Tag Archives: Faith

Prayer …

3God, the Living God, desires a relationship with us. Individually. He communicates with us in so many ways, through His creation, the intricate weavings of nature around us, through people, our circumstances, and that ‘still small voice’ within. 

And yet the clearest communication we have with our Great God, our Loving Heavenly Father is through His Word and times spent in prayer. 

How much God desires us! To be with us! His heart could not bear heaven without us, so Jesus Christ came to be among us, die for us, and bring us to new life in Him at such immense cost to Himself. 

His arms open wide to us in His suffering for us on the cross dispels our doubts over whether or not God could love us, whether He wants to hear from us, to be with us, to take care of us. 

And yet, we do struggle. For those among us who desire a deeper relationship with the God Who loves us so much, whether or not we are yet convinced of His love for us, for those of us who are seeking to find a way back to closeness with God, and for those who want to know whether there is a God out there Who hears us, what small steps can we take in our journey forwards to Him, Who Is waiting, arms outstretched, to Love us, sacrificially love us (agape love) for our own good, as no one else ever could love us?

Might I suggest a simple step if you are struggling to pray? Pray the Scriptures, the True Word of the Living God, found in the Bible, back to Him. Perhaps begin with a psalm or a proverb, or some of the beautiful, passionate, heartfelt and triumphant expressions of the apostle Paul in his letters to the churches, expressing the Greatness of the God he once was opposed to, and yet in Whose purpose and love he has forever been taken up in, to the point of counting everything else as less than rubbish in comparison with the greatness of knowing Christ. 

Start small if you need to, knowing that God loves you, hears you, and also loves to hear from you! Ponder each truth as you slowly pray it back to God, talk over it with Him, and listen. 

Sometimes the seemingly simplest things yield the deepest pleasures. Be blessed. Christ loves you and died for you and Is the gateway of your life with the Father, by the Holy Spirit. Much love. xx

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Finding a place of calm…and planning a mini-retreat…

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It’s 12.57am, and I can’t sleep. It is not insomnia as such, but more of an underlying anxiety and restless or nervous fear. I know there is nothing to fear. My Great God shelters me under the shadow of His Wing, and covers me with His Almighty protection. However, I have had times over the years of quite troubled sleep, and perhaps these feelings of unease are remnants of that. And yet, my Beautiful God speaks through the darkness to say: “Peace. My Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you, do not let your hearts  be troubled and do not be afraid”. 

He calls us to “consider the birds of the air” who do not sow nor reap nor gather into barns” and yet, our “Heavenly Father feeds them”. I hope the picture above brings you some feelings of calm, peace and joy. This afternoon a friend came over for a cup of tea and a chat, and we spoke about solitude, community and retreat. I told her about the walk in which I took these photographs and how it touched my heart to see that these beautiful birds, this little squirrel were so uniquely cared for by God. Having an interest in photography and a passion for capturing beautiful moments of beautiful things, I am able to hone in on the detail and marvel over the intricacy of a bird’s feathers, the ridges on its feet and tiny claws, and just how wonderfully designed the life around me is. 

In a world where there is so much noise, uncertainty and fear, it can be hard to find peace. There is so much that feels tumultuous, uncertain, frightening, terrifying even for those people living in war zones, areas of unrest, famine, drought, violence, and sadly the list goes on and on… We tend to think of peace as the absence of conflict, of calm and steady waters, of our circumstances all in alignment when all is well. However, this surface calm is not the true Peace that our souls long for. We need an anchor of Peace for our souls, for we are all at some point in our lives tossed upon restless waters. I searched long and hard for years to find peace, and just as a bubble on a stream, such peace was so fragile, and temporary, certain to burst and vanish with the slightest friction. Temporary peace or calm means that we are forever restless in the ongoing pursuit of calm. The same goes for happiness or joy, of love, of acceptance. However, I have found, or been found by, a Peace that Is enduring, and that is a tangible, real and experienced comfort to my soul at the deepest level. This Peace is the very Person of Jesus Christ Himself. He Is with us.

