A Question of Integrity

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When referring to a person, integrity is defined as having a quality of being honest or fair. It can also be seen as sticking to a moral code.

I have been thinking a lot about integrity lately.

One of my girlfriends and I are doing this rather intense work out and with it comes a lot and I mean, a lot of work. However, if we would spend the 6 days a week in the gym that we do and then go home, eat like we have the metabolisms of a 10 year old boy then we would be ruining the integrity of what we are doing. It would also mean that I was not committing to what I had promised myself. Saying I work out and then seeing no results would make me look rather foolish, no?

Integrity is a large part of all our lives. We only really have our integrity, our character. Money can come and go, our looks can fade, our charm can wither if we are too tired or stressed, but our character is what everything is built on. When I say I will do something I want the person I say that to to trust me.

There is a verse in James that has become one of my favourite: But above all [things], my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath; but let your yes be [a simple] yes, and your no be [a simple] no, so that you may not sin and fall under condemnation.

Integrity starts with understanding what you can give, what you have space for and what your priorities are.

When we understand our position and where we are coming from we can make decisions, promises and plans based on this starting point. To have integrity does not mean giving everything, but knowing what you can and cannot accomplish or do, particularly for someone else.

Additionally, this verse is part of a passage where we are forced to look at how we are treating others. Patience, humility and self-sacrifice are also described in this passage.

It makes me think that when we live lives of integrity all those things are among the characteristics that become part of who you in the practice of having integrity, in building character.

In order to have integrity a person must also be patient, treat others well, be humble and self-sacrificial.

It is so easy to say “sure I will get you in touch with this person” or “Yeah, we should do coffee sometime” and then promptly forget. We schedule plans and then make excuses or we start building a relationship with someone and then decide they are not enough of a priority to us and simply filter them out of our lives.

I love connecting people. It is part of who I am. I don’t charge for what I do, I just want to make sure everyone knows the people they need to know. However, it can be super easy to say “oh yeah, you should meet this person” and then when I get home from that party or networking event, want to take a nice hot bath rather than send that email.

What was my priority in that moment? The person or my own comfort?

When we decide that what we say will be what happens then integrity comes much easier.

Let’s challenge each other to live lives of integrity. Our character is really all we have. Once that is tarnished then fixing it is much more difficult to earn back.

To be Vulnerable

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It was 2012 and my break up was very fresh.

I was sat in a pub in Notting Hill Gate (one that still makes me flinch a little as I walk by on visits to my former home) with two beautiful friends of mine.

They were there to make sure I was distracted and were working hard at it. Sadly, even the thought of good beer and Sunday roast could not keep the gates of sadness locked and an outpouring of tears flooded by Yorkshire Pudding.

I was humiliated.

You see, I was sat there, trying to work through all that had happened. Introspectively analysing me and what could have gone wrong in my relationship. I had to show that I was hurting, that I was in pain, that I was not okay. But in showing this the floodgates opened.

For me, expressing myself is one of my most vulnerable moments. Expressing myself is where I shine. I know that I have a gift for writing and other forms of communication. But with that gift comes the other side, comes a weight I guess. Because I can so passionately express myself, it also means that I pour out everything when I do.

Vulnerability, particularly when it comes to me and how I feel, is not my strong suit.

Don’t get me wrong, if I write a speech and stand up to present it, I am fine. I can jump up in front of a crowd of 10,000 and sing. Cool.

BUT if you ask me to be real with you one on one, or sing in front of 5 people there is a high chance I will cry. Cry or becoming emotionally over wrought.

I have yet to find an article, a journal, a scientific, logical reason for this, but it is fact.

My ability to pour out my heart on paper, in song, in words thrown out into the vast unknown  and be vulnerable, but not stand in front of someone and tell them I am in pain or that I like them is like taking me to an executioner is one of question.

Maybe it is because naturally I am what they call an outgoing introvert or maybe I am too sensitive. I just know that being vulnerable when it is something close to my heart is a struggle.

This was proven recently, twice actually when on two separate occasions, one in the Gap and one in a cafe, I cried when having to face conversations about subjects close to my heart.

E.M.B.A.R.R.A.S.S.I.N.G

These lovely moments where I am not actually sad, but, as they say “feeling all the feels” it is easier for me to cry, then to not do anything.

This isn’t actually about my inability to react to any highly-charged emotional moment without crying. It is about the process it has taken to be okay with being vulnerable.

