Tag Archives: God

Giving yourself permission to move on after pain…

Pain may have marked and marred your life for a long time. It may have cut so deep into your soul that it crippled you and in a way defined you for a very long time. Pain can run very deep especially if we’ve experienced it in childhood during formative and sensitive years. What if your soul has been deeply wounded and your mind shackled, but you’ve pressed on, survived trauma, pushed through and found healing?

Has pain and what happened to you or what you experienced become so fundamental to how you think of yourself and your life that even if you have healed from much of it you find it difficult to think of yourself in a new way or give yourself permission to move on from it?

It can be a challenge to our thinking to allow ourselves to live in the new found freedom we’ve craved for so long. I have been through years of deep inner pain, and yet now I am stepping into a new freedom and inner healing as the balm of God’s healing love and Holy Spirit heals and renews me from the inside out. Yet there are reminders of the things that I went through. But I have a new identity. I no longer need to be defined or crippled by pain or fear. It has been something I’ve spent many many years having to work through and overcome, but now what?

We can begin to use our pain to help others, but what about getting to the stage of completely letting go? I believe those deep soul wounds can only be fully healed by Jesus, even though on our own we can make progress, it doesn’t go to the deepest part of us.

What about living in transformation from victim to victor? Overcome to overcomer? This can take time and shifting our mindset and the things we tell ourselves daily and getting stronger.

I think I’m ready to move forwards, those deep wounds were a pivotal part of my life story and journey, ones that at the time I would never have wanted to go through or experience because they cut so deep, but Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is far, far greater than that, and God can use the painful things in our life for greater good if we let Him, even if that seems to take a lifetime.

Have you gone through a transformative life experience that was marked by pain and suffering and brokenness? Have you worked hard to heal? Can you give yourself permission to let go and move forwards, using what happened to you to propel you into a brighter future where you can walk in freedom and help other people? Sometimes we go back and forth on these psychological bridges, sometimes we heal a bit and march forwards and then have to slow down and do some more deep healing. But perhaps there comes a time when we can say, that was then and this is now, and now is completely NEW. Now that is a psychological bridge worth crossing over once the raw emotions have healed.

Are you in a place where you can move forwards, even if that doesn’t mean a change in circumstances but just a change within yourself? What’s stopping you? Life is full of transitions, and thankfully, healing can be part of that no matter what has gone before. Give yourself permission to live, to thrive, or to do the hard and painful work of getting there, if need be.

I think of the glory of the Cross, the agonising suffering that Jesus Christ went through for me, and the Glory that He Is in now. If my life is hidden with Christ in God, then surely I can embrace the new, because He has won the victory for me, and His Touch brings the deep healing my soul needs, even if He unravels us from that hurt and pain over time, if we let Him, He will make us free! ❤ Praise be to God. I can be free because of what He did and does for me. By His wounds we are healed. Ask Him, receive from Him, He won’t let you down, even if it is tough to start with, He will see you through.

Take care. Stay safe and strong. x

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Pandemic getting to you? Keep Going…

You’re not alone. I’ve said it throughout my self care series’ since this all kicked off early 2020, and I say it again: you’re not alone.

I believe that someone out there, or perhaps many of you, needed to hear that today. Sometimes we allow our worlds to grow small, we focus on the big stuff we’re going through or the things that are happening in our lives, and it can feel like we’re the only ones.

People are experiencing this in different ways, and yes, there are some people out there, some of whom may be in your life, who are doing great – or seem to be. Yet for the vast majority of people, this is not necessarily so.

Some of you are really struggling, and I hear you. I just want to send out a word of encouragement to you to keep going. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through some big and painful stuff before. And you know what? I got through it, and so did you. We’re still here, and we still have to keep going.

If you’re doing well just now, remind yourself that someone in your life probably isn’t and take a moment to reach out to them, to lift them up in some way, to be kind. Kindness matters. It changes things. It could even be the difference between life and death. Be kind. Reach out beyond yourself.

If you are finding things tough at the moment, try to identify a healthy solution that might help you make it through your days a bit better.

You might want to connect to some grief counselling, or look for online support, or have someone you can phone, even if it is a helpline, if you are facing Christmas and the holiday season alone. You could reach out to someone, and break the cycle of isolation that you might be in.

If you are doing well, try not to ‘overshare’ this in a way that makes much of your good times to the detriment of others. Be mindful that some people are really going through a lot just now. Can you reach out to do something for them?

