Friday, May 31, 2013
Do you know the feeling of putting your arm around someone and snuggling them close in their anger and pain and tears, and your heart wanting to explode with the message of God's love and hope, and you're powerless to express it? I pray you don't. Maybe you do.
Do you know the feeling of sitting next to your best friend and hearing them say they just want to be happy, and you know WHY they're lacking it, but you're painfully unable to open their eyes to their need of Christ?
Do you ever stand and absorb the pain of those nearest to you, using your mind to understand their struggles, why they are where they are and realise you are standing knowing, but unable to do?
Do you know what it's like to feel them lash out at you in their pain and quiver in your own skin, feeling and seeing everything you aren't in their eyes? I pray you don't. You probably do.
Do you know what it's like to be in a group of people who champion truth and right, but condemn you for not being conservative enough or not lax enough?
Do you know what it's like to have been popular and then to be frozen out when you're struggling to come back from a three year nightmare?
Do you know what it's like to feel the icy sting of rejection and dislike for no known reason? I pray you don't. You more than likely do.
Does your heart tear up inside when the person you love dearest walks away from you yet again, after you've taken them back into your heart even though you've promised never to let them that close again because you know what it will do to you? Have you spilled tears into your pillow at night until you sleep in sheer despair or randomly started sobbing at work or in the midst of a laugh because of the long throbbing pain that masks most of the time then suddenly rises to choke you? I pray you haven't. Perhaps you have.
Do you know the agony of searing memories surfacing, those that you fight down daily to live and laugh and cheer others on, the torture of sin that people tell you to "forget because Jesus has"? The desperation as you suddenly look up at someone, choking back the sobs and the pain in your eyes before the questions and judgement come? I pray you haven't. Most probably you have.
Do you know the feeling of going to bed, everything you wanted to do not done, and the few pitiful things you have done never being enough? The desperate dividing of time between family and supporting people and the crushing weight of never fully doing either? I pray you haven't. Many of you have.
Do you know the weariness of watching months go by while you count down the hours every day, just one day more, one more day of trying to do everything you didn't, trying to help people you can't, waiting waiting waiting for something you don't know? I pray you don't. Perhaps you do.
Do you know the warm tears for lost friends that loved you and you loved so dearly once, friends that you talk to now and they don't trust you or think you close enough to talk to? I can think of six right now. Six I abandoned, or didn't stay close enough to. I pray you don't. You may.
Do you know the feeling of being inferior to so many people who others turn to readily, and suddenly you feel small and useless? I pray you don't; that your eyes are fixed more on Christ than mine.
Do you know the feeling of deep sadness as you type your heart out and realise that somehow, words only capture a mirror or a photograph and never the depth of the reality? I pray you don't. You writers probably do.
Do you know how it feels to know that people will see this and won't read it because you posted it, because you're the "popular one" and everyone likes you and really, you aren't that popular because people don't like that. Or the feeling that people will tell you you shouldn't be so open. Or the feeling that people will sneer at this and say that God obviously doesn't meet all your needs, or that you don't really know what it's like to feel all this? That someone will lower the way you feel compared to theirs? I pray you don't. Perhaps you do. Remember you are valid, and pray for them.
Do you know the feeling of fighting a losing battle, that every day you try to love out and it's rejected because they don't think it's real? I pray you don't. Perhaps you do. And maybe it's good if you do. For you see some of the pain of God.
There are times I am glad I'm an empath. And there are times when the crushing weight is killing. To go to bed with all of this constantly there.
It may be the burden of a Timelord.
It's my burden.
It may be yours.
And God can feel every pulsating painbeat of it.
Do you know the feeling of looking at yourself in God's Word and feeling surrounded by His peace and presence? I pray you do. I've been there and He loves you so, so much.
He died to prove that. And what's more, He conquered death and lives forever to give you eternal life and freedom from this.
That's real love.
Yes, I'm insecure. A girl who's been so many places she shouldn't and with so many scars.
Do you know the feeling of accepting exactly who you are, with all the dirty rottenness and all the missing pieces, calmly? I pray you will one day. God may not take away the empty places, but He uses them.
When we accept our humanity and our sin and try to live for Him through our weakness, then He shines out. Don't fight for perfection. just stop. And look at Him. Let Him do the cleaning up. Our cleaning up is pretty useless.
Somehow, He'll use us.
I've come to accept that. It's the only way I can reconcile myself to life; knowing that He's got it all - everything I can't see.
'And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.' 2 Corinthians 12:9
"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39
Sunday, May 19, 2013
DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. THAT. FLOWER.
Do not admire it. Do not appreciate it. Do not even compliment it. After all, it was designed by a Creator. And we should only thank the Creator for making the flower. "That flower is pretty!" is NOT an acceptable comment. "What a beautiful scent!" is also totally wrong.
