Simply be …

*this is a message I spoke at the monthly women’s meeting at my church (simply be). I’ve decided to post it for a couple of reasons, first it was one of the reasons I decided to start this blog in the first place, and second a lot of it is my testimony, its whats on my heart, and I feel that if I’m actually going to start blogging here more regularly you need to know a bit about me.

Simply Be …

These are some lessons I’ve learnt in my Christian walk so far, and without completely realising at first God gave me a series of ‘Be’ statements.

Be Brave

My life verse – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13. All the things I am going to share I couldn’t have done without the strength of Christ. I know I can choose to be brave, and that my God is always supporting me. And walking in that truth has allowed me to overcome so many things that I could never face in my own strength: the dentist, my driving test, travel, volunteering, a new job, little and big things, God is always there supporting me.

Sometimes being brave feels like the hardest thing to do, to take a risk, to go for it, to step out – but living brave is amazing, we can change the world by being brave, and by taking those little and big steps when God calls us.

Be Yourself

Don’t try to be someone you’re not. God created you uniquely to be you. For years I wanted to be a youth worker. I looked into courses, I chatted with youth workers to find out their secrets, and do you know what I learned, I am definitely not a youth worker. I’m not into music and TV programs, phones and video games. I just don’t know what to say to them and do you know what, half the time I don’t know what they are saying to me, plus youth are scary. However youth workers are cool and I wanted to finally be cool. But I was trying to fit into someone else’s mould, someone else’s role.

So I spent ages with God, pleading with Him to show me my calling, show me what he wanted me to do. But I ended up just waiting. Putting my life on hold until I knew the plan, until it all felt perfect and right. It wasn’t until I stepped out and acted that he started to reveal my calling to me, and he did so through my experiences.

In 2012 I stepped out and did a summer step program with Latin Link. Now this step I took I believed was God’s plan for my life starting. I had dreams of mission bible college and then of leaving to distant lands to be a full time missionary. I thought my calling was finally taking shape. It was but in a completely different way. After signing up for one project the whole thing got cancelled and we all had to choose whether we wanted our money back or whether we wanted to wait for the organisation to find a new placement. God was changing MY path already, and placing me onto HIS path. I went with it, and I spent three of the most incredible weeks of my life so far volunteering in a children’s home in Guatemala.

It was during this time I fell in love with Gods small children, especially one 3 year old boy, Antony, leaving him was heart-breaking, but I knew he was somewhere where he was loved and cared for completely. It was through this heartbreak that God asked me to love on his children, that was it, the start of my calling – to love on his little children. That’s what He created me for, he moulded me into the perfect vessel for Him to work through to spread His love to His children, my characteristics, every life experience, was all to make me ME. It’s a role only I can fill, and God has a role for all of us.

In embracing being myself my life has changed completely. I’ve gone from lost wanderer, waiting for my life to begin, to living an amazing life completely for Him. And no that wasn’t the specific calling I was expecting, I still don’t know where I will be next year, but in living my life as myself, my calling is slowly being unravelled, and I’m living my dreams and Gods plans. Don’t wait for God to tell you your calling, Go out, live your life, be yourself and he will reveal it to you.

Be There

Your time to live is now. I waited for years to stumble across my calling, to find the perfect life I was supposed to live. I was waiting for everything to be perfect before I started living. I spent days preparing to live my life, planning, dreaming, sorting, getting ready – making sure I’d done everything I needed to get out the way before my perfect life started, before I became the person I wanted to be. Days passed by, months, years, and what was passing – my life, right in front of my eyes, while planning to live my life perfect, my life was already happening, disappearing. Don’t wait for life to be perfect, live life now! Don’t wait to do all those things you want to do, try something new, go for it! This time is all we have, embrace it, be all there in the now!

The second part of being all there is leaving the past behind. I know its painful, I know we all have regrets, hurts and feelings of failure.

My school experience was definitely a negative one. In year ten I was diagnosed with school phobia, the whole comp experience was completely overwhelming. My friends were super smart and I just couldn’t keep up, I didn’t feel good enough, so I stopped going. I was so scared that I would climb into the loft and hide out. During this period I managed to erase every positive memory I had ever had in school, I could only recall mistakes I felt I had made, fall outs with friends, embarrassing moments, sad moments … I didn’t have one positive school memory. In year eleven I attended a pupil referral unit in the mornings and managed to get basic GCSE’s, my times there could have been counted as happy memories, unfortunately during the summer holidays following my GCSE’s a friend from the unit committed suicide because of bullying she had received at her school. Grief took away my last positive school memory, and filled that place with pain.

I’d had it with school and would have been happy to never step foot in one again, but God wasn’t happy with that. He wants to mend our broken places, to heal us and allow us to move forward. I now work in a primary school. This wasn’t a planned step, it was a God step. And it wasn’t an easy step, it was hard walking through those school doors. But God is working in me, he’s helped me use my negative experiences to mould me into a better teaching assistant. I now have a better understanding and sensitivity to be on guard for those children who are struggling and need support, and he’s put me in a position where I can make a difference. I could have easily ran away again, but then I would have been missing out on living in this part of Gods plan for my life. The best thing we can do is shut ourselves away with God, talk it out, cry it out, let it out, let Him in, and allow Him to start the healing process with you.

