I have a tendency at times to be a bit of a worrier. However, there is a Peace and a Love in Christ that is beyond words, and I have been experiencing it again, and I am so grateful for how Real and tangible and present His Love Is – with a purity and cleanness and joy like nothing else.
I used to think Christians were a bit strange, I used to think of myself as morally ‘pretty good’, and a spiritual person, a Truth seeker. An encounter with Jesus Christ showed me that He Is The Truth, and I was absolutely flooded with Love and Joy and the Pure Clean Presence of His Spirit. I realised that for years of my life I had actually been taking in lies, chained by darkness, and had missed the Living God, but He had mercy on me.
Light shows up darkness. We all think we’re ‘pretty good’ until Perfect Light shows that within us is a darkness and wretchedness and that we need forgiveness. Maybe that sounds a bit hard to take in, but if you can, if you do admit to yourself and to God that you are a sinner, Whom He Loved and gave His Life for at the Cross, and receive His Forgiveness then a transformation does take place within – when you repent, and believe in Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead and call upon his Name – things become supernaturally Real.
Even if the people around you do not see it, you will know. And even if you are a worrier, even though we are sinners, the Love and Peace and Purity that will flood your soul will Hold you.
I am experiencing the Pure Love and Peace of His Presence again. I am thankful that when we are called to stand before Him, I will be able to stand covered in His Light and Pure, exquisite, incomparable Love, and not ashamed by my own darkness.
I am so thankful that you are reading this. It means that you are alive, have breath in your lungs, and have another day to live.
This pandemic is a challenging time for many. However, the ‘narrative’ within the UK seems to have changed within the last few months and weeks.
At the start of the pandemic, everything was new and scary and we were all dealing with something that most had never dealt with within their lifetimes, unless they are golden oldies who had survived previous such events. For the world at large, it was, as we’ve heard time after time ‘unprecedented’.
We all were told to ‘lockdown’, to stay at home, to keep our distance, to stay safe. In the UK we were told to ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’. After some time we were advised to wear face masks, and thanks to the hard work of the scientific community and advancing technology within less than a year there were vaccines on the scene. Many countries around the world ‘clapped for carers’, or took time to applaud their health care workers, delivery drivers, frontline staff, cleaners, etc.
There was the sense that we all were in a global pandemic *together* and that we all had to do our bit to overcome it *together*.
Some countries were hit way harder than others, sadly politicians around the world took approaches some of which put their citizens at risk, but there was a sense despite the confusion at times, we were moving toward a common goal.
Within the UK, there were some confusing messages from leadership. However, there were daily covid briefings, we did hear regularly from government scientific advisors, and there was a sense of caution, of having to supress the virus, get the ‘R’ rate down, and look after each other. We were part of a global effort, despite the disparity which sadly is ongoing between richer and poorer nations across the world, where some people still haven’t had a first dose of vaccine or the option of having one.
Of course there have been debates, conspiracy theories and resistance along the way. There have been several other key issues of great importance to society such as in relation to racism, violence against women, poverty and climate change that we’ve also had to think about, process and work through. But up until recently in the UK, one thing we did have was a clear set of guidance, and we were given the message that this was being ‘led by the science’.
Now, however, both England and Scotland have ‘opened up’. Wales and Northern Ireland, well I’m not so up to date with their rules and approach, but one thing is for sure is that cases in the UK are among if not the highest in Europe. The daily death count is in triple figures, with I think 121 deaths or thereabouts today. A couple of days ago, Scotland had 34 deaths in one day.
The thing is, lockdowns do have an adverse impact on people, I realise that, but we could have sought some ‘middle ground’. Masks are discretionary in most places, although there are some weird and inconsistent ‘rules’ about mask wearing in certain indoor spaces such as night clubs. It’s beyond me why nightclubs need to be open in a pandemic in a country where cases are around 35,000 per day.
People are not required to socially distance in most places – that’s also up to individuals. Vaccine passports are being introduced for big indoor events or mass gatherings, but there is an inconsistency there and the system in Scotland is going through some glitches. I get the feeling that many people think that now the governments have said there are no or very few rules, that it’s ‘ok and safe’ to do whatever we want. Working from home is still advised so that’s a good thing.
