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end of 2022 Reflections

Reflections

First published on GodspaceLight.com on December 28th 2022

Scotland, May 2022 photographed by myself on an early morning dog walk

This is the time of year when we are encouraged by almost everything that passes through our inboxes and magazine reading to “reflect on the past year”. Even in churches we’ll be encouraged to think about that. But when the disciples ask Jesus what is the most effective prayer, he gives what has now become known as The Lord’s Prayer. One of the lines in it tells us to ask for our Daily Bread; not yearly, monthly, whatever, but daily. In other places Jesus is recorded as telling us not to worry about tomorrow, but to cast each day’s cares onto God. He also tells a story about a man who builds a barn to store his grain in which sounds like a really good idea, but then the man is dead the following day; it was a waste of time for him to reflect on his great harvest and plan too far in advance. 

There is a practise I have been into which I think is Benedictine, and it is to reflect on my day as I get into bed. As I ponder and reflect on my day I can ask for forgiveness, can forgive others, can see what I need to sort for tomorrow [though I always recheck the tomorrow things the next day to check I’ve got that correct]. It also means if I have done something that I feel I need to put right I can do it the following morning. 

There is a multi-million dollar/pound/euro industry of self-help books that talk about living in the moment, living in mindfulness. But you can’t be “mindful” if you’re reflecting on something that happened a few months ago. Surely that is contradicting their own teaching. And as Christians if Jesus is saying ask for what we need daily, then do these practices not contradicting our theology?

Also, when it comes to remembering, even during that same day we put our own filters across our experiences: negative, self-blaming, accusing, condemning, positive, etc. But the further we are removed from an event the more we blur it, the more we put our own emotional memories into it. So if we do the reflecting the same day and get the rubbish cleared out, then each morning really does start as a new day – really does start with us being able to truly live out our daily bread

The other thing we are encouraged to do this time of year is set goals. Hands up – who then feels disappointed in themselves by February, or sooner, that they haven’t stuck with their very well intentioned goals? Goals are again like the man who builds the barn; full of great intentions but we don’t know what’s round the corner. We don’t know what the world will throw at us. Loads of things I am doing as this year ends I couldn’t have envisioned, and other things I thought might happen didn’t. So no goal setting for me because like I say for one it isn’t leaning on God, isn’t living in the moment, and also leads to disappointment. 

Instead, I do have some things I would like to come to fruition in the coming months so I am doing some QEC work around them. And there are other things that I need to ponder, check my heart about, talk with God about, and see what becomes of them. 

Though I realise as I come to the end of this post that I do tell a little lie to myself and to you, my reader. I do have a goal. Quite a big goal. It is to continue clearing the junk out of my heart so that I can hear it properly which will mean more QEC, more working with God. This will lead to trusting myself in a deeper way, trusting the Universe in a deep way, and trusting the Creator of the Universe in a deeper way. 

All of which can only come about through daily forgiveness of myself and others and daily asking for those things I need to nourish me throughout each and every day. 

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Captive thoughts

Take Every Thought Captive

Photo by Anna Bondarenko on Pexels.com

This post title is taken from 2Cor 10:5 which says “take every thought captive”.

I heard a sermon once about how we were to spear each of those thoughts, capture them, so to speak. And I’m sure there was an analogy of standing in a river trying to spear those thought like someone spearing fish. So you had to get a good look at that thought, spear it and then fling it away.

A friend and I were talking about spearing our negative thoughts over coffee yesterday and we both seemed to have the same internal picture. But we both realised that as we did the spearing so we gave those thoughts a good look, even examined them to decide if they were good or bad thoughts. Sometimes we even chewed those thoughts over before casting them aside and even once cast aside we might still give them another good ponder, poke them around a bit, see if they were still edible.

But that was not doing either of us any good. It also wasn’t helping us to live in that true peace and joy of God. In fact keep looking at these captured thoughts doesn’t mean giving them a poke afterwards. I don’t think it even means judging those thoughts. But I also don’t think it means ignoring them.

