Happy 1st of March 2021, dear friends. It’s a new month and a chance to take stock once more and to dig deep and find some new resolve. To look up with faith and trust and to remind ourselves that we just need to live one moment at a time.
Whether today finds you rejoicing or struggling with life, know and be reminded that you are valuable and that you matter. That you have it in you to take that next step. Whether or not you’ve got through February in a way that you are pleased with or not, know that you have the chance to begin again, today.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, go gently forwards and remember always that you are not alone.
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
It’s mid-February, and just as I’ve been getting my home ready with more springtime-like décor, and putting away the last of the remnants of the winter season, guess what? It has started to snow!
Yes, the snow that didn’t fall here over Christmas time is beginning to fall now in not-so-sunny Scotland. We had expected storms, rain and lashing wind, all of which we got, but for me at least, the snow was a surprise. It’s lovely to watch from indoors, especially as just now it’s quite calm with no wind, so I guess we just may as well make the most of the prettiness before having to step into the great outdoors once again, and before the weekend’s forecast storm sets in!
I live in Scotland, and this year, it has been a long long winter. Granted, much of our weather is on the colder and rainier side throughout the year, however, we had some of the heaviest snow we’ve had for a few years. Now, that in itself wouldn’t be so bad had some of these snow days not stretched right into March, with rainy and wintry spells during early April as well. There has also been forecasts of snow to follow towards the end of April and even into May!
So if you’re from a warmer country and think it unusual that we walk around in summer clothes on what you would consider a sunny yet cold day, perhaps even wintry on your scale, you might understand a little better how excited we get to have our little dose of warmth and sunlight.
I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to finally see some sunny days as we approach the beginning of May, and we know that we can’t predict a long hot summer, and that we have forecasts of rain intermittently between those sunnier days, so we really do lap up the goodness when we can. At last, the parks are full, people are out walking their dogs, running, skateboarding, cycling, meeting with friends, and the birds are noticeably chirpier as they sing their little springtime hearts out!
There are few things in life sweeter than basking in the warmth of the sun streaming through your window. Time seems to slow down on days like this, especially when we have a cool breeze as well so that we can enjoy the warmer weather without feeling stifled by it. We wake up slowly into life again. Time slows, and the simple things, like listening to the sound of birds, relaxing in the warmth, enjoying nature, and taking time to notice the here and now, take on a richer significance in our experience.
The best things in life are free, and we embrace them when we can, for many are not so fortunate to be blessed with both sweet weather and peaceful circumstances….we are not cocooned from the troubles going on in the world, and yet, the sweetness of the simple things in life is still to be enjoyed and appreciated, that as we are refreshed in our souls, we can give out more love to a world that so greatly needs it.
So my little gift is to share with you the joy of spring’s arrival in a cold country….the weather forecast for tomorrow is rain…so we make the best of each season of life as it comes to us, and share with each other the goodness along the way. Be blessed. xx
February, being the shortest month, has swiftly drawn to a close, and March ~ the month in which we expect spring to have sprung ~ has promptly arrived.
However, here in the United Kingdom, as anyone who is familiar with our obsession with talking about the weather will know, spring, summer and in fact all four seasons can be a little unpredictable. At least *that* is something we can be certain of!
Here is a delightful scene for the first day of spring!
Snow and sunshine has graced the first morning of spring. However, despite how pretty this scene looks, the Met Office has declared a ‘Red’ weather warning since yesterday – the highest level – with possible further disruptions and risk to life as the ‘Beast from the East’ as the Siberian chill and moving weather patterns has been termed gives way to what the Spanish and Portuguese meteorologists have named ‘Storm Emma’, coming up from the South. Emma and the Beast! What a combination!
This gently beguiling scene veils the travel disruption, cancelled trains, hundreds of commuters stuck in airports and ‘stranded’ in their cars on the motorway for over 12 hours since last night, early office closures and increased call outs to emergency services. For a cold country perhaps we are a little ‘light weight’ when it comes to dealing with the varying forms of precipitation we intermittently face. Perhaps Canadians and New Yorkers and people from other regularly snowy countries and cities would laugh us to scorn at our inability to take such storms and snow flurries in our stride. However, the snow has brought out a brighter side to things. The crisp cold air, and beautiful natural scenes of trees and parks blanketed in white, the snow ball fights, gleeful children during their school closures and people sledging and having fun have all been something to bring a smile to the heart.
However, as much as we Brits talk about the weather, the true essence of these musings is a little deeper than the 18 centimetres of snow this city saw at one point. As the snow thaws in the sun, and seasons change, we realise too that our lives are passing, fleeting and as much as we long for the predictability and familiarity of seasons clearly demarcated as they ‘should’ be, our lives are actually often windswept by unexpected change, unpredictable events, uncertainty and consequently anxiety. We strive to pull out all the stops to regain control such as shovelling away the snows of doubt and worry, hoping that with enough effort we can clear our own paths and watch the unknowns melt away. Perhaps you are a seasoned warrior of change, or maybe a seasoned worrier with every uncertainty. Maybe you thrive on the adrenaline rush that living in the moment and embracing the unknown brings. However, regardless of your temperament, I believe that as human beings, at the core we do need a root of certainty in our lives. Not the certainty of known events or situations or happenings as such, but something even deeper and more fundamental. We need to know, deep in our souls, that when the storms of life come as inevitably and sometimes without much forecast or warning they do, that we have something to anchor to, something that will sustain us in our deepest uncertainty, and something far beyond our meagre efforts to dig out a clear pathway for ourselves.
Do you ever think about such things when life is going smoothly for you? Do you find yourselves wondering what will hold you when you are in the eye of your life’s storm? Perhaps you are yet to weather any severe or significant storms in your life as yet, but how can you be certain that you never will? Perhaps you have weathered many difficult experiences in your life and wish that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. And maybe through your adversities you have gleaned great insights, or maybe you feel defeated, discouraged or broken hearted.
Your story, your life matters. It matters because you matter. But as you make your way through one changing season of your life to the next, what is your anchor? For me, through many storms, some longer lasting than others, I have found that nothing I can do can truly anchor my own soul, and the anchor which holds me, the rock on which I know I have a sure foundation in life is the Rock of Christ. Tried and tested, and found Faithful through every storm, and in the sunshine seasons of life too. And ultimately my Certainty and Hope beyond death.
What do you hold to? What or who holds you? Do you have certainty in your uncertainty? I would love to hear your thoughts, but if you’d prefer not to comment, then I hope you can find a few quiet moments to ponder and reflect upon your life, your uncertainties and what you have knowingly or subconsciously put your hope and trust in to hold you through all of life, as you embark upon this new season and first day of ‘Spring’.