Stay Soft

One of the hardest things in life is to stay soft.

People will try to tear you down, indeed, even those closest to you will say hurtful things.

It’s so easy to just say “Fine! I’m done trying. I will no longer engage. I’m just going to go on and act pleasant on the outside while keeping up my walls so that no one can get in, so that no one can hurt me.”

This is not God’s desire for us. This is directly going against his plan. His plan is and always has been to speak truth over us where lies have been planted. His longing is to bring healing to our wounds.

Let me tell you a secret: Building walls may keep more hurt from coming in, but it also traps in the hurt you already have. What if your walls aren’t just keeping hurt out, but also keeping healing out?

It’s only in continuous opening ourselves up to the Father’s love and his view of us that we can get a correct view on others actions towards us and our response to them.

This isn’t a long, preachy post. It’s just a encouraging word: Stay soft, dear friends.

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Watch your Labels

Not a dog, not a wolf…all he knows is what he’s not.” Balto

When I was I child, I loved the movie “Balto”. It was based on a true story where a town suffered from a severe epidemic and ran out of medicine for it during a severe snowstorm. Balto, who was half wolf and half dog, didn’t seem to fit in anywhere. The dogs wouldn’t accept him because he was different, they thought he was “wild” and “dangerous”, the people of the town were afraid of him – but he was soft, he was tame and he just wanted to belong.

In the end, his differences and wild instincts are what saved the town. But those differences were only appreciated once he had done something great, once he was famous.

I think we all tend to see differences in a negative light. It’s why we use harsh words in describing people who we think should be more like us. For example, the other day in frustration I said to my kids: “You don’t care about being on time at all!” And in my head I was thinking all the negative things: Lazy, Slow-pokes, Thoughtless, Uncaring, Unconcerned. In reality that’s only my view of them when I’m rushed or in a hurry. On the flip side they could be thinking the opposite of me: Workaholic, Driven, Bossy.

In their eyes, I care too much about being punctual and in my eyes they don’t care enough!

As my week went on, I thought about all the benefits that their laid-back and care-free personalities bring to my life. It brings peace, it brings joy! They are able to notice things that I don’t have time to see. Like a bald eagle, perched on a tree outside. Or a beautiful flower beside the road. They are able to laugh in stressful situations.

What if, just what if, we began to speak words of life over others? What if we focused more on what good each character brings to the world, then what problems they’re causing? The truth is that we need each other and our differences desperately. I need my carefree children to bring joy and calm to my life. They need me to bring order and structure to theirs.

I was thinking of all the negative labels I’ve put on people and of some of the good that comes out of those same traits. As I began to change my thinking I suddenly saw a shift in my perception of those around me. Instead of calling people:

Strange/Weird… I called them Creative.

Defiant… Independent.

Slow… Careful.

Bossy… Leader.

Stubborn… Tenacious.

Perfectionist… Wholehearted.

Self-righteous… Passionate.

Negligent… Easy-going.

Lazy… Relaxed.

Passive… Peaceful.

Cowardly… Cautious.

Simple… Humble.

Frivolous … Joyful.

Bitter… Just.

Hasty… Prompt.

Shrewd… Wise.

Know-it-all… Convicted.

Careless… Fearless.

Callous… Strong.

Emotionless… Reserved.

Emotional… Soft-Hearted.

I’m not speaking about the exception to the rules here. I’m definitely NOT saying that bad character should be treated as good. But this isn’t about hurtful characters. This is about negatively labeling people who have been made the way they are to enrich our lives.

This week start with yourself. Address some of the negative labels that have been spoken over you (maybe even in your own head).

I’m not weak, I’m tender. I’m not insecure, I’m flexible. I’m not a perfectionist, I am wholehearted. I am not bitter, I yearn for justice.

I am more than the labels given to me.

I Just Need those I Love to Love me in Return

“I don’t ask for perfection, or to be understood. I don’t need people to sympathize with me, or to say the right thing. I just need those I love to love me in return.”

These are the words I wrote in my journal on a dark day as I battled with depression. It’s one thing to battle with difficult thoughts and feelings, but it’s completely another fight altogether to truly believe that no one really cares.

