Food vs God

I had a rather dissapointing wake up call this morning. It was a letter and then a phone call (what about isn’t really important) and before I knew it my body, brain and emotions were responding.

Your going food shopping, let’s load up on chocolate and you’ll feel all better!

I managed to text a friend who spoke some wisdom into my feelings and I managed to avoid the chocolate. 

My brain tried again…

Not chocolate? How about a gossip mag, you love those, let’s criticise others to make you feel better!

Again I managed to walk away and my brain tried once more…

No mag? Ok, ok. How about some new clothes? That’s definitely gonna work!

You can see the pattern of my brain. I managed to get through my shopping; almost in tears but, no chocolate, no mags, no clothes.

It didn’t help that I drove behind this car on the way homewhispers… buy Ferrero Rocher!! Oh come on!!

And then my realisation, did you notice it? Nowhere did I turn to God for help. Not once. And then it hit me, I crave comfort from food, trash mags & clothes more than I crave God. Ouch! 

I love to read but sadly 4 children has taken its toll on my brain so retaining what I read is a struggle, cue highlighter and notebook. I’m reading a great book at the moment on this very subject and it’s bringing up a lot for me. 

  1. God is not first in my life and so when temptation comes along I have no leg/scripture to stand on. I get knocked down time and again. 
  2. I had no one to be accountable to, so I could inhale as much chocolate as I wanted and didn’t have to confess it to anyone (secret sin and guilt)…that has changed.  
  3. I don’t know what my identity is as a daughter of God, this is going to change!
  4. I have been stuck with the same ‘go to’s’ for the past 5 years, if not longer. 

So, as you can see, I’ve got some stuff to work on. I’m finally realising that I’m not going to get an overnight quick fix, God is not my fairy godmother and I need to step up and do my part and let God do his, otherwise I’m stuck here for a very long time.

Finally, this book has taught me something, which is becoming my mantra…

I am made for more that this, I am made for victory

And so are you!

Where does my strength come from?

This past weekend has been an emotional rollercoaster! 

I went away for a clergy wives getaway, they said it’s called a get away because we’re not quiet enough to call it a retreat. Having gone on the ‘getaway’ last year, it is now something that will annually go into my diary, it is such a lovely relaxed time and I learn so much about God and myself.

On the Friday evening of the weekend there are 3 people asked to give a testimony of God in the last year, this year I was one of those asked. What a privilege!

When I was asked to give a testimony my brain went into panic, speaking publically was something I would have said, over and over again, was not my ministry. Notice I said “would HAVE”.

So, I was asked, my brain went into overdrive but my heart had a peace that was definitely from God, he was calling me to do this. That very night God gave me the words he wanted me to speak.

And then the weekend came along.

Friday night – I got up to speak, hands shaking and heart racing. I got emotional but I spoke the words God had given me.

Saturday morning – I woke up feeling broken and vulnerable, empty and unsettled. Why did I feel like this? I had done what God had asked me to do and now I felt like a shell, what was going on? 

I kept getting positive feedback from the words I had spoken and all I could muster was a meek “thank you” feeling complete unworthy.

Saturday evening We had the wonderful Caroline Welby to speak. What a woman of grace, integrity, humility and wisdom. One of the things she said to me was that when we are stretched beyond our comfort zones, when we are uncomfortable, we grow.

Now I see the wisdom but at the time all I felt was that I wasn’t growing, I was shrivelling!

Sunday morning I had a gentle but honest message from a dear friend. She said that if I didn’t feel public speaking was my ministry (as I kept saying) then I shouldn’t do it. But, if I felt called to it but felt fearful and scared, then I needed to trust God to equip me.

Monday morning (back home) all the wisdom spoken has finally come together to give me a complete picture. Public speaking is way out of my comfort zone, I don’t like the sound of my voice, I think others could speak far better with a greater clarity and wisdom, I believe I don’t have the knowledge and my ‘go to’ answer is that Carl was the one called to be upfront not me! So it is way out of my comfort zone, does it then rightly follow that it is not my ministry? That is for God to tell me, not me to tell God. My heart is now open to what he asks of me and I will ask him to exchange the fear I feel for trust, faith and courage.

