An Empty Well

It has been just over a month now since my accident.  I may be slower than the seniors at my grocery store, but I can walk without a limp if I concentrate and I have the cast off on the right hand, although the thumb is still pretty tender and weak.  But this week what I have been struck by is how quickly and easily our resources; physical, emotional and spiritual can be drained.

To say that I hit a wall on Wednesday would be an understatement.  I was scrapping the bottom on all levels.  I was physically exhausted, mentally exhausted and, as I was soon to learn, spiritually exhausted.  Sometimes it’s easy to hold on to our faith, sometimes it squirts away from us like a wet bar of soap.  The details of what sent me over the edge aren’t as important as the fall out…I got to a point when I couldn’t see the point, I cursed God, swore at him and decided that I was done with it all.  I was hurt and tired and frustrated and angry.  I told myself that I had just been deceiving myself this entire time about God and if there was a God then I certainly let him have it.  I wasn’t in a much better place the next morning and I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that I let some of that hurt and frustration and anger I was feeling spill over onto my loved ones.

I ended up in bed, in tears, feeling not just like a bad person…but like an evil one.  Within minutes I was crying out my contrition to those I had wounded, and of course, as I knew would be the case, their forgiveness was offered unconditionally.  They knew that, despite my harsh words, I loved them with my whole heart.  I had built up enough emotional currency to be able to make a withdrawal.

But for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to believe that God could forgive me.  I had sworn at him.  I had vented my unfiltered spleen at him.  That afternoon I sat there confessing my fear and my shame to David.  I was a terrible person and I didn’t deserve God’s love.  And yet, even as I was acknowledging how I was feeling, I felt a truth creep into my heart.  There was nothing my children could say that would make me turn away from them…even if they should curse or swear at me.  I was a child of God and, like the perfect Father he is, he would happily forgive me when I was ready.  He already had.

I wasn’t ready yesterday, I haven’t asked for forgiveness yet today, although I can feel it pressing down on me anyway.  But God continues to send me messages of peace and reassurance.  Every morning my phone gives me a verse from the Bible.  My verse today:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and don’t lean on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

And my reading while I was waiting for my physiotherapy appointment…”Experience shows, however, that capacities for spontaneously reacting to people and circumstances in a way that is unloving, unethical and sometimes violent remain with the holiest men all their days; indeed much of their holiness consists in resisting and mortifying such reactions, which may be evoked at any time and may take a form of which the person did not know himself (or herself) capable till it actually happened.  What the Puritans bluntly called corruptions…keep being triggered off in us by new stimuli, and humbling, shaming self-discoveries keep being made…no Christian, however wholehearted at this moment, or at any future moment, in conscious love of God and neighbor, will ever be immune to shocks of this kind, in which new depths of his or her sinful nature are disclosed.”  Keep in Step with the Spirit, by J.I.Packer

God wants me to know that I’m not alone.  That what I experienced; that overwhelming wave of negative emotions, those feelings that swept over me and carried me along in their tide, is a ride that even the most holiest of men and spiritual scholars have taken…and it’s okay.  God was there with his overwhelming and never-ending love to pick them up and dry them off and he will do the same for me.

If you have been following my blog then you know that I have had moments when I am so filled with the love of God that I can’t help but sing…but I want you to know, that as strong as my faith was, and still is…we can all fall down, we can all be ashamed of ourselves and we can all want to turn away from God.  But our Father loves us so much, he refuses to let go.  He knows our heart…who we really are, warts and all and he loves us unconditionally.  There is nothing we can do or say to make him stop loving us…and believe me, I tried.  He will forgive us long before we find we are able to forgive ourselves.  Even before we have the courage to ask him to forgive us.

When I look at my healing journey, I realize that I have started focusing more on the things I can’t do and less on the gains I am making each and every day.  It is in trying to do too much, in pushing myself to do things that I am not physically ready for, that I am draining myself physically.  It is in focusing, not on the blessings, but on the things that I don’t have that I am draining myself spiritually.  Only when I am focused on God will all of my wells be truly filled.  And of course, I have some forgiveness to ask for.

God bless,

Meredith

Just Leave Me Alone.