The fact is that I know I will probably always respond the way I do. Yes, I work on breathing through the potential tears so as not to appear like I am 5, unprofessional or not altogether okay…but ultimately I know that my ability to feel the way I do makes me a better me, a better friend, lover, daughter, cousin and even employee.

Being vulnerable has enabled me to be a freer person. I have gotten more jobs, stood up for myself, inspired others, gotten a few dates (and being dumped), let others done better, reached greater levels emotionally, gotten closer to God, to my friends, to my family.

I have even learned more about others through this process.

I would hasten to say that most people struggle in some way with vulnerability and deal with it differently. I could shut down and become emotionally stunted. Instead I cry. oh fabulous.

Some people hide their vulnerability in alcohol, in meaningless sex, in keeping people at a distance.

Websters Dictionary defines vulnerability as the capability of being physically or emotionally wounded.

The fact is many things have the possibility to hurt you. In your life it is inevitable you will feel pain.

Getting into the right relationship takes a great risk because you’re both human and could hurt the other. So, instead we bounce from person to person and when we meet the one with whom are heart connects we try and keep them at a distance so as not to face the fact that maybe things are getting a bit real and we need to change and let someone in.

Or maybe it could be something as simple as not wanting to go back to the gym because one day someone teased you back in high school how you were uncoordinated. Or maybe that you tried to ride a bike, someone let go and you fell off and now don’t want to get back on again.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that vulnerability affects all facets of our lives.

What I have learned is that in order to be more vulnerable I have to learn to trust others more. To trust them with my heart, my emotions, my general well being. When we allow ourselves a position of vulnerability we are not allowing someone power over us, instead we are inviting them to be vulnerable themselves and giving them permission to be open. We humble ourselves so that in return they will humble themselves. It is servanthood.

Sure, people still suck. We’re human. You could still get hurt. But what if you just opened up. Maybe you would learn more about yourself and the person sat in front of you.

Maybe your moment of vulnerability would impact a hundred thousand lives.

A Restored Heart

image1 (6)It was only a few weeks, maybe two months into my life in Sweden when my dear friend, who lives in New Zealand, insisted on Skyping with me.

My move to Sweden, whilst actually much more carefully planned and thought out than many on the outside knew, came as a surprise to most. One friend even asked me if I was running away.

Looking back now, exactly three years after I applied to do my MSc here and uproot my life of seven years in London, the move to a country where I had no knowledge of the language or any true tries, may have seemed a bit abrupt.

I had it all in London. A good job, amazing community, an all round lovely life. I was comfortable.

Unfortunately, in all my comfort, I was giving all that was broken in my life a place to hide. With routine and familiarity came a place to hide much that was tearing me up from the inside out. Like broken glass in a plastic bag.

Needless to say that Skype call came as a real awakening…

“Michelle, I feel like this your time to heal. This next season is about healing and it is not going to be comfortable. It WILL be painful”

oh, thanks.

The years prior to this had brought a momentous amount of rejection to my heart. Details of break ups, friendships torn apart, men in my life who should have been there for me, abandoned me. I had lost my step father when he was abruptly promoted to Heaven and a relationship or two torn from my life. Even church where was supposed to feel accepted and safe was all but filled with humans who were less than kind. It had been over a year of “go to sleep and wake up and life has changed monumentally”.

I was done.

Life was more than I could handle and yet that last year had been filled with so many amazingly good times that my logically minded brain would not let my broken and rejected heart feel that it was fair or reasonable to be sad.

It is genuinely a tumultuous season to be in.

Last night, as we celebrated the sacrifice that was paid over 2000 years ago, a sacrifice made so that my life could be whole, so I could be free, so that we all could live the lives we were meant to lead, loved and accepted, I was overcome by the overwhelming responsibility to tell a story of a girl.

The girl is me and she stands a different person than she was three years ago.

Looking back, my friend in New Zealand was right. This has been a season of healing. It has also been one of the most difficult three years of my entire life.

As a Christian, as someone raised in church, I also balance my intellectual side and my emotional side. I am clearly not the only one, but I am going to be blunt. I spend many a night struggling between wanting to give in to my human emotions of “this is not fair” and “this is not right” balancing it with the fact that the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me. I spend time balancing the argument of humanity vs grace. In a person who feels ALL the feels while still trying to make a logical explanation out of everything, I can be often at war with myself.

