Categories
judging trust

Dodgy Characters

Picture of man with square black backpack. chosen from pexels.com by Diane Woodrow
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Note this is not one of the people I am talking about but a free Pexels.com image to I don’t show real people.

On the weekend a message came up on a local neighbourhood group about “dodgy men” going door to door in various streets. Well two of those “dodgy men” came to my door. They were actually boys not men and were very honest about the fact that they were ex-offenders and were doing this for a charity to gain credits for careers advise and driving lessons. Now my main worry was that they were being made to do this against their wills as a form of human trafficking/slavery. And I did talk to the boys about this and said I could put them in touch with people who would help.

I did buy some stuff from them and had to pay by cheque as we don’t have cash any more. One of the lads gave me his name and I did google him afterwards. He came from the town he said and yes he had been in prison for fighting. But actually some of the young people I work with in Youthshedz have criminal records. It is often very much a case of “by the grace of God/good luck/being born with different parents in a different part of the country” it could have been me.

But too many people are brought up to be fearful, to panic when they see young men with large black bags door knocking. They worry for themselves and not for the young men. Of course I did not let these boys in my house or do any thing that would endanger myself or my home. But actually that is wise and fair to them as much as to me. It is like not leaving the alcoholic to take charge of the wine cellar. I would be wrong to put temptation before these men but they need my/our support as much as anything.

But also what makes us in a place to judge? We see where someone is at that moment in time but not how they were or how they could be. I have to laugh because I am now running lots of youth based activities but in my youth I was into all sorts of things and was not a “good person” as some would say. But for those I work with and for and who see me dog walking I am a good person now. And yes I am a good person now but when I was in my early 20s the same could not be said.

I think with these “dodgy men” and other people that many fear we need to give them a chance, see the good that is in them, realise they have made mistakes due to circumstance, personality, home lives, and so much more, but they can, with help, support, determination and expectation become more than you see at the moment.

For myself the turning point was giving birth to my son, wanting to change my lifestyle for my boy and then meeting with God in a very powerful way. But for other people it is different things but all seem to include meeting with something bigger than themselves.

Let us all try to give these “dodgy men” and women a chance to desire to meet with something bigger than themselves, to tell their stores and to find a place of belonging.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone – Jesus

John 8:7

Categories
Halloween judging

What Does Halloween Mean to You?

Sunrise on a pumpkin patch
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Post first published on Saturday 30th October 2021 on GodspaceLight.com

When I was a child Guy Fawkes night on 5th November was the big fireworks thing.  Halloween was not really on the radar at all in the UK. When I started going to church I got introduced to the “Festival of Lights” children’s parties on 31st October, but it was still not a big deal really. Then when I moved to Belfast in 1996 I met Halloween in a big way. The road outside my house exploded with fireworks as soon as it got dark on 31st October and kept going for hours. We had only arrived three weeks earlier and wondered what we had let ourselves in for! There the Baptist church saw it as just a thing, though it was very much just an overload of fireworks. 

On returning to England three years later Halloween had grown and “trick or treating” was becoming a thing. The charismatic, evangelical churches were saying Halloween was wrong, evil, satanic, demonic, etc. Then I joined YWAM and lived in a community house filled with mainly American evangelical Christian families and was introduced to a different take of Halloween, where children were encouraged to dress up as scary creatures, garner sweets from strangers and see it all as a big thing. Without this introduction twenty years earlier my reaction to Lily Lewin’s post FreerangeFriday: Halloween Candy Prayers would have been that she was not a “proper” Christian. Knowing Lilly as I do, I know she definitely is a Proper Christian with capital P and C.  🙂

This got me thinking of how we box and judge other things and other people without taking time out to know the heart behind them;  “signed and sealed” as either good or bad. This led me to Matthew 7:1&2 where Jesus says “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged ...”, which I thought I would look at in context. In the preceding verses, Jesus says that God cares for us so much that we are not to worry about anything. ANYTHING!! Then he goes on to say not to judge. Coincidence?   

My suspicion is that God knows we judge because we worry about things, about how we’ll be perceived, whether we’ll “get into heaven”, be “good” witnesses, etc, etc. We think we’re looking at others to “help” them but actually, we’re also looking and judging ourselves. Jesus says “in the same way you judge others you will be judged”. Many sermons talk about it being God who judges us by the standards we judge others, but I think Jesus might just be saying that in the way we box and judge others so we are boxing and judging ourselves. And living in fear because of that. 

