Cutting some slack

My one word for 2015 is ‘slack.‘

S-L-A-CK! (I can just hear Miranda Hart saying, “It’s a lovely word – slack!”)

The other day, I was ruminating about some tough stuff going on for me at the time and the friend listening unexpectedly said,

“What about not being so hard on yourself? I don’t hear much of that!”

Closely followed by,

“You’re doing a great job… … I don’t see any nodding.”

“At what point was anything you said just now, your fault?” she continued,
“Well, I’m the common factor in it all” I sniveled.
“Yes but that’s only because it’s your life!” she replied.

As you can see, I’m not good at being kind to myself but I’m very good at thinking I am responsible for the world, its wife and its feelings. I am quite good at giving other people the benefit of the doubt but terrible at doing it for myself.

I’ve been through some traumatic times and coupled with the resulting physical weakness and lack of energy, in moments of clarity I wonder why the hell I feel guilty and push myself on the infrequent days when it still feels too much of a struggle?

I really need to remember I’m a survivor and survivors need to cut themselves some slack sometimes.

Immediately, choosing this word makes me feel guilty and indulgent. I worry that ‘slack’ is an easy option but then there’s a difference between ‘cutting myself some slack’ and ‘slacking off.’ I want ‘cutting myself some slack’ to look like loving myself; honouring my needs; recovering; letting life happen; surrendering to joy and not thinking that I am answerable for more than I am. An easy option? It may just be the hardest thing I’ll ever do!

I want to focus on being grateful for where I am, who I have in my life and what I have learned through the tough stuff.

I want to listen to (and believe!) the positives that the people who know me well and can see me much more objectively than I can say to me. I want to celebrate and own my successes and strengths without feeling at fault or indulgent for doing it.

I’m not going to beat myself up for having a bad day and needing to hide from the world for a while. It will pass. I’m going to try to listen to what my body’s telling me; if the energy isn’t there, I’ll take a rest or do something different.

So yep, I’m gonna spend a year cutting myself some slack. After years of being tied up in unspoken restrictions and covert control, I reckon it’s time to cut myself a bit of breathing space.

And if it all goes horribly wrong and I’m terrible at it…guess what? That’s not going to matter either. At least I tried.

Matthew 11:28-30The Message (MSG)
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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A way to see in the dark

Porth Ysgo, N.Wales, April 2013

Porth Ysgo, N.Wales, April 2013

Some people think I’m brave. “That was a brave thing to do” they say. I’ve heard it lots of times. But what I need you to know is that for all my life I’ve been really scared. Scared that if you knew everything there is to know about me, you might reject me. Scared I’ll be left on my own; scared of the sadness that can suck me down without warning, any time of the day or night; afraid of the fear itself.

There is abuse in my past and sometimes my present. They tell me that’s why I feel like I do.

When the darkness comes I’m all alone and you can’t reach me, even if you try. My world is pointless, formless and empty, the darkness sweeps over. You can say what you like but I can’t hear you above the noise. The subtitles become raging HEADLINES that blot out the hopeful truth. I run and I hide. Hide under the duvet, desiring to board a runaway train. It is bleak here and you are better off without me. My eyes don’t become accustomed to the darkness. I see nothing.

Life has never felt secure. But now I find myself wondering what this feeling is that washes over me in unexpected and ordinary places. I’ve started to notice it, just every now and then. I think it might be contentment. It might be a sense of what it means to be ‘at home.’ Maybe it’s knowing I really belong. Maybe it’s a tiny shard of self-belief breaking into the darkness; a growing experience of resting in my belovedness.

There was a time when in the middle of the darkness, somebody asked,

“What does God say here?”

“You’re lovely even with your scars and nothing is wasted,”

was my immediate reply.

And that’s when we noticed Him; the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the deep. The moment I talked about The Lover; that was the moment when hope danced in. For even the darkness is not dark to The Lover.  He knows what lies in darkness. Here in the darkness, The Lover takes hold of my hand and reveals deep and hidden things. Some of them are beautiful. Some of them are hideous. Though all around is blackness, in the darkness I see how artificial the light was before; I never knew I’d been so blinded.

Maybe these tiny glimmers of hope I feel, will in time grow into something I strongly believe; something that will consume the voices of self doubt.

So this genuine smile you sometimes see escaping my face? It’s a droplet of joy preceded by risk:

The risk to tell a joke that might make you wonder who I really am;

The risk to spin upside down on the climbing frame and giggle with a ten year old;

The risk to laugh and drink lemon juice with a teenager seeing who can take the most without being sick;

The joy of a surprise splash landing in the sunshine;

The risk of adding detergent to speed up the fun.

Yes I will attempt silly and give permission for us to jump free, eat rubbish and enjoy life. I’ll allow us to self regulate. I will attempt to loosen the grip of anxiety fuelled control.

I have wrestled to win this unconditional smile and I will continue to fight for it because too many people have told me I deserve it. They can’t all be wrong can they?

But here comes the darkness chasing me down again and I’m feeling the need to run. But now I cannot hide alone. Now there are people who’ve promised they will run after me faster than I can run away and I have allowed them to make chase. While I cannot see in the dark, they will hold the Christ light for me and bid the darkness away. So I will resist the urge to push them away; I will let them run.

In the darkness, they remind me that The Lover has revealed deep and hidden things. He has opened my eyes; gently lifted the lids that have hung heavy. He says he will take hold of my hand in this darkness.

So my precious torchbearers please will you hold my little girl’s hand too? The child inside of me that’s frightened, sad and lonely. Will you help me run the risk of fearlessly loving without running away? Hold this Christ light for me. Please.

And may your light help me feel confident of this: that The Lover who began this new hope in me will carry it on to completion.


 

Nothing is Wasted – Jason Gray

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvnBhtbATag

“The hurt that broke your heart and left you trembling in the dark feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie but what if every tear you cry will seed the ground where joy will grow
And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted

…When hope is more than you can bear and it’s too hard to believe it could be true

When your strength fails you half way there, You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you

Give it time, you may believe it too”

Don’t Try So Hard (“You’re lovely even with your scars”) – Amy Grant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfGvXfe9LK8

Brother Sister – Let me serve you

“We are pilgrims on a journey, We’re companions on the road;
we are here to help each otherwalk the mile and bear the load.

I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.”

Phillipians 1:6

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

 

Genesis 1:2

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Isaiah 42:6-7

I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,  to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.

Daniel 2:22

He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.