Learning to trust God

So  I previously  wrote about how to manage going through an uncertain seasons. One of the things I touch upon is trusting God. Now I want to expand a bit on this on this post. Firstly, trusting God is one of the main important thing in this christian journey and in our relationship with Him. We follow, obey and trust him. Now I have called this post learning to trust instead of trusting God because I have always struggle in this area. Maybe for some people, trusting is easy but for me it extremely hard.
In the past I have difficulty trusting other people mostly because they never kept their words and they always let me down. I understand that no one is perfect and I am probably the worst of them at times but giving my trust away is just really hard for me. With my introverted nature, I tend to keep myself away from people at times. On the other hand it was really easy for me to get close to God from a young age as I used to considered him as the best of friends that will keep all my secrets and because he loved me, he will always had my back.
My mindset flip during my teenage years, when the war started in the country I was living. My life got turned upside down and things were never the same. I was confronted with one of the major question of this life: why God allow bad things to happen to me. It took me years to deal with the trauma and even though I went back to God at the age of 22, I used to feel that all God wanted to do is hurt me. I almost felt like he was against me. Why a loving God will allow me to go through this. Was this a punishment? or maybe he did not love me at all. Because of all theses questions, I actually started to believe that he did not care about me and his plan for me was actually to destroy me.
I also like my independence. Growing up, all my siblings had tutors during their school years. I never had. My father always used to say to me that I did not need one. I was clever enough to do things on my own. This developed in me a type of self-reliance that I carried into adult age. Being my own person, not having to rely or ask anyone: independence is lifestyle that I wanted. But independence is not a realistic lifestyle. The truth is I need people. I need God. On my own, I am not the best version of me and I have limitations.
Additionally, because of my ego and my controlling persona, I always felt frustrated when things do not turn out how I want them to. As a matter of fact, in my life, some things that I did not wanted, actually happened. I had to bury dreams that dear to me and so many doors closed on my face. This did not only discourage me but It made it harder for me to trust him.  God had a plan very different than mine. One that I did not really have a control over at times.
His plan involved so many different elements, places I never heard, people I never thought I met, experiences I never thought about having. Great adventures and also big heartbreaks. Ever since I moved from my country to the UK in 2003, God has always putting me in seasons where I had no idea where I was headed. It feels like I will just have to continue to make the best of my situation with one million questions in my head, and believe that he always carry me through.
But I am learning to trust him
Learning to follow knowing that wherever we are going, I will be okay because he is with me. It sound cliche but it is a simple truth that I am trying to remind myself every day. Learning to embrace that the plan he has for me, and probably letting go of some of my plan. Learning to accept that what he has in store is even more beautiful than the story I had for myself.
Learning to rely more on him more than on myself, cause when I am tired he is not and he can sustain.
Learning to look at him as seasons change, because he remains constant through the years.
Learning to let go of fear, doubts, worries and past pains.
After all,  in the past he has carry me through  very difficult circumstances. I had some prayers that were answered. Some were not necessarily answered as I wanted them to be answered. Some answers were delayed. Well, there were delayed in my mind but it was probably God’s timing.
Ultimately he goes before me and with me so I will be okay in the end.
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Change