Have you every notice when someone else is struggling, or going through a difficult time, how easy it is to know that they need to lean on God, or to turn to God, or to trust in God? Have you also noticed that when YOU are going through a difficult or challenging time how difficult those very same things can be…even when your heart knows you should?

At times, during my recovery, it has been incredibly difficult for me to be patient and trust that this is part of God’s plan.  There have been times I have felt his hand on my heart, and instead of turning into that love I have begged for him to just leave me alone, that I can’t do this, that I’m not strong enough.  It’s been hard.

Of course God didn’t leave me alone, just as I wouldn’t walk away from one of my own children if they were suffering and in pain.  He just wraps me up in his love and waits for me.  Jesus used the image of a shepherd and his sheep often in his ministry.  And he reassured us that “no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of  my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”  John 10:28-29  As a child of God, as one of Jesus’ sheep, I am always in his care, and no one, not even I have the power to make him go away.  He will always be there, watching over me, and caring for me, and protecting me.

It’s not always given to us to know why bad things happen.  What is given to us is to know that we can trust in our Father to make all things for our good.  Just as when your toddler is learning how to walk, you can’t always keep them from falling, so too will our Father in heaven be there to pick us up, dust us off and kiss away our pain.

And in case you were worried…I’m good.  That day, after telling God to leave me alone, I came home to a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on my kitchen counter.  They were bright, and lovely, and from my parents.  When I called to say thank you, my mom said that she just had a feeling I might need a pick me up.  GOD IS SO GOOD AND I AM SO BLESSED!  Thank you mom and dad! Thank you, Jesus!

God bless,

Meredith

It’s Awkward and Uncomfortable.

Things I can now do fairly well with my left hand…

  • crack an egg (surprisingly not as hard to do as I’d thought, I’ve only broken two yolks – the secret is to just go for it like you have no other option – which right now…I don’t)
  • use scissors – I understand the call for left-handed scissors now
  • brush my teeth
  • flat-iron my hair (no frizzy hair here please)

How many times in our lives are we forced to learn how to do something differently?  Initially most times it feels uncomfortable, weird, not right.  I certainly felt that way the night of my accident after I dragged my butt up the stairs and stood in front of my bathroom sink.  Everything I was doing didn’t just feel wrong, damn it…it hurt!

It’s a natural aspect of human nature…our need to resist change, even when it’s for our own good.  We like to stay in our zone, walk the easy path. That’s why sometimes we need a good shake up, why we need to be forced out of our comfort zones.  I’ve found that sometimes faith can be a little bit like that. You see people praying on TV, or in movies, and they have the perfect words, in the perfect, most natural, most earnest way.  But real life is often nothing like that, it can be ugly and weird.  How many of us felt really awkward and uncomfortable the first time we prayed or went to church after being away for a while?  Heck, there are lots of times I still don’t know what to say, (especially when I’m praying out loud – because I just don’t do it enough…kinda like brushing my teeth with my left hand).

Do you remember the first time you had a conversation with a toddler?  Their speech is often so rambling and garbled you have to constantly ask questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer just to figure out what they are saying.  The good news for me is that God doesn’t have to ask any questions when I reach out to him.  He already knows what’s in my heart…he just needs me to make an attempt.  And his willingness to answer my prayer depends not on any beautiful speech I could make, but on one thing, and one thing alone…faith.

Something I’ve been struggling with, and been been reading about lately, is the type of faith a person has, the type of faith I have.  It’s easy to start thinking that God is there to make your life better, richer, healthier through prayer.  But those things shouldn’t be the purpose, or focus of faith, rather I think they are a by-product of a life focused on God.  I have so many incredible blessings in my life, and I feel grateful for all of them, but what I yearn for more than anything is the feeling, the experience I have when I am filled with the overwhelming love and joy of the Spirit of God.  When tears well up and I am overcome with his love.  It’s what I imagine heaven must be like…experiencing that feeling all the time.

