It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I hope you all had a great Christmas and that you’re looking forward to the year ahead.
We’ve had a tough couple of months as a family during the run up to Christmas. This was made worse by the loss of our dear Aunt Bett, which was of course very sad, but for her it was a blessed release. No more pain, no more indignity, no more trying to keep up her spirits for the family’s sake. Now she has an eternal pain-free peace. Add to this some personal difficulties as well, which are not yet fully resolved, (but they will be) and you can imagine, although it was okay, we’ve had better Christmases 😦
All of this makes me both excited and anxious in equal measure about the year ahead. What does 2017 have in store for me? For any of us for that matter? Who knows. But at last Sunday’s service there were two readings which continue to roll round my head and, as I’ve pondered on them, one thing has become clear to me: it’s time to shake of the old thought patterns, take up the challenge to renew my mind and embrace the new – whatever that may be.
The Bible verses that have stuck with me are Psalm 1:1-3 which says:
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.
There is so much in these verses for me, from staying out of the way of the wicked (distancing myself from those who ooze negativity, speak ill of others with no regard for their feelings, the hypocrites etc.) to enjoying the journey towards becoming like the ‘trees planted by streams of water’ which yield ‘good fruit’. I want to yield good fruit among those I love, and those I encounter. I want to delight in life so much that I ‘do not wither’. I’m not stupid. The body will of course grow old! But that doesn’t mean I, we have to wither does it?
Our goodness comes from within. Our youth and energy comes from within. Our peace and joy comes from within.
For me, getting anywhere close to this inner calm comes from spending time with God. ‘Meditating night and day on his word’ – and that doesn’t mean literally sticking my head in the Bible 24/7 (though that might actually be the thing to keep me out of trouble!) 😉 Seriously though, God moments are all around us if we are open enough to see them. The beauty in nature, the birth of a child, the laughter with a friend, the unexpected act of kindness from a stranger, the tender touch from someone who loves you.
It’s easy to stay in places of hurt, offence and anger because they can be familiar territory, and the familiar is always easier than the change. But sometimes all that is familiar is not good for you. The second reading (Romans 12:1-2) reminded me of another little tale about wolves:
If you’re going through a difficult time yourself at the moment, don’t despair. You might not be able to do anything about how other people behave, or circumstances that surround you at the moment – but you can do something about how you react to it all. It’s not easy I know that (and I promise, I do know that). But it IS possible.
Resentment. Anger. Disappointment. Regrets. All of these negative feelings just drag us down. The crazy thing is, most of the time the people or things that have made you feel like this don’t even know, if they did it’s possible that they might not even care. So the only one still hurting is you!
Remember the wise old Cherokee’s tale. Which wolf’s belly are you going to fill? I know which one I want to feed this year.
I pray this year you know simple joys, experience much laughter, see beauty in more things than you imagined you would, smile at a stranger, make a stranger smile back, give/receive random acts of kindness and find that your heart just overflows with a love of life… and that you prosper in all that you do.
May God, however he/she looks to you, surprise you with JOY this year. 💖