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heart

Heart Of Flesh

Photograph of my dog contemplating the sea on the Isle of Bute 17th May 2023.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

I have heard this verse preached many times, and probably spoken on it myself, but just recently it has made sense to me. Sense in that way that God doesn’t wave a magic wand over us if we show willing and then all is fine and one get one’s “heart of flesh rather than heart of stone” or all those other things that God promises to do. It is a two-way thing. One needs to do more than just say “here I am Lord“. Each time someone in the Bible says “here I am” there is then something they have to choose whether to do or not. And I think it is the same with being able to get this heart of flesh, this malleable heart that can feel God/The Universe’s ways.

I’ve mentioned this before in Heart of Flesh/Heart of Stone but I feel this post is how I saw my practical outworking and how it fits in with the things I’ve been working through around Forgiveness. I’m not sure if it is the same with everyone but with me God/The Universe starts with thoughts and ideas and then has to pop in a practical to make it all make sense fully to me. I’ve always preferred sermons that have a practical application.

There have been some issues recently that have upset me and I could feel myself backing away, going into protection mode, keeping myself safe. But then I got a picture of how this was myself building walls, solid walls, in my heart. A heart of stone isn’t how we are born but is grows in lots of little compounds of hardness as we get hurt and don’t find a safe place to deal with those hearts. I do also think we get taught to hold on to hurts, etc, often by learning how to blame others.

So there I was journaling away around some of the things that had upset me recently writing things like of “well that just adds on to all hurt/rejection/misunderstanding/abandonment/etc I’ve had before which of obviously why I have acted/reacted to others/friends/family/etc in this way.” Almost a “it’s not my fault”, a blaming.

Then my pen brought me up short. Slowly, as if God/The Universe was speaking in that still small voice, I felt let to forgave myself for feeling this way, for adding on a serious of hurts to other hurts, to blaming both the most recent person who had hurt me with all those in the past and using it as a reason for my behaviour. So I forgave myself for my behaviour which then seemed to mean that I no longer had to forgive others because it was my heart of stone which was the issues. Also realised I had to trust God/The Universe that as I forgave myself for adding things up all those hurts which when made it ok for me to think I could react a certain way it was safe for me to become more vulnerable.

Safe is such a big word that maybe one day it will get a whole blog to itself!

I got a picture of this place in my heart that had built this wall around the hurt so I could keep the hurts safe and keep going back and giving them a poke. Then as I got more into forgiving myself and asking for forgiveness for holding on to this hurt so I felt my heart relax, and I watched this stone wall fall and disappear. Interestingly too I looked on my Fitbit and my heart rate had gone down.

Over the last few days things have happened that have been blessings, which may or may not have happened anyway, but because my heart is open rather than closed I can see those blessings for what they are, been able to enjoy them and feel good about them.

I do now wonder if the whole line of “forgive us what we have done wrong as we forgive others” is so much of us letting go of how we hold on to hurts and build our walls and then use that as an excuse for our behaviour. So if I forgive myself the blame I have placed on my behaviour so I forgive that other person.

Makes you wonder if that line in the Lord’s Prayer should be “help us forgive ourselves so we can forgive others”.

Are we willing to say “here I am” to gain our fully malleable hearts with all the pain that could come from having a soft, fleshy heart?

A well built wall slowly coming down. Do we fear that the storms will come to drown us if we let those walls crumble? Photographed by me August 2021
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Coronation Cultural Diversity

Cultural Diversity

I’ve been writing a piece for Godspace for World Cultural Diversity Day on 21st May but realised, after having my daughter to stay this past week, that this weekend in the UK is going to be quite culturally diverse.

It is the coronation of King Charles III. There are mixed reviews on what sort of person he is but also there are people coping with getting used to change after having Queen Elizabeth II for over 70 years. Most of us have not known another monarch.

There are some people lining the route of the coronation parade already. Some have been there for a few days so they can get a good space. The mood is joyous and hopefully they won’t get too wet. But then there are others putting up angry tweets about fascism, some angry that a country struggling to support those on low incomes can afford this pageantry, others who are still angry about the ending of his marriage to Princess Diana. There are also some who don’t really care one way or the other. For them is it another public holiday in a month that had two public holidays already so they are either pleased about that or frustrated at having to fit things in to a shorter working week, or having to work harder over the weekend because they are in hospitality or various support services.

The division of those excited by, those angry by and those indifferent too covers all ages, races, religions, genders. There is no one group who can say “all our people think x”. There is a diversity within the diverse groups.

But what I have noticed is that there is not chatting between the groups. Each are putting their stuff up on social media or doing their thing without a thoughts to why others think and feel how they do.