These days people want you to believe that you are going to have to give up something important to believe in God.  And I’m not going to tell you that you won’t.  You might even find your “new” life uncomfortable and scary at times (kinda like putting a 220°F flat-iron to your hair with an uncoordinated left hand).  But like so many things in life, you have to take a big risk to get a big reward.  We make choices of faith every day.  The great news is the more you practice the things that are uncomfortable for you, the better you get at them…like going to church or prayer.

In those times when I am struggling, when I am tired and frustrated and in pain and feeling broken in spirit, and these days, in body; in those moments when I don’t have the energy to find the right words to pray I am reminded that Jesus himself gave us the answer…

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.   Matthew 6:9-13

And remember “Jesus did not give his disciples any instruction about standing, sitting, lying down, walking, running, or driving an automobile while one prays. Jesus did not talk about head coverings, kneeling, the position of one’s hands, or closed eyes. Why? God wants us to pray at all times (1 Thess. 5:17 ) and in every place, under any condition, and in various situations (1 Tim. 2:8).” https://www.neverthirsty.org/bible-studies/

God bless,

Meredith

The Chosen

I have been waiting for months for this to become available for months now and last night I sat down and watched the first four episodes of THE CHOSEN.  This is  a crowd-funded, Hollywood style TV show about the life of Jesus and the people closest to him.  It’s about seeing the disciples not through the light of sainthood, but as real people and walking with them through the journey they might have taken as they came to know and love Christ.

https://studios.vidangel.com/the-chosen/episode-one

I’m so happy to be able to share this with you and I hope that you love it as much as I do.  We need more shows like this.  Shows that put the light and love of Jesus into the world, and I can’t think of a more perfect time…this Easter season.

God bless,

Meredith

All you have to do is ask.

Today in my readings Paul talks about “…behaving decently, as in the daytime” Romans 13:13.  And I’m not going to say anything new here, but sometimes it bears repeating, it helps to be reminded.  How many of us exhibit behaviours in the privacy of our own homes, behind the closed doors of hotel rooms, or it the darkened anonymity of bars and night clubs, behaviours that we would never want our mothers, our children, our friends to see.  That’s what Paul is talking about. And he’s not just talking about our physical deeds, but our emotional ones as well, the ones we keep secret in our hearts, the jealousies, the coveting, the dissensions and grievances.

I will be the first one to admit that there are things I might say or do in my own house that I would never want other people to see or hear.  Losing my temper, slamming doors, speaking badly of someone.  I do them all.  I forget that someone is always watching.  That my actions never occur in a vacuum.  That’s why Paul’s words are so important.  In this letter to the Romans he is calling on them, on us, to “put aside the deeds of darkness, and put on the armor of light”.  Are you asking yourself how?  Or have you convinced yourself that your behaviours in those times were justified, or that they drove you to it.  That they deserved what they got or that’s just how you were made.

I won’t even tell you that those things aren’t true. But part of what Paul is telling us, part of the message of Jesus, and the reason he died for us and our sins is that we are called to be better.  To rise up against our own sinful nature, “the way we were made” and put aside the deeds of darkness.  If you’re like me, maybe you’ve tried this before, but feel as if you always slip back, you always fall down and maybe you’ve even reached the point of giving up. I can relate.  But today I’d like to tell you that we are supposed to fail, in fact we will fail every single time if we are trying to go it alone.  I have come to learn that the absolute only way I can be a different person is through Christ.  Time and time again the bible calls upon us to surrender ourselves to our Father in heaven.  But we are so stubborn, so determined to have our independence that we refuse, we protest the freedom and light that is offered to us freely.  But that’s okay.  Because our time here on earth is about that journey.  About gaining a gradual understanding of the power of the life and death and love of Jesus Christ and God our Father.

So if there is a darkness in your heart or a heaviness in your spirit, know that you don’t have to shine a light on it yourself, you don’t have to carry the burden, because there is someone greater than you who will happily do it for you.  Someone who wants to do it for you.  All you have to do is ask.

God bless,

Meredith

Giving Of Yourself.

Giving generously of your wealth.  It’s talked about often in the bible; by Jesus and Paul, in the Old Testament and in the New.  But so often we assume that the giving is simply referring to our financial wealth.  Perhaps that’s because money and physical riches have become so important in our consumer driven society.

