Stumbling blocks or stepping stones…

I tend to stumble and my last tumble necessitated hospital treatment. I hobbled in but walked out with almost a spring in my step, thanks to an air-splint. ‘What a clever invention’ I thought, and proceeded to bash on regardless! But it turned out this wasn’t such a good idea, as it slowed healing and recovery.

As I reflected on my tendency to ‘keep on keeping on’, I realised that there are times when this isn’t the best move. Life has cycles and seasons, and so do we. After a time of activity or demand, we will probably need a slower time when we recover and regain strength. Sometimes though, I think I can over-ride the need to stop.
I know I’m not alone in this. There are many who find it hard to take a break – only this week a friend emailed along the lines of ‘why do I have to reach my limit to feel I have a right to sit and relax?!’

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It’s a good question to ask ourselves when we find ourselves going around in endless circles of activity.
Sometimes our activity is a natural consequence of where we are in the life-cycle. If we have children, they rightly require our care and commitment; if we are employed, we will have agreed to a contact. Such activity is par for the course.
But other times our unceasing activity is unnecessary and ultimately harmful. It can distract us from paying attention and working through uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, or it can perpetuate poor self-worth with the feeling that we don’t deserve a break.

I believe that God has called each one of us to life, and so we are intrinsically full of worth. Some of our life experiences may tell us otherwise and we may find ourselves driven to prove ourselves, but we need to reconnect with God who delights in each of us.
Truth is, deep hurts mean I struggle with this, but I do believe in a God who offers a way forward. It takes honesty though, and that’s why it’s important to pause at times, and open ourselves to the love of God that shines light on the matter. Then our stumbling blocks will become stepping stones…

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Truth is… ‘I make all things new, beginning with you, and starting from today’ (Song: John L Bell, Iona Community)

Pay attention!

This week I nearly killed a Red Kite.

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(Overseas readers – this is a large bird of prey and a protected species.)
But before you report me for coming close to breaking the law, I should add that this definitely wasn’t on my ‘to do’ list on Tuesday!
I was in fact, driving along a main road when a Red Kite swooped down immediately ahead of me.

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With nothing behind, my instant reaction was to brake hard, and the slowing of the car gave the Kite a split-second opportunity to change direction and soar up and over.
Fast response prevented a collision, but there were other factors too that contributed to relief all round.
I was driving in a speed restricted area so I was travelling at 40 rather than 60 mph; my deafness makes me visually highly aware; I have quick reactions.

All this got me thinking – how do I ‘travel though life’?
At a ‘speed appropriate to current conditions’, with ‘due care and attention’, and responding in a ‘timely manner’?
Truth is, not always.
Sometimes my ‘to do’ list drives me forward without stopping to check out priorities. I’ve therefore had some timely reminders this week:

Just as a speed limit increases the chance of drivers responding in time to pedestrians (and Red Kites!) so too are there benefits from slowing down as we travel through life.
It gives us the chance to notice what’s going on around us, and become aware of who we need to ‘look out for’ – in all senses.

Just as an accident was averted because I was travelling with my eyes on the road, so too is it good to keep focused on what really matters in life.
It can be easy to lose sight of our core values and true goals. Fear, anxiety, impatience, doubt, and superficial desires can blinker our vision. But if we pause, and like a hovering bird get an overview, we can realign and respond to the currents around us.

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So this week, I’m very relieved not to be a killer!
May I remember to pay attention…

Truth is… ‘Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts’ Proverbs 3:24