Faith

Finding me

All I have ever wanted is to belong. Isn’t that what we all want?

I grew up surrounded by abusive relationships, marriage breakdowns and bitter individuals. I have seen families torn apart by anger that was incited decades ago. I was fought over in the courts. I have never known, nor perhaps ever will know the full story behind the turbulent childhood I had. But what I do know, is that I have always sought to belong, to be accepted, to be approved of.

Thinking I could rectify the past with good works, I have always strived to be good – good at school, good at horse riding, good at art. I was always in the top sets and always pushing myself but this was never enough to gain the love and acceptance that I craved.

I went to university to study, one of the first in my family to do so, and I thought would impress, but it didn’t and I left without graduating.

I felt like a failure. But God.

He didn’t need me to do anything to impress Him or make Him take notice of me. God had watched me all along, He never took His eyes off me. He knew me inside and out, and He was insanely jealous for my affection. When I turned to Him, aged 21, He became the Cornerstone in my life, the anchor for my soul.

But I still strived. It’s all I knew to do.

I thought I could make up for the past by creating the perfect family. I pinned my hopes and dreams on creating the perfect home, the perfect family. I married an incredible man and we begin to build our family, but even so things began to unravel.

Sometimes it’s only when we are on our knees that we remember to look up

I found myself spiralling in anxiety and depression wondering where it had all gone so horribly wrong. I found myself floundering, utterly lost and asking Who am I? What am I here for? Do I need to be a Wife? Mother? Speaker? Writer?

I cried out to God and His reply was simple; You are my daughter.

Ever impatient, I asked, so what am I supposed to do?

His reply; Do what you love.

I sat back reeling, because I didn’t know the answer. What did I love? Jesus, family, friends? No the answer to finding me wasn’t in who I loved but what. And slowly over the last five years God has been peeling me back later by later, to rediscover my loves.

Do what you love ~ Father God

When we bought our first house, God whispered into my heart to get a piano. I found a beautiful vintage one on FreeCycle and arranged to collect it. My husband thought I had gone insane and that it was a fad that I would get bored with, but three years on I still play my piano almost every single day.

Our house is in a busy area and it wasn’t until we lived somewhere so urban that I realised how much I craved the great outdoors. We make an effort to get the children outside the city and into the woods, fields and mountains as often as possible. Both Dave and I grew up in the countryside and we continue to feel such a pull towards a simpler, rural way of life.

And then there is my writing. I have written as long as I can remember. Poetry, stories, songs and later blogs. But only in recent years have I realised the power in sharing my musings. I have always searched for a niche, not feeling that I fit into the usual parent blogger or lifestyle blogger categories. God gave me incredible tools in essential oils to support my emotional and physical health, and lately I have used this platform to share more about my wellness journey with others.

So what have I learned in all this? That God has given me gifts and talents. He has given me hopes and dreams. And He doesn’t need me to ‘be’ anyone or ‘do’ anything. In the same way that I take delight in seeing my children come alive in their giftings, so too does God delight in me. I don’t need a label, or a category. I just need to rest in the knowledge that I am a child of God and do what I love.

I am still finding ‘me’. But there are less layers to peel back and she is starting to peek through.

R x

Standard
Faith, Parenting

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace

 

The words appeared to jump off the page straight into my heart. The impact was so physically felt that I had to sit down as I steadied myself for the realisation that I am HIS.

And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters
2 Corinthians 6:18

The truth is identity is something that I have struggled with as long as I can remember. My worth has always been found in my identity, in who I am, in what I do. If I fail at something, no matter how insignificant it may seem to others I take it so personally. I remember as a young girl of no more than 8, failing a spelling test at school. Now when I say failed, I mean I got 9 out of 10 answers right. Now to many this would be an astounding achievement; wow only one incorrect answer? Well done lovely! Yet I sobbed when I closed the door to my bedroom, away from prying eyes. This little girl was heartbroken because she had failed at the one thing that she could control in her life – her intelligence and academic success. She had let herself down, let her family down, those who were looking to her, willing her to do well, expecting her to succeed, relying on her to raise the bar.

And the word I got wrong?

Opportunity.

I can still see it now, written in smudged pencil marks in my spelling book. I had spelled it as oppurtunity not opportunity, and I remember being so distraught that I wrote that word out about a hundred times in the privacy of my bedroom to make sure I would never spell it wrong again.

Why? Because I craved the love and adoration of my parents. I so desperately wanted them to be proud of me, to want me. Because my daddy hadn’t been the man I needed him to be, because my  mom was busy raising two children single-handedly while I tried so hard to be a grown up girl. And grown up girls were good girls. They did their homework, they listened at school and they got good grades. So a bad grade meant I hadn’t lived up to the expectation, no matter how unrealistic that expectation had grown in my little 8 year old head.

24 years later and I still love words of affirmation. I still thrive in situations where I can succeed, where I can do good and where I am needed and noticed. That’s not to say that I do things just to get attention, far from it at times, however my love languages of words of affirmation and physical touch are the very same as that 8 year old girl sat in her bedroom all those years ago.

Perhaps this is why identity is so important to me. To me, what I do affirms who I am, my purpose, my usefulness, and I have spent years chasing dreams and trying to be the best I can be in the many phases of my personal life and professional career.

