Jenna's Wedding provided a unique opportunity to get some photos of the four original Holt children with Mum and Dad, the first time we've all been together for a very long time, possibly as long as 15 years, I don't know, maybe even longer. Mum suggested that there may not be any photos ever taken of the 6 of us all together, again, I don't know, but I don't remember seeing any. Mum and Dad separated in 1970 when I was 9 years old.
Vicki-47, Alan-49, Bruce-43, Me (Marcus)-45, enjoying some funny moments at the wedding on Saturday. Bruce was in good form, entertaining us with a cartoon style jig at the end of the photo session which I will You Tube soon. His own marriage to Jane ended recently which has been very sad so it was good to see him in good spirits, it seems as if he is starting to move on a bit.
The Patriarch, our Dad, Peter-70, and the Matriarch, Mum-69 and their 4 kids.
With Mum. She lives in Bridgetown with her husband Walter, who is nick-named Number 3 or "Poor Walter".
With Dad who lives in Gympie in Queensland, a long way away from the rest of the family.
I am a big fan of family photos and generational photos so was glad we had the chance to take these pictures on the weekend. Weddings and funerals are good for family reunions and we usually have a pretty good time when we get together. With the various members so spread out around the country it doesn't happen all that often. Alan and Bruce live in Perth, we live in Busselton and Vicki lives at Wudinna in South Australia with her husband Rex.
We have a half-sister Shannon who lives in Gippsland Victoria with her husband Neil.
Jenna is the 4th of my nieces and nephews to get married. We have four children of our own, ranging from 19 to 9 so these last couple of weeks have been a taste of what's ahead for us somewhere in the future. Neither Zachariah or Sophie are showing any signs or inclinations towards marriage yet, and I won't be in any hurry for them to make such a big decision, but it's obviously closer now than it ever has been.
Marriage and parenthood are the two hardest things I've ever done, and they don't stop. We spend our lives trying to prepare the next generation for the passing of the baton, hoping that they will do a better job than we have and that they will not repeat the same mistakes we've made.
I have struggled so much with both responsibilities and don't feel satisfied with my performance in either. My kids are great and I love them dearly and am proud of them, but there have been many times when I wish I'd done a better job. There are many things I would change if I could.
I pray that each of them will have more peace and joy in their lives than I have and not be too scarred from the things I have done that have hurt them and let them down.
I am obviously in a reflective and sombre mood. I have not been happy lately and have not been coping with life as well as I'd like. I've lost energy and enthusiasm for things that in the past have made me excited and motivated. I'm not as happy at work as I used to be. The stresses of everyday life, paying the bills, maintaining the family etc have become more difficult.
I have begun to wonder if I am depressed. I have had dark thoughts and difficult times.
This is the most honest and vulnerable I have ever been on my blog and I'm not even sure I will publish this post. I wonder if I need a break. Or a change? I have been pinning some hope on taking long service leave in 3rd term and have dreamt of travelling or doing something special during that 14 week period but my enthusiasm and confidence are diminishing and I'm starting to think I will probably just stay home and sleep. I'd like to think I could keep developing my painting but I've even lost motivation for that in the last few days.
Despite the fun of the family reunion and celebration on the weekend, Saturday was a very difficult day with major conflict occurring and a huge roller-coaster of emotion, frustration, anger, disappointment and hurt. I found myself needing to withdraw and be alone, uncomfortable and unable to be around people, not even my family. I remember many times in my childhood and adolescence when I felt similarly and needed to be on my own, struggling to communicate or be open about my feelings. People say I sulk. Maybe I do but I know that once I get to a certain point I feel crippled inside, unable to interact or discuss how I feel, bound up by tensions and pains that chew me up.
I take a long time to recover, I don't bounce back quickly, I stew over stuff, beat myself up, feel guilty and condemned and do 1000's of head miles replaying scenes and conversations over and over, repeating the same mistakes, committing the same sins, hurting people I want to love and feeling progressively worse.
Many of these negative feelings and actions are exacerbated in my mind because of the things I believe and the profession I've chosen. As a Christian of 20+ years and as a chaplain, I can't escape from the nagging voice that says I should be better than this, I should have it more together, I shouldn't be making the same mistakes and committing the same sins that entangle me and drag me down. There is a level of guilt and frustration that accompanies being a "professional and public Christian". The world has clear expectations of how someone like me should behave, and whether those expectations are fair or reasonable does not diminish the feelings of inadequacy when I fail to measure up, as I invariably do. Then there are my own expectations, that I should be a better person than I am, a better husband, a better father etc etc.
In my head I know, understand, and accept the gospel and feel huge relief and gratitude in the knowledge that Jesus has paid the price for me, saved me from the punishments for my sins, and given me the certain promise of forgiveness and eternal life. I trust God. I believe Him. I know I belong to Him. I don't doubt my salvation.
But, I live with a constant sense of dissatisfaction at not being able to be truly free of the things that trap me and injure me and my family. I often feel frustrated. I am not the person I want to be.
And of late I have felt more like giving up than going on.
I know giving up is not the best way to face things and life has ups and downs, this season of my life may pass soon and I will be full of hope and enthusiasm again, but the feelings are real and remain. I feel like giving up. I feel defeated. I feel empty. I feel drained. I feel like I am losing.
The more I write the more reluctant I become to publish this, but at the same time, there is a feeling of wanting to let my guard down, of not trying to pretend everything is ok and putting on a brave face. I can't do it in real life, why should I do it on my blog. I'm scared of the vulnerability it would bring. I've never pretended to be perfect or to have it all together but nor have I been keen to reveal my struggles and insecurities. Who wants others to know how weak we are or how fragile or unreliable or dishonest or unpleasant?
I keep things hidden. I don't reveal my inner-most world readily. Very few people know the real me, at my deepest levels.
It's probably just as well because there is a lot there to repel people.
Thank God that God doesn't reject me or disown me because of my sins. Amazingly, he embraces me and promises me freedom and redemption from them because of what Jesus did when he died on the cross.
Thank God for Jesus, truly my only hope.
God, help me please.