) but most importantly that he will always be with me.