Every person has a deep need to be loved.

Rejection cuts deeper and leaves more scars than any other pain we can ever endure. It makes us feel unlovable – like we are not worth caring for.

In a society where our deepest talks are about movies and sporting events, where our closest connections to others are online, and where the only person who really listens is the one you’re paying to council you, is it at all a surprise that so many feel hopeless? Is it really that big of a shock that so many are depressed?

So how can we learn to be friends who don’t just hang out when things are good, but who hang in there when they aren’t? How can we show real love and loyalty to our friends, in a day and age where love means sex and loyalty is what we feel for our coffee brand? I came up with ten ideas that have been helpful to me, hopefully they can encourage others to reach out and be there for each other.

  1. Be available – I find it very sad that we have time for so many “things” yet so little time for people. I have time to check my Facebook each morning and evening (some even have time to engage in endless comment wars about politics). I have time to pick up my coffee on the way to every social event or outing. I have time to do my makeup and hair, go to the gym, watch my favourite shows on netflix, browse thrift shops and other stores for knickknacks I really don’t need. But we don’t have time for PEOPLE. Making time for the people in your life is the greatest gift you can give them. Saying no to other things can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that every “yes”‘we give to another commitment, is actually a “no” to the people already in our lives.
  2. Learn to ask: “Are you OK?”  Sometimes it’s awkward to start up a serious conversation, I get it. But in order to really care for each other, we just have to get past those uncomfortable feelings and just care for each other. Be sensitive in the timing of this, no one likes a downer or to be put on the spot in front of a group. But the fact is that most of us don’t even know who around us is struggling! How are we to reach out if we never bother to ask?
  3. Listen more than talkI’m terrible at this. When someone is sharing, it’s so easy to cut in trying to relate to what they’re saying! Relating to each other is important, but when someone is sharing about their struggles, sometimes it’s best just to listen and say nothing at all. There usually isn’t the perfect thing to say, but realize that it’s your presence – just being there and listening – that is usually what’s needed the most.
  4. Forgive!!! People who are hurting, will say hurtful things… Forgive them and love them anyways. Try to see the deep need behind the hurtful behaviour and you will find yourself feeling compassion rather than anger or judgement.
  5. Be Sensitive- If now’s not the time to share your “solutions” to their problems or to point out their wrongful attitude on an issue, be compassionate enough to hold your tongue.  There may be times that it’s appropriate to give advice or to gently offer correction, but be sensitive to your timing!  If your friend is opening up about his/her struggles, remember that they are most likely just looking for support and a listening ear, not a know-it-all answer (this one I learnt the hard way🤦🏼‍♀️). If they are having an emotional breakdown, now’s not the time to tell them how their actions look!!  Respond in an understanding and calming way, so they will not feel isolated or attacked.  Most likely their body is already in Flight, Fight or Freeze mode. Their mind is telling them that there is an emergency and their body is acting accordingly. So the best way to support and bring them back, is to calmly and gently speak to them.
  6. Pay Attention- Look for any warning signs that this situation may be beyond your ability to deal with. Don’t be afraid to get help if it’s too much! If your friend is talking of suicide, or harming themselves/others bring them into the hospital or call a crisis centre. You may just save their life!
  7. Don’t Gossip- Look, I understand that listening is important. But letting your friend go on and on, gossiping about someone has hurt them is not going to help them! In fact, it is just going to drive the hurt in deeper. If it is an abusive situation, they absolutely need to talk about it and you need to encourage them to get help. Otherwise encourage them to share their hurt/feelings, without slandering the people in their lives! Draw their focus away from the person who hurt them, onto the lies that they may be believing as a result of the hurt that was caused. Then speak truth to them! Ex: “They may have told you that you are ________…but it’s not true!! I know that because __________!”
  8. Be Intentional- Being a good friend doesn’t just happen. It takes intentional practice! Being intentional means going beyond what’s required of you.  It means taking the time to care for others, even before they’ve asked. It means caring for needs that your friend may not even realize they have!
  9. Follow Up- One of most touching things we can do for a friend is to follow up with what they’ve already shared with us.  Sometimes we have heartfelt conversations, but then we go on with life and forget all about the struggles our loved ones are going through. It is so important to remember to check in.  For example, if a friend shared with you that she’s going for counseling, follow up! Ask her how it went, ask her if it’s helping. If they share their struggles in parenting, ask how it’s going, if they’ve found a solution to the issues they faced!  It’s not that difficult to do, but it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it!
  10. Help them out Practically- Do for them what you appreciate done for you. It’s that simple! If you wish you could get a day off once in a while, offer to watch your friends kids for the day so she can have one. Do you feel loved when someone stops in with your favorite coffee? Bring him one! Some days do you just need someone to sit by you and give you a shoulder to cry on? Be that person for someone else.