The last part of being there is forgetting failure. Failure does not exist. Every so called failure we have in life is an opportunity to learn and grow.

In 2013 I travelled back to Guatemala for my second mission trip. Before I’d even left home I felt like it was a mistake, but I went. The week I spent there was one of the longest weeks of my life. I let fear completely take over, I felt stressed, alone and unsupported. Eventually I decided to leave my team and travel home. I was broken, I felt like I’d let God, my team, my family and my church down. To get home I had to face my first  plane journey alone, including a transfer in America. As I started out I didn’t think I would make it out, but during my day of travel God turned my experience around completely. My first plane was delayed so I arrived in America with hardly any time to make my transfer and I was in an airport I had never been in before. Whilst in a non-moving queue I could have let my circumstances and negative feelings overwhelm me, but instead I pleaded to God, I needed my family and I needed to be home, please help me! Seconds later a new desk opened up and I am second in line, a process that took hours on the way  took minutes, thank you God. After running like I had never run before I made it onto the plane, the previously sunny weather had turned into an amazing lightning storm, the lightning was so close, it actually struck the plane making the flight attendant jump, you could feel the plane vibrating. I could have been petrified but God comforted me, and allowed me to comfort a young boy who was travelling alone, further confirming my calling to children’s work.

God speaks to us through our so called failures and mistakes. During the flight home I was just overwhelmed with the vastness, the amazingness of God’s creation. Looking down from that little plane window I felt so small and insignificant, but the God who created all that created me. He heard my cries and made that queue move for me, even though I felt like I had let him down he is there for me. Watching over me. I could choose to let that negative experience define my life, or I could learn from it and move on. And so with God, and support from my family and church I learnt from it and let it go. Lets choose to take those negative experiences, learn from them and leave them behind.

Be Loved

I remember the first time I felt completely overwhelmed by Gods love. I was in my room, sitting on the floor, watching a teen mania event on God TV. They were acting out a drama and towards the end one scene was set to the song ‘He loves us’, tears streamed down my face, he loves us, he loves me. He has always loved me and will always love me. What an amazing truth.

The second time was when I was in Guatemala where I got to be a vessel to share His love with other people. The fact that he managed to get me across the other side of the world to love a small group of his children is just mind blowing.

Gods love transforms, it strengthens, it moulds, it forms, it heals, His love is just amazing. And we get to be carriers of His love into the world, what an honour!

Be Beautiful

because you are. You are a unique individual, created in Gods image to be exactly who God wants you to be. Its time we stop obsessing over looks, over clothes, over ourselves and embrace the beautiful women we were created to be. Women who love, women who believe in themselves, women who are happy and secure in all God created us to be. So that we can go our and love our families, and our friends, so that we can go out and share his beauty.

I spent too many years worrying about outward beauty. I never felt beautiful, I hated my wonky teeth, my scars and my birthmarks, I felt fat and unlovable. I spent loads of money buying lovely clothes, sorting them into outfits I would wear when I lost 3 more pounds, outfits I’d wear when I finally felt beautiful, outfits that sat in drawers until they went out of style. But God made ME, he designed me, he knew what I would look like, he planned me. And he planned you. He knew what you would look like, what you would like. And we were all created in  His image – so how can we not be beautiful.

Lets be women who focus on our inner beauty, lets stand on the truth that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Lets not worry about how we dress but as Gods chosen women lets dress in the wardrobe he picked out for us, wearing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forgiveness and patience, and regardless of what else we put on lets Wear Love, our basic al-purpose garment (colossians 3:12-14)

Be Family

I feel so blessed to be part of the Simply Be (Bridge Church) family. To have a group of women living life with me, blessed to have a place where we can all be ourselves, where we can share dreams, where we can share our insecurities, where we can build each other up and support each other when we don’t feel strong enough. A place from where we can send people out into the world to serve, to live, to love, knowing that they have this incredible group of women (people) behind them, praying for them, encouraging them, supporting them. Lets not forget each other, lets remember each other as we walk through our everydays, lets pray for each other, lets encourage each other through hugs, through lunch dates, through phone calls and messages. Who can you encourage today?

So…

as we say our goodnights (or close down our web browsers), as we go out whether it is to another part of the country, whether its out into the workplace or whether its home to our families, may we all remember to simply …

Be Brave – you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, stop letting fear hold you back.

Be Yourself – God created you uniquely you, to be you, to live your life as yourself for Him.

Be There – don’t wait. Don’t let hurts and failures hold you back, the past is in the past, life is happening now don’t miss it.

Be Loved – let his love  fill your life and let’s go out and share that love.

Be Beautiful – God created you beautiful, lets be women happy and secure in the identity that God gave us  and lets wear his love, and take it out into the world.

Be Family – lets do life together, lets hold each others hands through the ups and downs, lets simply be family.