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.
How many times have you been told that what you’re doing is all wrong? I know that I have been told this my whole life and like a fucking twonk I’ve gone and listened to them.
I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to pursue a career in something creative so I stayed away from those subjects in college and that made me unhappy. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t enjoy reading thrillers or romance because that is trashy literature, so I stuck to more critically acclaimed work and bored myself to death. I was told that liking Britney Spears meant that I had no taste in music.
But who exactly is it that is making up all of these rules? There are tonnes of people out there who work as artists and writers and they make a perfectly decent living so why couldn’t I have tried for a career in that field? Sure, it might have been a bit risky in the beginning but at least I would have been doing something I enjoyed. Same thing goes for the music and the books that I read. There are tonnes of people out there who consume these things so why can’t I?
The difference between them and me is that they were willing to take that risk and possibly look silly. If somebody embarks on a career as an illustrator and then they don’t get a single client they may have to go and get that office job with their tail between their legs. But what if they do get one client? Are they willing to live on beans on toast for a month because they only have one client and not a lot of money? For most the answer will be yes. They won’t care that they have to struggle because they have the balls to stand up to everyone and say that what they are doing is fulfilling to them and they are willing to challenge themselves to achieve their goal.
Likewise the person who listens to Britney Spears without shame or reads a romance on the train without hiding the cover from fellow passengers, is the person who is getting the most out of life because they are the ones that are living their true authentic life.
And then you get people like me, who worry constantly about what people think and where I am going in life. I’ve always believed that there is a manual for life that I somehow missed receiving. I look at people in the street and wonder where they got their manual from and how they keep it together. But perhaps if I just marched to the beat of my own drum a little more then I would feel like I am in possession of a manual too.
I am an INFP personality type and I know that I struggle to go against the advice of people because I’m worried about upsetting people and causing them problems. But then I’m upsetting myself because I am naturally inclined to want to do things that are creative and childish and whimsical. Let’s face it, most INFPs are like five year old children stuck in an adult body; if we could dress in unicorn themed clothing we most definitely would!
I have heard a lot of talk about people accusing others of not reading the bible right and this really confuses me. We can apparently read the wrong books, listen to the wrong music and pursue the wrong dreams in life and now we’re being told that what we take away from our faith is wrong too. We are all so different and surely if we are going to be happy and fulfilled we should be allowed to see things from our own perspective without feeling any guilt.
The Bible is so open to interpretation that I think it’s impossible for anyone to stamp their authority on it, and I think that in doing so we are shutting out so many people who need to find love and compassion.
My favourite story was of a pastor going into a prison and speaking to inmates and they studied Matthew 21:12-13 where Jesus went into the temple and overturned the tables belonging to the merchants, setting free the doves that were being sold.
It was a fairly innocuous study session but one of the inmates was so moved that be broke down in tears. The pastor asked him why he had cried after the study and the inmate told him that he realised that following Jesus was going to set him free and he realised this because the doves had, in his mind, represented the speckled dove pills that he had sold as a drug dealer on the streets. Now, I doubt that many people interpret that passage in that way but this man did and it had such a profound effect on him that it changed his life. Surely that is the point in reading the bible and following Christ, right?
So next time somebody tells you that you’re doing it wrong think about whether you are or not. If you’re not hurting anyone and you are bringing yourself some sort of fulfilment then surely it’s right for you. If you want to make music but you have no rhythm, bang on that drum and have fun. If you want to create some art but you don’t know the difference between oils and acrylics, just do some finger painting and see what you come up with. The chances are that there will be someone out there who actually likes what you make so be weird and be really proud of it.
And the bible is just like any other piece of beautiful art. Your life and your history is going to colour what you take away from a reading of it. But, if you take away a message that is positive and good for the world around you then surely you’re entitled to that viewpoint, right?
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