Be quietened not choosing quiet

When I was at uni I got myself a small notebook and asked my friends to write notes, or verses in it as an encouragement for me. This was at a time when my brain was particularly frazzled. I still remember that this was the first time I came across the Bible verse Zephaniah 3:17. It is now one of the few verses that I know off by heart, one that I will share with friends, and even wrote on a pupils shirt on their last day of school.

I was reminded of this verse yesterday, as I was walking to school listening to my Bible in One Year podcast, and this was part of the Old Testament reading. It says (ESV)

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

As I said, I have read this verse so many times, I have shared this verse so many times, but yesterday I heard it in a new way, a way that I needed to hear it in.

Regular readers will know that I have spoken about ‘radio silence’ this is the phrase E has started to use when I shut myself off, when I refuse to reply to her daily and many texts, and this has now extended to when I don’t have a cuppa with D and hide in my room at work – sometimes even with lights off! This has been occurring more over the last year, as my situation has changed and as I have been struggling to cope with what has been going on.

But when I heard this verse yesterday I realised that actually, I’ve been dealing with things wrong. We are told in this verse God will quieten us with his love. When I’m struggling I hide away, but last week after E was particularly persistent with me. I decided I was going to write a blog but I shared it with her first. We came to the realisation that it was possibly a little too honest to be completely shared with the world. However, I shared it with a group of ladies who regularly pray for me.

The response I got was rather overwhelming, really beautiful messages of encouragement, as well as honest “I don’t know what to say” but what I have really felt is this sense of envelopment in prayer, in love, in encouragement.

Through not hiding away, and choosing my own quiet, and I have experienced God in my midst, rejoicing over me, rejoicing in me, quietening me, and exalting me. This has been partly through those friends who responded, but also because I’ve acknowledged what’s going on.

It’s easy to choose quiet, but we can also choose to allow ourselves to be quitened. One arguably involves more risk than the other, but will also be more effective and longer lasting.

I know what I’m going to try to choose … emphasis on the try!

Trying to find my way

I feel I write this a lot at the moment, but it’s been a tough week. There have been a lot of tears, I have been on radio silence a lot, and have definitely gone in to hibernation mode.

I feel lost… I’m not going to go in to detail, but it is essentially because of my brain.

However, today I have been reminded that I am on a journey, and that I need to be focussing on my compass rather than my map, my obstacles and baggage.

The purpose of a compass is to show North so that you can find direction from it. When I was a guide we spent many hours planning our route using a compass, and then using the compass when we got lost or when there was something else in the way on our route – to get back on track.

In my job I come across a lot of people questioning faith, I have to teach people to question faith, and so often I find that people aren’t convinced in God because of troubles in their life. I can honestly say that has never been an issue for me, why? Because God is my compass and that is what I need to remember.

Yes, I’m struggling at the moment, and I feel completely lost, but I need to go back to my compass, knowing that if I focus on that, on Him, rather than on my struggles, and what I feel I can’t do, then my compass will be my guide and my centring point.

It may well be a different route to the one I thought, and there’s bound to be obstacles, but at least I know where my focus needs to be.

So much easier to write than do!

Where two or three are gathered

I was not feeling great and had gone in to hibernation mode, so much so that I was on radio silence with E. I can’t really explain why, other than overwhelmed.

I knew that I was going to have to ‘put on the face’ after all I was meeting a friend for coffee and then having house group.

I was dreading it, I just wanted to curl up, but I had no need to worry. I was with people who knew me, and actually as I felt more at home with them I relaxed more and felt better generally.

I know that people are good for me, but that doesn’t help when you want to hide away from it all. Sometimes we have to make choices that go against it instinct, because we know they will have a better impact on us. It’s just about finding the strength to make those choice in the first place – that’s going need to be my job this year.

As E reminded me when I broke radios silence ‘where two or Rhee are gathered…there I am also’

Precious

I recieved an email from a friend this morning, and it made me stop and think.

I regularly email a group of awesome women who pray for me, and support me. Celebrating the highs and walking with me in the lows, lifting me up where necessary. I had sent out an email this morning about the start to term. It’s been a tough week but it’s been an exciting one as well.

The email received said ‘there’s a lot here, pace yourself precious’ – why did this stop me in my tracks?

Precious is a term used by E when messaging me when I’m struggling, usually with the words ‘take care my…’

I recall last week when I’d messaged E as some anxieties were going through my mind and as soon as she’d used the word precious I knew there was trouble! So when someone else used the term, when I thought it was a positive email – the alarm bells started ringing.

There aren’t many people I know who see themselves as precious, I know I don’t. I might say that I’m created and loved by God but I don’t think of myself as precious.

