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)

How’s it going?

There’s something special about new beginnings.
I remember how I enjoyed starting a new notebook in school – all those empty lines waiting to be filled with carefully penned words!
Or newly fallen snow like a blank canvas – lots of opportunity to be creative!
Or making New Year resolutions…

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…an appealing idea, but truth is, I never had much success in keeping these!
My solution was to use my January birthday as an opportunity for another fresh start, but this too was short lived.  ‘How’s it going?’ wasn’t a thought that had a pleasing answer – unrealistic goals coupled with a perfectionist streak equalled disappointment…

With age, and finding faith, I take a different approach. Rather than making New Year resolutions, I choose a ‘word for the year’ and look for daily opportunities to put it into practice. Last year’s word was ‘trust’ (there were plenty of opportunities!) and this year’s word is ‘grow’. It’s about aligning myself with God’s hopes for me, so that I become ever more fully the person I’ve been made to be.

Like a plant that grows in the direction of the light, our growth is dependent on being out of the shadows.

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But I sometimes choose to remain in the dark. Self-doubt shrivels me; wrong priorities misshape me; fear of failure stunts me.

Thank heavens then, for a God with endless fresh starts for each of us.
We cannot live in the past, nor in the future. We can only live in the present moment, and like a present, it needs unwrapping. What have we been handed?  A little blessing to appreciate; a chance to make a small difference to someone’s day; an opportunity to face the fear and just do it!
Some days we will do better than others, but the call is to

keep on keeping on

As a believer, I trust in a God who doesn’t give up on us, and so a sense of God asking ‘How’s it going?’ is an invitation to be truly honest. It’s an invitation to let go and let God; to do our best and let God do the rest…

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