CONTROL

When tough times come do you run from God or do you stay and discover how you could grow as a person in those times?
The desire to run is so real though, especially when you feel broken.  When we initially heard the news that my dad had cancer, I found it so difficult to pray.  I knew it was the right thing to do but I just couldn’t do it.  The pain of what I was experiencing was just too much.  For me to pray meant that I needed to speak those words out.  I needed to speak about those things with God.  But I just couldn’t.  Instead I got people around me to pray.  To pray on my behalf, to say the things I was too hurt to say.  As I did that, the burden lightened but deep down I knew I needed to pray about this myself too.  It was like I was avoiding a conversation that needed to happen.  But still the pain of it stopped me.

One night I sat with my parents and we prayed together before they went off to bed.  ‘You pray’ said mum.  ‘Me pray?’  I thought.  This was the very thing I had been trying to avoid.  Caving inside I went for it.  You know when you’ve got to have that conversation you really don’t want to have and your heart starts beating really fast because you know you’ve got to say some things you’re going to find difficult to say?  That was where I was at.  That night I asked God to heal my dad.  I asked Him to strengthen him and us from the inside out.  I prayed God could do what only He could do – a miracle!  As I spoke to God a heaviness lifted off me.  The pain wasn’t mine to carry.  As I went to bed that night I felt relief, relief that I could talk to someone stronger than myself who could carry the weight of what was upon us.

That heaviness though, very sneakily took residence in my heart again so quickly.  Some days I would try to carry it all by myself, it would seem easier that way.  Or I would get so busy with life that I didn’t realise it was building inside me.  When I say heaviness I mean the weight of my emotions and the constant traffic jam of thoughts and questions.   Seeing dad in discomfort post chemotherapy can be horrible.   I wish I could take away the pain, I wish he didn’t have to suffer, I try to make sense of it all and then I go back and forth in conversations in my head.  I just wish it could all be different.

One week at church we sang the words to this song…..

I lift my hands to Heaven

Here my heart surrendered

I tell myself again

You are Lord of All

And though the seas are raging

You will speak and tame them

In you I find my rest

You are in control

As we sang that song the first time I stood, not singing along but just looking at the words, feeling so full of this heaviness.  I couldn’t bear to say those words to God, so I quickly went off to the toilets as I felt tears well up in my eyes and I became aware that I wasn’t going to be able to hold the tears back.  In that cubicle I cried my eyes out.  I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t give control to God.  I wanted control.  I wanted to make everything ok.  I wanted to do something so my dad would get better.  I wanted to make everything ok for my mum.  But the truth was I couldn’t.  I couldn’t take control.  I sobbed until I got to the point when I was ready to hand it over.  When you hand something over you literally surrender it.  When someone surrenders themselves to the police they lift their hands up as a sign of surrender.  When we were kids and we used to playfight, we used to have to shout ‘ I surrender!!’  to indicate we wanted to give up and we wanted the pain to stop.  There and then in that toilet cubicle I chose to surrender.  I lifted up my hands to God and asked him to ‘TAKE IT.’  From that day on I needed to make surrendering to God a daily thing, not just when it got too much or wait for it to get too much.  I had to surrender my pain, emotions, fragility, and brokenness to then rest in His promises to shine through me even on the darkest days.  Sounds easy but it’s crazy how real the resistance was in me to hand it over.  Probably because I like to take control, I like to fix things.  Only thing is there’s some things in life that are not for us to fix…….

 

Well-being and Wholeness

Over the last few weeks I had been feeling so tired!  I was going to bed at 8pm and sleeping a full 12 hours and then still tired in the morning. I knew something was wrong.  I knew my body was lacking something.  I was getting rest, I wasn’t overdoing things but yet I still felt drained.  Something internally felt off balance.

For me it was anaemia, my blood iron levels weren’t high enough.  That meant as a result I felt FATIGUE…..drained.  As soon as that iron kicked into my blood stream I started to feel the difference, I felt amazing!  It’s so interesting how imbalance can cause such a disturbance to your well-being.  It made me think about other imbalances in my life and how they can disturb my well-being and the well-being of my family. I was surprised to see how my tiredness affected the rest of my family.  It meant early nights for me, so less time for me and Mel to be together in the evenings.  Less time chatting, less time laughing, less time communicating, less time loving and appreciating each other don’t help our marriage!  With the kids I just felt like I was waiting for them to get to bed.  I was there with them but I wasn’t really there.  I felt guilty for not feeling motivated to get up and do things with them.  The tiredness affected the whole household.   I think sometimes we think our well being only affects us, when really its affects so many people.  

