My Dad often says "Nothing is perfect in God's perfect plan" I think he's quoting an old song rather than the bible, but it makes a good point. I'm not sure exactly what point it makes, theologically speaking, but it has a roundabout way of making me feel better. A sort of resignation to the chaos of life but trust in the fact that God knows what he's doing.
It feels like a funny time, doesn't it? Or is it just me? The world is still doing the hokey-cokey with the pandemic (are we in or out?), the year feels like it's winding down as the dark nights close in, and yet it doesn't feel quite soon enough to get excited about Christmas (or maybe it is? Feel free to correct me). November already! I meant to write to you in July, after we'd been on the telly (did you see us on BBC1's Sunday Morning live? I'll come back to that), and then I meant to write to you in October when I finished my maternity leave (our darling daughter Jesse is now almost 10 months old) but here I am, in November, finally putting hands to laptop.. well, as my Dad says, nothing is perfect, in God's perfect plan. And who knows, perhaps right now is the best time to drop by and say hello to you! And I wanted to share two things:
Firstly, (along with my Dad's catch phrase), this verse has been really helpful recently, especially when we're feeling a bit funny:
Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalms 37 vs 5 (New Living Translation)
(Have you read it twice? I find taking a deep breath and reading things twice helps me really absorb it. I don't know about you, but I can be a bit of a speed reader... especially when it comes to emails!)
Now we've read this verse, what do we do with it? The bible has the divine power to speak into our lives, but we have to be willing to believe it.
Sometimes the power of the Holy Spirit is indisputable, it bowls us over and we find ourselves altered supernaturally. But other times we have to put our will to it. We have to decide to change our mindsets, in obedience, and in an act of faith that our feelings will follow. Many of us who have practiced mindfulness in its differerent shapes and forms will be familiar with observing our feelings. We know we need to honour our feelings by acknowledging, experiencing and processing them properly. But what if we find ourselves lingering with a feeling or a mindset that is no longer useful for us? Often, we wait for an external situation to change and our feelings to follow (my husband and I call this a when-ism; when "X" happens then I'll feel "Y", it's surprising how much they crop up in our conversations!). But in a world where we often can't control things, this can leave us feeling powerless, and also passive in our relationship with the living Word of God.
I think it has taken being at the mercy of a baby's nap schedule for me to finally realise I have very little control of anything. Having a child has also made me more aware of my thought patterns of when-isms, I find myself thinking "when she can..." and I fastforward to a time I imagine will be marginally easier, before I catch myself, squeeze her tighter and tell her to stop growing up so fast! If we don't want to live ahead of ourselves, we need to be able to find peace and joy in this moment, even if it's a time of struggle or discomfort.
What I do still have a certain amount of autonomy over are my thoughts. And I am responsible for the words I say to myself. And we know that our self-talk (those conversation we have in our head, yes we all talk to ourselves, whether we admit it or not!) contribute to the atmsophere in our mind. So rather than just reading this verse from Psalm 37, I'm saying to myself "I'm trusting God.. I have handed this to God, I trust Him and He will help me." Relinquish some of that reponsibility, because holding on to it can do us more harm than good.
And this leads on to the second thing I wanted to share with you, which is a word that I believe to be from God, that came to me a few years ago on a women's weekend with our church. I remember it because we did some lovely activities (one of which was Psalms & Stretches, naturally!) but another was mug printing. I cut out letters from some pictures that caught my eye, one was of green grass, another was of rain, and I spelled out these words to print on the mug:
When these words came to me (it wasn't a big booming voice, more like they just slotted into my mind), I felt like they were instantly applicable to anything and everything. They were like a ripple of hope and refreshment. And an invitation to change my mindset, even now. I find myself coming back to them often.
If you were to hear these words from God now, what would they be speaking about to you?
So, these are the things I've been thinking about recently. Nothing is perfect; commit everything to God, trust Him and He will help you, even now. I hope you find them useful too.