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Preparations

Preparations

When this subject first came to my mind I didn’t feel I could blog about it because in the Christian calendar, we often associate preparation with the end of the world and Jesus coming back again, not Christmas. But with major Christmas adverts already on the TV, light switch ons taking place around the country, Christmas food in the shops, Christmas songs starting to squeeze onto the radio, we cannot deny that Christmas is on the way and with it, all the busyness and preparations it brings.

In my household, Christmas food, music, decorations and movies (other than the cheesy Hallmark movies on TV on a lazy Saturday evening), aren’t allowed until 1st December. That doesn’t mean there is nothing Christmassy going on behind the scenes though throughout these weeks leading up to then. My family are preparing the mixture for the Christmas cake, looking at where to get our Christmas tree, organising which local events to attend, budgeting for presents, designing cards and working out when we can visit family.

Besides Christmas, I am in a time of preparation right now in my personal life and with regards to YouBelong. At the end of this month, I leave my office job to focus on YouBelong and improving my health. It’s exciting but there’s so much I want and need to do that it has become a bit overwhelming.

I mentioned at the start then when I think of preparation from a Christian perspective, my brain automatically goes to Jesus second coming. But Lent is also a time of preparation. Traditionally, Christians use up perishables such as eggs, milk and butter, ready to fast for 40 days. Fasting is used by many Christians, and people of other religions too, as a way to focus on God in the days, weeks or months leading up to a big event or moment so as we can pray to Him about a particular thing with an element of sacrifice and without distraction.

After all that has happened in 2019, all the encouragement, affirmations and prayer, I feel more strongly than ever that I am making the right choices around leaving work and using my time to do YouBelong, despite it not being a financially secure, simple option. But as I head into this time of preparation, God feels far away and silent. This brings doubt to my mind. Am I doing the thing God wants me to do or is it what I want to do? Is that why God isn’t talking to me? If God isn’t making it very clear that He is with me in this, is it right to be plowing ahead?

For a long time, this has concerned me but someone very important spent 40 days in the desert, the same person who we fast for, and it was in this time that God was silent. Jesus was alone. He was challenged and faced conflict, doubt and extreme hunger and thirst but still God didn’t show up. But at the last moment, when Jesus pointed to God the Father saying, ” Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only. ” At that point, God sent His angels to tend to Jesus and after that, He came back into the towns and villages and the miracles and wonders of Jesus started flowing bountifully!

My plans haven’t worked out, but God’s have. When I sit down to take steps forward, doing careful planning and trying to do the right thing, I don’t get anywhere. But when I sit back, and allow God to take control, He brings the right people to me at just the right time and shows me where to go next and gives me glimpses of what the future will be.

Sitting back and doing nothing over the Christmas period might mean we go without Christmas dinner, our family don’t get presents and the house doesn’t get decorated but in our lives, preparation can be just as, if not more, successful, when we sit back and wait on God to do His thing. If you are heading into a busy time in your life, or perhaps you feel like God is far away, maybe He is preparing you right now for something big and you need to take some time out to be with Him in the silence. Maybe try fasting – it doesn’t have to be food. Giving something up like watching TV in the evening, going on social media etc. are all things we can give up and that when we think of them, we can instead pray to God and listen for His direction without distraction.

There is more to think about, and some action points from Joyce Meyer here if you want to dig deeper into this topic. And if you are going through a time of preparation, I would love to hear from you so we can travel down this road together.

Being held captive by the mental aspect of physical illness

Being held captive by the mental aspect of physical illness

As I write this, I am getting ready to go out with a new friend, someone I only met a few weeks ago and have only spent a couple of hours with in total. I am telling you this because I am feeling very anxious and being alone with someone who I don’t know that well is the reason why.

Just a couple of years ago, the prospect of meeting someone new and getting to know them brought me a normal amount of nervousness but mostly, I felt excited about the getting to know someone new who might become a good friend. The new levels if nervousness, and I guess, anxiety, are as a result of being increasingly unwell. My body hurts all the time and my fatigue can be overwhelming to the point I need to rest immediately or become very unwell. I also experience spasms of my oesophagus (the most intense pain I have ever felt), digestive issues which can cause me to need the toilet very badly, very suddenly and low blood pressure and high heart rate which can cause me to pass out and feel nauseous and dizzy. On a bad day, I could experience all of these together and when I am with family who understand, that is fine because they know how to help me and understand that if I move away to y room, it is because I need a break or to take medication and lie down. When you first meet someone, they don’t know all of this, nor do I want my health issues to be the first thing I talk about in a new conversation with a new person. I want them to know and for me to get to know them without health problems getting in the way. However, my hobbies mostly involve being out the house; going for a walk, going to the beach, going ice skating, exploring or eating out. Without a wheelchair, lots of walking is out of the question and therefore, so is exploring and ice skating. Being on the beach requires a certain amount of warmth in order for anyone to enjoy it but my body does not cope well with heat so that’s out and eating is not great for my oesphagus. As you can probably tell, finding something to do that I can do and myself and my new friend will enjoy is incredibly hard and this brings a certain level of anxiety before I have even left the house!

Getting ready also brings a level of anxiousness as I work out what to wear that will keep me warm, comfortable and will still make me look like I am trying and packing also requires some thought as I try to work out what we might end up doing, how long we might be out for and whether I will need braces, more medications, TENS machine, wheelchair, snacks to take my medication with etc. Then, once I am out, this starts all over again as I will be in the car, and therefore control, of whoever I am with and therefore they must choose where we go, how long we are out for etc.

By the time I get home, I am shattered partially just because I have been out but no doubt it is also partially because I have been worrying so badly and stressed myself out. The bible specifically reminds us that being anxious does not do us or our situation any good— “And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span?”

God does not want us to be ground down by anxiety. ‘Anxiety prevents happiness, energy, and in some cases it can try to prevent faith.’ Thankfully, our amazing, caring, loving Father has something to say about it _ “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears”. When we are fearful and afraid, nervous, anxious or down right terrified, God is with us and he can take that fear away. All we need to do is trust Him.

Anxiety = a fear of the uncertain. Faith = a certainty that God is there and loves and protects and cares for us. I am not by any means saying that anxiety is the opposite of faith because I still believe in God, but in the times when I am struggling to leave the house due to the weight of fear on my shoulders, I need to remind myself that God IS there and will be watching over me so I will be okay. If you are struggling to, I urge you to remember this also and if you want someone to talk to who can relate, please comment or DM me on my social media (YouBelong_2019).