If you are stuck in a rut of boredom, try to factor some routine into your day. Do something creative, write, pick up an instrument you haven’t played in a while, go for a walk in the fresh air, draw, cook, get moving. Maybe it’s a good time to do some decluttering? Read a book. There are so many little things we can do, even if for 5 minutes at a time that can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression and boredom. If you need to make sure you check in with someone so that you’re not facing a potential crisis alone.

Keep going, keep taking the next step. Maybe we can’t make a lot of plans right now, but is that such a bad thing? Can this season be one for spiritual growth, for working on or overcoming some deep seated issues, psychological barriers, emotional pain or traumas? Can you become more patient in your day to day life, more appreciative of what you have got rather than chasing the next thing that you would normally do out in society? Can you grow in compassion and empathy for other people? Can you slow down and appreciate the extraordinary in the ‘ordinary’ moments of your life and day?

Keep going. If you’re feeling like you want to give up, recognise that you have possibly absorbed some lies or negative thinking potentially about yourself or your situation. Believe me, I’ve been there. Do you think you’re not good enough, not strong enough, unable to take the next step? Think again. You are worthy, you are precious, you are special, unique, one of a kind, able. Able to do the next one thing. Keep going.

Don’t give up. Life is a lot of little moments and you have persevered through them all so far.

We really can’t do life on our own, and sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to realise this. I was there as a child when I was ‘bullied’, verbally, emotionally, physically and psychologically attacked by peers on so many sides that I felt I was nothing, and it broke and crushed my spirit on the inside. I believed so many lies about myself and absorbed the bad feelings such that I could not see a way out or a reason for going on in the pain, the intense pain of a child suffering and helpless. Guess what? I kept going. I called upon God from the depths of my soul and He answered me, He sustained me, kept me going and gave me perseverance even in pain. When I was 20 I called upon Jesus, and wow, did He answer me. I didn’t know much about The Living God before although I knew God as an unknown Power and Guiding force in my life before that, but when i called upon Jesus as The Living God, I chose Him, my whole being was flooded with immense love and joy and peace – indescribable and supernatural. This Is Real Love like no other. I was also thrust into a spiritual battle. It was not something I expected at all, but it was more real and tangible than you could imagine. We are being lied to and oppressed by things unseen every day, and only in Christ can you have the Victory – you may not ‘feel’ like it for a while, even for years, but in Him, and only in Him, you have Victory and ultimate love and freedom.

He Is The Way, and perhaps you have been led to read this very blog post for such a time as this. Maybe you didn’t realise that all the answers you are looking for in life are actually available to you, even in this world that seems to be falling apart there IS a God Who comes among us, Who can dwell within you by His Spirit and comfort you with a Peace like nothing the entire riches and love of this world can offer you. His Name Is Jesus. Emmanuel. God with us. Incredible. And He has a place for you. There Is more after this life ends, and He Is The only way for that to be eternal peace and love.

Keep going. And if you know Him, if you know His Love and love Him in return, keep calling out to Him for refreshment, strength, and everything you need to love and honour Him moment by moment, keep interceding for others. If you don’t know Him…yet, know that this is not fiction nor religion nor vain hope or futile belief without reason…there IS a Real God Who can come into your life if you ask Him sincerely from the heart, He can make you a new person from the inside out, wash away your past and either instantly or gradually heal your broken heart and transform your mind as you replace the lies you’ve believed about yourself with The Truth that you are precious and valuable to Him and He died for you.

A lot of this might not make sense, might seem counterintuitive, even illogical. Perhaps you are resting your laurels upon your pride or superiority that everything needs to be measurable or provable by ‘science’. Science is not antithesis to God. All the laws and order of the universe are subject to Him. Yes, the world is chaotic, but we have been told about this beforehand. There is evil in this world, a world in rebellion to Light and Love and Peace of Jesus. God makes things new quietly from the inside out, and He will make all things new. One day you will realise that what these ‘crazy Christ followers’ have been going on about Is actually real…I just hope and pray you will know this in the fulness of His Love for you.

There is Light and darkness, and we are born into darkness. Only Christ can set us free and save and deliver us. This Is Real. I know. I used to think Christians were deluded or hypocritical and that I was somehow more ‘spiritual’ but I didn’t realise how blind I was to the Truth, until I encountered The Living God for myself and the Incredible tangible Love and Power He revealed to me.

So keep going. Don’t give up. Jesus IS a Real Person, He Is for you and will be Emmanuel, God with you if you ask Him to. You will still have trials and struggles, but you will have a God Who will Love you and hold you and help you through it all. He Is Glorious, many of us have glimpsed His Glory have tasted and seen His Love in tangible ways, and one day we will see Him Face to face and all our longings will be fulfilled in His incredible outpouring Love, Perfect, Pure and Redeeming us from all that Is dark within us.

