Why is it that we are so quick to cut ourselves down? So often we are swift to reject praise and instead point out our failings and our limitations. We’d rather see the negative than the positive. Perhaps it is a defense mechanism or perhaps we don’t want to come across as too “full of ourselves”, but the fact remains that as a society we seem to have difficulty in accepting ourselves.
I for one can always be relied upon to compare myself to others. I care too much about what other people think, I am a die-hard perfectionist, and I will always feel that I could try harder or do better. Whenever my boyfriend tells me that I’m beautiful my reaction is often along the lines of “meh”, rather than “awk thanks”.
Now it seems to me that this way of thinking is somewhat destructive. So often we choose to listen to the lies around us and inside of us rather than the still, small voice of the Heavenly Father who not only created us but delights in us. He affirms us, he accepts us, he loves us…why should our attitude towards ourselves be any different?
I know I waffle on about this a lot, but in Ephesians God calls us his masterpieces.
That’s a big deal.
No, we’re not perfect. Yes, the world will probably think we’re uncool and a bit crazy. But if what God thinks of us is ultimately all that matters then why to I sometimes try to enslave myself to the world’s idea of perfection? Freedom is not something to be feared.
(Mumford springs to mind here…
"Love; it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be”)
Knowing that we’re accepted and loved just the way we are is hard. We cannot get our heads around this outrageous grace and love that God soaks us in.
Living that acceptance out in our day to day lives can be even harder.
It means placing our security in Him, and not in ourselves. Not in other people’s opinions or perceptions or reactions, but in His unfading, unshakeable love. I’m still figuring out what that looks like.
There’s a verse in 2 Corinthians that has been going around for my while now:
"…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Cor 10v5.
So that’s what I’m trying to do: to align my self-criticisms and disappointments with what God says about me. To choose to believe his love and his truth rather than my destructiveness and lies.
You are loved.
Today I caught myself thinking “I want to be her.”
In one sense, this is not a bad thing. The friend I was with is one of the most beautiful (both on the inside and out!) and inspirational women of God I have ever met, who brings joy and laughter wherever she goes. Aspiring to reflect the same qualities and characteristics is not a bad thing in and of itself, that is a natural result of being around inspirational people.
But it got me thinking about how much we compare ourselves to others. About how we are so quick to see our own failings or weaknesses, and to focus in on these. There will always be somebody else who is better, quicker, more beautiful…and we allow this to affect our self-esteem, our self-perception, and sometimes even our self-worth.
Why do we find it so hard to accept ourselves? Yes, we should recognise and admit our weaknesses and our mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we should flee from knowing our strengths. Or our mediocrity.
God has created each and every one of us just as we are. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, his “masterpiece”s. We are uniquely formed by the creator of the universe.
He doesn’t want us to become a copy of x, or to fully replicate the life of y.
He wants you to be you.
Warts and all. :)
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3.17
So let’s be bold. Let’s learn to accept and acknowledge who we are. Celebrate being you :)
I think sometimes we worry too much about the future. I know I am constantly striving for what is coming next, always impatiently rushing on to the next thing.
I really want to live abroad in Brazil or Africa or somewhere and work with street kids. To show them that Jesus loves them, that He hasn’t forgotten them, that He created them.
Ever since I was 18 and went to Uganda with Abaana, this has been my dream. My 4 year degree is finally over, and I’ve just signed up for another (technically) 2 years by deciding to do a PGCE in Primary teaching.
So often I catch myself thinking “just two more years and then I can go.” It’s as if I think my life will begin when I hop on a plane to some foreign field. But actually, recently I’ve really felt God challenge me to live my life NOW. Not constantly thinking about tomorrow, or what life will look like in 5 years time, or when I’m in Africa or Brazil, but now.
God has placed each and every one of us where we are for a reason. He has a purpose and a plan for us here and now, not just when we finish our studies. That means when I wake up tomorrow and have a free day stretching before me, that new day is just as important as a day in, say, 10 years time when I could be working in a slum.
No-one knows what the future holds, there are no guarantees. God doesn’t owe me anything.
I need to grasp this. I need to live life in the moment more. Yes, I may end up going abroad one day, but right now my life is split between Northern Ireland and Durham.
Let’s grasp the beauty and the joy that He has in store for us TODAY. What would it look like if we lived each day for Him like it was our last?