Loyal friends are hard to find, but the best way of finding them, is being one yourself.

I’m sure there are many other ways to be a faithful friend! Do you have other ideas on how to show love and loyalty to those around you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Sharing without Shaming

For a few months now, God has really been speaking to me about being trustworthy, and what it looks like to be a trustworthy woman. One of the struggles that is repeatedly highlighted for me is the importance of being trustworthy not just to peoples faces, but behind their backs as well.

Years ago, in high school, I didn’t think twice about what I said, and about whom.  I just simply didn’t care enough about anyone other than myself to even notice who was hurt by my words. Many of my high school friends were also gossip friends and drinking friends. They were like me: consumed with instant gratification and selfish desires. None of us really cared for one another, we were just there when it benefited ourselves.

When I became a Christain, I let go of many friendships. Not because I was now better than them or because they weren’t good enough for me! Not at all! I had to leave these friendships because I could not change who I was without changing who I was with. No longer could I be close friends with people who had absolutely nothing in common with me!  They laughed at sin, drank way too much alcohol, slandered others mercilessly and indulged in sexual sin, pornography and the like!  And being close friends with these people was tearing me down. So I had to disconnect from them.

One of the challenges of having a blog is wanting to be open and personal without hurting anyone in my life. This can be difficult for many reasons. First of all, it’s hard simply because of the fact that living openly means being honest about everything. The good AND the bad. There are many situations in my life that have repeated themselves over and over again. For example, I’ve been hurt by many people in many different ways. The challenge in writing about the lessons I’ve learned in these times is to describe them in such a way that it leaves the reader guessing about the specifics, all the while making the message behind the lessons crystal clear.

In order to do this, I first have to describe the situation in such a way that it can be related to a number of different experiences in my life.  I purposely change details and time frames, not to be misleading, but to be vague and respectful of others privacy.

With only two or three exceptions, (and now today will be another exception) this is how I have written my blog. My blog started out as a tool for me to heal from a very unique and painful situation in my life. I had nowhere to turn and felt utterly alone and rejected. Writing helped me process my thoughts and feelings in such a way that I could heal. Because of this, some of my very early posts were indeed about a situation that was very specific, but I remained quite vague, not mentioning names or places throughout any of it. Only those very close to me would have known exactly what I was talking about. Other than those specific posts, my writings aren’t focused on specific events or people, rather specific topics!

Now another thing about me is that I love a good, convicting message. It is often through sermons, articles or books that we are challenged in our ways of thinking and living and we are encouraged to change for the best.

Have you ever been in a service, where the preacher seems to be speaking directly to you? Where you sit back in your seat and you wonder how he could’ve possibly known EXACTLY what you were going through? Or sometimes you wonder if maybe the preacher actually heard about what you did last week and prepared his message accordingly? I know I sure have!

But in reality, many others in the audience were feeling the same as I did, and the message was equally for the whole congregation! That direct feeling is not the preacher speaking to you, but actually the Holy Spirit! And let me tell you, this is why I love blogs!  Because I can’t boldly speak to individual people about common struggles like lust or gossip or attitudes, judging others or repentance, without having them feel personally attacked or judged in the process. The method of talking to an audience of people is completely different, for we all struggle with these things and I’m not talking to any one person. So I can be as hard and as direct as I like!