Until that day we are in a spiritual battle, so we keep going. Look to Him. He Is very real. He Is Powerful and He Is Gentle – He can handle you, in your stubborn pride or in your brokenness, right now where you are. He Is The Living God, not a fairy-tale. Once you have encountered Him, you will know. Humble yourself. Ask. Ask Jesus. He Loves you. x

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Have you tried praying?

Seriously, in this world we often try finding solace and distraction in so many things.

In this world, as troubled as it is, it can be easy to buy into the lie that God Is not real or that He does not care. Truth be told there is evil in this world and we are in a spiritual battle whether or not you want to believe it. Just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean it is not real.

There is a lot that we can’t understand or explain, and yet if you are willing to try all the things you are trying in life, why don’t you try praying? There Is a God, The Living God, Jesus Christ, and you only need to call out to Him from the heart.

Life can get difficult, but it makes all the difference to have Someone there Who Loves you to walk you through it and lead you to a better world to come.

Try praying. He already knows that you’d be here and reading this, and deeply wants to hear from you and be there for you in a way no one else can. We are spiritual beings and praying to God, to Jesus Christ, Is a way to connect us to the very Source of Life. ❤ x

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Don’t compare…

The pandemic hastens on. If you are feeling lonely, struggling, not sure what to do, for whatever circumstances you are feeling stuck at home or left behind while others around you go on living life or seem to be having all the good times, friend, don’t compare.

This advice is as much for me as it is for you. We can only ever live one day at a time. Your journey is completely different to that other person’s with whom you compare. Maybe things are going great for them and not for you, well, lift your focus. Change the direction of your thoughts away from comparison that might just hurt your heart and bring you down and think about what you can do with your life today….even if that thing is just to slow down and to rest.

You matter. I believe you matter to God. I believe that Jesus Christ Is able to help you, and me, and you just need to turn away from what is wrong, including what is wrong inside of you, and ask Him for help. He loves you. And even if you don’t believe, find comfort in knowing that the measure of your life is not a measure against anyone else’s. Take this day as it comes. Look for joy in the small things. Be happy for other people, be kind to yourself and don’t compare. Think that how you are feeling might just be similar to how someone else is feeling right now. Can you reach out to them? Let them know they’re not alone? Can you reach out to someone you don’t even know, someone suffering, some charity? Give as you live. Take things a moment at a time. Be thankful. Stay safe and call out for the Name of Love, the One Who will see you through. ❤ x

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Something has changed…

I wrote previously about being in different seasons of life. For a long time I had felt that I was in a season marked by suffering, then by recovery, and then overcoming (including overcoming anxiety).

Something has changed. Within me. It is almost as if the fear and anxiety has been ‘switched off’, overnight.

I had been calling out to God, I think perhaps a few months ago. Certain things felt difficult to manage within myself, some things felt like they were causing anxiety and doubt. I had very profound experiences when I first encountered Christ, but those few months ago I felt distant, dry, and I didn’t want to just be ‘going through the motions’ when I know His Love Is real, tangible, something I have profoundly experienced before.

I cried out to Him and He has answered me. I have been experiencing once again Pure Comfort, Love, His Peaceful Presence, within me and around me as I draw near to Him especially in prayer.

He has been communicating in different ways, showing me things that He has also similarly shown to a Christian friend. I am certain the ‘flow’ of these recent ‘coincidences’ are not coincidences.

Something within has changed, and there is a shift in gears, in perspective and a Peace that I had struggled to find for a long time as I recovered from and wrestled with various things I had gone through.

I am trusting this change is not a momentary one, but something deeper, longer lasting. I know my mindset may change in more gradual ways perhaps, as I step more fully into this Reality of who I truly am.

I love how God Is always reaching out to us, teaching us, and sometimes those breakthroughs are so gentle yet profound. When we stumble, those who Know Jesus as the Reality that He Is, His real and tangible Presence….He will still be leading us, helping us, as The Good Shepherd, The Living God.

In this world of trouble, He speaks Peace. The Peace that comes from being Forgiven, Cleansed, made New inside. Peace, real tangible Peace in Christ, through His Blood shed at the Cross. x

Today let us each learn to step out, however small that step may be, into something New.

Deep, deep Love….

‘Oh, the deep deep love of Jesus, vast unmeasured, boundless free…’

You may know this old hymn, the lyrics are beautiful. When I was first ‘saved’, I was absolutely flooded with the Love, Peace, Comfort and joy of God’s Spirit. It cost God so much, yet takes so little for us to repent, to ask forgiveness, and to call out to Him in Faith. This Love was the most amazing feeling I have ever experienced, yet I also experienced a spiritual battle with darkness. We will have trouble in this fallen world, where there is evil, and a lot of things seem to not make sense, yet God Is real and His Love is real….and He will work everything out despite the mess and chaos of a fallen and broken world.

