What to wear…

‘What to wear’ is a topical question. With increasing concern about exploitation of both people and planet, questions are rightly being asked about the true cost of cheap fashion, and at this time of year, questions are being raised again about the pressures resulting from school ‘proms’, both financial and personal.

What we wear is something we can have strong feelings about from a very early age.
50 years on, I still remember the discomfort of having to wear a bright pink jacket. As a ‘shrinking violet’ it made me feel uncomfortably conspicuous. What was worse, it was bought for me with ‘growing room’, so as a slow growing child it blighted me for a long time!

Truth is, my desire to be inconspicuous came from a deep-seated lack of confidence. Decades later, an intuitive nun gave me an anonymous poem called Life’s Lessons from a Butterfly:

Let go of the past

Trust the future

Embrace change

Come out of the cocoon

Unfurl your wings

Dare to get off the ground

Ride the breezes

Savour the flowers

Put on your brightest colours

Let your beauty show

Putting on our brightest colours has nothing to do with buying fast fashion, or being the belle of the ball. It is about becoming our true selves and living life to the full, rather than being constrained by self-doubt, fear, guilt, anger or self-pity.

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There are many threads running through the Bible about clothing, and followers of Jesus are urged to clothe themselves in right attitudes. There’s a particularly eye-catching passage in the Bible, which the Message paraphrases:

…dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline… (Colossians 3:12)

That’s a wonderful wardrobe to wear, and as a believer, I trust God’s choices for me.
God knows how we measure up, and will not offer us, clothing that is ill-fitting, unsuitable, or inappropriate. So let’s step into what’s being held out to us…

Truth is… Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:14)

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

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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)

Turning Point…

Truth is, I have an irrational fear of getting lost, so any unfamiliar journey requires the presence of satnav ‘Sean’ and his reassuring brogue!
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On life’s journey too, I need a ‘satnav’ to gently but persistently, keep me on track.
Something that has recently helped with this, is participating in The Happiness Course.
This wasn’t a flimsy programme advocating false smiles, but offered a robust route to true wellbeing.

The Happiness Course has helped me check my position on life’s journey.
Am I aligned with my core values?
What are these?
Do I need to change any of the choices I’ve made?
Some big questions, and as a result I’ve found myself getting into gear
– starting a blog being one outcome!

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Being human, I will no doubt, veer off-course at some point.
Normally this happens when self-doubts overwhelm me.
For a number of reasons, I grew up feeling I didn’t matter and I wasn’t good enough, and this sometimes causes me to lose my way.

Thank goodness then, for the presence of an inner satnav (which I believe to be God) voicing a different opinion.
And it’s an opinion which I believe God has of us all – that we are infinitely lovable.
Life is an endless opportunity to learn this, and it probably happens most in the ‘pause’ moments.

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Have you noticed that when we’re not where satnav wants us to be, there is the pause while it works out the best route to take – and only after this silence (which can seem endless) are we given a new direction!

I think this is what it’s like in life.
Sometimes I get the niggle that I’m not following God’s hopes for me,
but at times like this, if I can pause and allow truth to penetrate,
a sense of direction appears – like ripples spreading out on water’s surface…

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How about you, where are you at?

Truth is… ‘If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it”’ Isaiah 30:2

 

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