Tuesday, 24 April 2012

"I love you"

He watches her struggle through the day, barely able to stand at the end of it. He can see her soul is weary. He can see she is tired, tired of everything. But she has turned her back. It breaks his heart. She has distanced herself from him, because it makes it easier to pretend she is fine and makes it easier for her to survive the day. He can see what she tries to conceal. He sees it and it hurts him. It hurts him to see how she is crushed by the weight of shame she doesn't need, and how she is once again imprisoned in the cage that he released her from. The door is open, she is free. But she can't see it. She can't see beyond herself. She can't see beyond a single day. He is calling her, he is seeking her, but she can't see him. She doesn't want to see him, because she can't cope with the shame she carries.

She collapses. Exhausted, she slumps into the corner and curls into a ball. The tears begin to fall. She has finally allowed herself to break. She has finally accepted that she can't do this alone. She cries out to God and he is there. His gentle hand wipes away the tears one by one. She looks up at him and realises that he still loves her. Even though he knows what she did. He loves her.

"I forgive you. My child, I forgive you. I love you. Do you not see that?"

She could see it, but she couldn't bear to. It was too beautiful and heartbreaking because, still the guilt haunted her. She clung to him with all she had left and sobbed. He held her there, wiping away the tears until the last one fell. He dried her eyes and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. 

"You are beautiful, my daughter. You are everything to me. I have always loved you and I will love you forever."

He still loved her. She couldn't believe it. She loved him too. More than anyone in the universe. She wiped her eyes and gazed up at him. 

"I love you," she whispered. "I love you more than anything." 

His heart sung. She loved him. She still loved him. She wanted him. She hungered for his love, and she was His.

He was the only one who made her whole. He was the only one who could set her free. She found refuge and strength in his presence. Could he help her to see her true worth? Could he help her to escape the prison she created? She needed him. Now more than ever. She began to have hope. She knew it would not be in vein. When had he left her side? When had he turned his back? Never. It was she who had lost hope. It was she who had lost faith. It was he who restored her each and every time she fell. It was he who took her back each and every time she strayed. And she still couldn't believe her guilt had been washed away. She still couldn't believe she was as precious gold and not tarnished copper to Him. She would never be able to comprehend this truth, but she began to rejoice in it and the burden began to ease. She will face this, she will get through it and she will cling to the strength and light of her perfect Father; The one who will keep her safe in his embrace for all of time.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

I'm fine.

This is probably the biggest, most commonly told lie in the book. I know that I am guilty of using it more frequently than I should. I will tell you one thing though, I very rarely get away with it. This is mainly because I seem to have a pathological inability to lie. It is so obvious. I go bright red, smile and sometimes, I even laugh. It is also not helped by the fact that my beautiful friends know me so well they can tell within seconds whether or not I meant "I'm fine." Sometimes they can tell without me needing to say anything at all. So is this apparent inability to pretend that I am fine a good thing?

Yes - I would argue that it is. This is because I spent so long pretending ("I'm fine" was the one lie I learnt to perfect) that I dug myself into a lot of trouble which left me broken hearted and reeling from the wounds it inflicted. Burying problems has never worked well for me, and I love that my friends can tell when I am not okay, because sometimes I get tired of fighting it. I get so tired of smiling and saying "yes I am fine." It is truly exhausting. But then I think everyone must do this. How many people actually know our real state of mind? I'm fine covers a lot of bases and it can also act as a wall, something that says "Please don't ask any more questions." or "I don't want to talk about it". Shockingly, sometimes it can even mean exactly what those two words say: "I'm fine."

It isn't weak to admit that things aren't great, and it definitely isn't weak to seek help and advice; in fact I see this as a sign of great courage and strength. But what puzzles me is that I can go to my friends with my problems yet, I don't want to take them to God. I don't want to show him the worst side of me. I spend so much time trying to convince others that I am coping, and so much time trying to be "strong" that I won't open myself up to God. And this is bizarre because God knows what is beneath the carefully crafted "act" I put on every day. He can see exactly how things really are and whether or not I am really coping. Yet, I won't admit it. God won't use my problems against me, he won't betray my confidence, he will simply want to help me piece together my brokenness. GOD IS LOVE. And when things are going wrong God's love never ever fails. He ALWAYS comes through.

God gave us the power to fight the problems we face. He gave us the authority of his name to remove the shadows they can cast over us, and the fear they can create. My own introspection can prevent me from seeing the bigger picture, from seeing the huge God I serve. He is so much bigger than the problems I face and he is the only source of truth in a world full of pain and brokenness. He is the only one who can truly heal the wounded heart. I can live like I am still caged by the fear of inadequacy, when that cage door has been opened and I can walk away from it. I can run to God's arms knowing he will meet me where I am at, tend to my heart and show me a better way.

This is what I need. This is the God I serve: healer to the broken, carer to the abandoned, father to the fatherless, love to the loveless and hope to the hopeless. I hold that  knowledge in my heart and I know that through everything I will continue to praise God, because I know he will always come through for me. Matt Redman says it better than I can:

"I can see a light, that is coming for the heart that holds on, a glorious light beyond all compare."
You Never Let Go, by Matt Redman 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Something Beautiful

Beauty inspires me. It is wonderful and captivating and bewildering. I see it in the small things, a simple look, a smile, in the landscape and even sometimes in my studies. But it is also the bigger things: the view of the Downs, the contrast of a tough man made structure against the softness of a blue sky littered with fluffy white clouds (I was thinking of how the Eiffel Tower looked against the skyline on my trip to Paris). It fills me with a magical sense of awe and wonderment. How can things which appear so simple and small capture my heart so completely?

To me they are all little love letters. Small notes to give me inspiration and remind me that my God loves me. They are there to lift my spirits when I am feeling low and they are there to keep me smiling when I am happy.

But to me, beauty can also be heartbreaking. It can seem like something totally unobtainable, something that will always be just beyond my reach. I think that this is what giving up make up for lent helped me to realise. It made me realise the value of beauty. It changed my definition of it.

I used to see beauty as something that wearing make up created. Without make up, beauty no longer existed. Without make up, beauty was wiped away and stripped from me.

But I have realised that beauty holds a much truer, deeper value. It is something that comes from the heart of a person more than anything else. It is shown in how you treat others and how you treat yourself. It is the values you hold and the relationships you have. Beauty already exists in every single person. It is not something you simply erase and it is not something you can create, because beauty already exists. Every heart aches for beauty. To be seen as beautiful, to behold beauty. It is at the very core of our being.

Beauty is more than skin deep.Yes, I love make up. Possibly even more than before. But I do not need it to feel beautiful. I no longer need to hide behind it. I no longer need it to feel adequate. I use it because I WANT to. Not because I NEED to. No woman should feel that they need make up to look beautiful. No woman should feel that without it they are inadequate, because this is so wrong and not what God says at all. He made us in his image. He made us perfectly. He therefore, made us to be beautiful. Make up does not create this beauty, it merely enhances it, and sometimes it can even conceal it.

So what is most beautiful to me?

  • A heart given entirely to God. When I see people who have a heart for God, worshipping Him with everything they have, giving everything, my heart sings and I am filled with joy.
  • Love. This is clich├ęd I know... but it is true. Love is one of the most beautiful emotions I have ever experienced. It is also the most painful. But as I said, beauty can be a heart breaker as well as a healer.