Monday, 19 January 2015

Being Understood

“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.” Jeremiah 1:5

    My god daughter is three years old, and absolutely loves getting presents. At a family gathering a couple of weeks ago she was presented, to her delight, with a big bag of Christmas presents from an auntie. She was told by one person that she could look in the bag, but without realising this someone else told her off for opening it herself. As she looked up at the multiple pairs of eyes now focused on her, I saw the sparkle disappear from her eyes and she cowered in towards my knees. 

    I knelt down to pick her up, and told her that it was OK – she hadn’t done anything wrong, and we’d open the presents together later. After lots of cuddles and an enticing promise of visiting the soft play area later in the afternoon, she was back to her usual bubbly self. It was adorable, but it was also painful to watch. She had been misunderstood, and it had hurt. 

    I realised that at times I could recognise the same little-girl spirit in myself. When I feel misunderstood, my natural reaction is to retreat, to shy away or grow quiet. I need the security of being known and understood in order to fully be myself.

    We all want to be understood, and to feel like we’re truly known. Feeling known is how we feel that we’re wanted and valued. A split second of missing out on that security of being known can trigger an insecurity which lasts far longer. But human nature is fallible: we can’t possibly understand each other all the time. Every single one of us will have moments of insensitivity or self-centredness which make us oblivious to the needs of those around us. That means that if we rely on other people to provide that security, we’ll constantly risk being let down or wounded.

“It’s easy to touch up your outward appearance, to look as if you have it all together. Your attempts to look good can fool most people. But I see straight through you, into the depths of your being. There is no place for pretence in your relationship with Me. Rejoice in the relief of being fully understood. Talk with Me about your struggles and feelings of inadequacy. Little by little, I will transform your weaknesses into strengths.” Sarah Young, ‘Jesus Calling’ (Jan. 14th).

    With God we have no reason to fear the insecurity of being isolated or misunderstood. We are known intimately and completely. We don’t have to put on an act or pretend everything is OK. He knows every inch of our hearts, and His love and understanding are constant and reliable. If our first focus is seeking God rather than chasing after people, then security in our identity and worth is guaranteed. We are known and understood: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me” (John 10:14).

Sunday, 18 January 2015

God's Transforming Power

This is one of my closest friends' testimony of God's immense, transforming power in her life over the last few years - formed from diary entries from 2011 contrasted with the joy and peace she now finds in Jesus. God really has worked wonders in her life, and she now offers hope and joy to others in the same situation.


Start of 2011Start of 2015

That Feeling.
It feels like a huge weight is on your heart, every time you breathe in deeply, it presses harder. It's not something you can get rid of, no matter how hard you try, because, you physically can't do anything. You just want to, be. Be on your own, leave the world completely behind you, escape from the madness, everything, everyone...

Joy - a joy like no other - the amount of times I now get an overwhelming feeling of happiness that I just want to share with everyone! Gratitude – my heart could burst with gratitude – I feel so blessed, with how God has been working in my life, and with the amount of truly amazing people He’s surrounded me with – I’m so lucky! Peace – the peace I’ve found in God I can’t remember truly having before, even in times when I feel as though everything is out of my control and chaotic, underneath my worry and pain, I can still find some of that peace.

 I don't like to share how I feel, I feel attention seeking, and quite frankly, what is anyone going to do? It's hard to find the effort to talk to anyone who wants to help, mainly because they can't help me feel better. It's something I have to deal with on my own. 

I don’t have to deal with ANYTHING alone, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). Jesus is there with me, through all things, he doesn’t want me to deal with things on my own, but instead he wants to help me. God has blessed me with such amazing people in my life, who I know I can call on if I need to talk or need prayer, and in some ways, I’ve become so much more open and honest, with myself, and others on how I actually feel – it’s great!

I’ve started to self harm, it made sense. It helps the feeling go away, it relieves me from everything. I find the stinging afterwards comforting. When I look at the cuts days after, it’s comforting. I don't know why, but it reassures me, of something, I just don't know what...

I am self harm free – about 40 weeks! PRAISE THE LORD. If I feel down, I don’t resort to hurting myself, I turn to God. I don’t have self harm consuming my thoughts every day anymore. I no longer get the urge to cut every time I drink. I don’t have that constant battle. The temptation has only shown up once or twice, but I didn’t give in – I know I’m done with that part of my life. I no longer feel trapped in something I can’t get out of. I couldn’t imagine life without self harm, but now I can’t imagine ever letting it control my life again!