I have been drawing near to God recently, and I have asked Him that I don’t want to just ‘go through the motions’ of singing songs, or professing faith without that deep closeness with Him. Despite my worries, fears, sin and imperfection, He has been answering, and renewing me from within. God allowed a season of feeling ‘distant’ from Him and being faced with questions, and I have called out to Him and found Him Real and Faithful.

Despite the trouble we face on this earth, and from our very own natures, there is nothing that compares with that Real, Tangible, sweet comfort and presence of God’s Spirit within us, holding us. There Is no purer love than this. It is not something that can be imagined, thought up or dreamt of – you need to come into that relationship of Love yourself, being made a new creation, and experiencing the reality of His Sweet Presence for yourself. There is nothing that can compare. I hope and pray that He will draw you to repentance so that you can ask Him into your life, to be forgiven and experience this everlasting, deep, pure love for yourself. x

He Is Real. His Love Is Real. Ask Him. ❤

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Self Care In A Pandemic (79): Trust…

I hope and pray that things go well with you my friends.

I am learning more about Trust in this season. As we continue to venture through this pandemic and through life, we face uncertainties within and without. I am learning to trust more in The LORD Jesus Christ and Who He says He Is and that He hears and answers prayers. Sometimes we might be sitting in an answered prayer and barely recognise it. Perhaps we are experiencing restored relationships and times of togetherness that might not have seemed within our reach some time back. Maybe we are experiencing more of a quietness in our circumstances. Do we recognise that the Hand of The Almighty Jesus Christ could be in this? I pray day and night for those I love especially my closest family. I can see God’s Hand at work in our lives and yet I am still waiting on Him to answer certain prayers and so I continue to pray day and night. In times of trial and testing I felt for a while that I was trying to convince God to answer my prayers but He has been at work in my heart and mind and perhaps He Is at work in you too. I wonder if there are good reasons for delays in the answers to our prayers or those that we see and that we need to learn to more fully trust.

More recently I know and am convinced that The God I pray to The Father of our LORD Jesus Christ Is a Good, Good Father with Whom there is no shadow of turning. He Is Pure and His mercy and love endures forever. When we pray He hears but sometimes we have to persist in prayer and in trust.

What are you trusting in during these difficult days? Many people have a warped view of God because of the broken world we live in and because we are also in a spiritual battle and we have heard all sorts of wrong things about God. We also don’t like the gospel of Jesus Christ because it means that we have to come face to face with ourselves. We are not as we were meant to be.

What were we meant to be, and what are our lives being renewed by Him pointing towards? Maybe you can think of a time as a little child (and my heart goes out to you if you can’t) when a parent or loving role model embraced you and you enjoyed being held close to them and talking freely with them, nestling into their loving embrace. We are made to live freely with God, walking and talking with Him without fear. Our hearts and souls were made for Him.

It is the brokenness of our lives, marred by sin and by the brokenness of this world that keeps us from this perfect union and loving relationship. Maybe in this pandemic you are experiencing times of longing knowing that the things you are filling up your day with don’t really satisfy you deep down. The Bible talks of Jesus as the ‘Bread of Life’ and the ‘Water of Life’ the only one Who can quench the thirst of our souls. I have certainly found this to be true, but even though I am born again and indwelt by the Spirit supernaturally, I am still being renewed and set free and there are still broken parts to be healed but God Is with me as He Is with all of His born again children.

If you are a parent you can only begin to imagine the deep love of Father God for us, for you. It is hard for people to make sense of the Cross in their minds sometimes because it means admitting that we are broken and fallen and we are sinners in need of the amazing Grace of Christ’s forgiveness which He freely gives with arms wide open. That Is His Love for you. And it is a free gift. All we need to do is recognise we need forgiveness, and ask Him from the heart, believing in Who He Is and say ‘Lord Jesus, I recognise I am a sinner, and ask for your forgiveness and I trust myself to You’.

He took the punishment of all your wrongdoings so that you don’t have to. ‘Call upon The Name of The Lord and be saved’. You don’t have to fully understand it, you just need to trust. That The Cross is the only way to renewed relationship with God so that we can once again sit with Him in that loving embrace, knowing that His are the eyes that are always upon us, keeping us as the apple of His eye when we are longing for someone to notice us, to know that we are Loved and not alone.