We are called to “seek peace and pursue it”, and I believe the only real way of doing this is in our pursuit of God, and in our resting in Him. However, there is something to be said about drawing aside from a busy world if and when we can, and to take time out, to pursue quiet surroundings, times of focused reflection and sharing, times for creativity, healing, letting go, rejuvenation, of solitude, and of companionship. 

My friend actually came over today as we are planning a spiritual and creative “staycation retreat”, perhaps for three or four days, as something we can pursue and encourage each other through, together. 

The process itself is quite special, as I have not found it a common thing to find people with whom these things can be shared with. 

And so, as we reach the mid-point of a somewhat wintry feeling April, I continue on with my monthly themes – this month’s being hospitality and planning a creative and spiritual retreat. 

I look forward to bringing you on this journey with me as we venture onwards together into quieter, more relaxing terrain. 

xx

Daily Word Prompt ~ ‘Betrayed’

Daily Prompt~ Betrayed

The Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day rise again.

How fitting that the daily word prompt for Good Friday should be ‘betrayed’. This morning I spent some time with the Lord, reading aloud from the Gospel of Luke the events that took place from the Last Supper when Judas Iscariot, who was among Jesus’ 12 disciples dipped bread with Him, and Jesus warned the 12 that there was one among them who would later betray Him, to the events of the betrayal, crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The Lord Jesus, knowing He would be betrayed, in a display of pure and perfect sacrificial (agape) love, broke bread with His disciples, and drank wine, symbolising the sacrificial death He would soon die for their and all of our sakes – the only way to Forgiveness with a Holy God. 

I shed some tears as I identified with the other disciples including as most particular noted in the following passages, Simon Peter, whom Jesus told would later deny or reject Him three times before the cock crew in the morning. Peter vehemently expressed that he would NEVER deny the Lord, even if it meant going to death for His sake, yet Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples, those who would betray Him and those who would deny Him and He loved them still, as He loves us, pleading for their forgiveness with a pure and perfect Love greater than all other loves. 

Even when later Judas Iscariot ‘betrayed the Son of Man’ with the greeting of a kiss on the cheek, a sign of honour and respect, in exchange for thirty pieces of silver, and His disciples reacted aggressively, Jesus brought healing, compassion and love. 

Rejection hurts, denial hurts, but the ache of those feelings is perhaps less than the piercing arrows of betrayal, especially from a ‘friend’, for betrayal seems far more calculated than the weakness of denial. If you have ever been betrayed, you know how bad it feels, how much it hurts. Jesus Christ Is no stranger to feelings of betrayal, pain, loneliness, fear, abuse, torment, rejection, hatred, mockery, anguish, misunderstanding, and a broken heart. 

There is absolutely nothing that you have been through, are going through right now, or will go through in the future that He cannot perfectly and deeply understand, and Feel  – for He has experienced it all, and He tasted death for us all that by turning to Him, we might know His perfect love, forgiveness and freedom. 

The wounds of betrayal cut deep, and in our lives it shocks us to the core. Yet, our Lord Jesus Who knowing He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners, *chose* to yield to the Sovereign will of His Heavenly Father, being very God Himself, God Incarnate in the Flesh, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, chose the way of the Cross – which is our only way, only hope of a relationship with the Father, and forgiveness and eternal life – He chose to suffer in my place, and in all of my sufferings I find great comfort in that. 

For once being alone in the world, feeling so alone in the universe, having been found by Jesus Christ, I know a love that heals all wounds, and I have the confidence that He Is One Who will never betray me, never leave or forsake me, never fail me in any way even if I don’t understand things in my life, and never let me down. Even when life doesn’t make sense, He Is unchanging, and His perfect love is the certainty of all of my days 

Even on the Cross, the Man Christ Jesus, facing the deepest betrayal from His own Creation, cried out from the depths of His pure loving righteous heart, ‘Father Forgive them…’. 