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
”Behold, I stand at the door and knock… (Rev. 3, 20)
It is true. I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it could be Me, I am there. I await even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter.
And I want you to know that whenever you invite Me, I do come – always, without fail. Silent and unseen I come, but with infinite power and love, and bringing the many gifts of My Spirit. I come with My mercy, with My desire to forgive and heal you, and with a love for you beyond your comprehension – a love every bit as great as the love I have received from the Father (“As much as the Father has loved me, I have loved you…” (Jn. 15:10) I come - longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds. I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My power, that I might carry you and all your burdens; with My grace, to touch your heart and transform your life; and My peace I give to still your soul.
I know you through and through. I know everything about you. The very hairs of your head I have numbered. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you – even in your wanderings. I know every one of your problems. I know your needs and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you – not for what you have or haven’t done – I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in His own image. It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin. But I love you as you are, and I have shed My Blood to win you back. If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life, and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.
I know what is in your heart – I know your loneliness and all your hurts – the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations, I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain, by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passing pleasures – with the even greater emptiness of sin. Do you thirst for love? “Come to Me all you who thirst…” (Jn. 7: 37). I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine – to the point of dying on a cross for you.
I Thirst for You. Yes, that is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I THIRST FOR YOU. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you – that is how precious you are to Me. I THIRST FOR YOU. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials I THIRST FOR YOU. You must never doubt My mercy, My acceptance of you, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you. I THIRST FOR YOU. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I THIRST FOR YOU. Open to Me, come to Me, thirst for Me, give me your life – and I will prove to you how important you are to My Heart.
Don’t you realize that My Father already has a perfect plan to transform your life, beginning from this moment? Trust in Me. Ask Me every day to enter and take charge of your life. – and I will. I promise you before My Father in heaven that I will work miracles in your life. Why would I do this? Because I THIRST FOR YOU. All I ask of you is that you entrust yourself to Me completely. I will do all the rest.
Even now I behold the place My Father has prepared for you in My Kingdom. Remember that you are a pilgrim in this life, on a journey home. Sin can never satisfy you, or bring the peace you seek. All that you have sought outside of Me has only left you more empty, so do not cling to the things of this life. Above all, do not run from Me when you fall. Come to Me without delay. When you give Me your sins, you gave Me the joy of being your Savior. There is nothing I cannot forgive and heal; so come now, and unburden your soul.
No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget Me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life; there is one thing I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change. I THIRST FOR YOU – just as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in My love, for it will be your belief in My love that will change you. You forget Me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day – standing at the door of your heart and knocking. Do you find this hard to believe? Then look at the cross, look at My Heart that was pierced for you. Have you not understood My cross? Then listen again to the words I spoke there – for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: “I THIRST…”(Jn 19: 28). Yes, I thirst for you – as the rest of the psalm – verse I was praying says of Me: “I looked for love, and I found none…” (Ps. 69: 20). All your life I have been looking for your love – I have never stopped seeking to love you and be loved by you. You have tried many other things in your search for happiness; why not try opening your heart to Me, right now, more than you ever have before.
Whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear Me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in spirit. “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake Come to Me with your misery and your sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all your longing to be loved. I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open to Me, for I THIRST FOR YOU…”
My revelation this week has been that we just don’t understand God at all. We literally cannot comprehend how wonderful and awesome he is, or how mighty His love is, because He is just too big for us to ascertain.
We try and place Him in a box, and impose our human limitations upon Him, but he is God.
I know I have this revelation a lot, but we just don’t get it.
See the Bible tells us again and again just how incredible God is, and all the things that He can and does do, but if I’m honest I can get a bit sceptical. I really want to believe it, but sometimes, actually, I’m quite happy with my little comfort zone. To fully surrender my life to God, literally all of it, and to live by His quiet whisper terrifies me. But it shouldn’t.
This attitude is not ok. It’s understandable, of course, but there is so much more to life, and to God. Perfect love casts out fear. We get so caught up in the here and now that we forget how God loved us so much that He rescued us in our brokenness to spend all eternity with Him.
Because He delights in us.
My friend Clare (who is wonderful) and I were talking about this tonight. God is passionately persuing us with his outrageous love, and so often we don’t realise it because we’re too busy running sideways, getting distracted. Like crabs.
Crabs go sideways.