Will you return to Him today? Will you trust Him? Life is short and God wants all to be safely with Him in this life and the life to come, but the Cross is The only way. Jesus faced judgement so that we can escape from that judgement but we must choose to turn back to Him and His grace reaches for us in deep, pure love every moment of every day.

This is why I pray for those I love and for you dear ones:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved.

He sent His Son for you. He loves you. And no matter what your need He Is here right now listening for your call, waiting for you to turn back to the Loving embrace of The One True Living God Who cares for you and Whose Perfect Love casts out all fear.

Can you recognise His answers in your life today even if not everything is just as you wish, can you see how He has already been at work? Will you take a moment to thank Him, to trust Him, trust Him for today and trust Him by simply calling on the Name of The Lord Jesus for forgiveness and knowing that you will be eternally safe with Him and also know that if you do even in this life you will have His Love and Presence with you, helping you every step of the way.

Loving Father I entrust my dear readers with all their cares and concerns to You and in trust I entrust their salvation to you that they would by the Loving drawing of Your Holy Spirit turn back to you and trust you to forgive them, wipe them clean and give them a new life, a hope and a future and an eternity of love safe with you. In Jesus Holy Name I pray, Amen.

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Self Care In A Pandemic (74): Give Your Brain Some Direction…

Have you ever watched the film ‘Castaway’ with Tom Hanks when his character is stranded on a desert island, after a plane crash and being washed up on shore?

It’s a psychologically intriguing film and I think on some level we can all find some sense of human connection with various themes in the film. Like all good plots, from my point of view, there is a transformation story within it and as viewers we can see the physical and psychological changes that take place, firstly in the shock of the situation to someone who is totally out of their element, then to their resourcefulness and resilience in survival and then after being rescued and coming back to ‘civilization’ the strange disconnect and having to relearn what it is to be part of a community and in a totally different environment from that desert island.

I’m not saying that we’re in a situation similar to that by any means, but many of us have had to go through things in our lives that have tested or continue to test our mental, emotional and psychological resilience and adaptability. Some among us, myself included have had to overcome and are still overcoming remnants of complex PTSD pre-pandemic time. I know that some of my readers also are overcoming different challenges that may involve mental health and recovery from something or other. The thing is, living in this world will at some point challenge our mental and emotional resilience, and where we find we haven’t established it yet (say for example if we go through something as a child or young person) then we are put to the test as to discover and build that resilience from perhaps a very low point. But we can do it.

In the pandemic we have a variety of psychological challenges, and I’ve explored some of these in previous posts. There is a lot going on and I don’t want to trigger anyone reading this by going into details repeating some of the many things that we’ve collectively been faced with the past year particularly because there are some among you for whom that might feel too close to home.

But what about the situation of being in an extended lockdown (as we are in the UK)? That in itself has mental challenges for us. I’ve explored the importance of some semblance of routines and habits to give ourselves structure to our days even if we like to break free from those structures at times. Perhaps we can relate to some of the emotions that Tom Hanks’s character faced such as shock, loneliness, isolation, even delusional or troubled thinking from lack of human connection (when his closest companion was a blood stained basketball named ‘Wilson’ with a bloodstained handprint that he connected to as being Wilson’s face).

Our brains need somewhere to go, and when we physically can’t go anywhere, we need to keep adapting and finding ways to become increasingly resilient so that we don’t sink under the pressure of mental health challenges.

Think of the ways you have so far adapted to and grown from your experiences of an extended lockdown if you have faced or are facing one. Are there things that were overwhelming to you at the start that you now take in your stride? One aspect of this, whether for good or bad I don’t know, may be a sense of not being so affected by the daily case numbers that we are presented with. Initially we were all, or most of us were, shocked and worried by these but now we can almost ‘tune out’. We focus on our own situations and adapt and some among us are able to reach out beyond our situations to help others and we can’t forget to be grateful for the many front line workers who continue to do this through all sorts of tests and trials and pressures.

Thank you frontline workers.

So, in an extended period of lockdown, your brain needs somewhere to go. We have the small steps that we can all be taking, but what about a bigger direction? Is there a project that you can get stuck into, something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time that you didn’t seem to have the time for? Maybe something you wanted to do when you finally retired if you’re not there already? I know a lot of people at work who would be of the mindset pre-pandemic that ‘if only they had the time’ to do such and such. Well folks, now we do have the time.

Give yourself a bigger challenge to steadily work away at bit by bit. Maybe you’re not into that and it’s fine, but do you have a novel you want to be working on, a model to build, a business to set up? Do you want to become a mentor to someone but need to learn the skills? Perhaps now is the time to set yourself a slightly bigger challenge and give your brain somewhere a bit more ambitious to go. Maybe you want to set up a charity to help those less fortunate, or to advocate for others with mental health issues, or to be a supportive voice and presence to others who are suffering even if that presence is online and via technology.