He Is One Who has been betrayed to the uttermost, Who understands betrayal, and Who will never, never betray you. He shed His blood to forgive and reconcile me and you with God, to give us a new pure start, hope for this life and eternity, True Love, comfort, peace, and the deepest love and Friendship possible, to give us His righteousness in exchange for taking the wrath of God and the punishment of our sin on Himself. This is why the anguish of the cross that He faced, the betrayal, rejection, abandonment, abuse, mockery, fear, pain, loneliness and darkness that He faced means that Good Friday is so Good for us…because God Is Good, He knows, He loves, He cares, He was betrayed, but for a Higher Purpose – to forgive us, make us pure in His Righteousness, reconcile us to God, in all His Goodness and Love and set us free, and He will never betray – we can be confident of that. 

What LOVE Is This……!!! ❤

 

 

Expect the unexpected! What are the certainties in your life? …

February, being the shortest month, has swiftly drawn to a close, and March ~ the month in which we expect spring to have sprung ~ has promptly arrived.

However, here in the United Kingdom, as anyone who is familiar with our obsession with talking about the weather will know, spring, summer and in fact all four seasons can be a little unpredictable. At least *that* is something we can be certain of!

Here is a delightful scene for the first day of spring!

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Snow and sunshine has graced the first morning of spring. However, despite how pretty this scene looks, the Met Office has declared a ‘Red’ weather warning since yesterday – the highest level – with possible further disruptions and risk to life as the ‘Beast from the East’ as the Siberian chill and moving weather patterns has been termed gives way to what the Spanish and Portuguese meteorologists have named ‘Storm Emma’, coming up from the South. Emma and the Beast! What a combination!

This gently beguiling scene veils the travel disruption, cancelled trains, hundreds of commuters stuck in airports and ‘stranded’ in their cars on the motorway for over 12 hours since last night, early office closures and increased call outs to emergency services. For a cold country perhaps we are a little ‘light weight’ when it comes to dealing with the varying forms of precipitation we intermittently face. Perhaps Canadians and New Yorkers and people from other regularly snowy countries and cities would laugh us to scorn at our inability to take such storms and snow flurries in our stride. However, the snow has brought out a brighter side to things. The crisp cold air, and beautiful natural scenes of trees and parks blanketed in white, the snow ball fights, gleeful children during their school closures and people sledging and having fun have all been something to bring a smile to the heart.

However, as much as we Brits talk about the weather, the true essence of these musings is a little deeper than the 18 centimetres of snow this city saw at one point. As the snow thaws in the sun, and seasons change, we realise too that our lives are passing, fleeting and as much as we long for the predictability and familiarity of seasons clearly demarcated as they ‘should’ be, our lives are actually often windswept by unexpected change, unpredictable events, uncertainty and consequently anxiety. We strive to pull out all the stops to regain control such as shovelling away the snows of doubt and worry, hoping that with enough effort we can clear our own paths and watch the unknowns melt away. Perhaps you are a seasoned warrior of change, or maybe a seasoned worrier with every uncertainty. Maybe you thrive on the adrenaline rush that living in the moment and embracing the unknown brings. However, regardless of your temperament, I believe that as human beings, at the core we do need a root of certainty in our lives. Not the certainty of known events or situations or happenings as such, but something even deeper and more fundamental. We need to know, deep in our souls, that when the storms of life come as inevitably and sometimes without much forecast or warning they do, that we have something to anchor to, something that will sustain us in our deepest uncertainty, and something far beyond our meagre efforts to dig out a clear pathway for ourselves.

Do you ever think about such things when life is going smoothly for you? Do you find yourselves wondering what will hold you when you are in the eye of your life’s storm? Perhaps you are yet to weather any severe or significant storms in your life as yet, but how can you be certain that you never will? Perhaps you have weathered many difficult experiences in your life and wish that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. And maybe through your adversities you have gleaned great insights, or maybe you feel defeated, discouraged or broken hearted.

Your story, your life matters. It matters because you matter. But as you make your way through one changing season of your life to the next, what is your anchor? For me, through many storms, some longer lasting than others, I have found that nothing I can do can truly anchor my own soul, and the anchor which holds me, the rock on which I know I have a sure foundation in life is the Rock of Christ. Tried and tested, and found Faithful through every storm, and in the sunshine seasons of life too. And ultimately my Certainty and Hope beyond death.