Life is made up of seasons: cold seasons and hot seasons; forever changing. Change is actually an unavoidable occurrence in our life journey. However, if you ask most people they will tell you that as humans we don’t always love change. As a matter of fact, most people are scared of change and takes quite some time to adjust to change.
I remember when I was studying my Business degree, my accounting teacher recommended a book to us. It was a simple read but he stated that it was one of the best book ever written. This book was called: ‘Who moved my cheese’. The book follows the story of two groups: mice and humans. Both groups go each morning collecting cheese at a specific spot and returned with it back home. This happens every day. However, one day the cheese is no longer at the specific post. Someone moved it. When the the mice found out, they decided to change their journey and go to another place to find cheese. The humans on the other hand, stayed at the spot, wondering where the cheese went and complaining of the change. They spent hours and days even speaking about their misfortune and make no effort to move on. The book then went on to give examples of four individuals and how accepting and managing change helped them grow. So what is it about change that can left us crippled and makes us refuse to move?
The truth is the reason we struggle the most with change is because we fear the unknown.  When things change, even when we prepared ourselves for it, it can be scary mostly because we do not know what to expect. One can never predict what is around the corner. Even when we can have control over our decisions, we cannot always control our circumstances. Most of us do go through a process when it come to change, especially when it is a drastic change. At first we are shocked and we can fall into denial. Just like the humans in the cheese story we cannot believe what is happening.
We then can get angry and start blaming ourselves or others for the change. Depending on personalities, the curve can be shorter or longer but eventually the period of transition then move to acceptance and action. Additionally, as christians, we can look up at a constant God who can carry us as things and situations around us change. There is this a story in the Bible about a house built on the rock that does not break when the winds blow. God represent the rock. When we are rooted in him, we can remain hopeful when life rocks us back and forth.
In reality, we cannot always stay where we are because we will never grow, and we need to growth. God wants us to growth. We all ought to develop ourselves. Our bodies are a testament of that. We all came in this world as babies who could not talk or walk. But we learn and changed. We became children who asks questions and then read and write. We then became teenagers and puberty lead us to adult bodies with hormones fluctuations and different ways of acting. We could not have stayed babies forever. Such is life, it has variations just like the seasons.
Changes are inevitable. They will happen. Some will be good, Some won’t be. Some we will expect and desire them. Others we will dread and refuse them. Some will make us happy and some will broke us. We cannot avoid them.
But we can learn how to deal with them. I learn the hard way that if you fight change they make your life harder but adapting to change can actually help us progress. Let all be like the mice in the story. And you never know, maybe there is better and bigger cheese waiting for us somewhere else. The only way to find out is to accept the change and move on.

Let hope arise

Every day for my commuting, I take the train to Cardiff, the capital where I work. There is small tunnel that the train need to go through before arriving Newport station. Now this tunnel is particularly dark and at times it seems that it is never-ending. I believe it is about more than two minutes long and sometimes I get up my seat when we get in the tunnel. I do this as I know the tunnel indicates that I will be in Newport soon. I go wait by the door so as soon as the train stop, I can get off and go home.
I don’t necessarily like the tunnel because of its darkness but I am also aware that the tunnel means that I am reaching my destination. And right after the dark, there is light. the tunnel always come to an end. This tunnel is an analogy for the reality of waiting in the dark for the light at the end. There is hoping that the end is near and the light will burst through.
Hope: The desire, aspiration, expectation, anticipation for things to happen. 
Last year, I lost hope.
I was so down, I didn’t know how to get up. It felt like there was no desire to continue and I actually believe that this was the end of me. It felt like the tunnel had no end.
I slightly try to move back up but I was crippled and still hesitant to go on. At the beginning of this year, I felt the heaviness again. I think there must be something about January that just make feel tired. But in a moment I thought to myself that this year had to be better than last year. I cannot repeat last year. There is a need for change or else I will not survive.
This was hard to keep up as I got another bad new in February that shocked me so much I felt like again there is no way out this. I even consider quitting everything.
Then He chased me down in the tunnel.
Through the voices of many, he reminded that one of the reason I couldn’t get back up is mostly because I was looking way too much at the darkness and my own strength   Even when I was thinking about the past, I was paying more attention to the things that brought me pain than the blessings and opportunities that helped me. There were downs but there were also ups. There were moments were I felt low but there were also where he carried me. 
I realised that the issue was not that I will find myself in tunnels but the fact that i was staying in the dark. without any desire to move. I had made the pain my home so much that I could not see that the tunnel is temporary and that when I will come at the end of it, there will be light again. That is where I lost my hope. I refused to believed that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
In perspective, I had to do the same thing I do when I take my train. I had to stand up, ready to go when the train stop at my destination. For some reason, I always believe that the train driver will get me to Newport, so why is it so hard for me to believe that God who is the conductor of the train of my  life, will get me through the tunnel and to my destination.
So it took some tears, some conversations, some preaching, soul searching and prayers but then it happened…It’s like I opened my eyes in the dark and intentionally stood up. I believed again.
My mindset did a total 360.
The same way I used to think about the worst that can happen.
I will think about the opposite.
Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, I am going to think about what could go right.
Hope is always born in the dark.
I will now stand in a position of readiness.
Even when you do not see the light yet, you have to believe that it will come, even when you do not know how or when.
It will come.
Let hope arise.