But in many ways, giving money is one of the easiest ways of giving.  Politicians are constantly throwing money at problems, because it gives the appearance of something happening.  But what if giving of our financial wealth isn’t really what Jesus was talking about?  What if he meant for us to give generously of our truth wealth; our time, our hearts, our talents?  I know for myself, that becomes a much bigger hill to climb.

It never feels as if there are enough hours in the day, days in the week or weeks in the year.  It’s hard to think about sacrificing the precious few minutes of peace I have.  It’s hard to think about giving more of myself than I already give to my family and friends.  But I think that is really what God is calling us to do.  Or what he is calling me to do.  Because giving generously is personal.  It’s about you finding the gift that God has given you that is hardest for you to share.  Maybe for you it is money.  Maybe it’s your time.  Maybe it’s your talent.  I think this is partly what Jesus meant when he said “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:24  And I’m pretty sure that when Jesus is speaks of taking care of the poor, he isn’t just referring to those who are poor of wallet, but those who are poor of heart, and mind and spirit.

Where is God calling you to give generously in your life?  Who are the poor he is calling on you to take care of ?

God bless,

Meredith

Making Your Own Luck.

Last night David and I were having a discussion about luck.  I was telling him how grateful I felt that a friend’s life was saved from what could have been a devastating and potentially fatal condition, and his response was that she was lucky.

Yesterday I wrote about giving up control of your life to Jesus, and I think that this idea of getting lucky is, in many ways, part of that.  Personally, I no longer believe in luck.  If I get a green light, that is a blessing from God; an amazing parking spot? Thank you, Jesus.  Why is it so much easier for us to believe that good things happen by random chance than it is to believe that something good happened because we have a Father in heaven who loves us and wants what’s best for us?

I think that part of the reason is something many struggle with, because good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people.  And it’s hard to understand how a loving Father could give a good mother cancer, or see a father killed in a car accident.  And bad things don’t just happen to good people, they happen to Christians and non-believers alike, they happen to innocent children.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have all the answers here and this was something that David and I discussed, and I’m sure we’ll have more discussions about.  But here’s what I know from my own life experience.  When my oldest son was born I was filled with so many hopes and joys and expectations for who and what he would become.  Never once could I have imagined the road God put me on with him.  We have been through multiple diagnoses, traumatic brain injuries, self-abuse, staff abuse, and so many tears.  For many, many years I couldn’t understand why God gave me a son with so many challenges. At times I thought it was a punishment, at others I simply turned my back on God.  What I couldn’t see, while I was down in the trenches, when I was walking through the valley, was God’s bigger plan.  I didn’t see how Hayden’s brain injury would result in his eventual transition to a community home where he would be given incredible support.  I didn’t see how this would result in our family actually becoming a family again, instead of a single parent household while the other parent managed and cared exclusively for Hayden.  I didn’t see how this would give me the chance to simply be Hayden’s mother again instead of constantly focusing on therapies and treatments and then being too exhausted for anything more.  God has a plan for each and every one of us and I believe that the more we thank Him for our blessings, the more we reach out and try to have a relationship with Him…the more we find ourselves able to trust in Him and his plan for us.

I have no idea the ripple effect my son Hayden has in the lives of those he meets, and interacts with on a daily basis at school, in the community, in his own home.  There are still many days when all I can do is give him to God, trust in God and his plan for Hayden, for our family, for me.   I do know that I no longer believe anything in my life is a result of chance.  If I choose to believe in a God who was capable of creating the heavens and the earth, who can bring the dead to life, how can I not believe in a creator who is capable of watching over me in my daily life.

And I guess that brings us back to where we started. In the end it always comes down to the same thing; the reason there is good and bad in this world…choice or free-will.  You can choose to believe that the good things that happen to you are good luck, and the bad things similarly, or you can choose to believe that the good things that happen to you are blessings from a loving Father and the bad things?  Challenges, opportunities for growth, doors opening to new chapters you couldn’t imagine were possible.  Sometimes to climb a mountain you have to walk through a valley.  Maybe the meaning of life is as simple as choice, and if it is, I know God wants you to choose Him.

God bless,

Meredith