A few weeks ago I already knew that I was going to write a post about gossip, but I wanted it to have a great impact. Not just merely suggesting that “we shouldn’t gossip, it’s not nice” but I wanted it to be taken seriously, to make it feel personal! So in order to accomplish this I wrote “An Open Letter to Those who Gossip“. As I wrote it, I thought of so many situations where I’ve gossiped, where I literally used to get my kids to leave the room so that I could gossip. I thought of the cruel way I talked back in high school, and about more recent encounters with gossip among friends and family, when I have tried my best to change the conversation and felt rather helpless in knowing how to stop it.

As I read through the letter I had written, I was satisfied: It was to the point, it was tough on gossip, even harder on those who don’t think twice about it and it was applicable to so many different people, myself included (or so I thought). I posted the article and for even more “punch” I wrote: “If you read this post and think it could be written about you, please, take it personally.” I wanted to make sure the message would be taken seriously!!

Imagine my shock when a few hours later, a loved one commented: “This post was written about me…and I’m deeply sorry…”

Woah! What?!? …perhaps my writing style was a little too effective??

I wasn’t sure how to answer, because re-reading the post through her eyes I could see why she would’ve felt that way. How horrifying it must feel to think an entire article is written about your sins!

I wept when I realized that she felt this way because never would I so carelessly, publicly shame someone I love. Public shaming is another topic that I feel passionate about and I was actually in the midst of writing about an entire blog post on the subject! And now to think that someone had felt that I picked them specifically out to make an example of, was horrifying to me. Now, I got the chance to reassure this woman that I was not singling her out in any way, but public shaming is so completely against what I believe that I felt the need to write this just in case there’s anyone else out there who’s felt that I’m referring to your particular struggles when I’m writing.

I want to make one thing VERY clear: I am not in the business of shaming people!

If you make a mistake, or say something hurtful, if you spend far too much time on social media or your iPhone, if you gossip or lie to me or yell at your kids, if you watch the wrong movies or fail to invite me to your birthday party, I will NEVER publicly shame my friends and loved ones. Period.

No one is perfect and I do not feel the need to point out or write about every mistake I see before me. I may someday write about these things, but it doesn’t mean that I even have you on my mind as I’m writing. You, my friends, can absolutely be 100% yourself, without fearing being featured on my next blog post as a “good, juicy topic”.

That is a promise.

This is all part of me learning to be a trustworthy woman! So to anyone who has ever felt picked on or singled out while reading my blog, please, PLEASE take this as my deepest apology to you. I am SO sorry for causing you hurt or pain in this way. I hope to continue to grow and mature in my writing, and this may be one of those lessons for me. I appreciate each and every one of you who takes the time to read my blog or to share something I’ve written or to stop and comment. You are my biggest fans and your encouragement means so much to me!

I will keep moving forward, speaking truth, to the best of my abilities and hopefully becoming more gentle and loving in the process.

Thanks again.

Love Always, Heather.

 

An Open Letter to Those who Gossip

To Those Who Slander Others,

I wish I had the courage to speak this way to your face, but I’m a coward, so I hide behind a screen and write. I avoid confrontation like it’s the plague and if you knew what I’ve been through the past few years, I’m sure you’d understand why.

There’s very few people, if any, who change when they’re confronted – even less people who choose to walk in humility when they know they’re wrong and those who show sincere remorse and repentance without shifting the blame are almost non-existent. Change takes humility and repentance. It takes eyes that recognize what we’ve done and it takes a heart that truly feels the pain of our actions. To change, one needs to stop making excuses for their behaviour. They have to be grieved at the hurt they’ve caused and yearn to make things right.

Today I was grieved for you. For me. For what you spoke. For what I heard and listened to. For the words that were spoken with little thought of whom they affected. For my failure to stop what was being said. I felt burdened because I froze up, my gentle attempts at changing the subject were ignored and I couldn’t bring myself to say stop. I didn’t know how to.

I hate gossip.

There is nothing more divisive, more hurtful, more untrustworthy to do than to indulge in it, especially for our own entertainment.

Words destroy.