I’ve been looking into other sources where epidemiologists advise that covid symptoms also now include ‘cold like’ symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, fever, etc…. but the UK government hasn’t updated its information on symptoms which still stick to the standard three of fever, new continuous cough and difficulty breathing. Which means as we head into cold / flu season, many people may actually be carrying and passing on covid without realising it, thinking it is just a common cold.
I know of many people who have been ‘out and about’ since restrictions lifted in the UK. I know of someone at work who went to Spain with their family on holiday. I know of many friends who have been out to coffee shops, pubs, restaurants, a couple even have gone to weddings (one of whom caught covid at one, thought they only had a cold, but turned out to be covid, and recovered fine), others are now going to music events, and outdoor gatherings, or short family holidays within the UK, etc. I have friends who are going back to church.
There are plenty of things I miss and would like to do, but I am a bit unsure of the ‘advice’ we’ve been given at the moment. Part of me really wants to start getting back into life again, whatever that means, at least in terms of doing things and seeing people. All of the people I know who have been doing things have been absolutely fine. But then, recently I’ve heard of friends who ‘know of people’ whether once, twice or thrice removed who have or are in ICU with covid, or that they know of someone who has died of covid. There was a news article today that a wee 15 year old girl in England died of covid the day she was meant to get her vaccination.
It is a reminder that just because our society in the UK has opened up it doesn’t mean the pandemic has ‘closed down’.
I wonder where you are with things in your own situation? Have you been going out and about and doing well? Have you felt nervous? Have any of you had or do you have covid? Do any of you have long covid?
For some people, in the UK especially, the ‘Fear of Missing Out’ may lead to taking up all or some of these ‘freedoms’ now that there are practically no rules which might result in ICU, long covid or death. People aren’t thinking of others so much anymore I feel. There isn’t the sense of community spirit anymore, and I think partly politics could be to blame for this. People are being left to their own devices, perhaps the UK public don’t like being ‘told what to do’ and other adverse effects of restrictions and lockdowns are rightly being taken into consideration. But at what cost? I don’t feel we’re doing things sensibly, which means if there is a ‘free for all’ even those who are being cautious will miss out.
I haven’t figured out how to navigate this yet, so I’ve just been staying at home. Perhaps none of us have. I do know a lot of people going out doing a lot of things and have been totally fine, but people are still dying from this, and I wonder if we’re partly being treated as a ‘herd immunity experiment’ by the government – especially when things aren’t exactly under control in the UK.
I think scientists are still urging caution, but politics and public opinion has pushed that to the side. It’s sad to think that because of a lack of guidelines people in UK may unnecessarily die in winter this year from covid, even with a strong vaccine rollout programme. I am amazed at New Zealand’s approach to eradicate covid. Each life matters but their total of 27 covid deaths since the start of the pandemic means that UK’s daily triple figure daily death rate is shocking.
I think it’s still time to be cautious, but I understand it is hard sometimes to know what to do.
Lately, in terms of my faith, I have felt led to humble myself before God, and I have been drawing closer to Jesus Christ after a season of some challenge, doubt and ‘drought’. God allowed that in order to deepen my faith, and I am so thankful that recently I have once again been experiencing the exquisite, pure, clean, Love, Joy and Peace of God’s Presence through the Holy Spirit within me, just as I did when I was first ‘saved’. This might sound strange to some people, but Jesus Is Real and God’s Love is like nothing else – the tangible Presence of His Love and Spirit to those who are born again is better than all that the world has to offer. Sometimes we go through seasons as Christians of not ‘feeling’ His Nearness, but He Is still here and still God. When we do once again encounter the Reality of His Presence and the tangible experience of His Pure and Clean, exquisite Love, it is a reminder that Life is found in Him, despite the ups and downs, despite the things going on in the natural, there is a reality and Peace in Christ like no other, and in Him we don’t have that ‘fear of missing out’. Those are just some personal thoughts I’m sharing, as I have been drawn to pray more during the pandemic, and if anyone of you has a relationship with Christ and is going through a ‘dry’ season, know that that’s normal and that He Is still with you, and once again you will feel His Love, that Presence like no other, filling you from within.
