Tag: different

Living confidently in the minorty

Living confidently in the minorty

I have never been popular but at the time of my original diagnosis, I had a lot of friends who were constantly checking in on me and ensuring I wasn’t feeling left out. As time has gone by and I have spent more time at home in bed, I have also spent more time alone and when I do go out, I find it really hard to make conversation and ‘fit in’ with those around me. This is definitely not solely the fault of those around me as I am not great at making conversation because once I get asked ‘what I do, where I live or what I do in my free time, instead of saying something like ‘I am doing my dream job as a result of working hard in my degree, I live alone in a lovely house in the city near to where I work with my partner and in my free time, I love to go on long walks with my dog, meet up with friends for drinks after work and spend the weekends road-tripping and having short breaks away’. The reality of chronic illness, is that is just not possible right now, so I lack the conversation points and the conversation dies.

I am off to a leadership summit this week which I am really excited about BUT, I am also terrified as there are so many unknowns (see my post about spending time with new friends and the unknowns connected to that here) and I already know that I won’t be the typical person in attendance there.

Before we even address the chronic illness aspect of my life, I am a women (minority in church leadership), I am 26 years old (yet look about 18) and I am there to represent YouBelong, and online church (not exactly the norm!). Then we get to chronic illness. I am easily fatigued and need to nap, always in pain so require medication to get through the day, and I will be using my wheelchair, pushed around by my Mum who is there as my driver and carer for the trip. I am not normal. I won’t naturally fit in.

The bible (as always) has something to speak into this situation. In Matthew 15:21-28, we read about the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus seeking help for her possessed daughter and in Mark 5:25-29, we read about the woman who was healed from 12 years of bleeding by touching Jesus’ clothes. Each of the people mentioned here would have been marginalised. One because she and her daughter would have been viewed as evil as the daughter had a demon inside her and the other because she would have been viewed as dirty according to the culture and laws of the time.

The woman who bled didn’t feel that she could approach Jesus straight up and ask for healing like others which is why she instead took a hold of his clothes from within a bustling crowd of people. She planned to go unnoticed but having heard of Jesus power, knew it too good an opportunity to miss not being healed so she stepped out of the cultural norm and went out to Jesus and she was rewarded for it. Jesus loved her and cared about her and healed her. He didn’t react with disgust at her story but instead showered her with love.

In the other passage, we discover that the mother of the woman possessed by demons came running to Jesus and his friends begging them for help. Before Jesus could even speak to her, the disciples told her to go away because she was shouting and screaming and ‘making a scene’. They didn’t want her bothering them with her issues but Jesus told them to be quiet and knowing the faith of this marginalised woman, healed her daughter of the demons.

Now, this post is not about faith or healing at all but what these examples do show is that even when we feel marginalised, left out, unimportant, in God’s eyes we are special and loved just like every single one of His children. Different doesn’t mean bad or wrong or less talented or important. We are all loved and God has a plan for each and every one of us.

When I go off to the summit this week, I will not go in with my head hanging low, trying to hide like the woman who bled, trying to go unnoticed. No, instead I will go in with my head held high, perhaps standing out but also standing up for what I believe and what God has called me to do even if that means others laugh or don’t see the significance because I know God loves me and my uniqueness and that in Heaven, no one will be marginalised and isn’t really the world that we ultimately want to be a part of? Until then, we just need to work at making our piece of earth as much like that as possible by accepting everyone as they are and recognising their differences as God planned and purposed and ensuring everyone has a place at the table now as well as in Heaven.

The dance of love

The dance of love

With Trinity Sunday just past, I came across a word which I first saw and learnt about in my second year of university – Perichoresis. It’s a rather long word but I like it and if you don’t know what it means at the moment, I hope that by the end of this blog post, you will not only understand the definition but also grow to like the word and what it stands for.