The wreckage they leave behind is worse than an unsuspected land mine. They kill friendships and ruin families. Make no mistake, I do not pretend to be above it. In fact, it’s why I can’t look into your face and tell you to stop. Because at one point or another, I’m positive I’ve said something hurtful that I shouldn’t have about others. And I hate that I’m not innocent of this, for maybe if I was, I could be bold in standing up for those now being mercilessly attacked by your words.

I’ve struggled with gossip, but I have realized that the best way to overcome gossip is to avoid the people who delight in it. And so I have. I avoid shallow people who talk of nothing but others. Who whisper about each other as they leave the room. They are repulsive to me!

But then there’s you.

I’m not willing to cut you out of my life because of what you mean to me, but I ache – oh I ache – when we’re together, for your words are so hurtful, so full bitterness and spite. You seem completely unconcerned about who they may affect. You slander strangers and loved ones alike. You are merciless in your assessment of those around you.

And I wonder, do you even love people?Are you capable of caring for them? Or do you just think that you do?

And when I leave the room, just what kinds of terrible things are said about me? Do you pick apart my life, my church, my faith, my parenting? Do you tell others callously about what I share with you in confidence? Do you gossip about my children, their characters and struggles, when I’ve opened up about them, in good faith, with you?

Do you mock my choices, my past sins, my current failures, instead of praying for them?

Without hesitation, my guess is, you do.

Oh, if you would only realize what gossip of this sort does to relationships! It hurts them beyond measure! THEY may never find out what you have said, but they will KNOW that you are speaking of them.

Just as I know.

Because over time gossip becomes a character trait. Those who indulge in it cease to even hear the way they sound. They forget it is even wrong and shamelessly bulldoze those around them to the ground with their words.

We cannot grow, when we are meddling in the personal lives of others. When we are focusing on the sins of those around us, our own character stays unchecked, and we lack any motivation to change ourselves.

When my children are around you, I wish to cover their ears so they may not hear the verbal vomit that comes out. They are in shock, you know, when they hear the way you speak. Their little fresh minds are taking everything in, and your words are shaping their opinions of the people you speak of.

So this is my plea, to you whom I love: Please end the gossip. Be grieved by it! Be disgusted by the way it sounds when it rolls off your tongue. Feel the pain of those who are affected by it. And then repent – with tears and regret!

Finally, care enough to change.

I don’t have any threats that aren’t self-fulfilled consequences of gossip. I most certainly will not open up if I do not trust you. I most certainly won’t join in, so our conversations will be short and awkward. I may try to change the subject or suggest a solution. Or maybe, I will one day find the courage to interrupt your rantings about others and ask you to your face if what you’re sharing about them is loving.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not true, it is not self-seeking, it is not equal easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Oh to build up those around us! That is my heart’s desire! And often, how miserably I fail! How often I speak before I think! How often I hear the slander of others within my own thoughts, and how sick I feel when I hear it on my own tongue.

If ceasing to gossip leaves me with nothing else to say, then so be it; silence is more peaceful anyways!

Dear, dear loved one, who gossips: Please, change. If not for your own sake then for mine, for I am so weak, and may very well stumble in your company. Please think of my children, who right now speak mostly well of others. Think about the many innocent victims this crime brings to the ground.

May your relationships grow stronger, deeper as you learn to keep hurtful words away from your mouth. May your conversations become fruitful and life-giving. May they be seasoned with the joy and love of the Father. May they become uplifting and full of goodness. And as you begin to trust yourself, you will begin to once again believe the best in those around you. You will be able to see them as our Father in Heaven sees them, with fresh, new eyes.

If you felt this speaking to you at all, now is the time to change, dear friend.

Sincerely,

A Woman Learning to Speak Life

 

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Challenge

Today’s post is a fun one! It is in response to a challenge from one of my fellow bloggers. Stephen and his family live in Ireland and he writes one of the most honest blogs I’ve ever read! He is also on the tail end of writing a novel and he runs marathons! Check out his blog at https://fracturedfaithblog.com

The Challenge? To write a short story (Or flash fiction piece) based on a discarded receipt he found, while wandering the stores of Belfast. This particular person purchased a peeler, and two prepared fruit cups. Interesting combo. Here’s my take on what happened:

That One Stinkin’, Waste of My Time, Rotten Apple

It all started with that one rotten apple. And my kid of course. I swear, this kid is going to make me loose my mind (or quite possibly a limb for that matter).

