Waiting

I’m slowly learning that waiting is part of the journey.

For much of life, it’s always been about deadlines, progress, getting there, accomplishing stuff, improvement and so on. These are not necessarily in and of themselves bad things, but one can become so consumed by the treadmill that we never stop and wait.

We’re in an unusual life stage at the moment. There is a firm sense that God has shown us what the next clear move is to be, but the timeline for it is not quick. There is a strategic deadline which makes lots of sense but leaves us in a position where we can’t do much in the way of planning or be proactive.

This is surprisingly difficult!

We are having to wait for God to define the steps, and the timings of them. Carry on life ‘as normal’ whilst all the while being aware that this is not ‘it’.

It’s a bit stressful, but underneath there is an awareness that faith grows in the tricky times.

In The Middle

In recent years I’ve become more interested in the art of story telling. There are countless articles out there about how to tell a story, capture the attention of your audience and bring things to a satisfactory conclusion.

However, I’ve begun to note that the middle of the story is where most of us spend large portions of our lives, but we rarely concentrate on this bit when watching films, reading books or listening to stories.

If you look at any story you are familiar with, generally speaking the middle will be a part of journeying towards the conclusion. Most of us want the story to end on an upbeat note, a satisfactory denouement. However, we spend most of our lives in the middle part, where the end is not clear and the struggle is ongoing.

For a long time the photograph associated with this diary entry was the lock screen image on my smartphone. It reminded me, and indeed still does, that we have to continue to follow the path and we’ll eventually find out where it leads us.

In the Bible there are numerous stories where, if you stop in the middle and think for a bit, you realise just what challenges the people faced.

When Daniel was dropped into the lion’s den, what must he have felt, thought, feared?

When Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers, and then ended up in prison for acting with incredible integrity, how did he think his life was going to end up?

Today is Easter Saturday. For most Christians, this is the ‘non day’ inbetween Good Friday, when Jesus Christ was crucified by the Romans after being fitted up by his own fellow Jews, and Easter Sunday, when He rose from the dead and appeared to many people in and around Jerusalem.

Think about what His followers must have thought on that day so many years ago. Everything they had learned in the previous three years must have felt like it was wrong, a waste of time. They must have been devastated! All of what they had held true to, all the pointers which they had understood Jesus to mean while he taught them, walked life with them, and invested time in them, had come to this – He was DEAD!

This was the time of fear, insecurity, and perhaps faith for some. That part where you don’t know what on earth is going on, but you TRUST God for the outcome.

If you’re in the middle at the moment, and it’s extremely likely that you are, keep going. Keep trusting. Keep in touch with God. He has this, and there is literally no-one better placed to walk with you to the end of your own story.

There’s always a challenge!

After coming out of a stressful divorce and getting life back on track for the most part, 2019 has so far been a very good year.

I read so much online about striving for happiness, but in my personal experience I learn most from the really difficult circumstances not the happy ones. Learning who my friends really are means I know who will be honest with me, and who supports when the road is rough and steep. Learning what really scares me helps me concentrate on what I need to develop in my skill set.

A friend passed on a quote to me which I have found very valuable:

“Character is not made in a crisis it is only exhibited.” Robert Freeman

In life I have discovered that satisfaction, contentment, is what is truly desirable. If I am content with what I have at any point it takes so much stress away from life.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t strive to better myself, or those around me, or those who end up with me as a manager. Rather, I am content to learn, to watch people wiser and smarter than I am, to spot the things which can improve the life of those around me. In the middle of all the challenges I’m looking for the lesson to be learned.

And so, as the latest challenge arrives unbidden at my feet, I look forward to learning more lessons along the way.

Rejection

Being rejected is painful.

Rejected from a relationship, told that your skills are not sufficient for a position you desire, informed that you cannot borrow the money you want from a financial institution, berated for being ‘a problem’ when all you’re trying to do is your best while retaining integrity.

All of this is painful.

But the truth is that you are a person of great, great value! You have skills and gifts and talents and likes and dislikes and dreams in a combination which very few others, if anyone, possess. You may be in the wrong relationship, the wrong job, the wrong financial institution, but none of that changes the fact that you are valuable.

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:13-16‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Do not give in to the rejection. Evaluate it carefully from a distance to see if there are any roots of truth in it which you may need to change; in your behaviours, your relationships, your words, your actions, your finances. Think about training courses for skills you desire to develop.

Consider receiving counselling.

But know that you are valuable for who you are, not what you do, who you’re with, what you drive, how you’re perceived.

You are worth more than you can imagine.

Hope

After despair comes hope.

Sometimes it comes from a change in circumstances, sometimes from a timely word via a friend or colleague, sometimes it comes from a realisation inside your own head.

For people who, like me, are followers of God, hope is always underlying even when it can not be seen.

Today I received the note above, which lifted my heart after a particularly torrid time.

If you’ll pardon the pun, I hope it also lifts your heart.

Despair

Utter loss of hope.

The feeling of complete hopelessness.

Not just a feeling of being a bit down, or confused, or sad. No, despair is a feeling which can lead to thoughts of suicide, the sense that there’s no point in you being alive, the wondering of “why am I even here?”

It may pass.

You may have friends who can help, or colleagues who will support you, or even a family who are there for you.

If you don’t, please call The Samaritans for help on 116 123.

Faith

What is faith?

It’s the part of you which believes in something despite a lack of, some would say, reality or scientific evidence.

“Faith is confidence in what you hope for and assurance about what you do not see.” (The Holy Bible, Hebrews 11 v 1)

When life is difficult, when things are so emotionally draining that you’re not sure how to manage the day, when exhaustion takes over your soul to the point that you don’t function in the way you are used to, that’s when faith carries you.

It’s the part of your spirit which always hopes, always desires something better.

Keep slowly moving forwards in faith. You WILL get there!

Have Integrity

Personal integrity is a big deal.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.

“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Oprah Winfrey

“If you don’t have integrity, you have nothing. You can’t buy it. You can have all the money in the world, but if you are not a moral and ethical person, you really have nothing.” Henry Kravis

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.” Alexander The Great