There’s a girl I work with who is an absolute force of nature and so ‘together’ for a person of her age. She’s another one of those people I have met and the first thought that has entered my mind is that she has been parented really well.
Most of us who have broken bits have them because of the way we were brought up, and that’s not me playing the blame game. No human can bring up a child perfectly; we’ll always damage them a little bit.
But this girl is particularly impressive and I wondered what her parents were like. She was telling me the other day that her mum wants to retire from her job so that she can run an alpaca farm. I thought this was quite a funny thing to say so I asked her what her mum did.
I expected her to say that she was a lawyer or a CEO but she replied that her mum was a vicar.
Firstly, I nearly choked on my coffee as I hadn’t expected that AT ALL. Then I thought that actually that made a lot of sense because this girl is so cool, calm and collected. Of course she was brought up by a woman who can comfort people in their darkest times and then fight for money at council meetings an hour later.
Anyway, I was chatting to her today and we were talking about how to talk to the students about Russia. We have some nervous students and I always worry that I’ll just make them feel worse.
This teacher said ‘we tell them that, yes it is a scary time, but the world has been through this before, and good always wins eventually.’
I walked away thinking that was just the most perfect thing to say. I need to live with a vicar for a while so that I can say perfect things in the perfect moment.
PS I would definitely visit her alpaca farm (and I’d probably never leave).
I had a conversation at church today because I’ve had a lot of battles in my mind and I felt like I just needed to speak to someone about it.
I don’t know about anyone else who is a Christian and came to faith as an adult, but I’ve always had this nagging feeling that I’m evil and that I’m going to be one of those people that is going to hell. I feel this even more because my mum doesn’t talk to me and I feel like you do have to be really evil for your mother to turn her back on you.
I have got to the point where I’m questioning myself and whether or not I’ve deserved the abandonment. However, speaking to someone at church they told me that she has pushed the whole family away, not me.
It’s just interesting that we hang onto the feelings that we have as a child that if our parent is angry at us we must have done something wrong. Perhaps that’s just me as I do know that it was something I explored when I went to counselling.
Since I was really small I was always worried that my mum was going to kill herself because of me and those feelings have lingered into my adult life. Whenever I upset her, as a child, she could sometimes disappear for days or wouldn’t speak to me for weeks. I thought that was quite normal but at therapy I was told that it’s bordering on neglect.
My point is, that we carry a lot from our childhoods and being a Christian has sometimes really not helped me at all because I feel like there is no such thing as a loving parent; their love must always come with conditions.
I’m working through this and I think that I need to read my Bible more and listen to talks and remind myself that there is love in this world, and anyone who is feeling the same as me needs to be reminded that too.
I’ve written about my faith and how I’m struggling with it at the moment. And not in a ‘I’m not sure if I’ve got it right’ kind of way. I mean in a ‘I hate everything that comes from this’ kind of way. And that genuinely makes me so sad. Because my faith has brought me through so much, and I genuinely think that everybody needs to believe in something bigger than themselves if they are going to thrive in the world.
But there is something about Easter that just refreshes what I know I’ve always felt. Christmas can sometimes bring out the worst in people because we are all so stressed, trying to make it the best ever. But there isn’t that stress that surrounds Easter. And if you have a Christian faith, then it’s obviously a very powerful and emotional weekend.
I’m only bringing this up again because I just went shopping and rather than nipping around the corner, I decided to get in the car and drive across town. This meant that I had twenty minutes in the car, listening to the radio. And on the radio they were talking about the crucifixion and playing songs by choirs and choristers.
It just made something bubble up inside of me. I’ve been hating God for the problems in my family, but the truth is that it’s inherently human to go through all of these things. These weekend is celebrated to remind us that Jesus suffered that pain.
I sometimes feel like I have wavered at the first hurdle with my faith. I almost gave up when the first bad thing happened. Almost. But not quite.
A couple of years ago I went to a Christian festival called New Wine. It’s a week in camping accommodation, just completely surrounded by worship and people who really love God.
At this point I would like to say that I am a Christian but I do have a bit of an up and down relationship with God. I would also like to say that I’m also at my happiest when I’m feeling that my faith is strong, so take from that what you will.