The truth is that I think that a lot of us are good at a lot of things. I have sought labels and titles, believing that once I achieve a certain position at work, a certain level of responsibility, a certain martial status then I will have ‘made it’. Only problem is that each time I reach the next ‘level’, the goal posts change, and along with it my capacity or my desires. All of a sudden I am not pigeon holed neatly into one box, I seem to fit into three and this does not sit well with my organisational OCD that likes to compartmentalise my life.

My daughter, don’t you know that your identity is not in who you are but in whose you are?

These are the words that caused my world to stop spinning just for a millisecond, as I held my breath, stunned at the truth being spoken into my heart by my Heavenly Father.

I am the Dad he could never be, I am the mother that you missed, I am the parent that holds you close on your darkest day, I never missed a single moment of your life. I was there at every precious milestone, when you first rode a bike, when you won a writing competition at school, I was there when you lost your loved one, I was there when you passed your exams, I was there when he betrayed you in the worst way, I was there when you made the decision to follow Me, I was there when you were baptised in My name, I was there when you married the man I created just for you and I was there when you gave birth to his children.

And I am still here now.

Still watching, still waiting, still listening.

So lean in close and hear my heartbeat.

Floored by the brand new revelation of God’s love for me, He gently told me;

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. Matthew 11:28 (The Message)

Stop striving, stop searching and simply be. Stop trying to control your circumstances, stop trying to predict the future and stop trying to conceal your past. Stop trying to be all things to everyone, stop trying to fix broken things and embrace their new shape. What if the road ahead doesn’t look how you had envisaged? What if the dream doesn’t come to pass as you had expected? What if the path isn’t clear but is in fact blurry, with the final destination hidden from view?

Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. Learn to abide in Me, learn to trust in My plan for you my daughter. Learn to rest in my arms and enjoy the view. Learn to embrace a love you could never earn.

Because His grace covers every sin, every circumstance, every history and every hurt, every disappointment and every failure. Because it gently guides and never causes guilt. Because His timing is perfect and because you deserve it.

And so today I fall at His feet, fall in love with my Saviour all over again, and thank Him for loving me.

And I start to learn the unforced rhythm of grace in my life.

R

 

 

Standard
Faith, Parenting

Where does your report come from?

going to schoolSo we had our annual end of year school reports home this week. It hardly seems five minutes since our eldest started school!

I am pleased to say that ours was very good, although my son eyed me warily as tears (of pride) began to fall whilst I was reading it! He has come on in leaps and bounds over the past year which was his very first in formal education. I was quite overwhelmed by just how well the teachers knew my son, which sounds silly when you think that they spend each and every weekday with them for 40 weeks or so! I don’t think I fully realised or appreciated the lengths that teachers and teaching assistants go to in order to build relationships with and meet the needs of their pupils. I am one very thankful mama and I love that these special teachers have taken the time to know my son as well as I do.

Whilst reading the report, I was reminded of how much my school reports meant to me as a child. I was what you would call a very conscientious (read geeky) student who just loved to learn and loved to please. I was so desperate to make my teachers and parents proud of me, and their comments in my paper report had the power to enlarge or destroy my spirit. I would take negative comments and criticism so personally, and beat myself up over the smallest error such as a spelling mistake or an A- grade.

I have since learned that my top love language is words of affirmation (no surprise there then!). I have realised that words are weapons that can wield great power in my life and the lives of others. My careless comments or the whispered words of others can penetrate the very soul of a person, piercing their heart and causing irreparable damage that can last a lifetime.

I have often based my worth upon what people say about me, on what their report of me is. This can be so incredibly dangerous though, as our thoughts and opinions can be influenced my mood, tiredness, anxiety, illness or previous experiences rather than the truth. The best person to report on another is one that knows him inside and out. Perhaps this is why I was so surprised that my son’s teachers knew him so well, surely as his mother, the one who bore and raised him, both his father and I would be the only people to really know what makes him tick?

There are of course many things that a parent will know about their child better than a teacher (and vice versa in some cases!) and since becoming a Christian I have learned that the only person who could know be better than I know myself is my creator God. He knit me together in my mother’s womb, He watched me take my very first steps in this world, He leaned in when I learned to talk, and delighted in me when I started to discover my giftings. He was heartbroken at my tears when I sought love and acceptance through people and things that could never offer me what my heart craved. He was overjoyed when I found Jesus and gave my life to Him. He reassured me that He would never abandoned or betray me, but His love would envelope me, encourage me and equip me for the good report He had already written for my life.

I am still learning each and every day, and pray I will never cease to do so, but the difference in me since becoming a Christian is that I no longer look for the reports of others but for my report from God. I find my identity, my value and my worth in God’s word, not through comparing myself to others, grasping for worldy status and approval through achievements and material gain. I find my worth in the scriptures which declare

‘…I am fearfully and wonderfully made’. Psalm 139:13-15

‘ For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10

‘For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus’. Galatians 3:26

‘Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.’ Luke 12:6-7

‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ 2 Corinthians 5:17

‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ Philippians 4:13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

‘Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect’. Romans 12:2

Yes it is good to please others, your parents, your boss, your friends or your spouse, but don’t rely upon a good report from them in order to know who you are and feel loved and valued. Find the glowing report created by your creator in the Bible, who states that you are His creation, His masterpiece, His treasure and let this truth transform you today.

R

Standard