A journey from trauma to authenticity
How to Start an Autumn Season of Life Well
How to Start an Autumn Season of Life Well

How to Start an Autumn Season of Life Well

Several folk have asked me how I went on the journey from the beliefs I was given, in a conservative Evangelical setting, to where I am on the journey now. I liken this process to entering an Autumn Season in life. It actually began when I was still living in an eternal summer, on the equator, and experienced a shattering earthquake, in 2016. In the aftermath, helping people who had lost everything, I also lost an unborn baby. And the growing demands of home educating my daughters meant I stopped working as a doctor (formally at least!) for a while. And my survival/coping mechanisms that had served me until that part of my life were stretched to the limit and starting to pop.

Fast forward a year, to when my youngest daughter was born. I was expecting to continue to live in Ecuador, and to be at home with the children, while running our charity supporting local children in their education and healthcare needs. She was born with a medical condition that required long-term treatment not available in Ecuador. Suddenly, without warning, I was precipitated back into an actual Scottish November, where the dramatic changes in my daily life and work, were matched by the falling of the leaves from the trees and the coming chill of winter.

This Autumn season was to last for several years.

As it began, I heard a phrase within, that was, “Receive this season as a Gift.” I printed this out and put it up on the wall as a reminder. In the next few weeks, I would like to share with you the key themes I wrestled with and received as the season progressed, and some of the gifts I discovered.

receive this season as a gift

This was the first one.

You are Beloved.

When entering a Fall season in life, it is so important to start with the deep knowing that we are Beloved. Traumas, losses and grief disrupt our belief that life is good and has meaning, and that we are worthy. It can be a time where we feel utterly powerless. Things happen that are out of our control. Life can feel meaningless. We can feel worthless, as the jobs and roles that were our identities are stripped away. Sometimes, it is the raw pain of the shocking loss of loved ones that disrupts our sense of a benevolent universe or God. Sometimes, that sense of self-worth never formed in the first place, in the absence of unconditional love in childhood. It can be a time of coming out of denial and facing painful truth.
It is the human condition to look for validation outside of ourselves. We long for a partner to love us, or we have children to make us feel loved. We feel good about ourselves because of our achievements, job, money, appearance or power. We find our worth in being popular and successful. Sometimes we distract ourselves in full-on entertainment and busyness. We may be addicted to something in order to cope.
Until these things fail us or are taken away.
In the swirling chaos and disorientation that can result, there is still within us a quiet voice that gently repeats, with endless persistence, “You are Beloved.” It is the eye of the storm, the vortex of the whirlpool. It is the intrinsic human worth that each and every person is endowed with by virtue of being alive. It is to be found within us, not outside of ourselves. No one can give it to us. No one and nothing can take it away. Nothing we do or are can destroy it. It is infinite, eternal and fathomless. It is the love that sustains all life. It is the sacred nature of our soul and life-force.
To integrate the Falls in our lives, and grow through them, we need to allow the truth that we are Beloved to reverberate in our bones. The power of self-doubt, self-rejection and self-destruction is strong. They block our ability to face our pain, because we fear we will discover we are actually as worthless as we believe. The strength to face this fear is found in knowing we are Beloved. We are worthy. We are an equal, precious, human being, born in love and destined for love.
No matter how much debris is heaped on top, that shining truth is within you.


Each week, I will give you an invitation to a spiritual practice that you can use throughout the week – and beyond.
This week’s spiritual practice is inspired by the section in Rachel Held Evans book “Searching for Sunday”, on Baptism. She suggests remembering baptism every time we have a shower. Baptism is a naming ceremony. It declares, “You are my Beloved in whom I am well pleased.” It declares the power of love over death and evil. It invites us to go on the Autumn to Spring journey of death and resurrection.
As I entered the Autumn season of my life, described in the introduction, I read Rachel’s book and decided to laminate a piece of paper that declared, “You are my Beloved” and I stuck it up in the shower. Each time I showered, I felt the warm water caress my skin and pummel my head, and I washed away the dross of the day. And I opened my eyes and said aloud, “I am Beloved.” I did this over and over again, while the losses and confusion hit me over and over again. It was a way of hearing that inner voice of love and worthiness.
I invite you to do the same – literally – or in your mind, each time you shower this week.

I am Beloved


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