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)

Behind the times…

My impression is that with the millennium, style and makeover programmes were all the rage. Maybe it was something to do with leaving the past behind and putting on the new. I’m not a follower of fashion, but such was their impact, that even I was aware of Trinny & Susannah and Gok Wan being fashionistas!
Stylists advise regularly taking a fresh look at one’s wardrobe to keep it up to date, and it strikes me that an analogy is to be had with our inner lives – what do we cling onto when it really doesn’t fit? What is outdated and needs replacing? What doesn’t really reflect our personality?

Out with the old, in with the new

Past experiences, including childhood circumstances, teenage tribulations and adult adversities, all have the potential to keep us behind the times. Truth is, I can sometimes slip into old thought patterns. Recently a friend commented that I don’t recognise my own value. Bang on, and it reminds me I have a choice. To continue to clothe myself in self doubt and dismiss the affirmation of others, or to step into the present and see myself as my friend sees me, as someone who quietly uses their God-given gifts, often in the back room.

Isn’t this true for all of us, that sometimes the past pulls us back? Echoes from the playground, the classroom, the office, or the clique in the corner, can catapult us back into previous life.  But we needn’t slip back into old thoughts and positions, like donning old, outgrown clothes.
As a child I loved the story of the Elves and the Shoemaker and the picture of the Shoemaker making perfectly fitting new outfits for the Elves.

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In a sense this is what God does for us today. Renewed and resourced, we can put on our true colours and be even more our true selves. Maybe for some it’s having the courage to try the ‘next size up’ in an area of life to see how it feels, while for others it may be to try something different.
As Gok says:

It’s all about the confidence

No more being behind the times then, in our inner lives!

Truth is… Baptised… you are clothed, so to speak, with the life of Christ himself. (Galations 3:27)