Promises and change

6 Apr

I promised to pray for people through Lent. I haven’t always kept the promise but I have had a few sessions of praying for the people who requested it. I’m starting to think the Lord takes my broken promises as long as they keep mending.

There is a promise I mean to mend. I made it about 18 years ago and I kept it for about 10. Ever since I ‘grew up’, I’ve had so many other things to do. Inviting people home, going to their homes, cleaning our home. I think you grow up and you don’t always know how to cope. You keep needing to find jobs, courses, careers, frequently money, neighbourhoods, research projects, hobbies.

I did. And the promise I made was to pray for at least an hour every day at 5 pm. There I said it. It was just the time I came home from school, and had had a quick snack. And I couldn’t wait for time alone with the Lord. I usually went up on the rooftop. Sometimes as a ten-year-old I stayed up there for 3 hours or so (my parents started to worry about what I was doing up there).

I’ve broken that promise. Stuff happened, changes, my timings changed and I couldn’t quite cope with the slight tremors of change in life. I moved countries, time zones, needed to find dedicated time to talk to family, and I had to organise everything independently suddenly – food, cleaning my whole living space on my own, research on my own, make my own course and negotiate a new culture.

And all the time I have wanted to go back. Now, 7 nearly 8 years later, maybe I need to fall in love with the Lord differently as the adult me. I have never not been in love with the Lord. I have never fallen out of love. I can say this from the bottom of my heart with little pride and all the pain of a broken promise. I have loved him. Because he first loved me, but I have LOVED him. But now, intentionally, with the tip of a long unraveled thread that leads back to the beginning, a still intact ball of yarn, I might try mixing yarns a bit. One with a different give. One in love as a woman, with a woman’s analogies, a woman’s desires, hurts, joys and remonstrances. Perhaps I’ve not quite seen how our conversation has changed, I’ve never viewed it and loved it and driven with it.

Perhaps I need to welcome change. I may not blog here again.

Change is coming. Oh, and I got married since my last post.

Singing

14 Dec

I haven’t blogged since April.

Blogging is my way of speaking when my spirit hasn’t been seeking God as much as it is used to. It is like a baby when it’s being weaned off its milk – it’s something we want to do for a baby, not something we should ever want to do for us and your presence. I feel like my voice can’t find its notes after a long, unshakeable cold.

I warble a bit and then croak and break. That is sometimes my prayer to you. And when I get there, in a few days – gulp, weeks – of ‘less’, writing becomes easier.

You have been so so so incredibly good. There, I got teary after my second ‘so’. This year has been incredible because a lot of things have happened to be ‘in His time’ this year.

SD and I have been growing together in such a good way. We kinda needed that. We had a few stutters before. Thank you for telling us to not doubt. I think we just needed to listen to your voice more. I mean – just listen. To listen and not to be afraid and not second-guess you. Everything you’ve said has been beautiful and good and true.

Everything I’ve doubted has been hugged into the right place by you. I am so grateful.

All my questions – it’s as if you know they won’t stop but you’ll put up with it. As if you smile and wipe my face of all its tears and smile again. SD sometimes does that. Thank You for that.

You are so good to me. I’m remembering this, over and over again in this period of my life.

I got a visa this year. Not a UK visa as if that alone was what I aspired to but A visa, that allowed me to live and work in the place you wanted me to live and work in. In a place where you have given me love and family and a community. And when my heart aches for my little family, in India, you’ve given me hugs that work. Relentless hugs and smiles and laughter from friends. And space for the tears. A computer for the tears to find words across many cyber-miles.

And then this year, SD obeyed this word, that you – amazingly – whispered to both of us differently, separately, undiscussed. A rather incredible word that reminded me of this. Maybe it did or maybe it should have, because then I should have remembered this. I don’t know if I did in some clear moments but I did cry and wonder and wait and watch while your presence held me, like a blanket. You held me into trust.

This year, we got engaged.

