I would like to get straight into storytelling, but I realise that I probably owe you (well those of you that are interested) an explanation as to where I have been these last few months.
Apart from a few quick trips, the majority of my time was spent buried in books. I had essays, exams that kind of stuff. Thank God that season is over; although I should have communicated my whereabouts at the time, so please accept my apologies.
I have missed writing, sharing, and generally ranting so I am very happy to be back.
In these last few months a number of significant things have happened – I’ll start with my birthday.
I love birthdays.
I am a birthday card (and letter) hoarder, I’m sure I have a card stash dating back at least 10 years. And it is mandatory I celebrate, I mean, God has given me another year of life (which is even more of a blessing in this current climate), more opportunities to fulfil purpose, pursue my dreams, live for Him. He has kept me and is still keeping me. I could go on and on, so why would I not mark the occasion?
This year as usual, I was excited – with lots of plans of what I’ll be doing and whom I would be celebrating with.
However, the days before my birthday were met with some devastating news.
I remember being in the taxi on my way home from the airport receiving a text from a loved one. It was horrible; my heart immediately sank into the depths of my stomach. Unable to process what I just read, I closed the chat and tried to block it out. The following days seemed to be littered with more bad news.
Generally, I would say I am adept at coping and problem solving in challenging situations. But, this time I had no fight, no energy, and no strength.
All plans and activities went out of the window.
I was consumed with equal measure of apathy and deep sadness. The afternoon of my birthday whilst in my favourite store a rush of emotion gripped me and I found myself on the floor in the changing room in tears asking ‘God…why?!’ This question ushered in the first of many lessons.
Nothing, Absolutely Nothing Catches God By Surprise!
“I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
Nothing ever shocks God. Nothing that happens ever catches Him off guard. Nothing that happens ever sends Him into a state of panic or confusion. Lesson 1 reminded me that He has ordained things from ‘ancient times’, and whatever happens, it has been permitted by Him and is probably in line with His will.
Still overwhelmed by events and emotions I woke up the morning after my birthday and decided I needed to get away, and that is what I did. It was spontaneous – or as my friend described, “Impulsive”, but knowing myself I knew it was what I needed.
I personally find when things get a bit too chaotic and overwhelming I need to physically step out of the situation or place in order to gain clarity and better understand the situation.
Everyone has a breaking point, and it is important to know your warning signs
This will help mitigate the intensity and impact of a fully-fledged breakdown. I’ll expand a little; before enough becomes enough and you become maimed with the inability to do anything, slow down. Identify what’s happening, analyse what these happenings mean (check out my post on how to do this) and ask God to help you navigate through the situation.
It is better to deal with the situation than let the situation deal with you.
Growing up my mum often told me that the world doesn’t stop because you have decided to stop. I have reasoned this to be very true, deadlines do not go on vacation because you have decided it’s all too much, and neither do the demands of life come to a halt because you are struggling to cope. Therefore, it is critical to ‘Know Yourself So You Can Look After Yourself’.
Fellowship, led by The Spirit.
Quick note: Fellowship does not necessarily mean sitting down with a Bible, highlighter, pens and a journal. To me, it means spending time with God and Godly companions, to encourage and build each other up. When low I have found fellowship helpful in giving me ammunition to deal with tough situations. And when disoriented it provides a forum to see things with more clarity and from different perspectives.
It is important that fellowship is spirit led, thus it is critical to cultivate a bond, a living relationship with The Spirit of God to guide and direct you.
I believe you need the right people speaking into your life and in your space especially during spiritually vulnerable or volatile times. Being led by The Spirit of God means following who God is directing you towards or accepting whom God is bringing to you. This may not be the usual people you turn to, but these people may have just what you need at that particular point and specific season.
This ‘impulsive’ trip led me to reunite with a good friend. Because we hadn’t seen each other in a while we planned all sorts. But, we both concluded that our busy itinerary of beach, photoshoot for the blog, dinner, spa, shopping should be put to the side as we let the Holy Spirit take control.
Instead of our SATC style weekend, we talked, prayed, went for coffees, sat on the swings and pretty much talked some more. This time of fellowship, bought healing, clarity, guidance and direction. Because I was away I was more aware of what God was saying to me, there were fewer distractions, less buzzing of my phone, less email alerts. I was able to better connect and engage with all that was going on around and within me. For instance, I attended a Bible study with a group of women I have never met, and probably would not see again, and I saw the manifestation of:
” The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way’’
(Psalm 37: 23)
I say this because their theme for that day was so relevant to the season I was in.
Upon reflection, if I had stayed home and not taken this ‘impulsive’ trip I may have missed what I needed to hear and experience for not only the season I was in, but the season I was going into. Being able to hear God when He speaks to you is incredibly important, and it is equally important to acknowledge God speaks diverse ways. We must be open and not restrict how He speaks to us. The unfamiliar nudges to go or strange prompts to do may be contain the answer we need.
I have learnt that there is no magic formula to hearing from God, we are striving for a genuine relationship, and as with any functional relationship there is freedom and diversity. The only formula that we really need to apply is:
> Quality time spent with God = a deeper and > tangible relationship.
Wait On God And Trust Him.
Whilst away – I spent time on my own, I prayed, read the Word, listened to exhortations, journaled and all the rest of it. But I also spent a lot of time waiting in silence. Often times we pray, talk, vent, cry, all without stopping to hear what God has to say. Whilst praying I was reminded of the scripture:
“Be still, and know that I am God”
This scripture resonated with me because I thought God is not an inanimate object or thing; He is Spirit and He is alive. Because He is alive, He speaks, not just through His Word, but He can also speak with and to me. Thus, I needed to turn my one sided monologues into a participatory dialogue.
Now, I have to say sitting and waiting can sometimes be awkward, but after overcoming that hurdle I usually find the next mountain is trust. Trusting Him to do what He says He will do; difficult, but I constantly remind myself of this:
‘God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfil?’
The final lesson…
Rest In Him!
One thing my friend continued to say to me whilst there was ‘Rest in Him’. As I came back and the days (now weeks) unfolded I realised this was the Word I needed. It is where God required me to be (a beautiful place might I add). A place which the ‘I-Must-Understand-And-Be-In-Control’ part of me failed to recognise.
And this is my theme for the next stage of my life – Rest In Him! It took a trip to a new place to understand what He had been saying all along.
He said to us:
As I reflect on Him as The Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrew 12:2), I am beginning to accept that He has already written out the pages of my life. He knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. All I am required to do is to relax and trustingly turn each page as and when He prompts.
In truth and with love