And the reason I felt so vulnerable on Saturday morning? Yes the words I had spoken were from God, yet I realise now that I delivered them in my own strength, not God’s. I gave from my own resource and not from God’s.

My prayer is that I have taken on board this lesson and in the future remind myself where my strength and help comes from.

I lift my eyes unto the hills

Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord

The maker of heaven and earth

Why am I so angry?

I have two settings when it comes to anger. The first is to get extremely cross, very quickly. I shout, completely lose my temper and then walk away. The second is to swallow my anger down and bury it, deep, self protection for me and complete confrontation avoidance. Because I believe that if I let you know that I have been wounded by you then that will lead to conflict and an argument rather than a conversation. Right??

The way I deal with anger is seperated into two categories, one for my immediate family and the other for everyone else. I think you and I would both agree that neither is healthy, for myself or those in the firing line.

Growing up, I was disciplined and then sent to my room. It left me with a feeling of anger, that as a child I did not understand or know how to deal with appropriately. I don’t say that to be disrespectful to my parents but just to acknowledge that is the way I was raised.

As a young adult I went through a time of burying all feelings, that included anger, loneliness, sadness but it also robbed me of joy. As I have let feelings come back in, anger seems to have been the emotion to blow in like a tornado and I still do not have the coping mechanisms in place to deal with it in a healthy manner and so it wreaks havoc.

So I take this to God on my dog walk today and our conversation goes a bit like this…

Me “Father God, I’m not dealing with my anger very well”

God “Yes, I had kind of noticed”

Me “things aren’t getting better, I go from 0-60 faster than any sports car, I shout in a rage at my kids and Carl and then I feel like poo”

God “yep, it’s pretty tricky isn’t it”

Me “so I was wondering if you could you just take my anger away and give me peace?”

God “I do see what your asking, and I could do that. But..”

Me “I knew there was a but coming!”

God “but, I love you too much to do that! I am trying to teach you something important here. So I’m going to walk through this with you, and we may need to start over several times but I promise you I will be right with you and we will overcome this together, ok?”

Me”that sounds like hard work, wouldn’t my way be much easier?”

God “maybe it would in the short term but I have long term plans for you so you’ve got to trust me, do you?”

Me “hum, let me think on that!…yes, I do trust you”

My conversations with God can be somewhat long winded with lots of begging and sulking on my part and lots of patience in his.

But he’s right, he could flick a switch and give me exactly what I’m asking for but what kind of parent does that? 

With my own children there are countless times when I could sweep in and do things for them, it would sure save a lot of time, but what does that teach them? Carl and I are trying to raise children confident in their own skills to problem solve, to work things out for themselves, not children who look to their parents for a quick fix. Yes we are there to guide and advise but not to do all the work on their behalf. They are our dependants but I also want them to grow in independence.

And this is what God is doing with me, he is guiding and advising, he’s walking me through the messy stuff but he’s also asking me to do some of the work to find the solution and I am gaining wisdom and knowledge in the process. Yes maybe not the way I always want him to do things but probably a far more useful and constructive method with lasting tools for my spiritual tool belt.

Where is God when the darkness closes in?

Scrolling back, I think many of my posts come after God has ‘moved’ in some way. Posts about God being faithful and a provider. I don’t seem to be very good at praising God within the storm.

Because it’s easy to praise God and be thankful isn’t it, when life is going ok, the kids are happy, those glorious moments when I’m not shouting at them or Carl (it happens trust me).  

Sunday was one of these great God days, it felt like God was moving in the Church service and it was beautiful, after the service I made plans to meet the following day with a friend to pray together. Sunday was a good God day. 

And then it was Monday…

When days like yesterday come along, I’m just plain done in or undone, I don’t know. Days when there is no motivation to do anything, days that leave the emotions so close to the surface with seemingly no reason, days I don’t want to be around anyone; even myself, days when it’s easier to climb back into bed rather than do something I know will be life giving…spending time with God. Yesterday I retreated, instead of reaching for God and I went for the comfort of bed and chocolate.