What do you hold to? What or who holds you? Do you have certainty in your uncertainty? I would love to hear your thoughts, but if you’d prefer not to comment, then I hope you can find a few quiet moments to ponder and reflect upon your life, your uncertainties and what you have knowingly or subconsciously put your hope and trust in to hold you through all of life, as you embark upon this new season and first day of ‘Spring’.

Much love. xx

January 2018 in Review

Welcome to February. 🙂

What can I say? We made it! I think you deserve a ‘pat on the back’ for making it through the somewhat tricky month of January. I find that January can be laden with so much expectation, being a brand new chapter to a brand new year…and also, at least in my part of the world, quite a cold, dark and wintry month. I smile as I see the days already begin to lighten, with the feeling that spring is not too far away if it is not quite ‘just around the corner’. 

How has the start of the year been for you? I love the start of a brand new month. It is like a mini ‘new beginning’ in and of itself. A couple of years ago, I think, I began ‘theming’ my months. I find that having a theme as well as monthly ‘goals’ and plans helps me to live better rather than merely drifting along. A common theme to all my months, and hopefully each of my days is ‘Faith’, and in particular, my relationship with God.

However, in addition to this core value, running through my entire life, my more ‘down to earth’ themes this January have been cosiness and music. 

Cosiness

Cosiness because I find Christmas such a cosy time of the year, and I feel a certain sadness in so quickly packing up the Christmas tree and getting back into the rush and hurry of work. I’m the kind of person who is a bit of a magpie as it were ~ I love shiny things, I love cosiness, and I have gentle fairy lights up in various parts of my home all year round. I delayed taking down my Christmas decorations until midway through January, and it helped ease me into the transition of the seasons, or our human demarcations of them. 

So I kept in mind the saying on a mug I was gifted with in December, ”Tis the Season to be Cosy’, and I made the most of hot drinks, cosy blankets, fairy lights, comforting food, time inside, making time to ‘breathe’ and relax and slow the pace a little amid the necessity to pick up the pace by getting back to work, commuting, braving the cold weather and getting back into the post holiday routines. 

I found myself learning that I wasn’t the only one with this mind and heart-set, and was intrigued to learn more about the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ ~ if you haven’t heard of it, you might find it fascinating to look up ~ if you are a person who likes your ‘cosy corners’ in life that is 🙂 

However, cosiness didn’t only involve staying wrapped up indoors. It also involved making the most of the weekend ‘Snow Days’ when I got wrapped up warm, and braved the chill to take photographs and slow down and see the beauty of the wintry season. It is never far from my mind how fortunate I am to have a home when so many are homeless in the cold season in particular, and I kept in mind and in prayer the harsh realities of those for whom the beauty of snow as some see it only exacerbates their misery. It was definitely a time for both creativity and humble reflection and gratitude. 

Making time for reflection and cosiness also came to the fore in establishing more of a ‘morning routine’ ~ as Gretchin Rubin, author of ‘The Happiness Project’ says, some people are born larks and others are born owls, and being an owl I am definitely by nature *not* a morning person, however, I have made progress in this area and have enjoyed having quiet times of prayer, reflection, and time with God, reading His word in the mornings, while drinking a hot cup of tea and cosied up in soft blankets…not something I have always maintained consistently, but the times I have managed it have been quite calming and special before the busy work day begins, and helps set the perspective, heart and tone of the day.11.jpg