Last night, I saw my first shooting stars. And Jupiter. With SD.

And this year, Christmas – beautiful, beautiful Christmas – is back again and I am going home to India for the season and I am grateful again and again for this gift of you and its Christmas reminder.

I.love.you. and I’ve found my song notes again.

Cloudy

1 Apr

There are times when the silence is what I need, when my heart speaks inside itself, and God is in my heart and my heart is in him. Ensconced. 

The word reminds me of several layers of gentle wrapping, and being held close and deep. It comes from a Germanic word meaning a fortress and/or a bundle of sticks – and when I merge that image with the one in my head of my smallness and God’s bigness, there’s something very precious that kicks up in my heart in gratitude for his delicate, precious covering.

The silence is also sometimes when my heart is hurting and it doesn’t have the strength to speak. It doesn’t have the strength to string a sentence. 

Right now, it’s just a bit distant from the God I so love that I’m not quite able to speak in the Spirit in intimacy with him either. He would. I’m the one who feels distant and am assuming inability, except in short, silent little bursts of syllables of love and need.

Writing… writing is okay. Even if I don’t publish this, it matters not. Somehow sound is too… external. Perhaps this is why I write when it feels like cloudy weather in my soul. And I am blogless other times. 

And I must write, I must speak silence because of that same distance I’m feeling. It’s an apathy I do not want, and it’s a minute little smidgen of apathy every day and it’s a wonderful feeling after panic and pain, but a dangerously creeping cloudiness. No, it’s not there yet – but it is constantly what I know I must fight against as must most of us

Anyway, in the silence God hears what I do not speak and speaks what I don’t always have to hear. And slowly, slowly His voice becomes what I do hear and the clouds separate a little. In the silence, you can speak words even you cannot hear because you can’t make sense of words tonight.

You can’t create logical thought tonight. 

But you can speak and be heard. You can know the comfort of his listening presence. His ensconcing presence. I am heard, I am known. Even when I do not know myself, what I feel and why I am lost. I am known.

He knows me.

He’s found me. 

And that has never changed, ven when I check the facts.

Fare ye well, September and early-October

17 Oct

These past four and a half weeks have been pretty vulnerable. Just a bit over a month.

Someone I cared about died, at the start of it. Her being sick for a while was a little ease-in. I cared about her, but she wasn’t immediate family. She was a missionary in India, had led an amazing life and told me she could be my grandma. I told her I’d like one – we visited every week. She was Welsh and 92. Then I left the country. And came back, very far from her. And I had refused offers from this wonderful lady to buy tickets for me to visit. I couldn’t – I would visit when I had the time and money. It was £200 and so I had to think about it, as a student.

Well, I did – in her last week, after several reports of her failing, I managed to visit her.

And came home. A few days later, she’d gone.

Then a couple days later, boy and I went to boy’s trial session for a job that I thought would answer a few questions. And despite incredible confidence, it suddenly felt like God didn’t want it. I cried.

Sure enough, a week later – no.

Then my top candidate for ‘people-who-might-like-to-employ-Writeroo’ called me for an interview. And rejected my application.

Then I went to this place that really doesn’t work for me, but to help a friend and old employer. I generally cry there. I did. The usual 14-hour working day doesn’t help either. Then I lost my railway card and tickets. I cried some more. On my way home, I fell sick predictably. Stayed sick for the whole week, still sick and have a few worrying things I ought to go to the doctor about but have NO time to. (Try teaching to earn a living, and making intensive job applications and struggling with stuff at home and living at a distance?)

I have to say at this point – I am SO grateful for God keeping me in amazing ways in this limbo place!

Dropped my laptop, and fell with it again. Major repairs – major money.

God was so good though – he provided just in time, and then I got some more teaching. This story is a testimony on my Facebook. So I don’t simply rant.

That week, someone fairly close to me simply cut me off. We had had a conversation which I thought was challenging to both of us on many levels, and would induce us to re-evaluate our decisions about how to live a Christian life. My friend, though, felt severely criticised.