All the details of the past three years are not important. If you want them, we can have a cup of coffee or a Skype chat. This is not meant to be a post about how to fix a situation or make your life comparable to mine.

We all have our own struggles, our own personal reasons for needing a Saviour. The truth is, that ultimately we do all need a Saviour. It is only because of my relationship with God that all of me makes sense.

I was For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-14

It was only when I allowed, actually allow (because I still and always will have my moments) myself to forget that I was made perfectly and uniquely in EVERY way…that I find myself forgetting that the rejections of this world are never going to break me.

Throughout the months and months of pain, of tears when no one was looking, that healing took place.

I truly had to go through the fire in order to come out more whole than I had ever been.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Is 55:8-9

It was only in the understanding of a love greater than I can comprehend, in the framework of hope that life made sense. Coming out of the other side it is easier to see the thread of love and compassion which brought healing.

I have gone from a rejected heart that sees fault in all others, sees herself as not enough, to a woman who again stands, a heart restored, not rejected, knowing that her full identity and reliance is firm in something much greater than herself. This is the freedom I find in Christ, freedom to be all of me, unapologetically, to face the world each day. Strong.

Dating in the age of Tinder

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I can recall the first time that I was asked on a date. I got off the phone with B and my father, of all people said, so “you’re going on a date, eh?”

I looked at him, befuddled at best, shocked because I had always been raised to spend time with guys as friends and so this just seemed like any other time.

My dad was right, I was wrong and the legacy that every one knows someone likes me before I do, has never ended. There have only been a minuscule amount of times in my life where a guy I have dated has been super clear on his intentions right from the beginning. Most of the time it’s guess work at best.

I suck at knowing when someone is interested in me. I am convinced that most people are in the same position. It is always easier to look into someone else’s situation and see the wooing, the longing, the interest. Our own insecurities usually blocking the signs and signals of our would-be wooer.

Dating is scary because we have to give up a bit of ourselves in order to get to know someone else. We ask ourselves if they’re really interested, polite or just looking for another friend.

You would think that the rise of dating/hook up apps and online dating sites would give way to the confusion. In some ways, yes, the confusion has dissipated. I swipe right, you swipe right, we match. oh wait, we unmatch? The opposite has actually happened. It has given rise to more choice, more lack of commitment and too many ways to get out. More ways to say “…oh that was not a date, we’re just friends.” All the ways to contact each other has only given us more options to avoid actually saying “hey, I like you” to that one person we have actually had our eye on.

Dating is scary, allowing someone close is even more scary. Afraid they may not accept all of us, who we are, what we believe, what we want in life.

You know what?

That’s okay. No app or dating site can tell you the future. Mostly it just tells you how good of a selfie-taker a person is, or how much they say they love the gym.

Telling someone you like them and want to get to know them only opens a door, to a path…one that you may both want to get out of or maybe one that you will stay on forever.

Speaking for our generation, we need to stop wanting to know the end result before the experiment has begun. We need to stop trying to look through the peep hole before the door is opened. We need to remember that if we are open to getting to know someone, open to learning, open to being non-judgemental and self-sacrificial, then suddenly dating becomes less a risk and more of an adventure. We need to stop living for what other people may think of our dating choices, stop showing off every moment, go back to the letter writing, the secret moments, the ability to enjoy the really scrumptious, slightly terrifying moments before the first time you hold hands or kiss. We need to learn to build on solid ground rather than on empty promises and lack of integrity. We need to choose rather than react.

Maybe you will meet your next great romance in the boardroom, at a party, in an app or just through friends, but let’s start being less scared of getting hurt and more willing to decide that the simple of act of getting to know another human being better is enough of a reward in itself.

Dating is a time where we get to learn about each other, discover a person who has been raised differently, sometimes in a different land, see if being together is something that makes you both better.

We are all intriguing individuals, with stories, dreams, and adventures behind and before us. Dare to open the door (tell someone you’re interested) and see what adventure may be ahead.

She Stopped Living in Tomorrow and Started Living for Today

brick roadI got home last night after having traveled for more than 24 hours. Las Vegas to Los Angeles to London and home to Stockholm. In total I have been away from home more in the last two months than I have been here. I am not complaining, I love the life I have been given, but I could not help, when at 9:40pm I arrived at home to a messy flat, no food and a clogged drain that coming home would be a lot better if someone had been there to meet me. I allowed my mind to wonder what it would be like to walk through the doors of my home airport to find someone waiting with flowers or a stupid sign that says my name, not caring that I look like crap after traveling for so many hours and probably drool on my shirt from sleeping sitting up on a plane.