Maybe your blog has places to go and you need to put your mind to it. I started this blog when I was in a tough spot mentally myself and I both wanted to do something to help myself and to help others. I find some solace and strength in knowing that my words can be used to help and encourage other people who might need help with mental health issues generally and over and above that to reach out to more people through this pandemic.

It’s a small blog, I haven’t earned any money from it, although if you want to help me with getting more people viewing my blog and finding help from it and thereby encouraging and helping me, please do share it. It’s a small beginning but it gives my mind a purpose bigger than myself to focus on and is also an avenue for me to gently share my faith for those who will read even if we walk different paths.

If we are simply getting up one day at a time to try to manage that bit at a time well, that’s ok and it’s also good and commendable, but it is just one phase of this journey. We can’t stay in a state of shock or disbelief, and we haven’t. We’ve all collectively moved on from that in many resourceful ways. But sometimes our courage can wax and wane and we can lose momentum and feel like we don’t know how to keep on going. We can keep on going. We will.

I also still have mental health challenges. Things come and go in my mind and I need to remind myself of Who my God Is, and also that He has equipped me with a resilient brain and that I can handle many things and not get discouraged by them. But our minds do need somewhere to go so that they don’t simply ruminate, go inwards or become negative and so that we don’t get lost in ourselves. We need vision.

That’s a big statement because I believe the biggest vision for our lives should be our Creator. However, on a lesser scale we also need vision to help us get through our days and to do so purposefully and that’s why having a long term or bigger project can be helpful.

I understand and agree that this is not for everyone and that’s fine, but I do feel that we need to look beyond where we’re currently at if we want to move forwards, make progress and not get lost inside our heads.

What do you all think? How can we encourage each other? Do you have any goals that you are pursuing over and above the tasks you have been focusing on to help get you through each day? The small tasks are crucial so don’t ever think that they’re not enough or not important enough. But for some of us our minds need to go further so that they don’t go inwards and perhaps like me you are also one of those people.

Are you giving your brain some direction and purpose in this pandemic and if so would you be so gracious as to share some of your inspiration with us so that as a community we can help and encourage each other to keep going on stronger?

Take care friends, stay safe, be curious, be inspired and seek to inspire. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (71): Believe In Transformation…

Life comes to us with a variety of challenges. Sometimes these challenges can test and try aspects of our character, but at other times the things we face in life can come close to crushing and destroying us, and even when we do survive, we can be left with the feeling of being broken in spirit and crushed on the inside. When these experiences occur in childhood when we are still forming and becoming who we are, it can have a long lasting impact upon our sense of self. Once again, I speak from experience.

Having faced such hardships in childhood, I persevered through life with a lot of anxiety and symptoms of what had gone on deep within, but it wasn’t until later that all of this ‘exploded’ to the surface as the complex trauma that it was. I re-experienced and had to go through and process things that were trapped and stuck in parts of my brain and nervous system from years of fight-flight and freeze responses as a child and young person. After that I have been working solidly to first survive the crisis, and then to get strong and overcome the symptoms of trauma and the long lasting effects of childhood suffering.

By God’s grace and the strength I find in Christ Jesus, I can confidently say that I am an overcomer. Yet, I know that overcoming symptoms is not all that there is for me, even though I haven’t figured out the next step of life quite just yet.

Can you relate? Not too long ago I wrote about how I saw this recovery journey in terms of stages from victim to rescued to survivor to overcomer to thriver. Thriver is a stage I have not yet got to identifying with or living in.

Much more recently however, I have had another word come to my mind when thinking about moving forwards, an it is the word ‘Transformation’.

Many of us have seen that transformation is possible in our own lives and the lives of others. Most of you reading this blog have long passed adolescence and that stage in itself is testimony to many of the transformations that occur as we move from childhood to adulthood! If you’ve ever seen some of those ‘before and after’ pictures of people when they were age 12 or 13 to what they looked like age 17, 18, 19 or 20 then some of these will be astounding as to how much people can physically transform.

Yet, physical transformation is only one part of life, and it is not the most important part, because who we are and how we look does not determine our worth. It can take us a lifetime to learn this because of how many lessons and lies from the world we have to unlearn! People are valuable because we are human beings, made in the Image of God, Created on purpose, and no matter what words have pierced you through your life, whether from other people and / or yourself, the pain of those words and /or actions, those lies, can never detract from your inherent worth. It has taken me a long time to learn this, and perhaps I am only just beginning to come into more of that freedom of mind and thought.

