When I started writing this blog I wanted it to be a place of encouragement and joy, and I wanted to be real with you and bring you along on my journey of learning and growing. I hoped that through my many mishaps and challenges you could perhaps find some insight and awareness for you and your life, and that you could hopefully laugh at yourself through laughing at me!
As I write each post I pray that you might experience more freedom in your life from things that may be holding you back or weighing you down. I pray that you would feel more secure in being who you are made to be, that you would have more joy in your life and that it would spill out to others around you. I also pray that you would find a confidence in being ‘good enough’, rather then feeling the pressure to try to be perfect, or not trying at all out of fear of failing.
Most of all when I think about you reading this, I want you to be assured that you are loved, cherished, thought of fondly, and that you have plans set out for you. Plans that are tailor made for you by God, that use your experience, gifts and unique story to bring good into the world!
I spent a large part of my life away from God and his plans for me, until he called me back in a way that shook my life and changed my path completely.
I was brought up by my mum who is a christian and who has a strong faith. I prayed throughout my childhood, and felt loved and known by God. I just knew that he was real and never really doubted that he existed. When I reached my teenage years, I fell away from my faith, thinking that I would have to change too much about myself and that it would be much more fun to go my own way.
And so for the following 7 or so years that’s what I did!
Many many (many) bad choices later… when I had reached my early twenties, I started to search for something more. I felt an emptiness in my life that wasn’t being filled successfully with drink or drugs or relationships. I wanted something different, and as I searched I started to hear God calling me back. It was like a whisper at first, a ‘coincidental’ word from someone that spoke right into my heart, or an answered prayer for help that reminded me again of Gods existence and love for me.
But the real thing that brought me back, was loud and clear, and has made me assured of his love ever since.
As part of my counselling degree we did a self awareness exercise where we described ourselves as a rose and then wrote our descriptions down.
I described myself as a rose that was closed, but that I wanted it to be opened to reveal the beauty within.
Months later after a night of feeling utterly lost and down, I prayed to God and asked him to help me. The next morning, I decided to go to the church that was nearest to where I was living. I saw people worshipping, some with arms raised and eyes closed, and there was something very powerful and moving about it. I stood there and suddenly felt very aware of the the mess I was in.
I had no assurance of anything, I was on a sinking sand of fears and insecurities, with a hardened heart which had left me with many broken relationships and a trail of mess.
I felt in that moment, I needed to say to God that I wanted to recommit my life back to him. And as I did this, a lady started speaking out some words she felt were from God.
‘I have a picture for someone. It is of a rose that is closed, but God wants to open it to reveal the beauty within.’
At that moment I suddenly felt God’s love pour into my heart. I experienced waves of forgiveness and care and compassion wash over me as I decided I would leave my old life and walk in this new life.
A life with God isn’t always an easy path, it isn’t free of pain or mistakes and failure, but God promises to help you and never leave you on your own. He always gives you a way forward and lights up the next step, though it may not seem straightforward or easy. Its an adventure with Him, where you are constantly being grown, healed, restored, and often pushed out of your comfort zone to love and serve others in ways that challenge and change you.
He wont leave you as you are, and he will undoubtedly ask big things of you.
In the bible we are told to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, speak up for the orphan, love our neighbour, humble ourselves, treat others as better, give our money cheerfully to those in need, be faithful, speak the truth boldly and share the gospel. Each one of these commands challenges the hidden stuff in our hearts. The ignorance, the selfishness, the greed, the laziness, the jealousy, the bitterness, the fear. God sees it and it doesn’t surprise him or make him turn away, but he will gently ask you to lay it down in place of something far far better. Love. He has it in abundance for you. He cant help but love you and then produce in you a love for him and His people in the world.
And he also sees the hidden good stuff in your heart too. The compassion, the longing to see change, the potential to make an impact for good that you cant even imagine right now. He sees it and wants to grow it in you, help you flourish and mature, and it all starts with love.
So my hope is that you can experience this love and find freedom from unhealthy thinking habits and fears that hold you back, but ultimately that you would find true freedom that is found through knowing God.
And when your assurance is in him and him alone, you become an unstoppable force of love to those around you.