Then I snapped myself out of my little pity party and realised that at this time, if I had someone to come home to that I probably would not be living the life I currently am.

Then I saw this on Instagram.

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I was originally going to write a post on balance today. That topic had been drifting in and out through my mind all day, but this seemed like just one of those signs.

I have had in the past tended to want to throw my life forward. Wherever I was, I wanted to be somewhere else. Single? Married. Canada? England. Working? school. Where was not always a physical place.

However, the past two to three years I have been learning a very important lesson. Just be.

It is often in the circumstances that God is shaping us to be who we are. Whether it is an emotional, spiritual, physical or mental transformation, we are, as humans, continually transforming and becoming the people we are supposed to be.

Right now I have the absolute privilege to be able to travel freely for work and pleasure, spend my money how I want, physically improve myself and invest my time, energy and money into other people how I choose. What I am able today is preparing myself for my future…and who knows who I may meet along the way.

I don’t know yet know what my future will look like. It could all change tomorrow. I do know that ultimately I want to do is honor God in all I do and be sure I am living the best life I can.

Do I do that every day and every hour? No, but it’s a journey.

When the Night was Total Darkness

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I won’t lie, I still watch young adult TV all the time. For me, watching television and film are one of the few ways I can completely switch off my brain and relax. It is my often my escape.

I follow the TV show Switched At Birth and have since it’s pilot episode. It covers a lot of topics, in the messy way that real life happens and I enjoy it. Sure, it’s still television and therefore reality is often suspended, but nevertheless, it is as close to life as possible.

Yesterday I tried to watch the latest episode, which came with this warning:

Tonight’s episode contains story lines dealing with sexual consent. Viewer discretion advised.

I am 31, I can handle it. Right? Except, not…because there were triggers.

The episode revolved around Bay, one of the lead characters, waking up next to a man (she knew) without remembering anything from the evening before. Her memories came only in short flashbacks and understanding how she ended up where she was that morning. 10 minutes into the episode I had to stop.

You can read more about the episode and the issues covered here.

You see, it’s been almost 4 years so I did not think it would affect me.

In the Autumn of 2011 I was invited to a party. It was glamorous, rocking and filled completely with 99.9% people I did not know. The evening began fine. Partying with my “date”, a girlfriend I brought with me, meeting famous and semi-famous people and enjoying the crazy atmosphere.

It must have been around midnight when it all went blank and I woke up past 9am the next morning, in my bed, no phone, no clothes and no memory of the last 9 or so hours.

To this day I remember only flashes of that night. What I do recall and what still often haunts me is the day after. It was the darkness that enveloped my spirit and more clearly my mind. It was the fear of the unknown. It was the inability to recall little more than trying to get into a club, trying to take money out of the bank machine and standing with police. Everything I could remember felt like it was happening in one of those really bad dreams where you can’t wake up, but nothing is really clear either.

It was all that came out of that night’s events…the worry of maybe having been raped. To this day I still feel like I could vomit at the thought. Luckily, I was safe and nothing happened to me. I ended up speaking to the cab driver who got me home. I realised through that conversation that I had been drugged.

Me, the good girl. I had been drugged and it was my fault.

It was in the aftermath that I dealt feelings of guilt, moment of anxiety, fear and frustration. It took an already clear inability or fear of vulnerability to an entirely new level.

I am not writing frivolously, not for attention…I am writing to give a voice, or maybe to add a voice to the many out there that are scared to speak.

You may not have been drugged like me, but there is a day or night, a time of your life that was cast in darkness and you may still be struggling with the effects or how even to get out of it.

For me, it was first and foremost my faith in God that, through time, enabled me to work through the issues that arose from that night. What I am now grateful for is that all I went through enabled me to grow as a person. It was also those around me, who I trusted to tell (and not many know), who showed me who I was and how this was not a reflection of me. You are not your circumstances or that which has happened to you.

You, the person reading this, whose stomach is turning in knots right now, whose eyes are filled with tears. Tell someone. Talk. Know you are valuable and worth being treated as a human. You have the right to feel whole and free.

If you feel you can’t tell someone around you, tell me…you are valuable.

A different kind of me

So, it’s January 26th (I think?) and today I’m writing about my new year’s resolution.