As to the pandemic again, I’m interested to know what’s been going on with all of you so please feel free to share your insights or thoughts in the comments. We all still need to look out for each other, it’s not over yet, but I understand that we don’t want it to ‘dominate’ our lives, don’t we all long for some kind of ‘normality’ again?
I’m not sure the UK approach is the ‘right’ one. Part of me feels it is a bit careless, but many other people will be feeling good that they can do whatever they want again, within reason. I want to do so many things, but I probably won’t right now. But in Jesus, I am never missing out.
I wonder if some people’s ‘fear of missing out’ will lead to other people missing out? If some less vulnerable people are unwittingly catching and spreading covid to those who are vulnerable, for example.
I don’t know, there’s a lot to think about, and perhaps this is a season for continued caution. Perhaps it is a time when we can also start revisiting our blogs and hobbies?! 🙂 I know, it’s been a while since I last wrote after my words of encouragement on surviving the pandemic series, and I apologise for that, but I’m back today, and hopefully will continue on a regular trend to try to share some encouragement with you.
Wherever you are at, I hope you are well, staying safe and finding true hope in this journey through life. x
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.
I know of friends who are looking for new jobs in the pandemic. I know of people who have started new courses. I know of people whose marriages have sadly come to an end, not caused by the pandemic, but coinciding with it. I know of people who have been trying to have a baby for years and have at last become pregnant. I know of people, friends that are a few decades older than me, whose adult children are considering what to do next whether that is to do a college or university course, or are looking for a new job or their first job. I know of people who have embarked upon a new relationship, and are trying to figure out whether to continue or not. I know of people who are working on overcoming mental health challenges, and who are putting their minds to the day to day things of life. There are people, all of us, who are in a variety of situations in this pandemic, some good, some bad, some difficult, some easier. There are people who are starting things for the first time, there are people who are having to begin again. Some people have become homeless in this pandemic for a variety of reasons. Many people are in situations where they feel they are having to ‘start from scratch’.
Perhaps you are one of those people. Maybe you are not starting from scratch in such a way but maybe you’re not sure what’s next. Maybe you need a job or are wondering about whether to start a course. Be encouraged that that’s ok, even if you don’t know what’s next or haven’t made it to where you want to be. There are several areas of my life where I don’t know what’s next or have any idea of how to get there, but I remind myself that God has led me through so many unknowns and challenges already and I can start on my knees, with prayer to Him, Jesus Christ, The Living God.
I, like you, can also start from right where I am right now. You may not be rebuilding your life from some terrible tragedy, but be encouraged that there are people who have, and that you can take the next step of life, your life from where you are right now, even if it is the smallest of steps of faith. In her book, ‘Things Get Better’, Katie Piper talks about how she had to rebuild her life from rock bottom after rape and acid attacks and then being in a coma and being scarred and burned and disfigured. She faced fear, anxiety, PTSD and many, many medical operations. She was given the prognosis that she would be homebound and reliant on full time care. Now she is living independently, is a writer, a TV presenter, an activist, has a charity for burns survivors, is married and has two little daughters and helps so many other people. Initially after her attack she just wanted to die and it seemed there was no hope for her. She is also a Christian, having encountered The Living God in that hospital bed keeping her alive, and her faith has grown as she reaches out to others, and has podcasts on mental health and also shares her faith now as a presenter on the UK television programme ‘Songs of Praise’. You might look at that and listen to that story and think ‘wow’, ‘how did she do it?’. In her book she describes how she set the smallest of goals for herself on a day to day basis, such as ‘holding down a meal’. Things that most of us probably take for granted. She really was at rock bottom and needed help with surgeries, feeding tubes, psychological support and many other intensive care treatments. Maybe we’ve had something in our life that we can relate to in some way, but the chances are most of us haven’t gone through that extent of suffering. We’ve all overcome different things in our lives, some more than others, and perhaps some of you have gone through extremes yourself. We can’t compare, but we can be encouraged and inspired.