Does that sound acceptable, or do I sound like an idiot? ;)
Would you agree that most of the time, the acceptable way to appreciate natural beauty is to praise it AND praise God for it?
Oookay. So let's move from the third day of creation to the sixth. And...not to the animals. To humans!
Recently, there's been an argument put forward that it is wrong for a guy to compliment a girl. It is that subject I'm attempting to address in a fashion today.
Okay, so maybe the flowers don't have feelings that can be affected by such comments. If they did hear them, in association with praise to the Creator for them, do you think they would feel proud, vain and boastful of their beauty, or attempt to glow even more brightly for Him?
I think God made some mistakes in the Bible.
Genesis 24:15, 16
"Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again."
OOOPS. She was beautiful in appearance AND IT WAS COMMENTED ON.
1 Samuel 9:2, 16:12, 25:3
"Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else."
"So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.”"
"(now the man’s name was Nabal, and his wife’s name was Abigail. And the woman was intelligent and beautiful in appearance, but the man was harsh and evil in his dealings, and he was a Calebite),"
"He had seven sons and three daughters. He named the first Jemimah, and the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land no women were found so fair as Job’s daughters; and their father gave them inheritance among their brothers."
Yes, I've (pretty much) kept the baddies out or where the beauty was used for bad reasons (Jezebel, Bathsheba), in case the response is that it's mentioned as a bad thing. ;)
If some guys don't feel safe in guarding their own purity by complimenting a girl, that's fine. I'm not trying to force you to. But when guys do feel safe in guarding their own purity and being free to compliment a girl positively on her appearance, it is WRONG to try and persuade them otherwise.
As a woman who has been damaged by guys who find me physically beautiful, I can speak from my experience on this.
I find that being used by guys because they find me attractive has altered my psyche to understand that when they leave me, they don't find me attractive any more.
Therefore, confidence in living/handling issues and in personal security is compromised by the uncertainty of the way one appears physically and emotionally to others. And believe me, the guys can tell when a girl is emotionally insecure; it makes the girl far more a vulnerable target.
Think for a moment about the tramps and the outcasts. When one ceases the desire to live, or no longer cares what becomes of one, what is one of the last things to go? The care for personal appearance and cleanliness.
You see here that physical appearance and emotional wellbeing are often linked.
Two women in my immediate family have also been used and abused by the men in their lives. They are both physically very beautiful women.
What is the reaction now?
They come to me:
"Sian, do I look all right in this?"
"Yes; you look beautiful."
"No I don't. I look fat and old. Don't be silly."
They have learned through abuse to find emotional validation in the way they look, although rejecting it from fear.
To love through fear means that one has to reassure to regain confidence, in the same way that one reassures a selfharming person that they are loved, that cutting/burning, while not healthy, is a release of their pain and accepting that pain while trying to find ways of easing it.
The psychological impact of abuse means that to tell women who have been taught THROUGH LIVING that their looks matter, that they don't, is to them, basically telling them that they don't matter. Their validation as a woman comes through knowing that they are beautiful and valued - inside and out.
There is nothing wrong with validating a woman while still teaching that it is the inside that matters the most.
I have been both sides of the coin. I was raised with the "charm is deceitful and beauty is vain" while being taught to look and dress nicely - which technically, the majority of women are - before the men in my life meant I came to value myself on appearance for a time (and still struggle with).
I have two brothers; my older brother I don't see very often, my younger isn't in a suitable state to give many appropriate compliments. When I get a compliment from my older brother, it makes me really happy. Likewise, when I receive a compliment from one of my brothers in Christ, I treat it exactly the same way.
There are other girls who are only daughters with single mothers. Should they have a father figure in their lives? Would it be wrong for him to compliment them (with the agreement of his wife, before I get jumped on ;)?
After all, are we looking at brothers/sisters in Christ as future spouses, or as brothers and sisters?
Yes, there are types of compliments that are inappropriate. Most guys and girls should be able to tell those. :P "You look so attractive/hot" vs "that colour really suits you" or "that's a pretty dress/nice jacket".
There are women who are more physically beautiful than others, or men that are more handsome. But beauty is a different level to everyone. I find that if I study a person enough, there is something about them that I can genuinely compliment them on. There is a woman I know, and her greatest beauty is her eyes. The peace that shines through them floods her face and makes it beautiful, not only to me, but to so many others.
Beauty on the inside is most important. The beauty of a personality; of a soul; of a heart for Christ. I have never doubted that. As such, I ran The Beauty Project for one/two weeks over Facebook and Blogger, with both one of my adoptive mothers and two of my daughters who were insecure on their appearance participating, as well as some of my friends.
Almost every response that came back said it had helped.
My aim as a woman seeking to help hurting people is to affirm and validate them where they need it most, and build on those things that are more important.
While it is right to point women to God as their ultimate security, there is nothing wrong with being the mouthpiece of God to them.
