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Curate's Corner - January 2017

Curate’s Corner

Happy New Year!

A New Year, a new start; a fresh beginning. A year full of potential; of opportunities to do things differently; to let go of things that we no longer want to carry; to embrace new ways of doing things and new ways of being. An opportunity to be honest with ourselves and determine to do things differently, to try harder at the things we find most difficult. A time to listen to that still small voice inside us, that tells us the truths we don’t want to hear.

The start of a new year has long been seen as a way of making a fresh start, of choosing to behave in a different way. It is well known that January is the busiest month for new gym memberships, as people decide to put the excesses of Christmas behind them and get fit and healthy. Very often though, the initial enthusiasm wanes, life gets in the way, and the gym membership becomes another cause for guilt. But this need to take an honest look at ourselves and decide to do things differently at the New Year, speaks of a very basic and important human need – the need to be given a second chance. None of us is perfect. We all make a mess of things from time to time. But sometimes, we mess us so badly, it seems there is no way back. Sometimes, we get trapped in a cycle of behavior that we just can’t break; that we are helpless to tackle on our own.

Take the example of addiction. Sometimes the stresses and burdens of life can cause us to turn to pleasurable things that, however briefly, ease the pain and offer relief. A drink or two can bring relief and relax us, or comfort eating might be our thing. Usually, we know when to stop, and we can control it. But sometimes life is just so messy that we turn to these things again and again, until eventually they take control of us, rather than the other way around.

Alcohol and drug addiction isn’t something that gets talked about much. There is a lot of shame involved, and people become adept at hiding it, continuing to lead apparently normal lives, often for many years. But for some, eventually the buffers are hit, and carrying on in the same way simply isn’t an option.

It’s at that point, the lowest point when everything seems hopeless and life loses its meaning, that people most need a chance to change; the opportunity to start afresh; to find purpose in the meaninglessness and to begin again. This is where the work of organisations such as the Kenward Trust fits in. Based in Yalding in Kent, the Kenward Trust works to support people overcoming substance dependency or addiction, and has various ‘projects’ around the South East, including the Malt House here in Uckfield.

The work they do is truly transformational, supporting and encouraging those who have decided to begin afresh; to put old habits behind them and to look to the future with new perspectives. Spending time talking to them about their experiences, and the way in which God has helped them to transform their lives is hugely inspirational. They speak of a new hope; of a new life; of being given a second chance. They recognise the power of God at work in their lives, and of having a sense of purpose.

God never gives up on us. However bad things get, it’s never too late to stop, to ask for his forgiveness and to begin afresh. Through the person of Jesus, we are all redeemed, freed from the things that bind us; freed from the burdens that we are unable to carry alone.

We may not all need recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, but we do all need to hear the message that we are infinitely loved by God, however badly we get things wrong; however much we mess up. God wants to forgive us more than we sometimes want to forgive ourselves.

So this New Year, my prayer is that whatever you might need to let go of; whatever you need to do differently, you will know God’s forgiveness and his love for you, and that you will know for yourself the immeasurable gift of redemption.

Fr Mitch

For further information about the work of the Kenward Trust, or the Malt House Project, visit www. kenwardtrust.org.uk