Saturday, March 26, 2011

still His little girl

I had started out writing this post on the seasons of life, the importance of seasons and what I am learning about them... I stopped and deleted it all. Its not that I don't think that stuff is important but it was too intense for the mood I was in. If you're anything like me I'm sure you have at times felt the heaviness of life. I can tend to look at everything through a very analytical lense, weighing the spiritual significance of it all. Haha no, hopefully I'm not that bad.

There is something about the times that we are living in right now that strongly pulls me toward seeing everything in such a serious light. Earthquakes, tsunamis, prophecies of destruction leading to calls for stern vigilance in our times with the Lord. Don't get me wrong, this is important and I am not against it...but this isn't my point. I don't want terror and fear to be what propels me toward the Lord. I want to seek Him always. I want to know Him more. I want to know more of His love toward myself and the rest of humankind and of course have a healthy dose of the fear of the Lord. But I don't mean the kind of worldly fear that takes very little discernment to observe there is enough of this all around us. I know the challenge to keep our hearts untroubled has definitely increased by the many troubles that surround us. Yet Jesus' words remain the same "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me". God is so graciously showing me the areas in my life where I have allowed my peace to come from things in this world and is leading me to see that true peace comes from Him. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Reaching this state seems absurdly impossible while observing the state of everything around us. It can only be the work of an all-loving, Almighty, Supernatural Father.

I can at times get a little overwhelmed at life and all that goes on in this world and feel like I should be doing more. Especially so when I remind myself that I am a responsible adult with a ring on my finger, debt, bills to pay etc...which I can tend to forget often (luckily I'm married to someone who's slightly more responsible). Its funny but I still feel like that knotty-haired, thumb-sucking little girl . In fact, sometimes it feels like nothing much has changed since I was a little girl...except my external appearance and behaviour. For example, I have learned to speak with more eloquence (I hope), I monitor what comes out of my mouth more (most of the time), I control my behaviour more etc etc. But what goes on internally hasn't changed too much. I still feel shy and nervous in some settings, I have worries and fears that cry out for a soothing word from a comforting voice, I get hurt when it seems like someone doesn't want to play with me (or meet me for a coffee rather), my heart is thrilled at the sight of fairy lights, pretty butterflies and puppies, I still wish that animals would talk to me and that I could fly with a little help of some pixie dust (some things I have let go...). Although I am in a season of transitions, change and growing up, paradoxically I am also learning to become more childlike before the Lord. I want to continually remain in His peace, love and joy despite the world around me. I still need to be able to see God in the silence, stillness and beauty of a sunrise, as well as the ferociousness of the storm. Otherwise I will go crazy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"The way to love anything is to realise that it may be lost"

Last week I got the fright of my life. I thought my loved ones could be dead, if not badly injured. The awful thing is that I am not even exaggerating, I really did. It doesn't take a lot for my mind to race forward and end up with these sorts of awful assumptions (which I am working on) but this time my reasoning was warranted.

Monday night I absentmindedly hopped onto Facebook and came across a couple of status updates describing that another major earthquake had struck Christchurch, this time causing multiple casualties and fatalities. I felt like someone had reached inside my gut and twisted it into a knot. I looked at the time and worked out that it was early afternoon over there, concluding that this time many people would be up and about as opposed to the last 7.1 earthquake which had fortunately struck at 4.30am.

After a few hours of skyping home with many attempted calls failing and others succeeding, I had learned that none of my family members had been injured at all. The relief this brought was indescribable. However, I was very much aware of many others in Christchurch who were not experiencing this, and were in fact experiencing the very opposite.

Over the course of the following week I became acquainted with a diversity of emotional states. I had not been in Christchurch when the earthquake struck yet I encountered things which I only thought would be possible or acceptable for those who had actually experienced the physical quake. I guess you can't always prepare yourself for how you will react to these sorts of situations. My nerves were wrecked and particularly if I was alone I regularly received frights from all sorts of noises . I woke up each day having to battle fear and worry like never before. When Cody and I would be apart, I needed to hear from him regularly in order for my mind to be at peace. I knew that constantly checking the NZ news did not help this and I would try to draw the line when it upset me too much but I kept crossing over it. On top of all this my heart was so heavy and truly breaking for my hometown and the people in the midst of it all. I'm not going to magnify and dwell on all the negative effects the earthquake has had on me, but I do want to reflect upon the things I have learned through it all and the issues and subsequent challenges which were exposed as a result of it.

The earthquake shook the very core of me (excuse the pun) exposing some areas of mistrust I had toward God. These came in the form of fear. Essentially this was a good thing because I simply was forced to take them to Him. Small sidenote: New Zealand is an isolated country, humble in size and population situated at the bottom of the world. I have noticed that it is usually just a tiny blob on world maps, sometimes it's not even there. Christchurch is a fairly small city and I'm sure there is only a couple of degrees of separation between people. I've been thinking about the sorts of consequences this must have on the NZ people group as a whole. We always hear about catastrophic events happening in other parts of the world and although we sympathise with those affected, there is still a sense of detachment from the situation as a result of the location of our country in relation to the rest of the world. I'm sure everyone can relate to this to some degree. Disasters on this scale just don't happen in NZ, least of all my hometown. They happen everywhere else in the world. So as you can imagine this sort of event can truly shatter one's little, safe and cocooned world.

All sorts of questions, thoughts and feelings ran through my head all week..."my family could have easily died had they been in the wrong place at the wrong time and we know of good Christian people who were killed in the earthquake, yet God says He is our refuge and our safe haven (???)", "I could walk outside our apartment and cross the street and be killed (especially since I STILL haven't got used to the opposite side people drive on)", "who knows if there will be more earthquakes - since there are so many aftershocks happening everyday, and this time my loved ones may not be so lucky", "Cody travels often and flies so much, who's to say he won't get on the unfortunate aircraft that has that small technical fault which causes it to crash... constant thoughts about losing loved ones etc etc etc. You get the gist. Some of those thoughts described are simply ridiculous and I recognise this, but it doesn't take away the fact that these thoughts I had brought with them genuine feelings of fear and worry. There is something about a natural disaster like this that completely challenges our issues of control. You can be the most controlling person in the world yet an earthquake (or whatever ) can come knocking at your door and still kill you or the people you love. This is frightening. These events force us to question where we get our security from. God really is the only constant in our lives.

Something else I learned from this event which I really want to get into the habit of reminding myself of regularly is illustrated very nicely in this quote by G. K. Chesterton: "The way to love anything is to realise that it may be lost". Like all of us, I can take those closest to me for granted. I can say hurtful things flippantly. I can place unnecessary expectations on people which can lead to the development of small offenses when those people don't meet them. I can get irritated when others make small demands on my precious time. I can make unreasonable demands on others. In the light of this event and the so very real realisation that people can be here today and gone tomorrow, it makes me treasure my loved ones that much more, to not take them for granted, and to understand even more that relationships really are or should be the main priority in our lives. I am so truly grateful that I have been given the grace and the opportunity to learn all of this without having to go through the pain and grief of losing a loved one. This earthquake has actually made me thankful for a lot of things. I definitely want to practise being thankful more often.