Psalm 139:13-14 - "For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well."
God created us to appreciate beauty. To deny that is to cut off appreciating a part of His creation. Every gift can turn to sin if misused - love to lust, sight to covet, hands to hurt, self defence to murder.
But it's time to claim back what the world has distorted, not shun it.
Rejecting it only narrows the Christian influence more and widens the world's sphere of control.
We have let the world claim so much. Are we going to let it claim beauty too?
I'm going to fight it by validating where the world has destroyed with its supermodels, not by ignoring it, while encouraging towards the greater meaning - beauty and value in Christ. Will you join me?
(P.S. You can go and appreciate the flower now. ;))
Saturday, May 11, 2013
But here is an image of what I believe surrender means. Think about it.
(With thanks to MattTheSamurai and DeviantArt - http://th05.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/i/2010/194/8/5/Field_of_Poppies___II_by_MattTheSamurai.jpg)
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
It's almost funny, really. I so wanted to write this blog post yesterday, but as much as I tried, it wasn't ready to come.
This wasn't the way I dreamed of writing it; slumped in a pool of despondency. But it's now I believe I'm s'posed to try and write it.
It's almost funny. But I'm depressed. So it's not.
So Lord, do Your best with this. Cause it's not going to be mine. And maybe that's why You wanted me to wait until now.
Prayer and Bible reading are meant to be a way of life for a Christian. But they aren't an instantaneous desire, springing up and flowering as soon as you become a Christian. They're called a discipline for a good reason. It's hard to create and maintain a discipline - particularly for disorganised, spontaneous people like me.
Recovering from the blow in February through to the beginning of April has taken me until now to start a degree of healing on, but God has been wonderfully sweet and close and started - once again - wooing my heart back.
Recently, He's renewed the desire (and growing in intensity) to draw close to Him - to pursue after Him, to dwell in His presence. But God created man in His own image.
Two Scriptures of seeming opposites have always stood out to me; "Truly, You are a God who hides Himself, O God of Israel, Savior!" in Isaiah 45:15 and "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart," in Jeremiah 29:13, Deuteromy 4:29 and 1 Chronicles 28:9.
Ya'acov Prasch teaches that when God says something once, it's important. When God says something twice, it's very important. When God says something three or more times, it's some of the most important things He wants us to take note of.
God's assuring us that we will 100% find Him if we look for Him with all our hearts. But, He is a God Who hides Himself.
When you're starting a relationship with someone, you start to open up to them, but cautiously. You want to see if they really want to get to know you for who you are, or if they are only happy to take a few things about you and create a pre-conceived image. So you let out little bits at a time, keeping back the majority, waiting and seeing.
That's what I mean by God created us in His image. I think God is a little like that, and that is how He hides Himself. Never mind that there is an infinity of wisdom and character that we could not comprehend this side of eternity! :D
Yesterday, we got back from a walk in the park. I was tired. It was a hot day. I had only a few short hours to do internet work in. I wanted to write my autobiography. I thought about going out on a prayer walk, but decided to tell the Lord all of the above reasons why I couldn't go.
I've not really seen a good marriage in working action around me. Therefore, a lot of my marriage-relationship experience will be based off God's and mine.
Suddenly, I thought about the guy I love. If he walked into the room right then and said to me, "Come on, Sian, let's go for a walk and spend some time together talking," I'd be out of my seat like a shot. Forget tiredness, forget heat, forget the self-imposed workload. All of that would vanish in the joy of getting to spend time with him and - oh boy! Him wanting to spend time with me!
I admit to a feeling of shame at my ready willingness to go with the one and my avoidance of spending time with another. Just because God spends time with me ALL the time doesn't mean we don't need time out together. Every couple does. Every friendship needs even the occasional dose of dedicated time and attention.
Closing down my laptop, I grabbed my jacket and set out for my favourite spot. (If you know me, you know my prayer walks usually take me to some wide open green space with trees, grass and a big expanse of blue sky. :P)
Couple of random thoughts hit me as I went down the road. God is the only guy in the world Who wants to go on a date with me simply because He loves me and actually wants to hang out with me and develop a relationship with me!
Also, He is completely silent. Which was kinda embarrassing to know that He wanted me to go and spend time with Him simply so I could rattle everything off my chest, and here I was going no.
The sweetest realisation came when I thought about normal prayer times - I spend intense concentration on per person, each problem. This time is so I can randomly talk about everything dearest to my heart that is hurting or bothering or I'm happy about.
I came back home feeling like the time had been too short. There was an ache in my heart of more that I wish I could've said. And even though His warm presence was very close, I still want to yank aside the veil and step into His full presence. But I'll have to wait for eternity for that. It's only a short while away.