To be honest with ourselves we need to acknowledge that some thoughts, which come from things people have said to use or done to us, trigger traumas, trigger feelings, that if we don’t acknowledge will fester inside of us.

So if I just throw away those thoughts that are painful and don’t acknowledge that it has caused a reaction then I am cheating on myself and actually could go on to doing harm to myself, my relationships, my future. But also if I pick and poke at that thought, work out who is to blame for me feeling/reacting that way then I am also going to do harm. The person or situation that caused that thought may not have meant how I reacted to it. So if I chew on that thought again I will cause harm to myself, my relationships and my future.

So what are we meant to do with these thoughts if we can’t attribute blame, cant judge, cant investigate, can’t throw away? I think we are meant to accept them as our thoughts, notice and acknowledge them, accept this is what we are feeling/how we are reacting, etc to whatever, and then hand them on to God/the Universe/a High Power.

So whether is it the craziness of the UK political situation, fears of covid, fears about economy, global warming, education, etc, etc, worries about what to do in our future, … [add your own] , we acknowledge openly to ourselves this is how we feel, these are the thoughts that have swum through the river of our mind are ours, and then we capture that thought and pass it higher.

As the song in Frozen goes “Let it go, let it go“. But don’t just fling it away. Instead hand it onward to that higher place/person/being that can handle it.

Here is a piece I wrote on a similar vein 4 years ago. It is interesting that my thoughts haven’t changed much, even if I didn’t remember writing the piece. Taking Thoughts Capitve

Categories
Alignment heart

Heart of Stone/Heart of Flesh

Stone pillar, Isle of Lewis. Taken by myself May 2018

My husband and I were discussing the whole thing of the heart of stone which God changes to a heart of flesh and I got to thinking. We have always either been taught, or picked up, in our churches that a heart of stone is something that is hard, feels negative emotions, etc, but that a heart of flesh is joyous, happy and only feels positive emotions – which sort of takes us back to the good box/bad box idea which I looked at a bit in Two Trees. But I don’t think that’s right. See I don’t think following God should be all happy clappy everything is wonderful. I think if we feel that way than we still have that heart of stone.

A heart of flesh is vulnerable, feels things, notices things, is flexible, is free to experience things not encased in boundaries. It is free to be flexible and go with the flow. A heart of flesh will feel hurt and pain, will feel sorrow and anger. It will of course also feel joy and love, carefreeness and happiness. It will feel all these things to a much deeper level that the heart of stone will. But it does not mean it will be pain free. In fact it is the heart of stone which will be more pain free because it is encased in something solid and safe.

I often wonder when we first get to know God and try to follow Jesus that we get confused when we get angry, get hurt, feel sadness, feel pain. I wonder if we try and fight our way of out it. There is a Bethel song that says “sing a little louder” and of singing in the middle of the storm, etc. But what if the pain is too deep? What is you don’t want to sing? What if you just want to curl up on God’s lap and lie there? What if God just wants us to curl up on their lap? What if God doesn’t want us to sing a little louder but to quietly walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

Your heart of flesh is going to let you know what to do and when to do it. I’m not saying it is wrong to sing loudly when things are tough but I think to only do that if your heart of flesh is wanting to. But if it is hardening of heart around what is really going on then that isn’t accepting the heart of flesh God wants you to have.

A dog walking friend was moaning about how at her young niece’s funeral the pastor said that God taken this young girl because he wanted her to live with him. My friend was so hurt that her heart has been hardened away from God. But I do wonder if the pastor was hardened too. If the pastor did not want to weep and bemoan the loss of someone so young. Sometimes it is ok to be angry with God, to shout at them for allowing something one doesn’t like to happen.

Life isn’t all great and plain sailing and with a heart of flesh it will actually be harder. Your heart of stone can protect you whereas your heart of flesh can let you feel. Your heart of flesh can let you full experience what is going on around you, let you be honest and open with yourself and with others, and with God. The heart of stone will keep you safe and closed and maybe not that much help to others.

The heart of flesh will feel the so called negative emotions as much as it feels the so called positive emotions, whereas the heart of stone will keep you safe. The question is – what would you prefer?