What is it you are facing today? You can start today. Do you need to find a job? Well, take what is in front of you, ask help from Above, and take the next step. You have a resourceful mind and you *can* take the next step. Is it getting to grips with homeschooling your child or children? You have it in you to learn to be more adaptable, to be more patient and to figure out a way forwards. Is it overcoming mental health or physical challenges? Maybe everything won’t suddenly get better, but you can make progress, you can keep going, you can take the next step and you can start from today.
Don’t be discouraged. Look up and look around at the examples of hope and courage and be reminded that making progress takes one small step at a time. You can take the initiative from where you are starting from today. Don’t compare, don’t be afraid, but take that next step of faith. x
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
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
When seasons change, are you in a hurry to rush to turn the metaphorical page? To start your new chapter, and head on into the next new thing without looking back?
I’ve been there before. I suffered a lot of pain growing up with a couple of markedly traumatic years in school. I put my head down and just wanted to press ahead and forget everything that was behind me and move forwards. Then later when I finally got my first apartment / home of my own, after facing a range of different challenges, I wanted also to press ahead, and to do things to serve God and help other people. I had it all planned out in my mind. Let me just give you a quick ‘spoiler’ and let you know that the story didn’t unfold that easily for me and was in fact a very painful time. I had gone through so much that overwhelmed me, big and little things accumulating over the years, that I couldn’t just press ahead. I had a traumatic episode of complex PTSD, severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks and although I pressed ahead even when experiencing all of these horrible and terrifying symptoms, holding on a full time job and doing outwardly well by the high quality of work I was producing, I was falling apart. God needed to bleed all that stuff out of me (which is a work in progress) in order for me to heal. Now I am able to build myself up after being broken down and broken apart. At least, God Is rebuilding me and giving me wisdom in how I can be part of that rebuilding process.
Sometimes we want to turn the next page, especially if we’d been on a particularly difficult chapter or few chapters of experience and life, and put it all behind us. Our bodies, brains, nervous systems, spirits and emotions may not let us. We need to heal before moving forwards sometimes, and it can be a painful revelation after having put so much energy and effort into surviving life, only to feel we are back at ‘rock bottom’ once again. It can be hard to see the ‘breaking apart’ as an important part of the healing process – of being progress in its own form.
I was touched to see (watching from the UK) last night, Joe Biden’s memorial service for the thousands of American lives lost to the pandemic. I watched this morning on the news a professor talking about the importance of Truth and Reconciliation in order to move forwards. Truth must come first, and this is a process.
Regardless of what your politics are, and what you may believe, the point I’m making is a humane one and not a political point. There is dignity in taking that moment to show honour, respect to those lost, and also in so many realms of life, of taking time to recognise and perhaps mourn for what happened in order for us to move on.
Perhaps you in your own life want desperately to move on from something. Maybe like me you need to press ahead, but then those painful emotions will catch up with you in a crippling way. You need to allow the wound to be exposed (but in the right way) in order to find deep healing.
As the world watches the changing of administrations in the American presidency today, we are looking at a man who gives honour to that ‘moment’ to pause and reflect, to grieve, and to be honest about things. I’m impressed with Joe Biden as a human being who has overcome adversity and grief and loss and personal struggles in his own life, not by running to push past them or ignore them, but to take time to face them, confront them, feel the human emotions, learn from them, and move forwards with compassion to help other people.
Like I said, this is not a political post, but in my own journey of healing, I look for examples of people who have gone ahead of me from whom I can learn. As I seek to share my learning in my ongoing journey, I also am avidly seeking to learn from the wisdom of others.
So I have been reminded of the important lesson to take a ‘moment’, however long that moment may be. We can’t always rush our healing journeys to fit in with our personal time lines. That can feel devastating when we are living through it, I know that personally, especially when we feel crippled by our emotions and experiences and traumas, even though we have worked four times harder than those around us, only to survive, while they all seem to be moving seamlessly ahead in their lives, even thriving, having never had to experience the things we have had to endure and fight to overcome.
Yet there are others like us. There are others who have found the strength to overcome. And from that they have also found the Grace to be more compassionate people who lift others up, because let’s face it, in this world we all have trouble, we all have battles to overcome and burdens to bear.