 I don't want to do anything, I don't want to go out. I care too much about the little things, they play on my mind, and, I KNOW I shouldn't think about them this much, but I can't help it... 

I love getting out of the house (especially when it means going into London!) I love seeing my friends. I don’t want to hide from the world. I still tend to dwell on the small things, but not nearly as much as I used to! I try to place my worries into God’s hands, whatever the situation, God knows what’s best and what will be, will be.

I would quite happily switch my life, with a person who is terminally ill or something, and I know it's a horrid thing to wish on myself, but it's true. Give my life to someone who will truly appreciate it, someone who will do much better things with it, will make something of themselves from it, and live a happy life. I can't wait for the end of my life, it's so terrible to say, but I can't cope with everything right now. 

I firmly believe, more than ever, that God has a plan for my life, even when I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going, I know I’ll end up where God wants me. All anxiety from not knowing what I’ll do in life is completely gone. I’m so excited for life and for what God has in store for me! I feel as though I have a rough idea of where He’s leading me – I have no idea HOW I’ll get there, but I know God’s got a way. This year, I’m making the decision to step out – step out of my comfort zone and do things I would normally shy away from, get out of the boat and trust that God’s got me – He won’t let me drown. I’m happy to be alive and living my life – I wouldn’t swap it with anyone!

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Mercy, Motherhood and Marian Consecration

    On the feast of the Immaculate Conception I read an article which really struck me. It explained how we often assume that being born free from sin would have made life easier for Mary, but in actual fact it would have made it infinitely harder! Her capacity for compassion and mercy is so much greater than we can possibly imagine, meaning that even though she never suffered the effects of personal sin, the pain she felt at seeing others suffer in that way was equally unimaginable. 

    The extent of that pain makes Mary’s constant ‘Yes’ to God even more incredible. It wasn’t limited to a pretty story about a young girl and an angel – she remained obedient amidst the judgement, uncertainty and inevitable suffering that came with being the mother of the Messiah. Yet through her humility she was blessed with so much grace…

    Mary held the baby Jesus in her arms. SHE HELD GOD IN HER ARMS!! Can we even imagine that? Think of the love she had for her child combined with the love she had for the Lord, directed at the same tiny infant simultaneously, and it’s amazing that she managed to contain it! It’s for that reason that, with His dying words, Christ entrusted us to His mother – “Behold your mother.” Her love is uncontainable and overflowing, and she pours it into each one of us with the sole purpose of leading us to her Son’s Divine Mercy. As such she is our mother, as well as the Mother of God. 

    Mary is the ultimate model of femininity and nurturing love, and so I continually learn so much about motherhood in particular from her – both physical and spiritual. In her we see most fully the tenderness, service and strength that we’re all called not only to practise but to teach. Her acceptance of God’s will was life-giving, self-sacrificial, and ultimately enabled our redemption through Jesus. 

    As women – with Mary as our guide – we, too, are called to be Christ-bearers. Through our receptivity to Christ we can also deliver Him to the world around us in our words, our witness and simply our way of life. As Mary mothers us, we can learn to be mothers to those who need us the most.

    I didn’t always appreciate what a great gift we’ve been given in our Blessed Mother, though. When I first began writing this blog back in 2013, someone suggested that I dedicate it to Our Lady. My honest reaction was ‘Why?’ As much as I loved the idea of a devotion to Mary, I didn’t fully understand it. 

    Needless to say it surprised me when, just a couple of months later, I discovered St Louis de Montford’s process of total consecration to Jesus through Mary and felt inexplicably drawn to it. It took several months of growing intensely in my understanding of and relationship with Mary, but I eventually felt God urging me to complete the consecration. 

    I chose the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (1st January) as my consecration date, which was already symbolic for me because of everything she’s taught me about motherhood. But the most beautiful thing was that this also meant my 33 day preparation coincided perfectly with the final month of Mary’s pregnancy. I was able to journey with the woman who has taught me about the grace, beauty and sacrifice that are wrapped up in motherhood, through the final weeks of waiting for the birth of Jesus, then make my consecration on what was not only the feast of her motherhood, but also the first day of the new year – in front of the Blessed Sacrament in my favourite chapel: St Mary’s. I love it when Jesus brings things together in ways I couldn’t possibly predict, and I don’t think it could have possibly felt more blessed!

Mary, Mother of God… Pray for us!