Music

In my little part of the world, which just now is Scotland, there is an annual festival held in the City of Glasgow called “Celtic Connections”  (https://www.celticconnections.com/Pages/default.aspx) ~ perhaps you have heard of it? ~ musicians from all over the world show their interest in being involved in this unique and inspiring event. This year Celtic Connections celebrates its 25th Anniversary, and runs (yes, it is ongoing, with two days left!) from 18th January to 4th February, and showcases both ‘new’ and established musicians of high calibre and unique style, in numerous venues from Concert Halls to cosy café / bars and pubs. There are various events throughout the day, from concerts and gigs to workshops, some ticketed and others free such as the well loved ‘Danny Kyle’s Open Stage’ giving new and upcoming artists the chance to share their talent. I have had the pleasure of going to three of the free Open Stage events, for the first time ever (I first dipped my toe in the waters of Celtic Connections only last year!), as well as going along to a ticketed evening event to watch and listen to the likes of Eddi Reader, Phil Cunningham and Siobhan Miller to name but a few ~ if you haven’t heard of them…well, you really should have!! 😉 🙂 

I went to all but one of the events on my own, but even when I went alone I saw and got chatting to one or two people who I knew from different contexts (church and work!), and made new acquaintances for the evening with fellow music lovers. 

Suffice to say, Celtic Connections has helped in many ways to get me through those dreaded ‘January / Winter blues’ ~ and the sense of community, even among strangers, really added to that sense of cosiness and belonging in the way that live music uniquely creates. 

The talent I have seen and heard has been so vastly unique and varied, and deeply sincere. However, as sad as I am to see Celtic Connections come to an end for this year, I am excited to embark upon a new “Theme” for February …..as a ‘sneak preview’ if I can call it a preview with the month having commenced, the focus is shifting towards all things home and lifestyle ~ a good old clear out and purge of the messiness that has built up in my home, establishing new systems of organisation, in a way coming full circle so that eventually it will be organised, well maintained and a beautiful haven wherein I can enjoy the things that make for a happy life like creativity, friendship, cosiness and music! 😉 

More on February’s theme to follow, so keep a look out for that my friends. xx

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Incomparably You ~ Living above the “Comparison Trap”…

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You were not put on this earth to be like anyone else. Think about that for a moment. Neither were you put on this earth to have exactly the same experience as anyone else (I have always been fascinated by twins, but as an ‘outsider’ to twin life I imagine that even then you have unique experiences that your twin won’t share…twins….feel free to comment! 🙂 ). 

If you are new to my blog, I am a gentle follower of Christ…my posts do not always explore issues of faith, some are to do with art, health and beauty, self reflection, mental health, creative writing, travel, photography, food, music, basically my life ‘As it happens to be’…and all are welcome, but my relationship with Christ is what makes me me. ❤ 

There is an interesting passage in Scripture, towards the end of John’s Gospel of Jesus Christ, where Simon Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples is with Him after His resurrection. Simon Peter is somewhat of an impulsive guy, he makes great claims about his devotion to the Lord and displays a lack of self awareness of his own weakness and sin. Before Jesus was crucified, Simon Peter, just as His Lord knew he would and told him so, denied Jesus publicly three times, after his previous emphatic statement that even if everyone else left Him, he would not, he would rather die with Him. But Simon Peter did deny Jesus, and Jesus still loved Him and died for him. So, after all of this Jesus is with His disciples, and they are eating fish by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus, beautifully restoring Simon Peter to fellowship with Himself asks him three times if he loves Him, which is painful for Simon Peter, as he does love his Lord, and yet denied Him three times. Jesus, the Christ then goes on to tell Simon Peter what kind of death he will die, and Simon Peter replies by looking to John and saying something along the lines of “Well, what about him?!”, to which Jesus Christ basically tells Simon Peter what has that got to do with you, you follow Me. 

And so we have it there, in the pages of Scripture a very 21st Century problem ~ “The Comparison Trap”. Whether you are a follower of Christ today or not, you have unavoidably fallen into this trap in your life, perhaps several times. You have looked away from your own life and purpose, looked around you and said in your heart or out loud, “hey, what about them?”. I reiterate: You weren’t put on this earth to be like anyone else around you, or to have exactly the same life experience as another person. And I say this with love, and through experiencing the hurts that such comparison can bring. 