The Greatest of all Who has gone before me, before us all Is Jesus Christ. There Is none more compassionate and loving than He, even though He Is Greater than all. He has suffered more than all, having taken upon Himself all of our sufferings, and at the Cross He declared Victory, “It Is Finished”. Yet, He Is The One Who gets down in the dirt, in the dungeon beside us, and holds us and heals us right where we are. He Shines His Light into the Darkest of Places and He binds up our broken hearts and heals our wounds with His own. There is no pain or suffering He does not understand. Jesus Christ, Loving Saviour of the world.
As we face this day, let us take a minute. To remember those around us. To take a moment for ourselves. Let us also challenge ourselves to take a moment before we speak because others are going through their own struggles, anxieties and healing processes too, even those with whom we may disagree. Let us take a moment to be human, to feel what we feel, and to allow love and compassion and Truth and Light into our lives.
Let us take a sacred moment before we turn that next page.
Sometimes we can take for granted what is right in front of us. Yet, let me say it again: With what’s in front of you…you can change the world.
I’m sure we can all see ways in which the world needs changing for the better.
One of the things that will make a positive difference to you in the pandemic is having a sense of purpose. Whether or not you have a paid job, you still have purpose. I remember a time when I had graduated from my Masters in university and it was time for me to get a job. My department asked me to consider doing a PhD, but at the time and with a variety of circumstances, it wasn’t the right route for me to take. And having left the predictable lane of academia, I was suddenly in the world of being ‘between things’ and having no idea of how I would practically get to where I wanted to go. I had Faith, I had dreams, but I also had the anxiety of not knowing how to navigate an adult world and not knowing how to get my ‘foot in the door’ in order to gain employment. I spent a lot of time applying for jobs, I spent a year volunteering doing unpaid work in order to build skills and confidence, I did temp work, and it took about three and a half years for me to get a long term full time job, which I’m very grateful to still be in.
Why do I say this? Because some of you may be equating your purpose with your income stream or lack thereof. You are not your job, and you are not your bank balance. Your worth is far beyond anything or label that the world can put upon you. I believe that Jesus Christ showed you how much you are worth to God when He died for you at the Cross to pay the price for your sin and to take your deserved punishment so that by believing in and trusting in Him for forgiveness you can be bought back to God. You are Priceless. You are worth the Death of God’s Only Son. Let that sink in.
Therefore, to get back to my initial point, you do have a purpose as you navigate your way through this pandemic, and it is not limited to whether you have a job or not. Your purpose is important to the world and for your well being but your worth is not defined by your purpose either. Your worth is in the intrinsic value of you as a human being. And that can’t be changed, added to or taken away.
So, let me ask you, what’s in front of you?
The idea of finding purpose in our days can seem existential and out of reach if we let it. However, if we break things down into their most practical components then we can begin to get somewhere and be in a position to make a positive difference in the world, or at least in our world and immediate surroundings.
I’m sure right now you can tell me that what is physically in front of you is a computer screen, a tablet or a phone, or some electronic device of sorts from which you are reading this blog.
What are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it for good in this world? How can you find ways to encourage other people, share kindness, spread positivity, uplift others, express your creativity and live out some aspect of your purpose in life today? There are so many ways. Instead of ‘doom scrolling’ through the news or social media feeds, think of ways in which you can use your devices for good in the world.
Can you learn, educate, inspire? Can you share a kind message? Can being an inspiration and an encouragement to other people be part of your purpose today?
What else is in front of you? These things may not be literally in front of you right now, but may be in your room, in your home, or somewhere accessible to you or in your garden.
Let me list some of the things that are around and ‘in front of me’.
I have pens, pencils, art supplies. I have paper, colouring books, a calendar. I have books, I have a Bible, I have Scripture verses on my walls.
Can I use these to inspire purpose in my life today? Of course! What can I do with them? I can colour, I can draw, I can create. I can learn new skills, I can build up my relationship with God, I can pray for other people, I can meditate on the Truth and share this with other people. I can create a gift for someone else, I can write a letter, I can bring colour into the world, I can do so many things.
I also have a mobile phone on my desk. I can send an encouraging text to a friend or check if someone is doing ok. I can live out the purpose of kindness today.