As Christianity swept through Europe and into Britain many early Celtic Christians saw the pagan practices of the people of the lands they were engaging in. They were not afraid of what was going on or how they would be judged. They also did not judge the people but showed that they were “missing the mark” [which is what the word sin really means] then showed how to adapt what they were doing to show Jesus in all fullness.  

So for me this Halloween I am going to use it as a time to see where I am judgemental, where I miss the mark, and work out how I can change myself rather than looking outwards judging and trying to change my fellow human beings–whether professing Christians or not.

 A Festival of Light for myself that will sparkle out to those around me rather than the darkness of judgment.

Categories
forgiveness Lord's Prayer

Letting Go

Reeds round the edge of local Abergele pond blown flat by a storm. Photo taken by Diane Woodrow
Reeds blown over in a storm at my local park. They were all standing up right the following day. Very much a bruised reed he will not break. Photo taken by me July 2021

So to carry on with my thoughts on how I am praying The Lord’s Prayer at the moment.

The reason I’ve picked this picture is that when we judge ourselves and so don’t forgive ourselves, we are like these reeds; knocked over, lying flat, struggling to function. But, if we tune into what I believe Jesus is trying to tell us in The Lord’s Prayer, we will recover, stand up again, and be all we are meant to be.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” we recite. I need to forgive me before I can forgive you. Jesus talks about judging others and being judge, which I think goes with this. And it isn’t God judging us or not forgiving us, but ourselves. I don’t believe I follow a judgemental God but I do believe that I can be a judgemental person.

Here is a trivial for instance of me being judgemental. I used to judge what people were wearing so if I had to go out with the dog when I was still in my pajamas [he won’t pee in the garden so sometimes if he’s bursting he has to be rushed to the small patch of grass at the end of our road] I would be convinced people were looking at me and judging me for being in my pjs. I’m not sure anyone noticed or cared. But it did mean when I went out I was often looking at what people were wearing, but now I’ve stopped looking at what people wear and judging whether it is the “right” thing to be out in, and so this morning when I had to rush the dog out I didn’t think what anyone would think of me.

But also the “forgive myself and forgive others” thing is also that if I can’t forgive myself for screwing up I am not able to forgive others for it. So in my morning post-yoga praying I adapt this line “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” to “help me to forgive myself through today as I screw up, which I know I will, and help me to be kind to others who will also screw up, upset me, hurt my feelings or generally do something I don’t like. Help me to keep short accounts and keep my heart open to knowing when I’ve not forgiven myself and also have allowed someone else to upset me” It is all a bit long winded and I can see what the gospel writers shortened it. But actually for me I see the lines in The Lord’s prayer as almost like journal prompts to lead me to something bigger and deeper.

Also starting the day like this means I do spend my day being able to forgive others quickly because it is already in my head.

Categories
Covid-19 judging lockdown Uncategorized

Are you obeying Lockdown rules???

 

Is it just me or when you go out or look through your window or read Facebook or Instagram does the thought pass through your head of whether those people are obeying lockdown rules?

renly on the beach april 2020Maybe it is just me 🙂 But I know when I’m out walking my dog with my daughter I look at groups of people and ask myself “are you all part of the same family and living in the same house?” When I watch cars driving past I often think “is that journey necessary?” When I see all the cars in Tesco carpark I ask myself “how often have you been there this week?” All the time I’m judging people. And actually not in a good way.

What if those people walking together are from different families is it for me to judge? If people are walking for 2-3 hours rather than the one allotted for exercise, or going out 2-3 times a day instead of one, is that for me to judge?

Is it for me to judge? No it is not. I must follow the rules and guidelines as I have interpreted them but not judge others who see it differently. Yes they might get sick – but I must not say “serves the right”. They might die and that would be sad. They could stretch the NHS and that would not be good. But all in all it is their choice, as it is mine, how to interpret this whole situation that we have never been through before.

But it got me thinking of how much I judge others but the things I see them doing. And this can be good or bad, better or worse than me. Do they go to church more/less than me? So are they are better/worse Christian than me? Do they spend more/less time writing than me? Are they a better/worse writer than me? Etc, etc. Who am I to judge???

If nothing else lockdown has taught me how much I judge others by what I see and what I want to see. So today when I look at photos on Instagram or see people walking together outside or driving their cars I will just let it go and continue doing what I do. And trying not to judge myself!!