Surprised by joy!

I was pleasantly surprised the other day, when someone close, described me as ‘joyful’.
Truth is, life doesn’t always feel full of joy. It’s often full of the unexpected, like my partner having unstable health, and various other challenging circumstances (which have prevented blogging recently). So it was lovely to know that despite all this, joy seeps out!
Feelings are not necessarily the same as facts. I may feel overwhelmed at times, but deeper facts tell me a different story. As Mother Teresa said:

“I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much” 

I find a refreshing humour and hope in this.

So what is joy? I believe it’s what bubbles up from a deep connection with God, and there’s something special when this flows over into other people’s lives – for both the receiver and the giver.

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Joy is different to happiness.
Happiness is a feeling, and feelings are generated by circumstances. They’re changeable, just like the sea. Sometimes the sea of life is calm, and all is sunshine and light.
Other times it’s dark and stormy. We are tossed about, and happiness can be swept overboard before we know it!

Joy though, is deeper. Its source is God, and rises from the depths.
However much positive thinking I do, I cannot make myself truly joyful – deep joy comes when I plunge the depths and am honest with God. It gives me the sense that there is more to life than meets the eye. It gives me a different, lighter perspective, and nudges me onwards and upwards.
It’s there for everyone. We just need to dip our toe in – in all our messiness and hurt and uncertainty. When we allow ourselves to be surrounded by God’s current of love, joy will seep into our inner selves and swell our hearts. It will make a difference to us, and those around us.

There’s a family joke that my epitaph will be ‘She was a maker and a mender’. Spot on, but to be thought of as ‘joyful’, is even better!

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Truth is… “[may] my joy be in you and your joy be made full” John 15:11

Woe or Wow

There’s a roundabout in a nearby town that for a few months each year is breath taking – wild flower seeds have been scattered, and during the summer months it’s a mass of colour as different flowers bloom alongside each other.

I happened to drive round it earlier this week and my response was ‘wow’, but I also felt a tinge of sadness as autumn is setting in and blooms will soon be fading.

Beautiful Wild Flower Wild Flowers Flowers

Truth is, I’m not a winter person. I don’t look forward to the dark and the cold, but of course seasons are necessary for life to flourish.
I’ve just planted a mass of bulbs in the garden. You wouldn’t know it, as there’s nothing to show for my efforts, but I’m confident that next spring they will emerge from their deep dark setting. And that’s the point – it’s having hope in the waiting.

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This week a number of people have talked with me about the waiting time they are in:
Waiting to find work that matches their abilities and qualities; waiting for true friendships; waiting to feel more settled in a new role; waiting for an assurance to materialise; waiting for the baby to sleep through!
Many of these situations are waiting for sown seeds to take root and shoot.

As I think about these people, and my own ‘waits’, I am mindfully letting go of ‘woe’ and holding on to hope that there will be a ‘wow’ in due course:
No longer will that person be a square peg in a round hole; connections will be made; there will be a settling down; it will happen; and yes, broken nights will end!

So the roundabout flowers remind me that there are cycles in life. We have times when we visibly blossom and flourish, and other times when development is less obvious as it’s under the surface.

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And maybe these times aren’t all dark, for under the surface, seeds and bulbs are protected from harsh winds, driving rain and freezing cold. So much is happening even though on the surface it appears not, so I for one, am going to trust in what I cannot see!

Truth is… But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience’ Romans 8:25

 

The tide has turned…

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Do I hold the record for procrastination?
For years – 35 to be precise – I’ve felt a niggle to write.
I’ve even had titles: ‘Images & Reflections’ dates back to 1982 when I was working at the Abbey on the Isle of Iona, but guess what, I’ve just discovered that 10 years ago someone else produced ‘Iona: Images and Reflections’, so I’ve long missed the boat!

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Thank goodness then, for a very patient God, for the tide has turned within me.
I’m now charting new waters and have decided to venture beyond my ongoing journals.
There’s been a shift and I’ve decided to blog.

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Writing for me, is a way of making sense of life from a faith perspective.

God, our creator, has high hopes for us, urging us to discover our true selves,
but so much can get in the way.
Truth is, self-doubt and fear of failure are just some of the seas I’ve been sailing.
These fears have left me wrecked at times, but I’ve never been beyond God’s rescue.
Time and time again God has helped me to my feet,
yet rather than letting go of my fears, I’ve often let them hold me in their grip.
At worst I’ve not let God take my hand, I’ve been afraid of the unknown.

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Now though, it’s time to change in a deeper way.
It’s time to ‘put my hand into the dark and find it held.’
How about you? Do fears sometimes knock you off course?

The good news for all of us, is that it’s always ‘better late than never’
and it’s definitely ‘never too late’ – whatever form our particular procrastination takes.
So let’s not look back with regret, but forward with hope.

Truth is… I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me’ Philippians 3:13