Sunday, 29 July 2012

Heart vs Mind

The heart can do strange things to us. It can send us through a rollercoaster of emotions, make us feel physically ill, and yet totally euphoric. How is it possible that something so small, is such an essential part of us? It plays its part in our relationships, our emotions and of course, it keeps us living. Even when we feel like the voice of our heart maybe killing us.

Then you have the mind. Brilliantly logical, inexplicably clever, and yet it can twist our perspectives and turn the table on our emotions in seconds. It is also essential to keeping us alive. It is linked to every single part of our body, including the heart and yet the two things can be in complete contradiction to each other. The body amazes me and the power of the mind and the passion of the heart amaze me more still.

During my time in Montpellier I had a revelation of love, and what it means. I had once again begun to believe that love didn't hold a lot of power and that it was an overused word, thrown around by hopeless romantics like myself. I was taking love for granted. I am reminded of the passage in 1 Corinthians. It was read out at my Grandma's funeral a couple of years ago, and I think of her when I hear it. She was gentle, kind and loving, but she was also fiery, passionate and independent. She was by no means a wishy-washy soppy Christian, but a strong woman of God who took no rubbish from anyone, and treated everyone with love and respect. I also used to think that the passage made love sound soppy, but actually if you consider the qualities of love, it is something remarkable and extremely powerful.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."    1 Corinthians 13:4-8
 How many times have you been impatient? How many times have you let pride get in the way? How many times have you held onto what others have done wrong? How many times have you found pleasure in someone else's pain? How many times have you been hurt by someone you love? I read these few verses and I realise that I have probably been all of the things that love is not. I realise that if I have love, then these characteristics will come too. And there is immense power in that. The power is the ability to see past fear, failure, imperfection and jealousy and to love not because of these things, but in spite of them. It says in the bible that God IS love. This means that despite all of these mistakes and all of the ways I have fallen short, God has met me. He has made me his child and embraces me, as I am and without any need for perfection. He protects me.

Even though I make mistakes, even though I have made him angry and jealous by turning my back, he is a graceful and merciful father whose love for me is wild and completely fierce. In Hosea, God loved his people in such a fierce way, that their betrayal created a passionate, violent anger.
"Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open. Like a lion I will devour them; a wild animal will tear them apart." Hosea 13:8
This seems really bleak, and I struggled to reach the end of the book. But God told me to keep reading. Every so often, amongst the pain and anger were promises that would give me hope and relieve the sense of fear that the betrayal had created. A relief, because I would be able to return to him and call him husband instead of master (Hosea 2:16). He would call me his "loved one." He will promise me to him forever, and he will always love me. He wouldn't do this because of something I'd done, but because of his mercy. He would do this because he is love. God is the embodiment of love and a demonstration of the power that comes with it. And that same God loves me.

It is too easy for us to forget that this is the case, and for our mind to distort our perspective, and embitter our hearts. But if we can take the truth to heart then lies cannot harm us and they will not move us because we have been secured in the arms of God, as his beautiful, perfect children.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Recently, I was back at school. It was the one day of the year where everyone gets together to celebrate the success of the school year and generally show case the pupils' talents. In the past, it was a ritual I hated. A long time on a Saturday morning in June, spent in a theatre listening to speeches, watching dances, and seeing prizes given out. I would be bored and hungry by the time we left the theatre and once back at the school had the prize giving to look forward to (which was only enjoyable if you got an award).

But, since leaving the school I have returned voluntarily for the last 2 years. Why? You might ask, would I choose to face the possibility of being stuck in a theatre for hours on end? The school holds amazing memories for me and it gives me an opportunity to revisit the several years I spent there. It also reminds me how much I learnt, and how much I have grown and changed since starting there 10 years ago.

The day also reminded me how change is healthy. Change is exciting and it is scary. But it moulds and shapes you and I can honestly say that I am not the same person stood here today as I was, even a year ago. And I am probably barely recognisable from the girl who stood nervously on the porch steps having her photo taken on her first day at her new school.

But every so often that "new girl" feeling returns, accompanied by butterflies in the stomach and a conviction that I may not cut it this time. But each new experience has given me confidence and self belief which has changed my attitude towards others and myself. However, it has also reaffirmed the fundamental belief it has taken me all of my life so far (and probably my life to come) to accept: I am enough. I do not need to change.

For a long time, I believed that maybe, if I didn't have a penchant for bright colours, if I was witty, if I wasn't
such a klutz and if I was that much "better" than other people, maybe I would have a chance. Maybe if I could get just a few more marks in exams and course work, maybe then I would make the mark. But I was setting myself an unrealistic goal... each bar I reached would not be high enough. I am by no means saying you should settle, but that you should learn to accept a compliment and acknowledge your achievements and abilities. Jesus doesn't love me any more or less than he would if I were the next Einstein or a complete dunce.

So, sorry folks, but the girl with the robot jumper, and a tendency to fall over air is not going anywhere.