Carissa and I became Prayer Warrior Sisters about a year and a half ago. I fear my end of it has been upheld far less than hers, as I've watched her grow into God in this particular area. God placed a call on both of our hearts towards prayer after reading "Intercessor" by Norman Grubb - a biography of the prayer warrior Rees Howells, who fought for Britain through prayer during the Second World War, at the cost of his life.
As God's been calling me back to Him - again - the burden to pray increases. So does the guilt of realising exactly how many times I casually say, "Oh yeah, I'll pray!" and then, if I don't right then, completely fail to remember.
Prayer isn't just a random "oh yeah I'll pray for that. " it's a constant pursuit of "Lord, what do You want me to pray for this week? What is Your heart for me to pray? "
If you make a commitment to prayer - keep it. Commitment isn't too serious a word to use. In light of this, I bought my third prayer notepad - a place to jot down names and prayer requests.
Sometimes one of my unsaved friends come to me and say, "I want you to pray for this or that. You're the professional." It hurts. :P It's not a profession. Anyone can come to God. If you seek Him, you will find Him. IF you search for Him with ALL your heart.
As usual, Satan doesn't like letting go without a fight. Not only have I been unaccountably down the last few days and struggling with random tears, but strong memories of my dark past started randomly springing into my head, causing my weakest area and me to be enveloped in another struggle I don't even want. Plus outside...influences psychologically played havoc due again to part of my past, leaving me more sensitive than usual to verbal comments. Which then got me more down. Which then made my Mom feel down. Which made me feel worse. Y'all know how that goes. *small grin*
I've blogged along as I've gone, from the return from backsliding when God taught me, through loving one man, His Love, which then expanded into unconditional love for others. I've explained how He's teaching me to trust - through trusting someone, to trust Him, and through trusting Him, to trust that same person - and how that requires faith.
We've moved onto a new section of it now. Surrender.
*laughs softly* God is using one human to teach me these lessons - the guy He taught me to love. I'm so blessed. :)
I thought I'd surrendered him. Over and over for two and a half years, I've prayed for God to teach me how to love him, how to let go, to do what's best for both of us regardless of me. But I didn't realise that I was still hanging on, scared to let go. Scared that if I completely gave him to God, he'd be taken away, vanished like everything else I once held dear.
Then my sister Laura Jenkins wrote this on surrender. (Please, read it.)
Full and complete surrender. I was giving him to God and still being upset or disappointed when things didn't go the way I wanted. I was trying to do a deal. And God doesn't do deals. He asks us to let go completely, a living sacrifice.
I knew it was coming. The eventual letting go. But I didn't want to while I did. Partly because I was scared that I'd only be doing it to get what I wanted back. And yet, there's never a guarantee of that.
So one day, on my prayer walk, I asked God, "Lord, make me willing to be willing to surrender."
Although I'm still constantly struggling with grabbing on and tugging everything back. God's placed me in a position where I cannot kick, whine, scream, cry, demand. Even my tears do nothing but He sees them and He only asks that I give them to Him too. As the wise Elisabeth Elliot said, "Even loneliness is material for sacrifice." He asked for my dreams. My hopes. And I try and plan to live as now, for good, while being open to anything He does.
It's hard to explain. I'm barely starting to touch the surface of understanding this. And it's a cross of beautiful pain.
Full surrender is continual surrender.
It's kinda funny how it's tied up with faith and trust.
God started teaching me trust. I had to have faith to trust. And now to surrender, I have to have faith and trust! Isn't He amazing?
God is sweet.
And pain can be turned into beauty, when given to God for His glory.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
MUSLIM "MODESTY PATROL" STALKING STREETS OF LONDON [Excerpts]
Earlier this month, a group who had claimed [that] an area in East London was a "Muslim area" had told people that alcohol was banned, or that they were dressed inappropriately.
Borough officials, community leaders and police condemned a group of self-proclaimed vigilantes who took it upon themselves to patrol the streets of London confronting people they deemed as indulging in "non-Muslim" behavior.
The group, who dubbed itself a "Muslim patrol," filmed the incidents and posted the footage on YouTube.
In one video, which was published by the UK news portal The Commentator, the group could be seen destroying advertisements for H&M lingerie on bus shelters in the Whitechapel area of London. "The Muslims have taken it upon themselves to command the good and forbid the evil and cover up these naked women," one of the vigilantes says in the video.
Another video shows the group harassing members of the public for consuming alcohol. In one incident, a member of the public is told to dispose of a can of beer he is drinking.
The individual shown in the video is clearly shocked when he is told it is a Muslim area and that alcohol is "evil and banned" as they take his beverage away from him.
One young woman confronted by the group said she was appalled by their actions.
"This is Great Britain," she said, to which the patrol can be heard saying, "We don't care. It's not so Great Britain, you understand? Vigilantes are implementing Islam."
The London Metropolitan Police said that they are treating the incidents with "appropriate gravity," adding that they are aware of the incidents and are increasing police patrols in the area.