On ordinary moments

In recent months I’ve read a fair number of blog posts extolling the beauty in ordinary moments. I’ve written a few posts in the last couple of years along those lines myself. But I’ve been finding that, in my own life, ordinary moments often don’t feel special and sometimes I struggle to find loveliness in the mundane goings on of life.
Cystic Fibrosis is not a lovely disease (what disease is?!). My daily physiotherapy is distinctly unlovely as I have to clear out whatever mucus there is in my lungs. My posture exercises are to stop me from becoming even more of a hunchback than I am already. And you should see my purple face after a violent coughing fit! Those are not moments to pin on my Pinterest board. No filter is going to make those into Instagrammable pictures.
Let me make myself clear. I wholeheartedly approve and applaud the attitude behind the ‘ordinary is beautiful’ movement. I’m a card carrying member of that community. There is nothing inherently wrong with blog posts, Instagram accounts and Pinterest boards filled with gorgeous images of simple things and descriptions of ordinary moments. But personally I find that those beautifully arranged vignettes and eloquent word pictures can make me forget something very important: Ordinary is allowed to be just ordinary. Yet in my pursuit to celebrate the ordinary, I sometimes fall into the trap of not actually celebrating the ordinary but celebrating the edited version of ordinary that I’m comfortable with sharing on Facebook.
The beauty in the mundane is very real. I can vouch for that. It’s found in accepting a calling that won’t make you wealthy or famous. It’s found in being genuinely thankful for your day’s food, whether it looks good through a camera lens or not. It’s found in knowing that there is a God who has planned your life such that where you are right now (be it awake in the middle of the night, clearing up after your children yet again, in a hospital room, all alone somewhere etc) is the absolute, number one, best place for you to be. But when I feel inadequate because ‘her’ mundane seems so much more beautiful than mine, I’ve missed the point of it all.
It’s a simple task to love the lovely but maybe your ordinary seems just a bit too, well, ordinary. That’s ok. Put down the camera and stop looking for the short term, little picture beauty. You might have to look at this ordinary moment in a long term, big picture way. You might not see the beauty until you look back from the New Creation. That’s ok. Sometimes we have to learn to let the ordinary be ordinary.

On trying to be grateful

Sometimes life doesn’t make sense.

My relationship with God right now is a crazy one. In easier days, I come to Him composed and with my well worded prayers. But in days like these, I come crying and questioning. It’s raw and it’s real. And actually it’s just hard. It’s hard to understand and it’s hard to be glad that God’s picked us out for these particular tough times.

Picture book Christianity is easy.
When life is good it’s easy to be grateful for the lovely things you have. Of course it is.
But it’s when something hard comes that your grateful muscles really have to be used. At first, because you haven’t used them much before, it hurts. It hurts like crazy. How can you truly be grateful for something so hard? But the more you use them, the stronger they get. It doesn’t make things hurt any less. It doesn’t mean that hard things are suddenly a breeze. But your grateful muscles become a powerful part of your weaponry. And the grateful prayers that seemed so hard at the beginning come more naturally now.
When things go wrong and are rubbish and hard and sad, I’m quicker now to say thanks. Thanks for the hard things. Thanks for the closeness to you that they bring. Thanks for trusting me with hard things and growing me through them.

That doesn’t mean I’m not confused. I often can’t see the point of the hard things for ages, some I still have no idea why we were given them.
But faith is full of upside down things. It’s confidence in what we hope for. It’s assurance of what we don’t see. And I think that it’s also gratefulness for things that don’t make immediate sense.

Like all of my muscles, my grateful ones are very weak. But God’s been giving them a good workout recently. David and I have both felt the burn of trying to be grateful even when we just can’t see why. We’ve failed many many times but the Lord is forgiving and our training continues.

Sometimes life doesn’t make sense. But our God takes the confusion and the pain and uses them to make us stronger. Now that’s something to be grateful for.

On being scared

Before I came into hospital this time someone asked me if I was scared. My fairly unhelpful response was to burst into tears and abandon the phone. But it was a good question.

I’m not scared of death. Why would I be? I firmly believe in an eternity of glory. Bring it on.

Dying, however, is a different thing.
I’m scared of a long and painful dying.
I’m scared of years of watching life go by, as I’m able to do less.
I’m scared of the pain things cause my family.
I’m scared of leaving my husband alone.
So, yes, I’m scared.

At times I think that I’ve lost my faith. After all, how could someone who is so scared and worried be truly trusting in God’s plan? A friend said this to me: ‘Faith is still faith even when you are holding on by your fingertips.’ And it’s so true.

Every day I find something hard. It’s usually health related. And often I can’t find the words when it comes speaking to God about it. In my latest really not great spell, I could hardly make sense of anything. I went in and out of consciousness. But all the time two words echoed round my head: ‘Please Lord.’ I didn’t know what I was asking. I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But in my fear, I went to the one safe place. I ran to my Father. And that was enough.

God doesn’t demand total and perfect faith and hold it against me when I don’t deliver.
He doesn’t lose his temper when I don’t learn my lessons first time.
And He listens to my prayers when I cry out to Him. Even if those cries are just two words spoken into silence.

In my life, fear isn’t a barrier to faith. It’s a bridge. When I’m scared, I need somewhere to run. And my Father has shown me that in those times He’s the kindest, He’s the best and He’s the safest place to run.