Personally, I think God wants us to be more like lobsters. Lobsters (according to Jim) go forwards. Not sideways. Forwards. That way, when God is passionately pursuing us, we run straight to Him. Not sideways, dodging Him because it’s more comfortable, but straight into His loving arms that are desperate to enfold themselves around us.
We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
We, as the church, are Christ’s bride. How beautiful an image is that? Being at the age where it’s acceptable to get married, marriage is something that I think about a lot. Maybe being the bride of Christ is an image that doesn’t sit well with guys, but anybody who watches Friends will know that lobsters mate for life. God wants us. And not just for now, or for a Sunday morning, but for all eternity.
So basically, let’s be lobsters, not crabs.
Because He loves us, and that is enough.
My friend Mel is amazing. Have a read of this.
What a tragedy it is to find out you are dying. But even more tragic to find out you never truly lived.
Try and take risks.
Do. Action is everything; it is all you leave behind.
Stop making excuses. Do not complain.
Travel and explore.
Forgive - always. No exceptions.
Never forget. Never regret….
*Do not read me if you do not want to be disturbed. The statistics are horrible and each one is a life.*
Anyone who has spoken to me for more than 5 minutes knows how I feel about street children and people who have been trafficked. Their stories break my heart. I can’t get them out of my mind. I have met street kids in Romania, Uganda and Rwanda. Different names, different circumstances, but the same harsh reality.
My latest heart break is Brazil.
UNICEF estimates that there are around 500,000 children involved in the sex industry in Brazil. And I literally mean children. 8 year olds selling their bodies to truck drivers in order to earn enough money to sustain their families. 11 year olds charging 4 reals a time (the equivalent of £1.47).
Brazil is considered to have the second worst Child sex trafficking record in the world, beaten only by Thailand. There are more than 240 organised sex trafficking routes throughout the country. Sex tourism is a booming industry. The worst is the BR-116 motorway, along which at least 262 child prostitution places exist. That’s just one motorway.
These children, these girls, they are more than just numbers. They are precious daughters of our creator God, and He is weeping over them. He has not forsaken them, He has not forgotten them. He is there with them.
It makes me so angry. And I don’t really get angry. So imagine how it must be making God, their Heavenly Father feel.
Last night I finished reading a book called “Remember Me, Rescue Me” by Matt Roper. I wept my way through the last 100 pages. Having worked with street girls in the favelas of Brazil, Matt Roper travelled around the country researching child prostitution. His book is wonderful, but it is not an easy read.
I literally had nightmares last night that I was in Brazil and unable to save these girls from being trafficked. All I want to do is pack in the degree, jump on a plane, and go love those girls. To give them a way out. To care for them when everyone else seems to have rejected them. To try and be like Jesus to them.
God is just and He will not forget these girls. They are so precious to Him.
Pray. Because our God is mighty. x
Do you have a spare fleecy blanket that is feeling unloved in your cupboard? You know the one I mean - the one that is slightly faded or only comes out when you’re REALLY cold but otherwise just sits on the shelf feeling alone. I have an idea that will give your blanket a sense of purpose in life.
Every Friday a bunch of friends and I head to Newcastle armed with some soup and some sandwiches. We wander about looking for our homeless friends, and sit down to have a chat. Sometimes they just take some food and carry on, but other times we’re priviledge to learn their life stories (or get a cookery lesson like we did tonight!)
Occasionally we take some scarves or gloves or blankets, but tonight we didn’t have enough. A few guys asked us if we’ll bring them blankets next week, and I’d love to keep my promise. Back in January I slept out on the streets of Durham, partly for the experience, and partly to raise money and awareness for the street boys of Uganda that I’ve worked with. But homelessness isn’t just an issue in Africa. It’s something people are forced to cope with every night here in Durham, in Newcastle, in Belfast. Trust me, it’s cold on the pavement.
So if you fancy donating a blanket, it would really make David’s night. If you don’t have one, or don’t want to, that’s ok. I’m not trying to guilt trip anyone into parting from their lovely fleeciness.
But if you do fancy grabbing a blanket from tescos/a charity shop/your attic, and flinging it my way (preferably after paying for it!), please do get in touch. Even if you’re not in Durham, I’ll work something out.
PS…if you want to come with us on a friday night, get in touch too :) x
About a week ago, I was walking through Durham town centre on my way to a lecture and I saw something that made me think.
An elderly lady had fallen over just opposite Greggs and two or three people were gathered around her, including a police man. They formed a circle around her, blocking off…