Updated: Feb 8, 2021
This blog post is an adapted extract from a talk given by Tim Lyttle. You can find the talk below.
Over a period of just under a year from October 2011, when my father passed away and I experienced a great deal of work-related stress and I suffered from a horrible amount of anxiety and depression. In August 2012, I crumbed under the pressure into a mess of tears and despair. For months I had tried soldier on and bottle in my despair, afraid of the consequences of what I saw as giving up. I had a faith in God but he seemed a long way away.
Over the next month following my breakdown, I came to terms with my illness and, with support from family and friends, regained my strength. However, the most significant thing that happed was that I was able to gain some insight into who God was and to meet with him on a spiritual level.
God wasn’t some far away being but God was a presence within my life. Walking the fields behind our home and in particular wading ankle high in a little stream, I found new strength in giving my failures and cares to God. I learned so much about myself in those days. I also dealt with some painful memories of the past.
In the 8 years since, I’ve no means been a completely transformed person – ask my family and work colleagues – but I continue to feel the benefit of insight into me and the nature of God I gained in that time. I definitely experienced transformation in my understanding of God’s presence in my life and how that impacted my emotions.
Along this journey, I discovered that others have described such an experience as 'A Wall'.
The metaphor of a wall comes from viewing life as a journey. At times there are easy and enjoyable straight and even fast roads and at other times there are difficult mountains to climb, perhaps in education, work or in family life. However, at other times life can be more like a stone wall in front of us with no apparent way around or over or under. The only way to go forward is to through it, metaphorically of course.
So, a wall is not just a difficult time it’s something that in human terms seems impossible to get past. Let’s consider some examples.
A major health illness – Will I be alive this time next year?
A relationship breakdown or bereavement of a close family member – How will I live on my own?
A shattered dream – What will I do now?
A crisis of faith – what do I believe about the world? Is there a God?
For me at about 9am on a Tuesday morning in August 2012, I really thought my working life and my ability to provide for my family was over. I couldn’t see anyway forward.
Let me ask you to take a moment to notice anything that comes to mind as I’m talking about walls. Can you think of a time when you came face to face with a life event which seemed to totally block your way forward? If you can I am fairly certain that you will not only carry some scars from the jagged edges of that wall but also have learned important stuff or changed you as a person.
I suspect for many of us meeting online today the current coronavirus crisis might just be posing such an obstacle. You may be asking yourself and others. How will we/I get through the next few months?