Monday, April 7, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Late Night Musings

I've often enjoyed looking out the window of an evening and starring at the moon. There is something magical about watching the light beam through my window onto my covers; nights when the full moon is out, I can sometimes make out the dust particles in its soft beam of light. Other nights, clouds have me thinking I'm watching a theater production, acting as curtains. Every now and then, when they float away, they reveal the protagonist for the evening, the moon. Such bliss.

19th-February 2014, was the night I lay sleepily starring at the moon. There was a warmth to my thoughts, though, I can't quite remember what they were about. I said a little prayer and shut my eyes. I took in a deep breath and let it out, as if to be sighing. I closed my eyes and let the warm glow of the moon caress me to sleep. I drifted into the place of dreams quietly... peacefully.

Such moments in life are a joy to me. To some a small experience, for me a miracle. Perhaps, I'm getting older and wiser (debatable) but I'm learning to appreciate the smaller things in life; I'm learning to "stop and smell the roses". I may not have what I wish for but I have today, I have the moon, I have life and so do you... Enjoy it!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Family Counts

*Some readers may find this material disturbing, confronting, and/or offensive*

Last night, December 25th 2013, my family sat around the dining table and sang a great hymn of the faith "How Great Thou Art". It was in this moment that I thanked God so much for giving me the family that I have. Thankfulness hasn't always been the reigning sentiment. Growing up, there were moments of anger, sadness, fear, elation, joy etc. Home is truly where you see people in their truest forms (by 'home' I mean my immediate and extended families and anyone trusted to be counted as family, so close friends of my parents. Later I go on to talk about the family unit and this then specifically refers to the husband and wife as laid out in Genesis).

This expression of thankfulness was due to recent events. I've been living away from home over the last 6 months in Riverstone, in the housing commission section. I decided to move in with a friend who thought having another person stay there would keep his home safe and not another target of 'egging'. Also, I moved away from home to get some space. The experience has been nothing short of eye opening. In my short time there, I've never been exposed to so much hurt and pain children are facing every day. Next door, from time-to-time, I hear colourful language spoken in aggressive tones to children as little as five over 'split milk', kids are wondering the streets as young as 14 because their mother threatened to call the cops after an exchange of shouting, youth as young as 21 are kicked out of home because their father, in his rage and madness, decided to beat on his kid. I could go on, but you get the picture. I would like to say these stories are fiction but they've happened over the last week alone!

The broken homes of this neighbourhood are seen through the way children live their lives. Children are highly sexualised, establish bad habits of eating and sleeping, usually have experienced a family going to jail, usually has one parent suffering from substance abuse, lack understanding of a what comprises a good relationship (their responsibilities to civil law, family, friendships, and 'romantic' interests), often the victim of some form of abuse (sexual, emotional, mental, physical, vicarious etc.) and are mostly looked down upon by greater society. Often these habits and stigma are passed down from their parents whose parents exemplified the same qualities and experienced similar discrimination from society therefore repeating the dysfunctional chain.

I've come into this situation and have 'attempted' to join their world, not in practice, but by presence. Doing so has meant seeing life as it really is for these families. I see the unkept homes, the front yards filled with junk, the 'dealing' grandmother, the sexualised pre-teen whose main concern is about 'knocking up' the next girl, etc. and I have to say, it's nothing short of overwhelming but still I must press on. From being around these families I have observed a few things:

Firstly, There is a great need for male role models. Boys need their dads. These boys have no clue as to how to think towards work, towards women, towards peers, towards life. Many boys wonder aimlessly following their base instincts of living for self, getting sex, and living excessively in all areas of life.

Girls need their dads. These girls haven't the faintest clue about what wholesome attention feels and looks like, they don't know the love of a man that is unconditional, they seek attention and crave for a leader.

Secondly, reliability is priceless. From what I've observed, many of the confronting behaviours towards new people is probably due to the fact that they are certain these people are going to leave soon. It appears that, being someone who is reliable and keeps their word is a strong attraction for these attention hungry children and teens.

Thirdly, the system wasn't designed to bear the burdens of society! By 'system', I mean DOCS (Department of Community Services, ADHC (Ageing Disability and Home Care), Centrelink- government bodies in general. It's impossible. God intended that we look to our neighbour's needs, individually. I work in the system and know all to well the pressures of working to a budget, time restraints, and limited personnel when aiding people in need. That may be all fine and dandy when dealing with paperwork but not with people. People live and breath 24/7, my christianity must be 24/7.

I could go on with more examples of abuse and more observations from my interactions but the point of all this is to say, love your families. Keep them together. Despite the pain I've experienced in my family, I knew that my parents loved us and raised us with Christ as best as they knew how. Though they were not perfect, they were present. Though they didn't respond correctly in all situations, they were responsible when they needed to clean the mess. I love my parents even more today and am thankful for the gift of my family- in pain or joy.

The health of a society is dependant on the health of its families. No family= No Foundation, No Foundation= No Stability, No Stability= Destruction.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I Suffer With Depression...

Whilst I may not agree with all his approaches to depression, I think you'll find this speech quite insightful.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hearing Voices in My Head

Watched this on UpWorthy. A very interesting video. I must say, I would love to explore this further. More info can be found here.

I think as Christians, we have limited ourselves through our ignorance and fears of this really important subject. Much of these fears are bred by a taboo on discussing mental health. Our preconceived notions on the subject don't help in the further exploration of this matter. Saying that it simply is a 'spiritual issue' or they're 'possessed', is both simplistic and shows a lack of understanding on the subject of both mental health and christianity. It's like generalizing sickness as a sign that one has sinned. Whilst this may be true, it's not the only reason! For one to make such a statement, is showing their lack of understanding in both biology and theology. These gross generalizations do nothing but stereotype people who suffer with mental health. I think if we start by ridding our preconceived notions on this matter, we will be able to open our minds to a greater understanding of this reality, that people do suffer with mental health.

I've been working with people with disabilities for over five years and have worked with people with a range of diagnosis, some with multiple diagnosis including autism, mental health, schizophrenia, depression, intellectual delay and so on. I've worked with a range of ages, both children and adult, from various backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. Mental health is real people. It is not simply going to go away because I say that it's a 'spiritual problem'. How about, we start by saying that it is a 'problem' and then work from there? How about, we educate ourselves on mental health issues? How about, we open our minds to the possibility that this issue is something we may need to learn to live with, be it family, friends or ourselves? I think, if we start with an open mind, we may eventually see healing in this area.

Peace Out,

Apo