We have pop tarts for crying out loud! But what does the two-year-old want?

“Apo! Apo!”

Try to get him to eat something healthy any other day and it gets chucked across the room… anything we don’t have time for, I guess!

OK…maybe it started a little earlier than the apple.

I wake to a horn beeping loudly outside my apartment. Groggily opening my eyes, panick sets in as I realize I slept in an hour later than anticipated. Great. I had precisely fifteen minutes to get out of bed, throw our clothes on, eat, drop the kid off at daycare and be at work. As a single mom to the world most stubborn two year old IN THE WORLD, this is definitely NOT happening.

I should’ve used my better sense and just called in sick, but I like a good challenge, so why not give it a shot?

First step? Wake the beast. Before he can even get the second eye open he’s asking for cartoons. Fine. Cheap babysitting, so I can get ready. I’m dressed, hair done, make up done in three minutes flat. What can I say? I’ve had practice. Now for the hard part.

I pick up his favourite T-shirt, a pair of jeans and some socks. I don’t want any struggles today. He takes one glance at my selection as I approach him, promptly removes his thumb from his mouth and says, “No.”

No??? I roll my eyes. I want to shake the kid.

Instead I respond, “Then you pick your shirt sweetie.”

Thumb comes out again: “No.”

Oh for crying out loud! I glance at the time. We have now have eight minutes to go. I’m out of breath by the time I come back, holding at least a dozen selections of outfits. Surely one of them…

He proceeds to pick up each one and throw them on the floor. This takes two minutes. Finally…are you kidding me? He picks the one I brought in the first place!

Whatever! We have to go. I change him in a record breaking 35 seconds.

I pull out a pop tart for him to munch on the way. He spies the package in my and and begins shaking his head. No buddy! Not now…Please no!

“Apo” he points to one of the apples on our counter. Fine. I pick it up and hand it to him.

“We got to go now bud! Come on!”

Suddenly he holds it out. What now??

“Ucky peel! Ucky peel.”

Seriously. Who raised this kid? Don’t answer that.

I look all over. Where is that peeler? Today of all days!! I now have one minute to get on the car. Finally I grab a knife, it’s a dull one but it’ll have to do. I begin to peel at lightening speeds, we are going to make…it.

I see it before I feel it. My knuckle is half gone. Blood is everywhere. On the knife. On the counter. On that one, stinkin’, waste-of-my-time, rotten apple.

I stumble hastily around the kitchen, looking for something to stop the blood. A box of tissues. Perfect. I wrap my hand in 20 of them. The blood is just pouring through. My kitchen looks like a scene from a Stephen King novel. As best I can, I cast up my hand in more tissues and quickly seal the masterpiece with…with what?

I desperately felt around with my good hand in a drawer filled with odds and ends. Finally, I find the duct tape. Wrapping and cutting my with my left hand certainly isn’t a walk in the park but I do my best. And hey, on the bright side, I now have an excuse for being late. I watch as the tissue around my hand begins to turn red… This will definitely need a visit to the ER.

After another painful two minutes (literally) I coax my favourite (and least favourite at the moment) kiddo onto the car. I now just need to drop him off at daycare and get to the ER.

“I’m hungry!” Comes the cry from the backseat.

Right.

In all the chaos I forgot to feed the boy. I look around me. Drive through? Nope, none close by. Then I spot it: The Tesco express.

I don’t even bother to blink. The car behind me slams on its horn. But I don’t care. I am a woman on a mission. I pull directly in front of the store and put on the four ways…no time to park, my bandages are now leaking. Slinging my child over my shoulder like a sack of flour, I march into the store.

Just my luck. Prepared fruit right at the side. I grab two cases one for me and the little tyke. Then I march to the check out. On display as I move to the line is the deal of the week. Of course it’s a peeler. I shake my head, chuckling to myself as I add it to my purchase.

The cashier looks at my blood soaked wrappings, and then her eyes slowly drift to the peeler. As if maybe she shouldn’t let me through.