Fighting Discontentment

Def:

Unhappiness caused by the failure of one’s hopes desires, or expectations

So the root of my pain this year is mostly due to discontentment. I woke at the beginning of this year angry that my life did not turn out how i thought and hope it will turned out. It looks like I tried really hard to built my life and I failed.

I got discouraged and wanted to give up.

One of the thing that can spurred up discontentment is the sense of entitlement

It happens to a lot of us and in a sense it can be understood.

We all have dreams, desires and aspirations and in a sense we all fight to get what we want.

But what do we do when we fail and when the dream is not fulfilled.

How do we react when the answer is no or…wait (an answer i am way too familiar with).

But sometimes because we feel deserve certain things, we decided we need to have them now. Especially in our modern microwave society we want everything we want it now. We tried our best to get rid of the concept of patience in our every day life. Our smartphones allows us to facilitate so many aspects of our life. Google gives answers to most of our questions. You order something you, can get it the day after. You want to book a ticket to see the world, you can just do it. It’s all about having your way and having it fast.

We are also more and more subject to compare each others because of social media and the internet. We are so much into others people’s lives, it is so easy to look at ourselves and feel like we are missing out. It is so easy to feel: ‘why am i not getting the same as the rest? Why am i not there yet?’

So we get frustrated and the danger of discontentment is that it can lead to bitterness pretty quickly.

So how can we deal and fight discontentment?

Changing our perspectives

The reason why the concept of positivity is so popular is mostly because when we get hit in life , our first reaction is being down; which is normal. But the thing is we let our emotions get the best of us and our judgement get clouded.

If I have a bad day i can feel like I have a bad life,

or I have a bad year so the next year will get worse.

I did not succeeded this time so I will never succeed.

I lost this game so I will lose the season.

This person hurt me so everybody else will hut me

Re-focus

One of the favourite things I heard in a preaching came from Christine Caine, an Australian evangelist speaker. She said: ‘Do not let any thing that has happened to you be bigger than what Jesus has done for you.’

You have meaning and your life has meaning, despite the tragedies. We have to learn how to be grateful to change our perspective.

We have to look at the goodness in our life.

Learning how to be grateful is an exercise. You have to remind yourself constantly of your blessings. Truly, they are things now in you life right now that you did not used to have but you prayed and hope for them, and now you have them. But because you have the wrong perspective, you can take them for granted. Whether it is your health, your friends, your family, your job, your house, your talents etc…Someone, somewhere is even praying for what you have.

From time to time, sit down, think or even write the things in your life that you are grateful for, whether small or big. Remembers the answered prayers you had in the past.

Additionally we have to put to death comparison. I know this one is also hard.

But you know what they say: the grass is not necessarily greener else where.

As a matter of fact, we all go through things, but we just very smart at putting filters on our emotions and lives, just the same way we do with our Instagram photos. And as much as we are conditioned to think that life is a competition, it is not. Let’s not be jealous or envious of others just because they are doing something different than us. We tend to compare our chapter 20 with someone’s chapter 50. We look at our life and compare it with someone highlights’ reel on Facebook. These cannot really be compared. Let’s learn to rejoice with those who rejoice and help each other in our different races.

Leave others grass alone and water your own grass.

So in conclusion,

Mourn the life you wanted and embrace the life you have.

Embrace the mess and the good things.

It is your story.

You grew through the storms.

You learn through the painful moments.

Adversity built your character.

We will never have perfect lives but we all have things to be grateful for.

Let’s never strive for perfection, it’s not realistic…but let always look for progression.

You are not who you were a year ago, five years ago or ten years ago.

I had a plan…But God had another one and his plan prevailed.

His plan is good, and better than mine.

I won’t probably see it through the hard times but after the storms, I always see a bit clearer, and a bit better.

I can look back and realise the beauty in my life.

Rom 8:28

Update: At the moment…Resting and Reconfiguring

So the last post was really intense. It was also very real.

I have to admit this year and especially the last past three months really broke me and I went to a very dark place.

I am currently in a uncertain, transition and silent season in my life where I really do not know what God is doing in my life.

To say the least, 2017 is the year I got tired. I woke up at the beginning of this year thinking way too much about my life and the journey. I came up to the conclusion that things really did not turn out the way I wanted. I have now been in the UK for 14 years and I had this image of my life and what I wanted it to be. Believe me I fought really hard and tried really hard to create the life I wanted. There were so many barriers to conquer and so many ‘no’ or not now and at the end I did not conquer.

