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.
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
Looking for the rainbows through the coronavirus storms, I was encouraged by how many people initially reached out to others who were in need at the start of lockdown. Many of you have been faithfully doing what you can to use your abilities to help and serve other people.
It can be easy to lose sight of that as things change. Many of us have had time to reflect upon the ways in which we don’t want things to go ‘back to normal’. While we are compelled to walk into a ‘new normal’ we also have the opportunity to forge out a better way of living life as a society.
The risk is that as we go back into society, we lose sight of the lessons we have collectively learned about humility, giving, self sacrifice (especially those front line workers who gave up time with their family, even gave their own lives to help others), kindness, compassion and taking time to think and advocate for others.
I’m hoping that we will see a shift in heart attitudes and behaviour. I’m wondering whether we might see some of those positive changes reflected in how we shop and our behaviour collectively at Christmas this year for example. I hope we’ve collectively had a ‘change of heart’, but then we do still contend with the tendencies to hoard (toilet paper?!) and look out mainly for ourselves.
As restrictions ease and many of us will enjoy greater freedoms, it’s good to bear in mind that there are still people for whom things haven’t changed much. People who have been shielding for instance and who don’t feel confident enough to risk their own health by going out, people who may have had more contact online but don’t have connections in real life and who may become forgotten about once people start ‘getting back to normal’. We’ve learned lessons about prejudice, about vulnerability, about mental health, homelessness and hardships in our society, and had more time than our previous busy lives would have allowed to take it all in. Many of us have cared deeply and tried to do something to help.
Now, however, it can become all too easy to forget. To become self-focused as we get excited perhaps about the things we can do once more. Not everyone will be in that position. While we can’t save the world, we can bring kindness to it. We can be intentional in thinking about those in our friendship groups who won’t have families to connect with, or may have to continue to stay indoors for various reasons. Some may be grieving the loss of loved ones from the coronavirus. We can take time to remember the causes for social justice that we were touched by and patiently, humbly continue to do what is right.
So, to sum it all up, let’s allow the deeper lessons we have learned to stay with us, to take the opportunity to make the ‘new normal’ into a ‘better normal’, and to keep remembering to think of others for whom life will still be hard, and to be kind to ourselves and each other in the process.