So what is it that makes you look away from your own life to compare with others? Being inspired by others is healthy, but comparing and sizing up your life against someone else’s is not. What makes you think “it’s not fair”, or “why not me?” or even “why me, and not them?”. What gives you ‘FOMO’ ~ that dreaded, technology exacerbated ‘Fear Of Missing Out’?

Is it your lack of health compared to your friend’s wellbeing? Is it the broken family life you’ve experienced compared with your peers’ happy family experiences? Is it your perceived lack of talents next to that person who seems to be able to do it all? Is it your bank balance, your height, weight, stature, physical appearance or employment status? What makes you look ‘next door’ and compare? Perhaps it is the hand that you don’t have to hold, the child that you don’t have to raise, or the problems that other people don’t have to deal with. 

Or maybe, conversely you are proud of your greater level of health and fitness, of your ‘achievements’ as a family and of having a successful career. Maybe you are the one who is talented and can sing, draw, write, create music, travel, run a business, make amazing things and attract admiring glances that others you know cannot. Are you richer, taller, shorter, leaner, bigger, more handsome or beautiful, with a ‘better’ job than others around you? Do you take pride in that? Do you have that beautiful relationship and that family that you feel sorry some of your single or infertile or bereaved friends or acquaintances do not? 

Sometimes comparison can be good when it leads to gratitude or inspiration, but not if it leads to pride, self exaltation or bitterness, envy, self pity or jealousy. It can be good to realise that you are the one with a roof over your head, and have food, money, clothes and warmth when others are homeless and suffering. This sort of comparison should lead to a deeper gratitude for your life, and a desire to reach out to others to treat them in the way that you would wish to be treated if you were in their situation. If someone has talents that you wish you had, perhaps you can let that inspire you to explore your own unique gifts and abilities. And perhaps more difficult for the heart’s journey, if someone has that child or children when you are unable to, can you be grateful for them, and pray for them, seek to help children who are unfortunate, and be pleased for those who are in a good home, loved and cherished, even if it is something that you do not know or don’t have the opportunity to give as much as you long to. Can you be pleased that the family as the building block of society is thriving among the lives of your friends, even when you find yourself ‘lacking’ in some way. Can you be happy for those couples if you find yourself single and wanting a life companion? Can you appreciate that their lives are not all plain sailing, and that there are blessings that you have that they do not, and that you might have more time and freedom than perhaps they do. 

Our lives are different, complex, unique, and we all have things hidden within our hearts that no one else knows about, so to compare ourselves and our journey’s with each other in a negative way detracts from the richness of our shared journeys. 

Yet, what I write is not a lecture to you of dos and do nots. It is simply to say that there is no one else like you, there never has been and there never will be. With all that you like and dislike about yourself, you are unique, one of a kind, irreplaceable, made for a purpose, loved and the only you there will ever be. You do not have to live in the comparison trap. You do not have to stay wounded there. You can rise high above it and learn to soar as you realise that your life will be lived out in a way no one else’s will, even in the smallest details if not the grandest achievements. 

No one else can give to the world what you can, and perhaps you can help others to find and appreciate that in their lives too. We were never meant to be someone else’s copy, replacement or backup plan. You are incomparably you, so don’t ever fear missing out by not being like someone else or having the life that they have, or even having the life you wished you had. This is your journey, life it fully, right where you are. xxx

 

Are you Liked?

Social media has changed things. For those of us who are young(ish) adults, we may remember a time before the Internet (yes, younglings….there really was such a time! and no, I’m not old 🙂 ), the transition to when the Internet first came to be, and our first intrepid steps into this new world of knowledge at our fingertips. Yes, sometimes that knowledge would be a bit slow to load up on our computer screens, we had dial up modem connections and we also had a bit more patience. These were the days when our first instincts when presented with a school or university paper to write were still to go to the ‘LIBRARY’ (yes, the kind of library with books made of *actual* paper 😉 ) to do our research, and perhaps venture into the strange and novel ‘World Wide Web’ to supplement our findings.

Put in perspective of the length of human history, it is fair to say that the Internet is actually quite a new creation, and hasn’t actually been around for that long. And yet, nowadays, it seems like babies are weaned on the milk of electronic gadgets and gizmos that are rapidly changing and developing, and many school aged children, even very young children, cannot imagine a world, or their lives, without the Internet, and have never experienced such a world.