Anyway, I went to this festival and I loved every minute of it. And on one of the days I went to a talk in a little marquee. It was a brilliant talk and at the end we were asked to stand up, close our eyes and repeat after the speaker. We chanted lots of affirmations about how we were worthy and loved in the eyes of God.
I felt a bit self conscious while we were doing it, but by the end of it I had the strangest sense of peace and love. I’ve always been intrigued by things like The Secret and what power we have within ourselves and this got me thinking a bit.
My mother was a really negative force in my life and everything seemed to collapse with her whispering in my ear. She was negative because she didn’t want to see me fail and to hurt, but at what cost? Did her love actually crush me into half the person I was supposed to be?
Now I try to repeat those positive affirmations and it does have some power. Whether it’s a mystical power that depends on vibrations, or it’s just a psychological switch that gets flicked, I don’t know. But I do know that there’s something in it.
I’d love to know about other people’s experiences with positive affirmations and meditation and prayer. Has it made a difference in your life? Has it brought you good things? Or is that not what it’s about for you? For me, it’s just about feeling like a whole person who has purpose and has love in their life. And that’s all that any of us can hope for, really.
In the words of George Michael we need a faith, a faith, a faith. This whole situation that we find ourselves in at the moment is just too difficult for our human minds to comprehend. So it only makes sense that we find something bigger than ourselves to lean on.
I know that there are a lot of people out there that are extremely resistant when it comes to religion. There are wars fought over it and blood shed. But in everyday churches around the world a lot of people find a lot of peace and solace. There is community there and love and compassion. These are all things that we need by the bucket load at this moment in time.
And even if organised religion is not something you are willing to participate in, it’s so helpful to have something bigger than ourselves to lean on. We are all still like toddlers and we need a parent figure and God is that!
In addiction recovery, finding our own higher power is such an important part of keeping sober. We have proven that human power cannot rescue us and many will attest that handing everything over is so important.
And in the world today, so much control has been taken away from us. We can fight it and get angry and stressed, or we can hand it over and just accept where we are. It’s hard but it’s a beautiful process. We constantly slip and start to fight life again, but take notice of it happening and then get back on the right path.
The God question came up in conversation today and I felt like it was something that I wanted to talk about because it is so interesting. I believe in a Christian God, but I really had to sit down and think about what a Christian God is.
I have a lot of friends who are agnostic and believe that God is nature or something similar. They are dead against organised religion, but interestingly, they do need something bigger than themselves to lean on.
Today, I spent a bit of time thinking about this and how God can be different things to different people, when He seems to have a positive impact on these people, regardless.
I think that this is because our minds are just too narrow to comprehend what God really is. We have to make our own version so that He fits in with what we can understand. I think that if a being created everything in the universe it is impossible for us to understand what that being may be like because we don’t even know how it all started or where it will end. My brain goes to mush just thinking about it.
I hope that you all have something to believe in during this strange and scary time. It really helps to feel like there is a loving presence that is in your corner and that has a listening ear in times of trouble.
I’m obsessed with pleasing people and as a result I tend to dance around a topic without ever getting to the point. It’s just so hard to be direct and speak my truth, knowing that it MIGHT upset someone. Anyone else have this problem? Anyone else a people pleaser to a fault?
Because it’s something that I’ve really struggled with, Proverbs 27:17 jumped out at me and almost knocked me out with its power. It was randomly picked out at a recent talk that I went to and it felt like I was just meant to take that verse and meditate on it for a little while this week.
How can people pleasing become a problem?
My biggest problem area when it comes to people pleasing is at work. I get so scared that my boss or my colleagues are going to hate me that I refrain from making comments or asking for things that I need. I worry that if my boss takes offence to a request I make then he may start to make my life hell.
I know that a lot of this stems from issues that date back to my childhood and actually have very little to do with my current boss. But the fact remains that I still get anxious about speaking my truth when it might not go down well. This means that I often get lumped with shifts that I really can’t do or doing tasks that I don’t feel equipped to carry out. I just muddle through it all to keep the peace.
What can Proverbs 27:17 teach us?
Proverbs 27:17 reads ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’. In some translations the line reads ‘so a friend sharpens a friend’ or something to that effect.