I know for me that worry has the ability to cause imbalance in my life.  If I allow worry to consume me or take over it affects me physically, mentally, spiritually and it affects the people around me.  Worry drains me.  Worry robs me of living in the moment.  Worry irritates me!  I wasn’t created to live in worry.  In my life there would be circumstances that would cause worries but the intention has always been for me to live light by giving those worries to God.  You see as a Christian, we’re told by God to give our worries to him.  I forget that He wants to take as much as He wants to give. But how do you give your worries  to him?  Even as I’m writing this I can see how this could sound wishy washy.

 A few months ago I was reading my Bible and I came across Phillipians 4:6 (MSG) .  It says ‘Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life’

 The idea of allowing petitions and praises SHAPE my worries into prayers really intrigued me.  I really felt as if I was being guided how to give my worries to God.  I was to allow petitions and praises to SHAPE my worries into prayers.  Over this last weekend I’ve seen and heard that works!!  I was talking to my mum the other day. The last few months have been the most difficult season she’s been through with discovering dad had cancer and obviously coming to terms with that.  A few days ago I asked her how she felt about the future.  She told me she wasn’t worried anymore and that she trusted God and she believed no-one could out do God with His goodness in her life.  Whatever happened she knew she could trust her God.

As she spoke I heard peace. I heard the transition that had taken place over the last few months from worry to wholeness.  I’d been watching my mum over the last few months.  Those first few months were not easy but I never saw her give in.  She would praise and continue to ask God for healing, for strength, for guidance. In her praise she would sing songs declaring who Jesus was, her loving Father, she would sing about His love for her and from that would flow adoration for God and a trust in Him.  I watched and listened to her and dad do this day in day out, even on the tough days.  That commitment, that consistency, that leaning in has shaped her worries into prayers that have resulted in wholeness.  Recently a neighbour came to visit their home and while she was there she mentioned that she always feels peace in their home whenever she comes over. Mum’s wellbeing and wholeness creates a happy home, a home in which faith, hope and love exists , and despite the circumstances we find ourselves in, there’s rest ❤

Hang on to hope

There was a period of time (a very short period) a few months ago when Liverpool FC were been doing really well in the Premiership and I saw hope rise in my son and husband.  After months of staying faithful despite the results, there was a glimmer of hope.  Hope that they may bring the Cup home or even make it into the Champions League! Their little faces looked so cute as they’d wait in anticipation for victory!!  They had a chance, there was light at the end of the tunnel, they did not walk alone……..Pity it didn’t last long haha! Their hope and excitement made the game look so much more appealing to me! It’s interesting how hope can keep you going, even if you feel you’re loosing in life or you’re going through a tough season. Hope can  ignite you, hope can give you life.  Hope can literally jump start a seemingly dead situation.

Hope has been a jump starter in so many areas of my life.  When married life has been tougher than expected, when I’ve wondered if we’d ever be able to get over a painful situation, when life has felt stale and I’ve wondered if there was anything more to it, when I wondered whether those early days of motherhood would get any easier!!  We all hang on to hope at some point in our lives.  We might hope for a better future, hope for a better job, hope that the following year will be a better one.  But what is hope without an anchor?  I mean what do we anchor our hope to?  Otherwise hope is just this feeling of optimism.  Surely it needs to be connected to something stronger than your desire?  Surely it needs to be connected to something certain.  Often our hope is connected to an uncertainty.  Sometimes my boys say ‘I hope daddy gets home early today.’  When they say this they’re telling me what they’re hoping for but there’s a chance it may not happen.  Trains may be delayed, dad may end up chatting with someone at the end of the day (regular occurrence) or dad may just have so much work to do that its just not possible for him to leave on time.

Most of the time, when we express hope, we are expressing uncertainty. But hope that is anchored to certainty is different.  There’s confidence connected to it.

There’s a confident expectation and desire for something good in the future.

For me my anchor of hope is God.  I’ve learnt over the years that He is trustworthy, He is reliable, His love is unfailing and He is my Strength.   He causes me to expect good for the future.  I’m not only expectant, I’m confident!  Whether its good or bad in my understanding, I’m confident in who my God is and He only does good.  So during uncertain times I have to actively remind myself of this because the truth as its easy to get down, discouraged and feel like God has left you, to even be confused by God and His ways.

I love the way the psalmists also struggled to maintain their hope in God. This is so normal.  They struggled but they also fought to keep their hope anchored.   Our fight for hope needs to remain real and active.  Keep fighting!!!

Recently with cancer being so real in our family we’ve needed to hang on to hope.  When doctors have spoken uncertain words,  we’ve had to fight back with hope.  When I’ve laid in bed and uncertainty has swept over me and caused me to wake up in a panic, this confident hope has relieved the panic and calmed my fears.  There’s been times when I’ve felt so hopeless I’ve not wanted to get out of bed.  Whilst scrolling through social media I’ve come across post after post about hope in God and ended up reminding myself that hopelessness is a feeling and I cannot rely on my feelings.  I rely on my certain hope to jump start me and keep me going.  Hope gives me confidence in the future.