I know depression is often referred to as “the black dog” but for me it’s not like that. It’s more like a fog. At first I can’t even see it and slowly it creeps further forward as it silently surrounds and leads me away from God, Carl and myself. Thankfully yesterday was just ‘one of those days’ and I’m not becoming depressed again, I’m just tired. Thankfully I can recognise the signs but sadly I haven’t quite learnt to go to the right place or person for rest and comfort. For now, when the darkness creeps around I reach for those things that bring immediate and short relief rather than the God who will bring lasting peace and assurance. I know God is helping me to address that.

So this isn’t an all singing all dancing post from the mountain top but it is an eye opening post, mostly to remind myself, that even in days like yesterday, when it feels like I’m in the valley, that God is still with me and he is still teaching me. It may be a little harder to hear him speak but he is still speaking. I just need to lean in to him and listen up.

I’m doing ok

I think a lot of my posts tend to come from struggles I’ve either faced or am currently going through, so I thought I’d mix things up a bit and share from what feels like quite a good place.

When we moved just over a month ago I felt really anxious about what faced us, new friendships for the children and us, new routine, new church, a loss of security and ‘the known’, Throw in the old question of ‘how much you share of yourself when you’re the vicar’s wife’ (or Rector’s wife thank you very much 😉) and it felt like a mountain infront of us and if I’m honest I felt panicked, physically sick and like I’d rather just run back to the safety of Burgess Hill.

Yet I have noticed that by just stepping out in very small ways, (trying) to be myself and be honest about who I am, that what I thought was a massive thing has actually been ok (ssshhh, don’t tell anyone) and actually I feel pretty happy where we are. We have been so welcomed by our new church family and people genuinely want to get to know me and us. Our children are happy, we spend more time as a family and I am less cross and grumpy, I hope my children would agree and we dance more.

I think what I’m trying to say is that when we actually face the things that fill us with fear and dread that they are sometimes not as terrifying as we think they are going to be and even more, sometimes we can be surprised by actually enjoying them far more than we could expect.

So I just wanted to give God the honour and publicly be thankful. I’m thankful for how He has gone before us and prepared this place for us, all of us and not just Carl, I’m thankful for the friendships we are all building and for the friendships I still have in Burgess Hill and I’m thankful for our new church family who show us love and kindness. God is good.

Well I might as well…

If I’m honest, which I try to be, the past few months have been somewhat unsettling.

Not only did we spend 7 weeks driving Phoebe back and forth to school in Handcross everyday whilst also getting Olivia and Toby to school in Burgess Hill. We then had to say goodbye to many dear friends at St Andrews in Burgess Hill, writing this I sense I still haven’t let myself truly grieve that massive loss yet, it just seems to big and painful. We then, finally, added in the house move. It’s very strange to watch your possessions slowly leave your house while you still live there. Christmas passed in a bit of a blur, Carl was licensed as Rector on Thursday, I think I survived the evening without being sick or crying and today was our first Sunday in our new Church, St Mary’s Slaugham.

It’s been exhausting!

At the moment life feels very in the spot light and in all truth that leaves me feeling unsafe and vulnerable, desperate to make a ‘good’ impression with all the lovely people introducing themselves. In all of that I have become aware of the temptation for me to try and regain control. When I feel out of control I frantically search for a way to feel back in control. For me, and I think we all know, that control comes in the form of food and exercise so I sit thinking of diets to try while eating a lot of mince pies. I realised this week that I have a ‘might as well’ attitude. I might as well eat all those mince pies/chocolates/biscuits because then they’re out of the house and I can get on with my healthy eating, I might as well drink that bottle of wine because then it’s gone and I can get on with being healthy and just drinking water. It’s a destructive pattern that I return to time and again. 