So disappointed, bitter, angry, emotional, frustrated, and weary, I kinda spiralled into unhealthy coping mechanisms. I just wanted to quit everything an give up.

I had so much expectations and none of them were met. I had not achieved any of my dreams and I got tired.

But even when I let go, God did not. Even when I get tired, he did not. I got reminded that when you get tired, it does not mean you should definitely give up every thing but you should actually rest.

So after really busy month of August, I took time to recharge.

I always feels like September is like the start of the year…It is the month academic year and fashion year start so I decide to do a bit of refocus and refreshing.

I had days of doing nothing.

I declutered my flat.

I reorganise my possessions.

I digitalise my important documents.

I download and discovered new music.

I deciding to re-think the way i spend my money.

I made a vision board.

And most importantly I rested.

In that resting, God spoke and showed me that this season of frustration had a purpose. God also showed me my heart.

Years ago in one on my lowest moment, God led me to Ez 36:26

I WILL GIVE YOU A NEW HEART

I WILL PUT A NEW SPIRIT IN YOU

I WILL TAKE OUT YOUR STONY STUBBORN HEART

AND GIVE YOU A TENDER RESPONSIVE HEART

The one thing that God always wants to work on is my heart. See God revealed to me that there were still a lot of darkness and brokenness in me and He cannot bring me to a new place before He heals me.

At first I got upset.

I resisted him.

I whined about the whole thing.

I fought him.

I even ignored him.

But his strong love pursued me.

He show me that this is how he loves.

He will rather frustrate me and delay me than letting my wounds grow deeper.

Because these wounds would have caused more damage to me and people in my life.

So I surrendered. I am going to rest a bit, sit at his feet and letting him healed me, with his love.

Uncertain difficult seasons 

There are moments in life when you have no idea where you are headed. You reach a point of total confusion where there are more questions than answers. You do not know even what to pray for or what to hope for.

The doors you thought were meant to open close right on your face. You are then wondering if  God is distant or is just sitting silent.

I am currently in such a season. I can honestly say that my heart is weary and the heaviness is unbearable. However I am mature enough to know that every seasons is necessary for our growth and our faith. It is in hardships that our character is made and truth be told: some lessons can only be learn in the storms of our life.

So today I just wanted to share the lessons God has been teaching me in my season.

1) It is okay to cry and yes emotions are real

We ought to allow ourselves to feel emotions and feelings, as harder as it is. Scream if you have to but let it out all. Do not bottle anything and give it all to the Father: the heartbreak, the sadness, the anger, the disappointment, the bitterness…Every feeling is valid.

2) Share with someone and allow them to pray for you.

It is important to have good friends to speak to. If you have good counsel around you it is okay to explain what you are going through. Before you know it, they may have been or are going through the same seasons as you. We always feel at time that no one will understand what we are going through and they cannot really help us. At some of my lowest points, God allowed my sister, my brother and a woman at my church to bring me comfort in my period of transition.

3) Be careful to not listening to the lies of the Enemy

Remember he prowls around like a lion, and will come in different forms to try to confuse with all type wrong narratives.

“You will be better off away from God”

“He doesn’t love you”

“He doesn’t care”

“Your situation will never change”

“Look others who are not walking with him look better off than you”

Do not think that you will be better off. God covers you everyday believe it or not. Just because we do not get a notification every time that God did protected us from something does not mean he is not protecting us. Even when we feel it or not, He looks after us. Outside of his love, his protection is not guarantee and we can end up in worse situations.

4) Always remember that God is working in your heart and character

We are the clay being moulded by the potter and he is constantly pressing us to make  a more useful vessel out of us. We are the diamond being refined through the fire. Our character and our faith are more important than our circumstances changing.

5) Praise him in the pain

Yes…As harder as it will be, we still have things to be grateful for and thank God for him. See I believe in the power of music and especially worship music. I have playlists of songs that usually talks about hope. Listening to them on a bad day is genuine therapy.

Praise him every time you feel your emotions racing

Praise him with music and with your own words.