What are some of the other things that might be around us or ‘in front of’ us? Some of us are blessed to have things that are so much more precious than things – we may have people around us. Can we live out the purpose of kindness and love in how we relate to other people? Can we try to make changes where we may have fallen short before?
What if what is in front of you is a pile of dishes, or a messy home? Can you live out your day with the purpose of being a home keeper and creating a peaceful environment?
Do you have other things around you or in your life in some way? Do you have money to spare that you can donate to someone in need and live purposefully that way? Do you have ingredients in your kitchen cupboards with which you can try out something new and live purposefully and creatively?
You have far more than you are aware.
Maybe all that you feel you have is the view from your window, if indeed you have one. Yet you have your mind. And your mind when challenged will discover, find, create a purpose for you today, even if it seems at first it is just to survive, that in itself may be a grand purpose for you.
Maybe your purpose is to use your resources to seek help, to get strong, to work on your mental and emotional health, to become resilient.
Maybe it is to engage in self development, to read books, or to create, learn and maybe even teach.
Do you have children in your life? Are you living out your purpose in giving them the best chance that you can today? And just take it one day at a time and be awake and alive to the moments you are living through together for children have an incredible way of helping adults to see the life in the moments right now.
How can your inspire yourself and how can you inspire me to find and live out your purpose in this pandemic, today, and after that one day at a time? For be sure my friend, it is there, and it is right in front of you, if you will just look with curiosity, hope, faith and thoughtfulness.
Something caused me to create this title. Something got me thinking. It was something very simple but prompted me to think that it’s maybe something that you might benefit from hearing.
While we’re all making our way through this pandemic, some of us working through various things in our lives that we already needed to overcome, we may also come in contact with the influences and experiences of others.
Sometimes these are mutually positive connections, at other times we may be seeking out positivity and encouragement online or from people we don’t personally know, such as through reading books, blogs, or seeking out inspiration online.
But what about when information or input comes our way when we haven’t actually sought it out? It might be some negative influence, but let’s just say it’s actually something that is potentially helpful, but we may not be ready for it.
I’m personally on a journey of overcoming trauma from childhood victimisation that devastated me internally. Peer abuse, bullying or whatever you want to call it is abuse and it can have long lasting consequences. Let me affirm that I am no longer a victim, I am an overcomer and I am on a journey learning how to take these experiences and learning to thrive from them. But I’m not quite there yet. I’m still learning, and although I have overcome the worst of the complex PTSD I experienced, which was absolutely horrible, I know that I have survived and overcome not just the experiences of those dark days as a child, but the worst after effects of them. There are still remnants of that damage that Jesus Christ Is healing deep down, bringing forgiveness, restoration and new life deep within, but it is a process and sometimes it seems a long one. Light is breaking through though. There are many things that it is my responsibility to do as well such as ‘being transformed by the renewing of my mind’ and this has to be a daily choice, a discipline and an action. I have to take control and steer my mind and thinking as well as trusting God for the areas deep within me that I cannot touch. I have finished years of trauma counselling and I am ‘going it alone’ and finding new ways to find strength and ways to use these painful experiences to help others. I am also seeking out inspiration online from people such as Lizzie Velazquez, Katie Piper, Nick Vuijicic who have all overcome adversity and dark times.
However, sometimes information or input can come our way that we might not be ready for. It might be good advice or content, but it might be triggering on some level, or it might just be a few steps ahead of where we are, or it might be focused on a different area of life than where we are in our own life journey.
This is why I say, be aware of where you are at. There’s the pandemic, but there is also your own personal life journey. You may or may not be personally ready for every piece of information that comes your way, whether online, on the news, from a friend or an acquaintance or whatever the source may be. You may need time, healing, space, and all of that is ok. In fact it is wise to consider what you allow close to your heart or into your mind, even if it is on the surface a positive thing, and especially if you are on your own journey of healing, recovery or overcoming something and learning how to thrive.
So, while you navigate your way through this pandemic, also be aware of where you are at personally. Perhaps you need to take some time to slow down, to think about this, and to take steps for strengthening yourself, regardless of where other people are at. It may be a learning curve but it’s one worth taking.