And what spurred me to write this post now? I was reminded by the lovely gentleman leading the prayers in Church this morning, David I think, of the power of our story. The power of my story. I am not the perfect Christian/wife/mother/daughter/friend… and thankfully for me God doesn’t expect me to be. Carl, in his preach this morning, see I do listen, spoke from 1 Timothy 1 v 5 “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” and that is the place I need to live from “God I trust you but I need your help to trust you” because I can’t live in a place where when life is good then I’m happy for God to be in control but when I’m struggling I try and take control back. You’d think I would have learnt by now that when I’m in control things spiral downwards very quickly. 

So for the next weeks and months as we settle into life in Handcross and to a new Church family, I need to look to God more and trust that He has gone before me. I need to remind myself, daily, that this takes time, the pain of leaving Burgess Hill will take time to heal and the building of relationships here will take time, it isn’t meant to be instant and that’s ok! I need God’s help in living in the present and not desperate to fast forward to the future because in doing that there is so much I will miss.

Today was a turning point…

Over the years I have believed a lot of lies and I mean a LOT of lies. Let me give you just a few, “I’m stupid, ugly, dirty, selfish, boring, insignificant, my feelings don’t matter, I’m worthless, I’m not worth God’s love/time/interest, I do not matter”. I could go on but I think you get my point. That’s a lot of lies.

When I’m in Church and I hear a sermon on being a child of God, with a crown, loved and precious, I’m there ready with my bat to get those lies as far away as possible because I have believed a lie which says I am not those things. I am not loved by God or precious to him because he doesn’t even waste his time on me. I am worthless to him.

Then today happened. 

Today I went for some prayer ministry (which this morning I really didn’t want to go to) and God showed up…big time. He gently took away the lies I have believed and has begun to replace them with truth and he started with this. “Lindsay, you are enough, stop striving, you are enough”. That’s pretty special. 

He also rebaptised me. Let me explain. During the prayer I was asked to take off the masks I have used for protection and to wait on God. As my eyes were closed I had a sense of taking the mask from my face, letting it fall from my hand and then pushing through dense bushes. On the other side was water which I gently walked into until I was fully submerged. As I came out God, the I AM, was waiting for me, waiting to embrace me and clothe me in a white robe and then we turned away from the water and walked forward. It was a beautiful image.

And now I have a choice, I can chose to hold on to the things God spoke over me today or I can pick up my old masks and pretend it didn’t happen, that God didn’t speak, that I made it all up and I’m still all of the lies. Or…or I chose to believe, to believe that I am enough and continue walking with God into the things he has in store for me. I can chose to allow myself to feel vulnerable but keep walking, to keep moving forwards, not on my own or in my own strength but by his grace.

And that is the choice I am making, I am remembering that I am small and God is big, that he goes before me. That I can trust him and that I can come to him with anything. 

And I am shouting this message because it’s not for me alone. Too many people are bound by the lies of the enemy and today, for me, I said enough!

I’m Lindsay and I’m a desperate people pleaser, nice to meet you

It’s becoming more apparent to me that I like to be liked, maybe more than that I want and need to be liked and yet when it appears people do actually like me I push their acceptance away,

“but if they really knew what I was like”, “their only saying that because…”

So I both want to be liked and yet cannot accept it when I am. I know, it’s exhausting just reading it back, think how Carl feels!

I head the fantastic Christy Wimber speak a few weeks back and something she said actually took some of the pressure off,

“not everyone will like you, if you set out to be liked by everyone you will compromise on everything”

um…ouch and wow!

Without noticing somewhere along the way I started to turn myself into the person I thought others wanted me to be, but when you become so pliable are you being true to who God has made you to be?

In a few months time Carl will be taking on the role of Rector of two lovely Churches in Sussex and while I am excited I am also becoming consumed by intrusive thoughts “you need to be more like…”, “what will be expected of me”, “will I be the kind of Vicar’s wife they want/have had before”, “will I be a disappointment”, “what will they think when they read my blog and see that I’m bonkers” and on and on, I think you get the idea. 

