Getting Started

(I actually wrote this last week, but it’s taken me a week to get started in actually setting up a blog!)

I’ve decided it’s time to start a blog. For the last year or so I’ve been using an online diary within a weight loss support forum, and it’s been really helpful for me to capture what I’m thinking, and to see trends in how my thoughts are changing / how I’m working things through.

Several times people have suggested spiritual journalling to me, and I have a shelf with many notebooks on it, with the first 3, 4 or 5 pages written in, and then I’ve given up / forgotten about it / abandoned it. Having realised I’ve almost started this process with the online weight diary, I think a blog may be the next step for me.

Particularly I want to start it today, as I step out on the next step on my journey. This evening I go to STETs for the first time, so officially I think I am now an ordinand, in training for ministry in the church. It’s been a long journey to get to here. I feel really humbled to look back over the last ten years of my journey and see how God’s hand has been in so much, how he has supported me, guided me, been gentle with me, and helped me to discover who I am and the dream that he has given me.

Yesterday, the following thought was on Sacred Space:

God is not foreign to my freedom.
Instead the Spirit breathes life into my most intimate desires,
gently nudging me towards all that is good.
I ask for the grace to let myself be enfolded by the Spirit.

When I think back it is amazing how gently God does work with us, the patience he has as we slowly come to understand things, and to reach for what is good.

Haggai 1:1-8
Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes.’

  • Human endeavour and toil are brought into perspective in my prayer. All my busyness and all my concerns are distractions if I lose sight of what really matters.
  • What would it be like for me to be satisfied with less? What difference would it make to me? To others? I ask God to help me to let go a little more, to trust.

This really spoke to me, when I look back, how do I let the Spirit in, to let the Spirit really breathe life into my most intimate desires, instead of trying to control them myself. On more than one occasion in the past, I understand this desire from God, this way I need to go; but then I try and seize control of it, make myself really busy trying to implement my version of it, and get distracted in the process from God at the centre of it. Somehow I end up thinking I know better and want to control it, take responsibility for it, and generally own it, rather than letting God breathe his life into it, and trusting God to actually know best.

I also know there is a danger zone for me… to get lured by other things, by having, by doing…. and not on being… on focusing on what really matters.

A quote I came across today
‘The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing’ (Stephen Covey)

God, I think I need you to help me to realise what the main thing is for me right now. To understand what happens when I live, breathe and focus on the main thing… what I can achieve (beyond my wildest dreams)  and what happens when I try and control it, take total responsibility for it…. anxiety, hardened relationships, non-delivery, distraction, stress.

I think back on the last year. This time last year I dared to set the goal of getting to ‘overweight’… which then became a goal of getting to a healthy weight. Subsequently I then set the goal of cycling the 45 mile Palace to Palace cycle ride. I have now lost 8 stone, and have successfully completed the cycle in 5 hours. I am so proud of these achievements, of listening to the Spirit and becoming aware of what I needed to do. I’m so glad that I’ve persevered with these goals, even though some days / weeks I really felt like I couldn’t do it, didn’t want to do it, wanted to give up and questioned whether it was worth it.

I want to remember these feelings, and the decisions I made, to persevere through the days when I really didn’t fancy it; to focus on what the main thing was, what was really important to me (rather than the tempting bowl of chocolate ice cream in the freezer)

Everything has the potential to draw forth from me a fuller love and life.
Yet my desires are often fixed, caught, on illusions of fulfillment.
I ask that God, through my freedom
may orchestrate
my desires in a vibrant loving melody rich in harmony.

How true, I so easily get caught up on ‘my illusions of fulfillment’ and put a cap on what that would be, or focus too clearly on a very specific, small thing or a particular way of how I think something should be. Help me to be open to what God desires, that his Spirit can work through me and that I will be open to those possibilities, to see the opportunities and the next steps to take in my journey.

In my conversations with Maggie (my spiritual director) she has helped me to see the amazing two years I have had, since the birth of our daughter (well, probably the 8 months leading up to that too) – these have been an incredible few years of happiness, consolation, joy; a real gift from God. Part of this has been because I have been prepared to listen to God and to live in the present, to actually appreciate the gifts as they come, rather than miss them because I was focused on a different future.

As I embark on this next step, I want to write a note to myself (to capture my learnings at the moment)

  • Live in the present, take the time to look at the sky, to notice the sunshine, to splash in puddles
  • Enjoy the time that I have with dh and little one, take the time to really enjoy them, to nourish those relationships and to play (don’t let study become an excuse not to be fully a part of my family)
  • Take things one at a time; even when there is a lot to do, work out what needs to be done today, tomorrow and this week.
  • Stick to my commitment to do this study; enjoy the time I have to study and do the work each week that I need to do.
  • Remember that this journey is what God has called me to; that he has given me the skills and gifts that I need to accomplish this, and that the future is in his hands – I need to be faithful to this next step and not be worried about what might come next.
  • Enjoy it :)

I am really excited, and slightly nervous as I set out on this next step. I am curious to see how this journey will change me, what I will learn through the studies, through the people I meet and the situations I find myself in. I ask for God’s help to stay true to him, and to always remember his love for me, and that his love always wins; and to let that carry me through the difficult times, the challenging times, the tired times, the exciting times, the interesting times that lay ahead.

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