Guard your heart above all else, for out of it spring the issues of life.
I hope you’ve all been keeping as well as can be since my last post, last week. For a time I was writing a few posts a day, with a desire to keep up the momentum of encouragement. I feel that encouraging words are so important in these days, when words can and are being used for harm as we have seen in recent events across the world stage. However, although having the space of one week since my last encouraging post may not seem like a lot, I do want to be a consistent voice of hope and courage for those who need it.
The past week has had some challenges for me, however. Starting back at work saw some stressors, even with working from home. I had some difficult moments but various things got me through them. We have also had sad news recently of bereavements of friends of family in some tragic circumstances. I realise that some of you reading this may have faced or be facing quite overwhelming challenges in your lives. It can be hard to know what to say to comfort others or even ourselves during such times. It can be hard to know what to say in this pandemic where there is such loss. ‘This too shall pass’ is one of those old phrases that we often hear, sometimes passed down through the generations to give some kind of solace and comfort.
This moment won’t be as difficult as it is now, this too shall pass, things will change.
I find that only a small consolation, but what gives me True Hope is knowing that as things change and move on, my Unchanging God and Saviour Jesus Christ does not change, will not leave me, and holds me secure. It Is a Peace that goes beyond circumstances, but one I need to remind myself to focus on too.
When I was a child and was being bullied relentlessly in the first year of secondary school, I did not know that that season of life would ever pass. The following year I stepped away from the people who were destroying me, and I was all but completely alone, which was a significant challenge for a child in itself. Abuse, and then neglect, at school. In my third year I met nice, normal people who became friends, and although I didn’t entirely feel like I fit with the new group as much as they did with each other having knowing each other for years already, I didn’t feel scared for my life anymore. I could continue with life, with school, with getting by. Decades later, the impact of those two pivotal years is still felt. I’ve had major struggles with anxiety, complex PTSD, depression, disassociation and fear, low self esteem and even suicidal ideation when the PTSD resurfaced. And here I am today, with a home of my own, with a full time job, with the family I was born into, with friends, having travelled, and writing a blog to encourage other people. I’m still recovering from some of the mental and emotional scars but I’m able to see hope and a future in Christ, and I can use those difficult experiences for good.
Why am I sharing this again now? Because at the time, in that first year I felt crushed, broken, terrified, and in so much pain and agony internally that I didn’t want to live anymore. It’s a big burden for a child to bear. But I did bear it, and hear I am today. With wounds or not, that terribly dark season of my life that I didn’t see a way out of, not having any perspective as a child that things could or would change, has passed.
And this too will pass. Whatever it is you are going through, it will pass. This pandemic will pass. A while ago I started reading ‘The Murmur of Bees’, hardly knowing what it was about. It turns out that as I turn the pages I am reading about not only a revolution, but also about the Spanish Flu of 1918. Reading some of those pages feels like reading some of the news headlines and public health advice of today about quarantining, staying at home, keeping distance from people and sadly about bodies being sent to mass graves. I also read about the hope of finding a vaccine for the Spanish Flu. And guess what, it too did pass.
That’s not to diminish by any means the personal tragedies and losses that people felt along the way, but in terms of world events, things did change, they did move on, and perhaps there is a cyclical element to what happens in the world, but they didn’t stay the same, and in many ways they did get better.
Despite saying that I also believe that there will be a Judgement, when Christ returns to earth again, but we are being given time to repent, to seek His Forgiveness and to turn to Him for eternal life, new life in this world, and a Hope that cannot be denied. True Believers know of this Hope, of the Indwelling of The Holy Spirit, The tangible Peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding and the solid Hope of Eternal Life with Him, and a gradually transformed (or sometimes immediately transformed) life with Him on earth. Turn to Him for True Hope.
Perhaps there is a time in your own life that you can look back upon, a time that seemed like endless misery that you thought would never pass, but it in fact did and you are living new days. You may well bear the scars of those days, that season, you may still be in recovery from it, but you are no longer there. You have a chance.
Those days passed, and these will too. Look up, look to Jesus, and find True Hope. And even if you are not a believer, please try to hold on to hope that this too will pass.