Yet God didn’t make me to be who somebody else would like me to be. He has made me the way I am and that needs to be enough, both for me and the congregation I become a part of. I can’t maintain a facade of who I think people want me to be and frustratingly it starts with me accepting who God made me to be and to stop picking holes in myself. I need to embrace who I am and take hold of the truth that I am enough! And yes I can still want to improve things about myself and grow in a lot of areas but the starting point is I AM ENOUGH. I need to look up to God for my acceptance and self worth rather than outwardly to others because if God doesn’t define me other people and things will.

Christy Wimber also said

“I don’t get to choose if I am valuable enough but I do get to choose if I accept it or not”. 

I am valuable whether I think so or not, the question is am I going to waste my life arguing and debating that with God while pointing out the areas He could have done better in? 

I have believed that if I’m this or that, if I do this or say that then I will be enough but that is skewed thinking, I am enough because a God is enough and He sees the potential in me, I just need to trust in Him.

I am enough.

Where do I put my trust?

For the past few months God has been trying to teach me the gifts of patience and trust. Sadly I don’t seem to be a quick learner.

We are in the process of leaving Carl’s curacy Church and heading to his first incumbency (vicar job) and since June it has felt like God was calling us to trust Him and be patient; something I find very hard to do. I like to feel in control of my life, and that of my family. I like knowing what is happening next and when it’s happening. This was not God’s plan. In asking us to trust Him He has revealed one piece of the puzzle at a time and it has been so frustrating! I have not be able to ‘do’ anything to speed the process up and I have realised that if I’m not able to ‘do’ then I feel out of control and when I feel out of control I reach for anything I can be in control of. Which is ridiculous really because the ‘thing’ I should be reaching for isn’t a thing at all, it is God. The ONE who is constant, reliable and always there.

On my dog walk today, yes I’m back listening to God while out walking, I saw a beautiful rainbow (just after being soaked in a downpour) 

And it felt like God was reminding me that He has got this! He is holding Carl, me and the kids in this process. In fact He was holding this whole season before we knew anything about it.

And yet still, in times of uncertainty, I panic and my first response isn’t to go to God my first response is to try and control things in my own strength. “God are you sure you know what your doing here, remember we have kids right?” Like I could do a better job than God.

I heard a talk recently about how an Oak tree is a blueprint for our lives, their roots spread deep and far and yet they are unseen. What is unseen is the most significant.

So how deep are my roots? How rooted in God am i?

My hope should come from God and not from the earthly things which are out of my control anyway despite my attempts to control them. I need to develop deep roots so that when uncertainty comes, and things feel a bit unsettled and stormy, I can lean into God rather than trying to grab hold of things which will ultimately fail me.

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly trust in Jesus name

My story matters

So I realise I have not posted for over 7 weeks. To start with it was because I felt God wasn’t giving me anything to say but as the weeks have gone by I have admitted to myself that the reason I haven’t posted was fear. I have been fearful of failing, of not being ‘good enough’.

I am one of those people who listens to the lies of the enemy quite a lot, more then I realised actually. It turns out that his voice is far louder in my life than God’s.

When it came to my blog, which had definitely felt like a God inspired thing, the enemies whisper came along in waves. “Who are you to put your thoughts out there”, “what will people think of you”, “people will dislike you”, “you are not good enough”, “your pathetic” and on and on. 

It turns out the power of shame is pretty high in my life and I’ve been allowing Satan to get away with stealing my identity and keeping me down, buried beneath a mountain of shame and negative self talk. He has robbed me of my self worth and has told me countless times that I am not good enough in any area, that I am a failure and a disappointment. He has stolen my joy and the identity that the Bible tells me I have as a child of God.

I’ve been learning a lot recently about the power of our stories and wholeheartedly believe that my story may be hope and freedom to others. I see now why satan would much rather keep me quiet. 

Shame thrives in secrecy and silence but speak it out and the power is gone. So I’m digging deep and finding courage in God, knowing that He has my back. I’m stepping out, owning my story and sharing it and my prayer would be you can share your story too. Over to you!