I had the real privilege of being able to attend Spring Harvest 2012. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve become a proper Spring Harvester (whatever one of them is – I was recently informed by a ‘regular’ that this is what I’ve become) … I’ve been converted to Christian conferences. Well, this one at least.
You may have read some of my blog, written last year about my experience at SH 2011. It was interesting, and one I was not expecting whatsoever. I had gone on the back of a drunken bet, ready for a fight, and ready to find it mind blowingly frustating and annoying. In fact, I actually had secretly hoped it was, because it meant I could spend the next few months moaning about ‘typical’ Christians, who like to spend a week in a bubble wrap and spend time exploring everything that is not relevant to life today. So, believe me how surprised I was to find myself experiencing something so very different. To read more about last years SH do check out this link, where you’ll find the relevant part midway through that blog - another year has gone-goodbye-2011-hello-2012
So, anyway, back to 2012. I went to Spring Harvest at Skegness again. This time, it was not on the back of a bet, drunken or sober. No bet at all. I actually wanted to go. Really wanted to. I remember tweeting someone the week before sometime, while I was washing up one day, standing at the sink reflecting on how the same time last year I was dreading it, whereas this time round I was actively looking forwards to going.
What a surprise eh? Well, it sure was for me!
One of the things I had hoped to do, while at Spring Harvest was blog. And I did. Twice. Not quite as many times as planned.
Thing is, when I am writing I can sometimes spend hours typing, and then going over what I’ve written, and then wondering if its ‘good enough’ before I publish. The other thing is, I always write from what I have going on inside my head. Inside of me. And so, what I write about tend to be things that I could talk about naturally, or that I’m passionate about, or have got laid on my heart to put into words. I often write about things I have been thinking about for sometime. I often write about things that have affected me, or that do affect me, my life, the lives of people around me, and issues that affect our world. But they have to be things that I have processed.
And so, I quickly decided that actually, although I really wanted to blog about my Spring Harvest 2012 experience, it would have to be done after the event. Maybe months after (like this post in fact). Because, I needed to be able to just spend the week there. Experience the meetings, the teaching, the seminars, meet people, have those coffees, sit on the beach, chill and do all the things that people do when they are away for the week at a Christian conference.
And then, most importantly I needed to go away, and process. Think about the stuff I heard. Think about the stuff I saw, felt and experienced. Think about the people I met, and the things they said to me. The things we talked about. Think about my experience of God that week, and life in general.
Having laid all the above out, brings me to the point now, where I’m starting to be able to put down in blogs about the week.
The week of huge privilege meeting some amazing people. Hearing some amazing stuff. And spending some amazing time with God.
Early on in the week, in fact the very first full day of Spring Harvest, I wrote the blog ‘its been exactly 4 years sinceI tried to die …’. It was quite emotional actually, sitting in the coffee shop, on site, writing a blog about how 4 years ago to the very day, I took an overdose with the full intention of wanting to die. Some people think it is a bit morbid to think about it. But I see it as a celebration of life. Because although things did not immediately get better, it was that day that life, my life hung in the balance, and for some reason it was meant to be kept going. I was kept going. I did not die. And, now, 4 years on I am so glad I didn’t. So that is what I mark. That is what I celebrate.
But it is important to me to remember where I was. Those days when I could not get out of bed. When I could not get showered, or dressed, or go to work. Or do anything. The days when all I sit was sit and smoke, self harm or dream about the day when I died. Because remembering those days keeps it real. It does not mean I ‘dwell’ on it as such, but it just means I can recognise how life was back then, and then how different it is today.
Its important to remember those days, and then think about the fact that 4 years on, I have been so so blessed to have had some amazing people put into my life, who have loved me, cared for, and who still do love and care for me. If only I can be even half the blessing to other people that these folks have been in my life, then that’d be cool. They are immense people that I am so thankful for. And that, even now, amazing people, who really inspire me, are being put into my life. And I’m thankful for that too!
My week at Spring Harvest 2012 was so varied, from dropping hot chocolate and swearing loudly in front of the coffee shop staff (who found it firstly astonishing a Christian at SH would swear, but then ending up in a great convo) to bumping randomly into a woman I know from my town, who burst in tears on me, and then spent 3 hours in said coffee shop (I became a regular that week) talking about life and the entire universe, where we both laugh, and cried. From meeting people who were leading seminars and main stage talks who inspired me immensely, to sitting in the Skyline at midnight chatting to an old time friend I’d managed to catch up with. From sitting in lectures that were so relevant to life in 2012 (so much so I ordered the entire teaching on USB – I know, I know, that really IS keen isn’t it?!) to supping wine late at night with my lovely chalet buddy who I had never met before SH. From upsetting old ladies in the toilet queue by talking about my habit of using the mens when the Q’s are too long and tattoo’s to experiencing God in a huge huge quiet and gentle but immense way. And so much more.
One of the many things I came away with from SH 2012 was this:
Despite my weirdness, and my quirks, and I have plenty of those. Despite my mess. Despite the screw up that my life has been and often is, despite my inadequateness and my insecurities I can be me. I can be who I am, and still belong and be loved by God and His people. And that however unworthy and small it is, I can and do play a part in His Kingdom.
I dont quite know how that plays out … right now, but I am assured that somehow I am playing a part in His Kingdom. I am His child. He does love me. And that even though I still have some working out to do, I do love Him.
Maybe my faith is ‘child-like’. But thats ok. I might not be good at the ‘deep’ theology, or the big facts. My bible knowledge may be poor. I might not be as clever as some of the people I have met, but thats ok, because I am me. Not them. And thats good. The world needs them. But perhaps it needs me too.
I am reminded of Jeremiah 29, verse 11. Where it talks about the hope and the future God has for us. For each and every one of us. Including me. So although, I don’t know what the future holds right now, what I do know is, I have one. And that excites me.
And thats how I left Spring Harvest 2012, after a few days, with excitement. About God, life and the future.
(I’m leaving this there for now, as I have said all I want to, but I’m hoping to write more about some of the things I’ve touched on in this blog and some of the experiences at SH more in depth, so they will come in time )