“Just don’t ask.” I say.

 

Skeletons at a Buffet- A Reflection on the Summer Prayer Challenge

I love camping.

I hate camping for too long.

Presently, I smell like a mix of campfire, dirty dishrag, wet dog and human body odour. My lower back cramps and aches as I adjust to life without a pillow top mattress and goose down pillows. Instead of my usual devotional palace, I am sitting in a crowded bed, with a mug of terrible tasting coffee in hand, grasped by a finger which was sliced open and wrapped tightly in bandages (the consequence of groping around in the darkness and finding a razor instead of my flashlight.) My body is feeling the effects of living through seven nights of restless, short nights. In fact, before I hid myself in this cramped but quiet space, it was more dangerous to come across my path than any of the creatures you may find out here in the wild. I am irritable when my body feels uncomfortable.

And yet, now as I rest with Jesus, the comfort in my soul overflows. For this summer I have learnt the secret to thankfulness.

And it’s easy: Ungratefulness comes from staring at my problems. A heart of gratitude comes from staring at God.

It’s really that simple.

It’s as though I was stuck in this depressive state because I really did have a load of very real, very heavy burdens. It was a load far too heavy for me to carry and now and then, when I find myself picking it up again, I wonder how in the world it didn’t altogether crush me.

We weren’t meant to carry these things; we were meant to walk with God, to stare at him like the father he is and simply, trusting like a child watch him as he saves the day. Over and over and over again.

Helpless, but completely trusting, exactly like a child.

Some of you may think that I’m over simplifying things, I would respond that maybe we are so stressed and overwhelmed because we over complicate things.

Bad things happen to good people.  According to God‘s word, this shouldn’t surprise us…yet it does! Time and time again it causes us to question God’s love, God’s goodness.

Perhaps, instead of asking ourselves: “Why is God allowing this to happen?”  We should be asking God: “What are you trying to teach me through this situation?”

I’m starting to see that God allows these trials not for us just to survive but to shape us, to grow us for OUR good. Hebrews 2:10 says that through suffering, Jesus became a perfect leader! If Jesus, who is without sin, needed to suffer, how much more do we need suffering to learn!

But how do we learn what God is trying to teach us instead of being crushed underneath the weight of our trials? It’s all about the gift of the Holy Spirit and Prayer.

Picture a starving man who has survived outside of a buffet restaurant by digging through the dumpsters and finding scraps of leftovers to gourge on.

One day the owner of the buffet notices him and stops him. “Come!” The owner calls to him, “Come and eat all you could ever want! For free! All I ask is that you work for me, here at the buffet, and bring others in to eat!”

The skeleton comes in to dine for a while, but soon forgets about this offer and goes back to digging through dumpsters, only going in once and a while to eat when the hunger pains get overwhelming.

This is essentially how we treat Christ. Here we are, tired and half starved. We know that something’s not right yet we continue to feed on our garbage over and over again: worry, planning, stress, coping mechanisms and bad habits to drown out our sorrows, addictions, media and entertainment to distract our anxious minds…But we refuse to go to the buffet. We refuse to eat the real food! We refuse to ask God for peace which he longs to give us! We forget the times in the past where God has filled us fuller than we could ever imagine.

Some of us may not eat out of the dumpsters, but we rely on others to bring us their leftovers. They’ve spent the time in God’s presence and we live off of the crumbs they bring back to us.

Why not go for ourselves to meet with God?

It’s all right here. Look to Christ and worship. See the magnitude of who he is! Read his word in wonder! Remember what he has done in the past. Remember that he is not in the business of bringing us comfort and wealth, but in shaping us to look like him. Don’t just come when you’re starving, come daily to eat. He longs to provide for your needs. Ask him the hard questions. Trust in his answers.

The last two weeks of the prayer challenge were spent hidden away from the social media side of it, because I need this for me. I long for this to become so much more than just ten weeks of prayer; for it to turn into a year, a decade, a lifetime prayer challenge! No longer a skeleton bent on survival, but a healthy thriving individual able to bring others to the buffet.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.” Revelation 22:17