This could be understood to be quite a brutal verse as it conjures up the image of an axe being sharpened (not something I normally want to practice on a friend)! However most people actually tend to read it in a much more positive light, and being the author of a blog about patience and kindness, I choose to read it in this light too!
So how is this positive?
It is positive if we view ourselves as the axe that NEEDS sharpening to make us better people. Even if the sharpening process is quite brutal it is something that will make us more useful to others because we are no longer dull and blunt. It hints at the fact that friends have the ability to sharpen us in this way because they can practice tough love on us. Being tough on us is OK because we know that their intentions are good and the outcome will only make us better.
This, in turn, means that we must speak our truth if we are going to get the full benefit of this sharpening process. If we pussy foot around the issues that are on our hearts, not really getting to the point, then our friends can’t shape us. We will miss the opportunity to get their opinion and form a more balanced view of the world.
So, as promised, here are five reasons why we must make sure that we say what we really think:
It holds us accountable. If we tell people about all the things that we want to do then there will always be somebody there to support us and push us along when the going gets tough.
It encourages us to be vulnerable. I adore the teachings of Brene Brown and I truly believe that showing our vulnerabilities is the way to true forward motion in society. Speaking your truth is scary because it opens you up to all kinds of hurt and criticism, but it can also deepen relationships and help you to grow as a human being.
It will make you a stronger person in the face of criticism. Once you have spoken your truth and had people disagree with it a few times you’ll feel far less sensitive about it going forward. If we want success in life we need to be able to withstand the bullies out there that are going to laugh and poke fun at our hopes and dreams.
It sets out boundaries. This is what I need to improve in my work situation. The more I practice this sharpening of my blade and saying that I can’t do something despite the shame I feel about it, the less and less I will be taken advantage of. At the moment I’m seen as a soft touch and the manager knows that I’ll say yes to anything he gives me.
It makes us shinier, or less dull. This can only help us glorify God because the shinier we are, the more people will look and the more they will want to follow our example.
I hope that you, too, can use this verse to make yourself more confident in voicing your feelings, thoughts and needs. Remember that the striking of the axe might seem like a violent act but it makes it more useful. The axe doesn’t get hurt in the process, it just becomes better at it’s job.
Sorry, a bit of a rambly one tonight, but it’s my blog and this is the thing that is on my heart….. Tonight a large proportion of the British public will be sitting in front of the TV to watch Children In Need. This is a charity that the BBC launched in 1980 and has become a much loved fundraising event. Schools and workplaces across the UK take part in the fundraising efforts every year and a tonne of money is collected for amazing causes.
I don’t know how other people feel about these TV charity events, but I absolutely love them and I always have. I love the day of the event when we all dress up and do crazy things and then I love the TV show in the evening. I’ve been watching it since I was really little and, unsurprisingly, I’m watching it this evening.
But it’s the segments that show where the money is going that really gets me. As somebody who is super sensitive it can have me in tears during just a five minute segment. So far tonight they have already shown a group of kids who have cycled across the country despite facing real hardships in their lives. There have also been kids that have undergone awful rounds of chemo and if that doesn’t pull at your heartstrings then I don’t know what will.
It’s really made me think about charity and the part that it plays in our lives. I truly believe that we are all connected on a really deep and spiritual level and when we give to people who are in greater need than us it levels the playing field and makes our connections much stronger. We start to share in each other’s pain and also the successes and highs. And really this is what life is all about; we don’t get lasting satisfaction from a designer handbag, but we do from knowing that we’ve changed a life.
I also find that watching Children in Need makes me realise just how lucky I am. Some people have had the most awful time and quite often it has all been out of their control. It shows you how quickly life can change and how you must learn to hold onto the good times and cherish them as you don’t know what could be around the corner. It teaches me to feel much more content in the life that I have. I have a roof over my head, food in the cupboards and my family are all healthy. So many people can only dream of these things.
I pray for these people that I watch tonight and I hope that they can find some peace in their lives. I know that not everyone who reads this is a Christian but I do find a lot of comfort in the words that I find in the Bible and it helps me to know that our suffering is always for a purpose. I don’t know what that purpose is all of the time, and that is what makes life so difficult to navigate. It’s hard to understand why a young person could get cancer and I know that this is the reason a lot of people don’t have a faith. It’s difficult, I can’t understand it and it’s painful to see and to experience but I think that knowing that we are loved, no matter what, is sometimes the only thing that soothes my fears.