So although as adults, those of us who were growing up just as the strange language of this mysterious ‘Web’ began to enter our parlance, or who were already ‘fully fledged adults’ as it were, had passed through those fiery adolescent years of wondering if anyone liked us after all, we are still faced with this nervous desire to know whether we are ‘liked’ every time we connect to the web. Or at least, most of us are.

Social media has changed things. In many parts of the world it is absolutely and irreversibly the norm. We no longer see the Internet primarily as a tool to gain knowledge or to supplement education and learning, but as a multifaceted, ubiquitous, all things to all people, source of input, entertainment, news, gossip, stories, celebrities, fact, ‘fake news’, colours, noise, opinions, ideas, creations, inventions, innovations, trends, popularity contests and the seemingly endless list goes on and on and is daily reinvented.

Perhaps those of us who blog seek a quieter and more reflective online space, that the more fast paced social media tools that we may also use such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram (and there my knowledge of such things ends 😉 ) would grant us.

But nonetheless, even the more reflective world of blogging shares the common feature of the ‘like’ facility.

How many of us log in to our Word Press accounts and immediately look at that little bell at the top right of the screen to see whether it has a little red or orange marker to indicate that someone has ‘liked’ or appreciated our content? You can be honest with yourself here.

It is a fascinating little ‘button’ that often makes me smile when I click on it, mainly because it makes me feel more connected to you. I realise that on the other side of this computer screen are real people, with fascinating stories, unique lives and thoughts, who have taken the time to acknowledge and appreciate mine. That is really something special, I think. And truly, the Internet can be a wonderful place, with some truly special people in it.

However, sometimes I wonder whether there is something about that ‘like button’ that triggers an instinct in ourselves to evaluate who we are, our value, and the value of what we have to say by how many ‘likes’ we receive. If we pour our heart and soul into writing something meaningful to us, and it is not noticeably acknowledged, does this in turn impact our self-esteem, even on a subconscious level?

Don’t get me wrong, I think ‘likes’ are wonderful. I genuinely like ‘likes’, and feel more connected with other people online because of them. However, if we find that our attention is unduly drawn towards whether something we have shared on our blogs has been liked or not, if we feel our heart sink if it hasn’t, and if we feel a glimmer of old feelings from childhood and teenage years when our likeability by our peers seemed to be a direct evaluation of our perceived worth, then perhaps it is time to take a step back.

I know that sinking feeling. And I know it has deeper roots than anything Internet related. As a child I was badly bullied for a few years, and I was worthless. I didn’t just feel worthless, but my existence was consumed by this rejection, the not measuring up, not being liked or being actively disliked, of being undesirable, outcast, rejected, neglected, unworthy, broken, hurting, isolated, ignored, overlooked, despised and alone. My broken heart and wounded mind is still being repaired and undergoing a process of transformation. No child, or adult for that matter, deserves to feel that way. And the more I think about it, the more I realise I feel passionately about encouraging other people, as well as myself, to know that although it is lovely, and a natural human desire, to be appreciated, our worth as individuals, as members of this community, and the worth of what we have to say and to share cannot be diminished by the lack of a ‘like’.

You *are* a star irrespective of whether anyone has pressed that star to like your post. You are unique, incredible and fascinating, with stories that no one but you can tell, and a world within a world of thoughts, imagination, hopes, dreams, fears and love. You can change things in everyday small quiet ways and even that in its own way is revolutionary. You are important because you are you. This is our humanity. And sometimes, as wonderful as the Internet is, the online world can rob us of that assurance. We are faced with numbers, targets, statistics, comparisons, and we are encouraged, especially by advertisers to never feel quite good enough – the next achievement, or makeover or purchase will add value to our damaged, inadequate selves.

And yet, despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our evaluations of self and others, we are infinite. And we are important. And even if we are not ‘liked’, we are created for a reason, and we are LOVED.