Bunting knitted by my Mum outside her house

This would be a good place, a safe place, to start a conversation about diversity, but it won’t happen. I wonder why not? A thought from my QEC practitioner about something else but that fits in with this is that sometimes people feel so unsafe due to unresolved issues that they would rather keep the other person in the “bad box” by whatever means than chat through differences.

I agree but also even if you are the calm one it can be difficult to talk to someone because the other person is so scared that they can come over as violent, angry, not willing to talk, or maybe not even sure what they really think. If we are too anxious we are in defense mode and so cannot hear anyone else because we need to keep our barriers firmly in place. The only way that will change is if each and everyone of us can admit that we should not be in this highly tense state and be able to heal.

Wouldn’t it have been lovely if this had been the weekend to start on this healing process but instead the dysfunctional British royal family has its own issues it needs to sort. Much of which came out in Prince Harry’s book. And many of these issues are fueled by the media across the globe who like to report the bad rather than the good.

So I pray and leave it to God to work on each and everyone of us to let go and find that true inner peace that is so important to the healing of this world.

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Inner Healing Pruning

Pruning

Look closely by the hedge and you can see my drastically pruned rose bushes.

I was pruning my roses this morning and got thinking of how pruning roses is like healing. At first there is a bundle of vicious stems with dead flowers on the end, but as we work through them it is easier to see where to cut and also how to get the stems out without being hurt too much. But then every so often there, as the rose bush being comes more sparse, a thorn gets us without being prepared for it.

I was more careful with the bush that has loads of little spikes on it than the one with sparsely placed larger thorns. And yet it was the larger thorns that caused more damage to my hands then the little ones because I was not taking so much notice. Again I think a great analogy with healing. We can often be more careful with the issues we think are going to be painful and then get side-winded by the ones that we thought would be easy to deal with.

So I would say to anyone who is starting on the journey of dealing with their trauma, issues, hurts and pains, that to being with it will be hard, and you will get side-winded at times when you thought you could deal with this, but it does get easier as time goes on.

Also come the summer, because I have pruned now, I will have a lovely flowering of the most gorgeous roses. I am noticing as I do more QEC, both with my practitioner and on my own, the “flowers” that are blooming in my “garden” are so much better than the ones I had without the pruning.

Oh and another analogy – I didn’t plant the roses in my garden. They were planted by the previous occupiers, or even before them. Lots of the traumas and issues we have to deal with are not necessarily ones we planted but were planted by our parents, by their parents into their soil, by people who passed through our early lives, things that happened to us. But it is us that have to deal with them now so our garden grows more fully.

The tools are in our “sheds”. We can do this.

Categories
joy peace

True Peace, True Joy

Sunrise over my local park. Taken by myself Oct 2022

There is some stuff going on in my life and I spent half the night planning my speech to say what I really thought, talk about my hurts, my fears, etc. I felt I had a right to say this. Funny how we are brought up that way. And then go on to do some self improvement stuff which talks to us about firm boundaries, being honest, our rights, etc.

Well for me about 5.30am I felt an almost audible voice asking me why I felt the need to say what I felt, why I needed to put over my point of view when in fact no one has asked for it. So I chewed this over, noticed a few repeated patterns that I thought I’d dealt with, and then asked what I could do to change.

What came to me was Philippians’s 4:7 “The peace of the Lord that transcends all understanding” So being me I journaled around that.

What came up was that that real joy and real peace are there for us no matter what is going on in our lives, no matter what we are feeling. It doesn’t mean that we deny our feelings. Often living in that total joy and peace of God/the Universe we can be more open and honest with ourselves about how we feel. In fact I googled an article around this and the writer said how they go walking with their anxiety rather than trying to hide it, and this was from a piece that started with the Phil 4:7 verse.

How would I describe that total joy and peace? I don’t know. All I can say is that I know it is there. I know I can tap into it whenever I want to, though often I don’t try to – which is when I say what I shouldn’t or do what I shouldn’t and let my fears, issues, self-righteousness, hurt others.

The whole point of something “transcending our understanding” is that it transcends it, which means we cannot and should not try to understand it. What would be the point? It makes no sense to be fearful but at peace, to be grieving but feel deep joy. But then what would be the point of understanding everything?

It is great to have mysteries and as a Christian I do not want to understand all that is God. I do not want to be able to figure God out. Well what would be the point of that?

I have to trust in God with all of my being, not understand God with all my being. I have to let go of my need to sort it all out, of my need to be right all the time. I think if we all lent into a higher power of some sort, let go of our need to control each and every situation, let go of our need to figure the whys and wherefores of everything and just accept that somethings just are.

So today I am accepting that no matter what is going on in my life I am going to walk in a place of peace and joy that is bigger than I am, that I don’t understand, and that is ok.