Well done to all the people who have put the work in to raise money. It fills my heart with all of the emotions to watch it and I will most definitely be donating this evening.
You can donate and see further details at the BBC website
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Fear is just the worst emotion of them all, because what exactly does it achieve? If you were being chased by a rhino or found yourself in the middle of a battlefield then yes, I can understand how a bit of fear would be useful. But in our everyday, western lifestyle? Not so much.
And yet, it is an emotion that absolutely paralyses us and stops us from even trying to go after so many of our dreams. So how do we overcome this emotion that is sometimes strong enough to make the anxious ones of us physically sick?
There are several steps that you can take to reduce the fears that you have and start working towards the things that we really want. And we can do it in a way that is kind to ourselves and those around us. The last thing I would want is for us all to turn into a bunch of ball breakers who stomp on other people to get what they want.
So how do we do it? Is there a magic button that we can push to make it all go away? Do we have to fork out for expensive therapy? Is there a book that we can read that will reveal all? The answer to those questions are all no.
Really the only way to get over fear is simple trial and error. Runners can only get better at running by going out and doing it every day. Champion chess players can only win tournaments by playing chess every day. And your fear of a particular thing will only go away if you start doing it over and over again.
Fear becomes debilitating when you stop and think for too long. I have anxiety so I know that once I let something lodge in my mind, my brain runs with it. For example, if my boss gives me a sucky rota for a couple of weeks running, the sensible thing to do would be to go and speak to him about it the moment I’m feeling uncomfortable. However, for people like me, I tend to sit on it and then I start to worry that he’s giving me these terrible shifts because he hates me and then I start to reason that he hates me because I’m evil. The whole thing quickly spirals and before I know it I am terrified and have no control. It would be scary to speak to him but it’s far scary to go down that rabbit hole that I have just described.
With this is mind here are five actionable tips that you can put into practice when something starts to frighten you:
Go ahead and do it anyone. Unless it’s going to put you or anyone else in danger, what’s the worst that could happen.
Remain kind and loving towards other people. If you know that you have kept your side of the street clean then you have nothing to be ashamed about. A lot of people feel shame at being frightened and this is another strong emotion that is avoidable and useless. Just don’t lash out at people because you’re afraid and they are far more likely to help you out.
Retreat from the situation and take stock if you have to. I don’t advise you do this all the time as it can give you the opportunity to give up altogether. But sometimes a quick breather before you go charging in can be really helpful and stop you from doing any of the lashing out mentioned in the above tip.
Watch other people do the things that scare us. Quite often we are scared because we didn’t have good role models in that area when we were growing up. My mother was a great at caring for me but terrified of anything career orientated and so this was something I struggled with throughout my twenties. Now I’m learning from others and I’m coming on leaps and bounds.
Pray. Just turn to God and ask for love and guidance. I often find that spending some time in prayer or reading the bible just gives me that feeling of being wrapped up in a blanket so that I can’t get hurt. It helps me feel like I can go into battle and come out the other side intact. I often come out of this time of reflection just knowing what the answer is. It’s the not knowing the outcome that is the scary part but if you know that you are safe and that you are loved, these fears tend to melt away.
So go and tackle that thing that you were worrying about. If you’re worried about it you’ve probably already had the time to breathe and retreat so get out there and have a go.
I often try to imagine diving into my fears in much the same way as getting into cold water during my swimming days. I could either edge in bit by bit and drag out the inevitable moment when I would have to just start swimming. Or I could just dive in head first and get it out of the way. It’s far easier to just take that deep breath and leap in!
I don’t get any money or any fame from making my art but it is still one of the things that I hold most dear to my heart. Because the very act of creating is what we are designed to do as human beings.
My favourite things to draw are the beautiful things in life. I like the sunsets and sunrises and I like the countryside. I love the way that the sky changes colour and the leaves turn golden at this time of the year. I love the ripples on water and the sound that it makes as it laps up on the edge of a lake or a beach. I’m not a great artist so I don’t capture it as fabulously as some, but what I do make is mine and that makes it special to me, in just the same way that I was created by God and I am special to Him.
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