6) Be patient

This one is a hard one too. I confess that I still struggle with patience; I have not much of it so it a never ending lesson for me. Situations will not resolve and change all in one go…It might take time. God works with time. I wish I could tell you when it all get better, but I do not know. I can assure you is that there is a purpose in pain and that breakthrough do happen.
It just that God’s timing is very different of ours.

There is say in my country that say that some eat at 8am, some eat at 2pm, some eat at midnight…But no one goes to bed hungry. This means that we each have our own designated time and we will all ultimately receive our answers.

It is also very tempting to compare our life and walk with others and seeing them progressing, achieving things, getting their miracles and we feel like we are not moving. Especially when we have been walking faithfully with God, serving him and we see some who just seem to have started their journey who have came back from wandering ways, getting blessed. We then feel like the other brother in the prodigal son story: “why  is he being blessed and I am not receiving anything although I was here serving you Lord”. Comparison will steal your joy.

Also maybe God just want to also show us that he is our reward and just want to us to enjoy us and our relationship with him. After all, are we seeking more God’s hand or God’s heart?

So let’s be patient and praise him when it hurts. There is always something beautiful on the others side of our faithfulness.

Let him be our strength in the waiting.

At the end of us, He is there.

And all things, yes all things will work for our good.

Soul Survivor

 

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So this year I went to Soul Survivor with the youth group of my church, Bethel Community Church.

It has now been two years that I am a youth leader at my local church. This was never something that I had planned. I joined the church in 2013 after I had some troubles with a boy (long sad story). One of my good friends used to go there and recommended it to me. I did not go to church for more that 4 years (once again another sad long story). So coming to Bethel, I had many reservations, I just wanted to hear the sermons at the time, was not really planning on staying long, talk or fellowshipping with others Christians.

But I ended up really enjoying the sermons and decided to stay.  One day, I prayed God if there was something I was supposed to do in the church, in term of serving. At first, I though about joining the worship team because I enjoy singing and not to brag I am quite good at it. So like a good Christian, I prayed about it. Then one Sunday, I was approached by a member of the welcome team who encouraged me to help and volunteer at the Youth Group. I was very reluctant because I remember what I was like as a teenager and I was just a horrible human being. I was so prejudiced against young people; I did not want to be around them. But since I had prayed God, I felt compelled to go to one meeting to see how it was. One of the major things that I learned about my Christian journey is that God likes to take me out of my comfort zone and push me to take risks.

It has now been two years and I am officially part of the leadership team and this year we decided to bring the youth camping for five days at Soul Survivor in Somerset. There is the weird part; I am not one who ever thought she will be camping. To be honest I am still not a great fan of it. I do not mind doing outdoor activities as long as I can go back to my bed at the end of the day. Sleeping in a tent is not on my bucket list. If I had to tell the truth, the first night was just horrible. The airbed I had deflated and I was literally sleeping on the floor while it was absolutely freezing outside. In addition the mother of all heat wave decided to fall upon us; so staying in tent was just insufferable.

But although the living conditions were not my favourite thing, the actual festival was quite an enjoyable experience. We attended really challenging sermons and incredible worship sessions in a big tent. There were several activities and seminars throughout the day and we all bonded as a group like a little family creating memories that I know we will cherish forever. We grew closer to each other and to God. It was even decided that we would go back next year.

On my part, God taught quite some vital lessons. The principal one was that some elements of Christianity would be different from one person to another. The message is the same: we serve the Almighty God, Yahweh, who sent his son Jesus to die as a sacrifice to redeem our sinful souls. Jesus died for us and rose again. He promised to come again and left his Holy Spirit to guide us in our journey to love God and love others while being continually regenerated. This is the core message from the Bible. However I got reminded that there are some stages and levels and therefore everybody walk a different journey. Although there are similarities and we can even shares similar experiences, we are all different people. Different personalities, backgrounds, with different gifts. We even react to the Spirit differently. Throughout the Bible, there are all types of people: quiet, stubborn, strong, creative, passionate, small etc…God uses them all in their different personalities. So there are different journeys and paths, which shows even more how much our God is amazing. We are not clones and we are not robots. We are imperfect people drawn by redemption by the grace in his eyes.

The verse that stuck with me, was from the first sermon. It was Zephaniah 3:17:

‘For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, He will calm your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song.’ (NLT)

I love that God can and will quiet me with his love. That is one beautiful hope.

God bless.

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