I still pray for grace in my talk. I need it because I struggle so hard with this. Few people get you so that you don’t have to filter when you talk – that is, if you’re a Writeroo. Some of my best friends will say I already have that grace – when clearly I don’t. But what is it they say? Love is blind.

But I ended up hurting them incredibly. And I worry about healing it. God is absolutely redemptive, so he will heal this. But I struggle. Because I’m just not that lovable any more, am I? ;) We are so silly in our fallenness – us. People. Human beings. I more than most! Hearts of flesh, all of us. We choose hearts of stone sometimes. Even when they lie heavy (and interfere with our digestion, in some cases!!!). We distance ourselves from the places we are most vulnerable in. I do it, to God’s presence, sometimes. It just hurts too much to be that challenged, to be seen honestly and to be treated as an ‘equal’ and a friend by God. And when he tells me what I am doing, reveals myself, convicts me – I run. I hide. And we do that in our relationships, too. I do.

Clumsy, silly me. So clumsy I hurt them more than I imagined.

Anyway, long story short… After ‘week of hard things’, another week of hard things followed.

This time – friend-related. Because being completely alienated from a friend, who then is depressed for various reasons including your ‘honesty’, and knowing that none of the others in the circle of friends has any access either – this is difficult. And he is such a dear friend and pretty much spot on, in so many ways!

And me being me, I prodded and prodded. My friend. My other friends. My friend’s friends.

And cried every night, because I didn’t know what was happening to this person.

And so clumsy, that we allow ourselves to be hurt and live in a sorry state for self – like me. Right now. This blog post.

It is my confessional, as all of these virtual presences seem to be becoming.

Housemate upset with something I said. Little thing, right? Still hurt a bit. Then I didn’t even get called to the interview of another job I had on my list of ‘most likely’ and this one was also on ‘most wanted’. This, despite speaking to people on the board, and being guaranteed an interview. Sounds like God. Yes. But at the time, I almost wished he wouldn’t. Funnily, he told me the afternoon of the evening I heard that… he would.

Managed to have another friend erupt on me. She then apologised and I smiled. But guess who doesn’t erupt, smiles, keeps it all in and comes home and wants to major-erupt?!

Had the Director in the school I’m temping in tell me I wasn’t as qualified as other schools thought I was, payment-wise – this after um 6 years of teaching AND and AND BEING director, before starting graduate work!

Two close friends (I will just call them friends) in the past two weeks have told me of having nearly suicidal thoughts, because they were depressed, and acting on it. Both after years of being friends – and I am shocked, and scared… and mad.

They went through more – I know this.

I don’t think one of them sees how much it has scared me and continues to scare me. It is something I must take on – not just put up with the knowledge of. Other friend, who is lovely, told of her friend who trusted her support when she felt like that in faraway China! Relationships matter.

Aunt got super-sick like she did a couple of years ago, and they predicted dire predictions. And God basically made her live. Like he does all of us.

Boy and I have argued over nothings – I LOVE discussion, and I love it when two people can challenge each other, and question each other and be a strong man and woman who forge and carve their ideas with faith and strength and confidence in each other. No, no – THAT I totally love. But little arguments that leave you feeling unlikeable or unresolved – Gah.

And finally, I am home alone. It is raining.

On the other hand, I love the rain. And maybe I’ll take a long bath, with entertainment in tow (iPlayer and book!). And forget about all this, and all I haven’t said.

Yes, maybe that’s what I’ll do. And if you’ve read this far, pray for me. Pray for the friends, boy, the family, the lovely, loving, wonderful aunt and a job. Yeah – actually, unashamedly – here it is: please pray for me ;). And I promise to return the favour ;).

Love.

Wanted

4 Oct

In all this looking for a job business that I am doing lately…

YES! I submitted! A month and a half ago now, and the results were in last week! Woot!