My journal for the year, the personal one, the one that is filled with inspirations, doubts, dreams, broken promises and resolutions is sitting near me. On the first page it simply states “I figure, if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one”. Calamity Jane everyone. A legend.

Every year I take some time to refocus, give myself a word or two to focus on for that year and then write some goals around those. What does my relationship with God, my health, my career, my family, friends and love life look like in context of all this.

This year my words were simple and interlocking. They’re my words, but they all came with an overarching question over them.

Is what I choose today going to affect what I want tomorrow? Will my today negatively or positively impact what I want long-term?

I am blessed. I have people around me who love me. I know that sounds cheesy or maybe even prideful, but these people who love me, why I consider myself most blessed, is that they challenge me. They challenge me to be a better woman, person, friend, daughter, employee, worker, ME.

One of the best questions I was ever asked was why I allow myself to do things, or allow things to happen to me, which will inhibit the woman I am becoming, the person I want to be.

That struck my heart…probably at that moment mainly because they were asking me about relationships and my apparent inability to trust men. Fabulous right? Not so much.

Anyway, that question stuck with me and has slowly, over the past year buried itself deep and began to blossom into what has now become my 2015.

There is nothing particularly spiritual about this post, though it does affect that part of my life. There is no major scientific studies around what I am doing. It is simply a question…

Is what you are choosing now going to affect your future positively or negatively? 

It’s in every decision, every action, every mood or feeling.

If I choose to go to work out or not.

If I choose to sleep because I am tired or not.

If I choose to date that guy…or not.

If I choose to have coffee with that person or not.

You see, rather than spend the moments, the money, the time, the resources, I have chosen to invest them (thanks Andreas).

I am never going to be a help to anyone if I am not the person I am supposed to be. My daily decisions, your daily decisions should be ones which you and others will get a return from.

So, ask yourself this…

What choice am I making?

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From me to you: a blog without a title

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How do you tell someone that you are actually okay with where you are? How do you admit that you were always convinced that you wouldn’t marry until you were at least 30? More importantly, how do you admit that you allowed other people’s insecurities, life plans and expectations drive you to live outside the peace of God that you had so closely held onto all your life?

For me it was a shameful thing to admit.

When I was about 17 years old I had a very strong vision for my life, one that I do not recall sharing with anyone. It was like a snapshot of my life over the next 15 years, I saw myself in university, I saw myself moving away, I saw a beautiful apartment and a life to be envied. Most strikingly I saw myself single…and really really happy.

So off I went to university and was a happy girl. Sidenote: although I really would not change my life I do still have moments where I wish I had followed the dream and gone to Wellesley, studying only with women who had strong academic goals. Anyway, back to my life…

I went off to university and begun having those conversations. You know them, we all have them…so, when are you going to find a nice boy? Did you hear so and so hooked up? He really likes you, you should date him. The worst was one car ride where my friends spent the entire time driving up to the cabin matchmaking our group of friends so that we were almost all related or connected by marriage. It was a nightmare.

I dated some throughout university, had my many crushes…but really, looking back there was always the prevailing thought, that nagging voice that said “Michelle, you are destined for something so much more than what you would get if you settled here.”

(disclaimer: I have no inherent issues about marrying young, or dating, or any life choice that is different than mine. This is about MY choices and MY destiny (and consequently the man I marry and our children)…

My life was a battle between what was “expected” of me and the vision and dreams God had placed on my heart. Amusingly enough none of the relationships that I had worked out and God used a pretty supernatural moment to get me over to Europe. I moved and settled in my life there.

I love God. I love the hope that Jesus brought and the life that He has given me. I am a person who naturally puts her heart and soul into what she does and so when I moved to London and got a just okay job (because I was so scared to fail) I put my entire heart and soul into church. Understand that I will always do that, but instead of finding a balance on a day to day basis I made my work second and my life at church the priority. I was not actually honoring God in a HUGE part of my life and yet I seemed like I was this good girl. Praise the LORD that we have grace and my life still had fruit and that God used me because of my willingness to serve him. However, on the professional side of my life I was lacking. I was not happy. I hated Sunday nights. I had lost sight of my goals. In actuality I had lost sight of what God put on my heart and therefore almost lost sight of him.

I spent many years pretending. I was sort of happy. I was sort of present in my daily life. I mean, I really do not know of how many people knew that I was not all me…but I knew and God knew. We can so easily hide ourselves in today’s world. Again it is only by God’s grace that I functioned, but this is a WHOLE other topic that I need to save for next week.