Both of these ladies are friends who have seen my journey, they can spot the things, the warning signs that lead to dark times for me, but they see me as precious and remind me of this as well, when I need to hear it.

The definition of precious is… of great value, not to be wasted or treated carelessly

We are all precious, we need to remind ourselves and each other.

You are of great value…not to be wasted… not to be treated carelessly.

Finding the sun

It was a bit chilly as I walked to work this morning. The sun was in the process of rising, and it was absolutely stunning. I would have taken a photo but my hands were full with it being the first day back!

So… it was rather chilly. It reminded me of the mornings in the caravan, when you’d put your leg out from the duvet and quickly huddle back up again. But then as soon as the curtains were open the sun came streaming in. It was lighter and almost immediately it was warmer.

The sun is quite phenomenal, it brings us light, it brings us warmth, it brings us life.

Over the last few days I’ve had some real surprise sunny moments, whether that be a 84 minute phone call with E, unexpected lunch with friends, or walking in to a room and seeing some people’s faces that literally made my heart leap. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I was in a dark place, but it was like those sudden bursts of energy you get through a cloud. Little forces of energy that help you along the way.

Sometimes though, we have to make the effort to find the sun. That may be opening the curtains, or going on holiday where you know it will be sunny. I have a number of things that I know bring me energy WHEN I do them, emphasis being WHEN – playing the piano, reading, spending quality time with the husband. But I know that I need to be the one who chooses to do them.

I also know that I can sometimes block out the sun, getting caught up in myself, my thoughts, my perceived inadequacies and inevitably hiding myself away. That’s when I need to open the curtains. I might not be able to open them fully straight away but gradually I can let the light in.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be a sun-chaser but I’m going to be trying to recognise the spontaneous sunny moments, and choose to let the sun in when things are a bit dreary.

Choosing to not control

I don’t know about you but it’s rare that I watch live TV anymore.

This is especially if it’s not on the two channels that frequent the two spots on most people’s menu – why? Adverts. I rarely watch them any more, and will choose to start a programme late so that we can fast-forward through the adverts.

However, this was not an option in the caravan, or in the B&B we’ve just stayed in. And actually, we survived. In fact I found the commercial breaks quite helpful, a good time to go and get a drink, put the PJs on, have a conversation without disturbing the programme, or, of course, the comfort break!

Breaks are essential in all aspects of life, we see it from the beginning and creation. I’m probably pushing this a bit far now, but we get to choose how we use those breaks, we can rush through them because there’s so much more we need to get done in that extra 10 ,minutes of time, or we can choose to just go with the flow, and make the most of the breaks as they come along. In our household we’re inevitably going to have to pause at some point anyway, so why not use the breaks we’re given?

On a practical not, this also stops the frustration with the person in control of the controls who isn’t paying attention and not fast-forwarding!

This is linked with wanting what we want, when we want it. Another reason we don’t watch a huge amount of live TV is because we have things recorded, or we use streaming services. This means that we can watch what we want, when we want it.

Again, not a possibility in the caravan. We had to rely on the scheduling of the people who’s job it is to schedule. Trusting that they would know what they were doing. If there wasn’t anything on, turning the TV off.

This again, helped with Switching off to power up

We have so much power over things like what we watch, that we can worry when that power gets taken away. But this can easily transfer to other aspects of life.

We think we could be in control, rather than trusting those people who actually have training and expertise.

Am I going to stop watching Recorded programmes? Probably not. But I’m not going to be afraid to turn it off, and do something else rather than finding, something, anything to watch, or take the time through the breaks rather than fast forwarding.

It’s handy to be given power and choice, but it’s often more liberating to hand that over to others, and just enjoy the experience!

Ripples

I usually use other’s photos for blog posts but this is my own, taken at Rye Harbour when I was away.

I find it beautiful, although doesn’t do justice to the vastness in real life.

The sea was quite far out, there was what felt like a pebble mountain to get down, and in between was the vast sand.

The beach was covered with these ripples, the result of the sea. I don’t know about you but I often associate sea with washing things away, building sand castles and fortresses only for them to be washed away. However, we sometimes forget the transformative power of it as well.

Under foot these sand ripples were rather hard, and I could tell that after the. Ext tide they would still be there. They would change, but they would still be there.

It is so easy to think that things in life will just go away. We may feel like we’re under water, but once the water goes away then it’s over, it’s done with. BUT we forget about the effects, and how long standing they may be. Yes, over time, they may seemingly disappear, but really it’s just become a part of who we are.

There is no one thing that defines who we are. We are a cumulative result of our many tides of life. We may think that some of the tides are harmful and damaging, but we need to remember that we are beautiful. We are also unique. No one has experienced the same tides that we have, therefore no one will have the same ripples.