But we digress, in all this looking for a job business that I am doing lately, one of the many things that have dawned on me is this: I want to be wanted…

You know? I think that’s a craving we all have – it’s perhaps part of Pascal’s God-shaped vacuum. It reminds me of Romans 8:19. We want to be wanted – by people, by a husband or wife, by family, by friends. There is joy in being missed, there is gladness in being wanted enough for people to make an effort to have you.

And recently, I’ve been lacking that feeling on a very human level in my life maybe because I’m missing family. I read this recently from Kent Hansen’s devotionals on the CS Lewis blog.

If we are seeking our life or vindication from another human being, we have lost our way.

It is God who ultimately satisfies. So if I’m poor and live in a cardboard box with no one to love me – no, I’m exaggerating – then joy does not depend on my lack of concrete wall. The thing is there are people who live in cardboard boxes or nearly and still keep the faith. I know this – I’ve looked into their eyes and talked to them.

And my craving for love, for recognition, approval, erm recruitment – these only become an emotional thing when I forget to see the face of my Father.

God likes you

22 Aug

I like simple things. Like remembering goodness.

Isn’t it wonderful how God chose the marriage metaphor to illustrate the relationship between him and us? I actually believe that that is both personal and communal. He has a relationship with his bride the church.

But he is also mine.

I live now with a husband and wife who are incredibly different from me. She is incredibly different from the kind of person I am. I enjoy her, we share a sense of humour sometimes and I have a feeling she enjoys my company. She just called after a bad day at work, to come home and have a chocolate session with me. He’s changed his plans and is going cray-fishing this afternoon.

And I think to myself that the way they relate to each other is probably very unlike the way I would relate to a husband, if that happens! And it’s pretty much the way I relate to God.

I am about as dependent as I can take ‘em! I say this facetiously, because serious dependency can be a problem, and I recognise that. Don’t get your feathers all in a ruffle just yet – I’m mostly dependent on myself for most things. But I *need* relational God-time. And I always always love it when I can lean on him, and know that he *wants* my presence.

I mean, what is that?! He’s God and he wants me?

I want to talk to him in my head about little things, mention the funny things on my bike to work. Say ‘Oh, God, I’m so tired this morning – so grateful to have You!‘ I also never talk about it so much. I’ve never talked about some of my deepest, most intimate experiences with God. I initiate and then say only a little bit, as much as I can to witness, and stop.

It’s… too personal. I make it an exercise to tell, but it’s incredibly close to my heart that it’ll get up and start flopping around somewhere inside my chest and the tears pop out pronto.

I’m… emotional. So is everyone else, but they probably don’t all cry. Some people can say more than others. To some people, experiences aren’t so private that they cannot be rejoiced over together.

And isn’t it amazing that God’ll relate to all of us within the body however different we are? You can be a quiet, dry little mouse like I am. Or you can be the expressive, you-better-deal-with-this-because-you’ll-learn-to-love-it kind of conversationalist. And he still wants that you.

What I long for

11 Aug

She asked me this. This post is in response, and does not make sense without.

 

 

I long to sit cross-legged in that place where I can look into God’s face and let him see my heart. He always does, but when I still my eyes and gaze – I can remember that he is looking.

That he cares.

And that I’m vulnerable – I belong to him. And he loves me – and has become vulnerable to me. He did that a while ago and tore the veil.

I long for quiet time, and the times I value are simply times when people talk about their hearts. When I can cry and hug and just learn someone’s heart. If I can look into a friend’s eyes, and be able to see their heart and know that they are seeing mine…

This I long for. When I feel my stomach drop, when I grope the shapes of the emptiness that can always take more of a wonderful something – this is that something.

Journal entry

4 Aug

I’m incredibly, overwhelmingly grateful to be where I am.

I walked through the Bodleian’s links underground yesterday and just felt overwhelmed by how good God has been. I remembered the things that happened two years ago that made me doubt I’d ever be back. I put it in the distant future – yeah, maybe some day I’ll be back. I think in hazy some-days about many things.