So, here I was living my life, going along, making friends and serving in church, but that path that I saw when I was 17? I was so far from it. It hurt to think about all that I was missing. I knew that when I got up each day and went to my various jobs that I was not on the right path. There was something missing, something akin to what I think it feels like to lose an arm. It was a phantom pain.

During this time there was also a lot of guys. Oh gosh. I will not get into detail, but instead of just enjoying friendships and seeing what would happen I began to feel the pressure of the people around me (again) to be discontent in my singleness. It says in the Bible that nothing can be taken away or added that is not from God. Ask me about that one day. I have 100 different stories. In hindsight (so wise hindsight is) my struggles in dating and relationships came from the fact that I was fighting God’s plan for me. He makes straight our paths, he levels mountains…he goes before us (Is 45) but if we are not following behind him…we can still be walking crookedly and climbing mountains when the narrow, calmer path sits parallel to ours.

I was a lost little soul and it was not until I felt like I had hit rock bottom that something changed. Work, love…it all escaped me. I was not even myself completely. I prayed and asked God to reveal who he wanted me to be again. My journey, too long for this post, took a number of steps including spending a 6 month period praying each week to make a commitment to love God. It meant jumping in deep and looking for a job that would be put me on track (even if it meant a pay cut). It meant giving up on dating until I could see clearly again. My vision so blurred by the expectations of others.

In life, some of us spend too much time listening to what others think or say. I believe the term for it is people-pleasers. I remember Phil Dooley speaking about this, about quitting people pleasing and chasing God instead.

It was in my lowest point where I turned my neck and started really chasing God. It was not that I had been away from Him, but that I conveniently allowed others to speak into my life.

You know, it was not all as bad as it seemed and if you speak to those around me now, who knew me then, you would never say “Michelle was not with God”…but there is a difference between loving God and seeking Him first.

It was when my priorities really changed that my life changed the most. Now, I am 31 and God has put me in a place, not without challenges or difficulties, but in a place of GRACE.

I wish some days that I could have just gone back to 17 and kept my eyes and heart focused on what He showed me at such a young age. However, now when God speaks directly into my heart, when He shows me His promises; when he whispers secrets to me that show me what is next, I listen. I listen and I take hold.

I no longer care if my FB feed is COVERED in engagements, weddings or babies. It does not phase me when my friends complain they are single. I do not long for another job or a different life, because I am living my life, my destiny and with God beside me, I will not falter.

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

A New Level of Trust

I often hear the term “oh, I am waiting on God”. Actually, not only do I hear that term, but I myself have said it, numerous times, in context of anything from a relationship to a job, to any kind of answer for which I feel like I cannot control. I see it all the time, plastered across numerous blogs, preached in sermons, and most importantly even in the Bible.

In fact, every morning, at 9:55am I get a reminder flashed on my phone:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

It has long been a topic on this blog about allowing God to take control.

Even recently I wrote about having a trust without borders and the lessons in peace and humility that allowing God to have control brought. However, it was not until I was spending time with an amazing friend in NYC that our discussion led to a new and deeper understanding of God and his timing.

You see, in January I strongly felt that God was telling me to stop even considering my next steps and to simply (not so simple) take each day and allow myself to do well with what was in my hands. Whilst I accepted this and as you can read in my post, learned many valuable lessons from that time. Funny though, because just 6 weeks after writing this post I began to get a bit antsy. It was only when I went to NYC and hung out with C that I began to understand what God was trying to teach me next.

10626453_10152435093227091_4653617695945005897_nC and I had not seen each other in years, but as only true friends can, we picked up where we had left out. It was in this discussion that God spoke to me. At first, difficult to articulate, I later came to understand this.

My child, you tell me you trust me, you make all the effort to do what is asked of you, but you still give me timelines.

It hit hard, the realisation that although I gave God my every day, it was with the subconscious understanding that he would provide when in my time. For me that meant that as I finished my thesis, I would go to a few interviews and miraculously I would have a job before the end of summer. Funny thing, our timing, it is rarely, I hasten to even say, never God’s.

Now, while God continually and faithfully provided for me from June to October when I finally got my full time position, it was not in the manner I saw coming.

Do you not believe, live in the complete understanding that I love you so much that I want to give you my very best. I see the desires of your heart, the longings of your soul, I put them there. I love you enough to keep you from that which will not be my best for you.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides. Matt 6:33 (AMP)

It is much easier to say you will trust God for a spouse until you are in your 30s and you see your body adding hair in places you did not want.