Yes, transformation is not limited to the physical realm. If any of you out there are ‘Born again Christians’ then you will know that you’ve had a supernatural experience of forgiveness and being indwelt by the Holy Spirit that has changed your life, and that people who are not believers can’t quite relate to. Perhaps you can think back to a time when you didn’t believe in Jesus Christ or the Word of God and thought that ‘those religious people’ were all a bit crazy. I remember in my teenage years thinking that I was a spiritual person and believed in God as a Higher Power and Guiding force but the ‘Christians’ I encountered just seemed deluded and hypocritical and a bit crazy and simple minded in some ways. That’s until I met a Spirit-filled believer, a very different kind of human, then I encountered Jesus Christ, The Living God, and then I chose Him, came to know His Forgiveness, and had supernatural experience after supernatural experience. I was transformed spiritually as some of you have also been. Some of you may be reading this and think that I’m a bit crazy, and I can understand that because unless you have had an encounter with Jesus Christ and are transformed and translated into His Kingdom spiritually then of course it will make no sense.

Transformation can also occur in terms of our thought processes, our characters, our outlook on life. It can be in terms of how we view ourselves and other people and how we engage with the world. It can be all of the above, spiritual, physical, mental and emotional. Sometimes a transformation in a person’s life, especially a spiritual one, can occur suddenly, but in most cases I would surmise to think that it is gradual.

Some transformations we have no control over, such as going through adolescence as our bodies and minds develop in ways that bring us into adulthood with or without our choosing.

Yet, what of other aspects of transformation? Can we have a part in it? We can ask for God to change us, we can ask to be born again, to be Forgiven by Christ, and by allowing Him into our lives, we can experience an eternal transformation and we can see our lives continuing to change as we allow God to make those changes on us in the inside and as we cooperate with Him.

There are also other ways we can experience transformation, and we can be intentional about these. If someone wants to work on external things and experience a transformed body for example, they usually have to put in some work, effort and have somewhat of a plan of action as to steps that they will take gradually and consistently so that they can see changes. Surely when we want to see change and transformation in our emotional, mental and psychological development then we also have to put in some work?

This is something that I am embarking on thinking about more, especially as the idea of being a ‘Thriver’ in life at this moment in time seems and feels a bit unknown to me. Can I go from overcomer to thriver without transformation? When I think of a transformative process, it helps me to know that this can happen gradually. When I think of what life was like a few years ago at the height of my ‘crisis’ when I was suffering tremendously with C-PTSD, depression and anxiety, to where I am now, those two snapshots in time do show transformation, yet on a day to day basis the changes that have led to that transformation seem almost imperceptible.

I’m sure that you can think of areas of your life that when looking back you can see big changes in. Perhaps there was something you were suffering with or through that now is more of a memory or a learning experience. Perhaps your main transformation has been a physical one, and maybe you are ready to let go of some of the things you are trying to control and to go deeper on a spiritual, emotional and psychological journey.

Maybe today is a good day to start thinking about these things. Being in a lockdown and a pandemic is certainly an opportunity to think more, to reassess our lives and to begin taking steps towards a transformed life. When we don’t know how to get from one stage to the next, or if we don’t even know what that transformed stage would look like at all (and maybe some of you do know what you’d like it to look like), it is encouraging to look back at certain aspects of our lives and to realise that over the years transformation has happened, can happen, and will happen again – and that we can also have a part to play in it. There is something encouraging and exciting in that. And when we don’t know that next stage, we can still take encouragement from knowing that transformation can happen gradually and that we can make a step towards that today, even if we haven’t quite got it all figured out just yet.

Ask God, if you are inclined to do so, for help in the journey. He has good plans for us if we’d only turn to Him and trust in Him.

Let us begin to believe in positive transformation and take some small step towards it today.

What could that look like? Maybe it is in saying a prayer, in reading a book, in going for a walk, in allowing yourself to confront yourself with the lies that you have been believing for far too long, in helping, encouraging or mentoring someone else, in picking up a hobby, in showing kindness. Love is transformative, and the world needs a lot of love and kindness. How can we live lives that look to the needs of others? Is there any small step we can take today?

I feel on the brink of many ideas, and yet feel like I am stepping into somewhat unknown territory, yet I have faced many challenges in life and have overcome the unknowns that I was facing then, so surely this challenge towards transformation is another step of faith.

Have you experienced transformation in your life? What did this look like? Was it mainly physical, spiritual, mental, emotional or a lifestyle change or some other kind of change including a psychological shift or perhaps a combination of many of these? How did you find the process, what did you learn, and what can you share with us here as we continue our journey?

