The last fortnight or so has been a time of living quite intensely – making big decisions, riding a roller-coaster of big emotions and pushing myself over some big hurdles. I guess that sometimes it just happens that the big things coincide and collide all at once, and we just have to take them in our stride day by day and hour by hour.
I am very aware that not all my readers are Christians like me, and sometimes I worry that by writing about my faith – about Jesus – I might alienate those readers. But I’m realising that I can’t authentically tell my story, or the stories I see in the world around me, without including God. In fact I’d go further and say that if I did exclude God from my writing it would be downright wrong, a bit like going out partying without my wedding ring.
So when I write about my life lately, I want to tell you that He’s been in it. Mostly I see him in the small things, like the seals looking up at me with their big, soulful eyes or the lavender blowing in an evening breeze. He’s there – just like a summer breeze – when I sit in my room at the close of the day and when I wake up. In the sleeplessness of some of my nights, He’s there like a whisper. He’s there in other people’s writing, like this by Hannah Fytche , which brought me to healing tears in the rawness of my current state. His love was written in the darkening summer sky of the other night when we watched the bats fly back and forth in front of us, bottles of cider in our hands. His simple wisdom is wrought in the rich sufficiency of nature, in the growth of the garden we tend. His selfless love is living and breathing in the kindness of Andrew when he brings me gifts or makes me coffee, and in the friends who talk and listen so graciously.
Pain is a part of life and perhaps it will always tug and wrench at me, but through it I am starting to discover a new kind of prayer, often wordless, and through that, a new understanding of love. Ann Voskamp writes that when things are broken, the light shines through the cracks, and I’m seeing light shine through my wounds. In this post, she expresses so much of what I am experiencing, and my heart ached with hers and with God’s when I read her words about the thrumming rain of our tears in God’s bottle.
I listened to a talk I had missed by someone at my church about the love of God (have a listen here) and it was another reminder of the strength of Jesus’ love and empathy. All week I’ve been thinking about his friendship with three siblings, Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and how much he loved them. I think that He has the same compassion and warmth for us, too.
So I’ve been learning a little about God’s love, and how it always persists for me. I bought this journal to help keep me looking for his love and grace in the small things, and I bought this book, Heaven Changes Everything, because as much as I need his love right now I also need his hope.
A big part of how I switch off lately is through absorbing myself in nature – sitting outside and trying to identify different birdsongs, going for a coastal walk and spotting some new species, watching nature programmes like Springwatch or vlogs like Emma Caton’s, and scrolling through people’s pictures for 30 Days Wild on my Twitter Feed.
I’ve also been listening to a lot of music. After seeing a beautiful feature on Springwatch about the hopefulness of nature in the area of the Battle of the Somme, I re-found the song The Lark Ascending, which, although not actually written about the war, is often associated with it. Also this song, It is Well has really connected with me and brought peace when I’ve felt a little fraught.
How’s your life lately? I hope you enjoy some of the links I’ve included whatever your situation.
What are some of you Small Things this week?