It is much easier to trust God for that job until you are dangerously close to running out of money.

It is much easier to trust God for that new apartment until you have just bought another one and you have not sold your first.

It is always easier to trust God on our terms. For me, it used to be hard to trust God in even the small things…but as we grow, as we mature, God allows us to be stretched and grow. It used to be that I would take a job just because I was worried I could not pay the bills. This time, I trusted and I waited on Him…and again, he showed me His love in beautiful and even outstanding ways.

I guess what I am trying to say is that…

Fear not [there is nothing to fear], for I am with you; do not look around you in terror and be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and harden you to difficulties, yes, I will help you; yes, I will hold you up and retain you with My [victorious] right hand of rightness and justice. Isaiah 41:10

Allow your trust in God to stretch you further, wait on Him…the answers will come…it may not be as tangible as a house, or a husband, it may be a lesson in understanding your purpose, your place, your destiny…

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

When NO Is Just A Detour

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Have you ever had someone turn you down for a job?

Perhaps you asked someone out and they said no. Or perhaps someone asked you out and then decided it wasn’t the right thing.

Maybe you didn’t get into the college you wanted or get to go on that trip you really wanted.

It could simply be that you were not allowed to go to a friend’s house when you were a child or something as complex as a move to another country that never happened.
Big, FAT NOs.

When NOs come around I’m reminded of the Paul and Silas in Acts 16:

And Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word in [the province of] Asia.

And when they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.

[There] a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man from Macedonia stood pleading with him and saying, Come over to Macedonia and help us! And when he had seen the vision, we [including Luke] at once endeavored to go on into Macedonia, confidently inferring that God had called us to proclaim the glad tidings (Gospel) to them.

Paul got a LOT of NOs…my gosh, the Holy Spirit even forbid him to go one place!  Even so, ALL those NOs lead him and Silas exactly where they were supposed to go…

I’m writing this in the midst of a no. I am not sure where this latest no has me headed but I know that it’s something great.

 I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it. And God does it so that men will [reverently] fear Him [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is]. That which is now already has been, and that which is to be already has been; and God seeks that which has passed by [so that history repeats itself]. Eccelsiates 3:14-15

A few years ago I was in a situation that was keeping me in London. Few know that around September/October 2011 I felt the desire to leave London. The funny part was that I had no idea where that was going to lead, I only knew that I no longer felt that London was where I was supposed to be. However, circumstances in my life changed that had me stay in a London longer than I expected. So, where’s the no? Well, it came in a huge crash of reality when the circumstances that kept me in London suddenly came crashing away and I was free.

You see, I thought that those circumstances were my future. I believed that the relationship I was in was it, at least then. When God placed a big fat NO across it and it all ended He very suddenly and very rapidly changed my circumstances and less than 5 months later I lived in a new country.

What God has for you, no man can take away…(John 10:29)

Now two years later what I thought was a huge NO to a life I really believed I wanted was simply God’s way of rerouting me to the life that I was supposed to have, in the direction I was supposed to go.

In hindsight I can now see clearly where the NO was simply a redirection.

How often do we feel that a NO in our lives is unfair, hurtful, painful and just darn mean? Instead, can we dare to reframe our view and see a NO as a means to our destiny?

In the past weeks I have gone to more than my share of incredible job interviews. I have had rave reviews and fabulous encounters with some seemingly amazing opportunities. I have even been offered a role, a dream role, all of which have suddenly become NO.

I’m writing because I had a revelation, or maybe a reminder of how we should treat the NOs in our lives.

 

This is my prayer in the desert

When all that’s within me feels dry

This is my prayer in my hunger and need

My God is the God who provides

And this is my prayer in the fire

In weakness or trial or pain

There is a faith proved

Of more worth than gold

So refine me, Lord, through the flame

And I will bring praise

I will bring praise

No weapon formed against me shall remain

I will rejoice

I will declare

God is my victory and He is here 

 

Instead of whining, crying, screaming…pray, give thanks.

I am so thankful that one of the biggest NOs in my life happened. Sure, in the moment I was a mess, more a mess than I care to admit, but it lead me to this life I am leading now.

Where have your NOs taken you? I challenge you to take a minute and think, reflect on the NOs in your life. What has come out of them? What victories? What celebrations? What amazing new experiences have you encountered or who have you met because of a NO?

Then…thank God for the NO.