Lenten Reflections Part 1

(I was at a work event and a speaker said that if someone is presenting something that doesn’t really have a logical order or strong coherence they tend to call it ‘Reflections’. In the light of that these are definitely Reflections)

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When I was younger I thought that I was an extrovert, as did everyone around me, and maybe I was. I could talk to anyone, appear comfortable in most settings, organize, lead and speak to groups. I was picked out for leadership from a young age – no doubt coming to attention because of my presence and ability to connect. I stayed in that role through my twenties and into my thirties, both in Christian circles and in other activities I undertook until it all changed five years ago.

Next week as part of Karissa Sorrells Wednesday Wrestling series I’m going to write about the events which precipitated that change, but the important part for now is that it’s been dawning on me over the past 5 years, and hit me with real force last night that I am not an extrovert.  I am an introvert with ideas and passion and a need to connect with others in order to share those ideas and passions, and I am an encourager and a motivator, but if I have to do all of that face to face with groups of people all the time it exhausts and reduces me.  And that is why (I’m saying this in a hesitant whisper) I think writing is changing my life.

Through this blog and other writing that I’m doing I’m finding a way to share my ideas and work through my thoughts with other people. I’ve been so encouraged by how some of my thinking in my last post has resonated with others as a way to practically implement old testament biblical principles of economic justice in our lives in 2014.

I have chosen to use Lent as a time for inward reflection, and for the first time feel that it is legitimate to give myself the space to do that. I am choosing to  commit time to my family and to be careful about the demands I place on myself in terms of interacting with other people. I am finding that through reading and writing  and working I am like a plant being given oxygen and water.

But here’s the thing I’m finding hard.  I am coming across lots of voices which all seem to be saying the same extraordinary things.

‘It’s ok to be you. You are known and loved. God has made you in a deliberate and beautiful way. Breathe in the spirit and let that breath come out of you in whatever creative and life giving way that it will. Lean in to God. Trust his promises.’

I am finding sisters across the world who are saying ‘– yes – I understand your heart and I hear it and I encourage you to live and love as you are. ‘ (and maybe the fact I have no sisters makes this feel even more special)

This is so amazing and I feel like I can breathe again, but then I think, no they don’t know me. Yes of course all the bits I’m sharing are real and me, but how can I be moving forward and feeling hope about my value when I know where I’ve been, and what I’ve done, and how I’ve hurt others?  And how messy and fragmented my inner self is. Shouldn’t I be feeling all of that too? I catch myself feeling happy because of these changes in my spirit, and then I feel so undeserving of them that I think I’m getting it all wrong. Am I wanting to believe all these voices that encourage me because I’m being selfish and want to hear things that make me feel good about myself?  How can good be coming from so much brokenness ?

It’s hard. It’s hard when you start to claim the promises. Not because that doesn’t bring the most extraordinary contentment and excitement and joy into your life, but because the Father of Lies doesn’t like it.  I know that if I am hiding away overwhelmed and ashamed I will not be bringing the good news of the Kingdom to others. When I write it down it all starts to become a little clearer and I can see where all the shame and guilt is coming from, and why I shouldn’t bow to its demands.

So today, at the beginning of Lent, during which I will focus on generosity and on Being, I am standing on truth from the bible. The truth that I find so hard to believe; that because of God’s generous and great love for me, and Christ’s sacrifice and my redemption, I am covered by Christ’s righteousness. There is nothing that I do or don’t do which will change that.

If that is how God sees me then why do I insist on seeing myself differently?

This journey isn’t easy but with the voices of the community surrounding me and daily reminders from the bible, I am beginning to allow my ears and my heart and my mind to be open to all the hope and light and joy and encouragement that is in me, and for me ,and around me. Because of Christ.

I think I’m going to like reflecting 🙂

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