Saturday, 18 May 2013

Waiting For The But

Complements. They're difficult things to accept. You can smile and say "thank you," but do you ever really take them to heart? Do you ever really believe the encouragement you get given? Sometimes, you meet people who genuinely believe you are wonderful, they start to tell you this and you begin to shrink away and feel uneasy (or is that just me?). I think it's because we see ourselves in the times when no one else does. We know ourselves better than anyone else, or at least we think we do. We know every single lump and bump, and every single imperfection. We know the thoughts we have and I bet we'd be truly scared if people could see inside our heads sometimes. So when we meet someone whose opinion we value and care about, the "getting to know you" process becomes that much more terrifying. They scratch the surface, and explore your heart, and the more they see, the more you worry that they will find something they don't like. For every "you're amazing" there's a voice saying "but you don't know what I have done, how I feel about this, or that." Something within you wrestles with the complement because you feel that you know different. You see all of the mistakes which make up your past, and all of the flaws which diminish your character. You see all of the bad habits you've formed over the years and you see all the ways you could mess up. Thus, accepting a complement becomes very difficult. On the surface I smile and accept it, but underneath there are a thousand questions spinning around in my head, and a thousand counter arguments to whatever positive thing has been said.

When the person/people are important to you, your own flaws become luminous. For me, it's like someone has gone over them with a fluorescent hi-lighter and said here: look. This is why getting close is a bad idea, because yes they think you're amazing now, but what about when they know about those crisps you ate or the chocolate you had last night because you felt anxious? What about that tendency to get snappy when you're tired, or how pale & drained you look when ill? What about the days when your bed seems like the only safe place? Or the ones where you could just cry endlessly for no reason? Or the days when you won't believe a single positive word about you? What about the people you hurt  growing up? Or those people you mistreated? Or the times you've relapsed? When those special people see these parts of you, what if you don't seem like a viable choice any more? What if it falls apart?

This is a very real fear, and no relationship is without risk. Whether it be friends, family, or a significant other, every single deep bond comes with a risk. And that risk never gets any less terrifying to take. Someone (I think it was in a song) once described it as a long walk off a short cliff, and you had no idea what awaited you upon landing: loving arms, or the unforgiving ground. But unless you take that risk, you never find out.

At this point the important thing to remember is that Jesus, already has an opinion of you. And it isn't just "Yeah, you're cool," it's "You are incredible, I love, value and treasure you." Again the voice of doubt pops up and says "Yes, but, did you know what I did?" And do you know something incredible? Jesus knows everything about us. He knows all of our mistakes, he's seen those thoughts, yet he loves us the same. The perfect creator knows exactly who you are and he says that you are worth it. He loves you fiercely and completely. He is the centre point in a world where validation and acceptance can seem impossible, and he accepts and loves you. 

So when you take that leap into the dark, remember that the one who is at the centre of it all has already chosen and loved you. And he will continue to do so forever and always.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


I am half way through my degree. It's a pretty bizarre thought, it wasn't that long ago that I was a nervous fresher, terrified of pretty much everything. I don't think I am the same person I was when I started uni, it's taught me a lot. In order to get here though, it' s been tough. I haven't enjoyed this year. It's been full of boredom, pain, sadness and stress. Not a great combination really, but if there is one important lesson I can take away from it; it is the power of progress. Do not underestimate it.

Whether you've written 1200 words in a day or 100 words, it is still progress and it is still 100 words closer to the end goal. Whether you have done 5 hours revision or 30 minutes, it is still revision and it is still 30 minutes more than you had done before. And that helps. It isn't by doing nothing that you reach your end goal. Even if you feel like you are wading through treacle, you are still wading through it, you have not stopped making progress. More often than we'd like to admit, progress is hindered by the belief that it isn't enough, that it is hopeless. Why is it hopeless? You are still closer to the end goal than you were before. You are still further ahead than when you began. That has to count for something. We don't climb mountains or run races by some super power, they are done one pain staking step at a time until you reach that goal. 

And I think in our walk with God, we almost certainly underestimate progress. It's about the small steps of faith and the small acts of obedience which lead us to Jesus, and lead us to be closer to him. Whether it's putting an extra £1 in the offering, or simply telling someone you go to church or are praying for them, those are all acts of obedience, they are all acts of faith. Never underestimate that, because each declaration you make that Jesus is king of everything, shows your character, and don't think God won't see the heart behind it because he will. He always does, and no matter the size of the gesture, Jesus loves that you are putting him first. And he rewards our obedience, and heart for him. After all isn't it by the baby steps that we learn to walk?