If you are feeling discouraged in this pandemic, take heart that transformation is possible, life comes in seasons, and a better change can happen. Don’t give up in this journey, keep going, look up with faith, look for Truth and live with the expectancy that you will find the Answers that you need. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (69): Be Aware Of What You Focus On…

Hi friends, I must admit that the mornings here in Scotland are getting a bit challenging for me to deal with at the moment. I’m not sure if the sun is shining in your part of the world, but where I am the sky is a big grey sheet and it is drizzling with rain. Trees are bare branched and there is a bit of a wind whistling through them. I and many others are probably longing for spring and a bit of sunshine (when hopefully the general population won’t go crazy and be irresponsible with going outside or forgetting about social distancing…but that’s for another chapter!).

Whatever the weather is like where you are, it is part of the human condition to sometimes struggle with focusing on the things that our bodies, minds and hearts experience that might get us down. We need to have a plan in place for times like that and the more we can implement better thought habits the better we will be for it through the course of our lives.

My sleep was a bit unsettled, I woke up with unsettling feelings and thoughts inside, and then I woke up to grey skies and a ‘dreich’ day as the Scots say. I knew that I had to get out of my head a bit and so I opened the patio door and got some fresh air on my face. I could see and hear birds, and even saw a fox running behind our garden fence! I appreciate these things having lived the first part of lockdown 1.0 on my own in a tall flat with no garden space or balcony!

It did me good to get some fresh air, but I still felt unsettled. I had breakfast and did some exercise, all the while building up on the new and more helpful thought patterns and neural pathways. This can be effortful at times. We can forget to breathe. We can get lost in the tangle of unsettling thoughts and feelings. We can become overwhelmed and stay stuck focusing on the wrong things. Memories and impressions arose in my mind. Perhaps they do for you, and not particularly the ones you want to remember. Sometimes we want to ‘swat’ them away. Yet there is power in learning to sit with those difficult thoughts and feelings safe in the knowledge that we are not our thoughts, and they will not last.

If you are struggling with things today, be aware of what you are allowing yourself to focus on. As I said in an earlier post, it is normal to have ups and downs, but sometimes those difficult spells can feel really hard to us. That’s why we need Help from Above, and we also need practical tools and strategies.

So whatever it is you are finding yourself focusing on, if it is a negative thing that is, sit with it for a moment, take a deep breath and try to reframe your thought into focusing on something else more positive and productive. The fact that you have read this far in my somewhat rambling blog post is a positive thing in itself! 🙂

Keep moving, feel your feelings, externalise them in some safe way if that helps such as journaling or chatting to a friend, or praying through them to God. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts and feelings, and that they will pass.

Think of something more positive to turn your attention to and do that for a while. It takes time. We can feel destabilised and discouraged when we feel these difficult things as if we are those things but we are not. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are valuable. And there is an important reason we are here today and we all have a purpose. If you don’t know your purpose, I have written a post about that and finding it in the very things that are right in front of us. You can find a purpose for the next five minutes, and the next, and the next and going on from that….so just focus on the next step on those difficult days.

Remind yourself also that it takes time and practice for all of us to make new neural connections, and trains of thought and patterns of behaviour as our brains readjust from negative thought patterns, experiences and beliefs that we may have been used to or conditioned by for many years. But we can make a change and each small step is important.

There are a couple of verses in Christian Scripture that help me and encourage me with this: ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2) and ‘You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make /set you Free’ (said by Jesus Christ Who also comforts us by showing us that He Is The Way, The Truth and The Life). John 8:32, John 14:6.

We can be free. And even with everything going on in your life today, you can make progress. If you are in a ‘slough of despond’, if you feel like you have fallen down a metaphorical well and don’t know how to get out, don’t let the darkness overtake you, don’t look down at the ground, don’t stay stuck in your difficult thoughts and feelings – instead, like an intrepid explorer find that spark within you that says ‘keep going’, ‘you can do this’ and like a curious child, look for the solution to a puzzle that can be solved. Look up to the light streaming in that otherwise darkened well, look for the foot and hand holds on the side and begin, one small effort at at time to climb up. You CAN do this.

We will speak again soon, friends. If you are doing well, keep going. If you are doing very well, reach a hand out to help someone else. If you are feeling stuck, you can make progress. Just do that next one thing, and be aware of what you choose to focus on. It’s ok to feel those tough feelings, to sit with them a while, to process them, to responsibly vent them without hurting anyone else, to be creative about it, but don’t stay in that place all day. Focus on something new. Do the next thing. And never give up. x

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