and ... breathe

Monday, 29 April 2013

I've realised recently how much I strive.

When I first became a Christian, I heard a lot of messages along the lines of 'don't strive. Don't try to be good for the sake of looking good. Don't be religious for the sake of being religious.' and I remember, in those new-found-joy days, thinking 'I'll never be like that. I'll always see how much God loves me. I'll always remember Jesus' sacrifice for me. I'll always know that I'm forgiven. I'll never think I can buy God's love with deeds. Maybe this message is for some other person. Not for me.'


How long has this guilt been building up in me? How long has this sense of shame been pervading me? How long have I been striving, desperately clawing, to get back on track?

Because the old me - the newly-in-love-with-God me - never forgot how much He loves me. Never felt that God's love depended on how hard I work or how much I do. And I never, on the flip side, felt that God disapproved of me because I wasn't doing enough, or because I had done wrong.

I was secure. Secure in God's adoring love for me. It made me stand up straighter. Walk a bit taller. That feeling, every day, of being a girl adored by her Father made me feel inspired to be better. To do better. And so all of those things that I associate with being a 'good' Christian - acts of charity, kindness, Bible study, discipline, prayer - they flowed naturally. They were an outpouring, an expression of love and joy, of thankfulness. Sure, some days I really, really didn't want to open my Bible and read. Sure, some days I didn't want to pray. I had better days than others. But overall, I never doubted God's love for me. If I slipped or did something wrong, I dusted myself off and prayed about it and I tried to move on. I knew that God was changing me and it would take time. I knew that He loved me.

He loves me.

How can that knowledge fade away? How have I let go of that anchor that kept me straight and steady?

I've listened to a lot of teaching about God's love. I've listened to a lot of teaching about God's correction, about His righteousness, His justice. But I don't believe you can have one without the other. To allow the first part - the part where I realise that God loves me, like a daughter - to fade but let the second one stand doesn't add up.

And so I enter this pattern. I fall down. I do things wrong. I feel terrible. I run away. I keep running. Then I go back. I apologise. I make promises. I sit down and read my Bible every day for a week and I pray and sing songs all day long. Then I slip. I fall. I run away ...

There's something missing in my pattern. Some gap that needs to be filled. 

I think that something is acceptance.

I need to just accept that God loves me. I need to soak in it. To bathe in His love. To just sit there and - remember. Breathe it in. Accept it. Let go.

Let go of the lists of things to do in my head. Let go of the pressure that I'm not doing enough, that I am not enough.

Because it's not really about me or whether I deserve it. It's about Him. His unfailing love. His amazing grace.

That is what I want to steep in. To mull over. To ponder. To accept.

I can tell other people about it. I will happily point people to my loving God. Read them scriptures, wax lyrical about how much He loves us. But underneath it all, whether knowingly or not, my heart has murmured Yes, but that's not for me. I'm not allowed it. I'm not worthy of it. 

He loves me! He died for me. I don't deserve Him. But I've got Him.

It's that simple.

Why has it seemed so hard? How have I got myself so tangled in complicated moral issues and theology whilst forgetting - neglecting - the point of it all?

He loves me.

Oh Lord, don't let me forget.

the keep and drop principle, part two

Saturday, 6 April 2013

So last time I went on a bit of rambleathon about what I found via this blog about simplifying. Simplifying (put simply!) is not just about decluttering, buying fewer products of higher quality instead of lots of cheap tat, etc, but it's also kind of a way of organising your entire life. Living, I guess, in a simpler, clearer way.

The problem is with any of these kinds of ideas is that they can become an idol in themselves. In a quest for a simpler life, cutting back on this and that, I might (and probably would if unchecked) become so obsessed with the idea that I forgot the whole purpose of it in the first place, which, really, is to free up time and space to be peaceful. To reflect upon God.

So it's important (for me, at least) not to become too obsessive. However, there's something about this keep/drop principle that really appeals to me. Not for just my decluttering drive. But for all of life.

I'm about to go through one of the most monumentally huge changes, ever. When our baby goes from fluttering around like a butterfly in my stomach, to being here, all red and wrinkly and wailing and helpless, life as I know it is going to change. And there's no point in me sitting down and giving myself pep talks about how it's going to be, because I don't know how it's going to be. Until the kid (and maybe future extra kids) descends upon us, I won't know what to expect.

But I can prepare myself by letting go, or at least, planning on letting go. I can let go of the things that take up my time that I don't need. I've always maintained that I want to be Megan as well as Mummy. I want to be a full-on, dedicated, loving, fun Mum, but I also want my kids to see me having my own passions and opinions too, outside of them. I want to become less of me, yes, but in order to make more room for God.

So. How do I do it? How do I be full-on Mum and full-on for God at the same time?

Things will have to go. I'm writing this in advance in the hope that, when my Mummy guilt kicks in and I start comparing and feeling bad, I will look back on it and remember what I had set out to do. Or something like that.

Keep: Reading. Most importantly the Bible (obviously). And those books that remind me of my passion and purpose in life. In fact, part of what swayed me towards a Kindle was because someone said they were perfect for reading whilst breastfeeding as you only need one hand to read ...! I also plan to keep reading fiction, because it's my way of unwinding. Even if I read a few sentences before I fall asleep.
Drop: Reading rubbish. News websites? I always get drawn into the celebrity gossip (shameful true admission time here, people). Forums? Wastes hours. Blogs? I'll read the ones that I really love and that inspire me. But to be honest, I probably won't even have time to brush my hair in the first few weeks, never mind keeping up with my own blog and other people's.

Keep: The kitchen and bathrooms clean enough to function (this is where Chris comes in ... haha!)
Drop: Worrying about piles of laundry/things gathering dust. The people I love (and who, in turn, will love baby) will happily ignore my rubbish everywhere.

Keep: Cooking healthy meals for my family.
Drop: Acquiring piles of new recipes that I then feel guilty about not cooking when I end up sticking a pizza in the oven or cooking pasta, again.

Keep: In touch with my friends, even if I look like a wreck and I only have a few crumbled digestives from the bottom of the barrel and a cup of tea to give them.
Drop: The idea that myself and my house has to look nice first.

Keep: Being a fun, happy, carefree, silly, covered-in-paint-and-dirt sort of Mum.
Drop: Worrying about my parenting skills. Worrying about what other people think of me. Worrying about my babies being spotless all the time. (I really need to remember this when I get to the weaning bit).

Keep: Raising my kids to know that we love them, and that more importantly, God loves them.
Drop: Comparing myself to Mums that seem to have it all.

Keep: Our marriage as high on our list of priorities.
Drop: The worry that I will never ever sleep ever ever ever again and that we will never have any time on our own again (because it will settle down. One day. Far into the future).

Keep: Going to church. Even when it's really hard to get up and out of the door on time. KEEP GOING.
Drop: The fear that no one will understand why I suddenly look twenty years older, the worry that people will be annoyed when our baby starts squawking loudly in the middle of the sermon - people older and wiser than me have been through it all before.

I think that's enough forward thinking for now. Once I get past the crazy first few months, maybe I'll revisit this and start to reassemble some sort of routine for us all.

I want to live every moment fully present with my loved ones. Fully present and ready, equipped, for God. If I have to give up some things that take up space in my brain when I have so much going on, then I will!

I'm gonna step out of my Determination Pants now and do some non-productive reading. God bless xx
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