Some day I can afford a family. Some day I can be doing the work I love to do, and be serving together. Some day my parents can have a holiday.

But then God brings my some-days into eternity and suddenly they’re here and now. Like being so so so grateful I’m in the education department. My supervisor likes my work and tells me I’m hard on myself – really? I’m not, but really?! I am considering publishing it. When did that happen?!

I’m still stressed about my thesis because I want it to be decent at least! And I’m praying because primarily, I want it to honour God. Incredibly, impactingly honouring – I want it to be that and it almost seems arrogant. And yet, I want to try my hardest to give him that because I can’t imagine how I got to this place without him.

I’m not being superficially modest. I might have imagined being in this place a few years ago – not without God, but less aware of total dependence. I cannot now.

You think that’s why he waited till Abraham was *ahem* slightly incapable *ahem* and then worked his awesomeness?

So grateful. So emotional. So overwhelmed and still so scared right now. This God is so heart-stoppingly wonderful and I’m so unbelievably foolish to forget every now and then.

So please excuse the publicisation of what ought to be a journal entry today ;) – you’ve had it for a while now!

Memo

24 Jul

I’ve been reading this and it has been so timely. I’ve been touched also by Brad Strait’s honesty, humility and clear-headedness in his responses to comments.

I’m glad that some of us do a better job than me. :)

I am dragging my feet (and sometimes my sleepy body that won’t stand on the feet any longer) towards the end of a thesis. And I pray, I pray, I pray that this thing is beautiful in God’s eyes.

There. I said it. I’ve been holding it inside of me like an egg that won’t be laid, because the chicken’s always imagining foxes. Sometimes the foxes are real. 

Really, the thing at hand is so close to my heart because it’s God’s. I want it to be God’s. I want it to be uniquely, loudly, weirdly, beautifully God’s. Is that okay to say? I want it to speak truth not because I make it conform to my reading of the truth but because I know that the truth really will set free. And yet – it’s a thesis. It’s not theology. It’s not missions. It’s not a child. It’s not a family. 

But it is unequivocally what God’s given me at this point in my life and called me to. And I am so afraid that it won’t be everything it is meant to be because of my fear and my resistance and my lack of resistance.

No, I don’t quite see how my first sentence and the rest of my post are related and I can’t force a connection. I won’t because tonight I want to be honest. My mind is messy, so full of random things, so easily able to procrastinate, so easily able to be crippled by fear and so adept at finding excuses for impossibility. My mind has reality which isn’t always ordered – the tragedies that the world faces out of actions so meaningless and yet so full of evil intent; the tumour my neighbour’s child has and his brave assurance, ‘It’s ok. God spoke to me – I know I’ll become better'; and this beautiful, wonderful thing I have that God has called me to right now. My thesis.

I have been afraid to face the wonder of it, the magnitude of it, and the call of it too often. I usually am in life – I deny, I shirk, I run away until God’s gentle insistence slowly penetrates through my rather foggy brain. But God is a redeemer. And I am praying for redemption over and above all I ask or think – well, that’s what He promises, isn’t it?

And I am left with one week to finish an unfinished thesis and I’m screaming scared. But I trust that God can, God can do it. I will do it, because of him, because of nothing else really.

And I’m here to make this note to myself to say I owe this to him.

Sleepy update

2 Jul

Could not sleep last night. Spent the whooooole night in that limbo between sleeping and waking. Well, what was left of it at 3 am after thesis work. And I NEED productivity today. And now the sleep is kicking in. This has been a weird day, exciting in some ways – I will tell more soon. Or rant ;)

 

And really, Facebook doesn’t need any more statuses than all the ones I see on my feed so my trusty blog will get this little update! And you guys :) Thanks for listening. 

 

The weekend was great. God spoke. I didn’t get as much done as I hoped, but… God spoke. No answers to my questions, but just what he wanted to say. 

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