My favourite definition of the word comes from Jonathan Marlowe. It’s long but well worth reading:

‘The theologians in the early church tried to describe this wonderful reality that we call Trinity. If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance. The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. The perichoresis is the dance of love.’

The dance of love. How beautiful a vision that creates inside my mind. The Bishop of Huntingdon, Dr. Thomson, spent a lot of his life working with people with disabilities and he was quoted in the ChurchTimes in August 2018 ( https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/17-august/features/features/once-we-connect-on-to-something-that-s-it ) saying of the connection between the Church and perichoresis, “It’s the dance of the Trinity, in which each person of the Trinity is going round the other one, so that the actual DNA of God is always to be in community. It’s a lovely model of the Church. I know we have a history of viewing people with differences in a very negative way, and feeling threatened by them. It’s good for us to be paving the way for building a God-shaped community here.”

The shape of the Trinity, the group dancing together, in time and to the same beat, yet with different styles, shapes and appearances, is so relevant and applicable to the Church. We also should be dancing together, completely in unity, but different, yet not being held back by those differences but instead enabling one another to use those differences to improve the dance and not judging others because their dance style is different to our own.

So as we reflect on Trinity Sunday, and the power of each element, unique yet also working as one Triune God, let us not forget how this metaphor is applicable to our own lives and that of the Church as a whole. May we work with one another, including those who are different to ourselves in mind, body or spirit, to move as one in the dance of love.

Looking to God for Unity

Looking to God for Unity

Last week, I wrote a blog post about living confidently in the minority as a young woman with disabilities. I wrote that post in the days prior to attending Gather Summit, an event held to bring together Christian unity leaders, which I had been invited to attend but felt unsure about doing so due to being ‘different’. You can read that post here.

However, as it turns out, I had no need to worry. Not only was I not the only different person in the room (some were black, some white, some tall, some short, some young, some old, some with Northern accents and others with Southern, but all who I came into contact with immediately accepted me and was intrigued about why I was there and what my unity project was (until I was invited to Gather Summit, I had never considered YouBelong to be one but when I think about it, that is EXACTLY what it is!

Over the 2 days, we listened to people who were ahead of us in the field, some who spoke about the joys of running a unity movement and some who explained some of the challenges we are likely to face. Some were from charities and organisations who support unity movements and there were others who were speaking from experience of starting a unity movement whether that be a prayer group, social action group or anything in between. It was all very interesting and I took a lot of notes but one thing, a short phrase, stood out to me over anything else, and it came out of a bible study – ‘God is diversity in complete unity’.

My first thought was yes, I know that. God is a triune God, 3 in 1, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but when I put it into the context of a unity movement and in particular, YouBelong, I realised that just as God is diverse yet united, so are we. We come from different backgrounds, traditions and styles. We live all across the nation, are different ages and races and abilities but as the Church we SHOULD BE united. Should be is quite a way off of WE ARE but we are also working on it, one tiny step at a time, getting a little bit closer to a united front day after day thanks to all the work being done by individuals and groups behind the scenes.

Jesus actually prayed for the Church to be united as one. Ultimately, it is not down to us, but to the work of the Spirit but we are given the chance to be a part of that and be caught up in the eternal purpose of God – to build His kingdom.

Unity is not easy though as I am sure you know! There are spiritual forces battling against because the devil doesn’t want God’s kingdom to come to completion, so how can we fight against them? Pray. Prayer is the answer in challenging times but if you pray for unity, do not be surprised when God’s blessings and power work in that situation and create unity in what seems to be an impossible situation or group to unite. God promises to answer our prayers and as God wants His kingdom to come to fruition, He will listen and work when He ask Him to.

Unity brings blessings and transformation and it is through unity that others will see God’s glory and recognise God’s power and authority over the world. So when you find yourself struggling to work with others;

  1. recognise the evil in the situation
  2. pray expectantly to God for unity in the situation
  3. be ready to tell those who experience the change about God’s part in the change as they will not be able to miss it!