Everybody is I

A few weeks ago my friend Vicky said this statement during a conversation we were having.

Everybody is I.

Vicky shared how much this statement had affected her and her perceptions many years ago. I have found myself similarly affected by it. I think of it almost daily.

I guess on one level is astoundingly obvious. Of course ‘everyone is I’ of course everyone has their own world going on inside of them, their own feelings and emotions, motives and insecurities.

Yet on another level its astoundingly complex and profound. Yes its true, but do I live like its true? Do I love like it’s true? Do I interpret the way life happens to me like its true? Do I consistently treat people with the dignity they deserve like its true? Do I love them like I love myself?

No.

No, I don’t.

If I’m honest I largely interpret things based from my worldview, how it affects me, what I would mean if I was to speak or act in that way. A lot of us are much more egocentric than we would care to admit or are even aware of. Jesus knew what he was talking about when he told us to remove the stick from our own eye before worrying about the speck in someone else’s.

Ive been giving it a go recently just trying to interpret life as if it was true. Practising kindness and non-judgement. Im not good at it! But parenting, marriage, friendships and just life in general are giving me so many times to practise…heres a couple of ones to make you smile. I am a bit embarrassed to share this, but Jesus never said humility was easy.

1. I do a community charity toilet roll order, they arrived Friday and I still have 9 giant boxes left in my hall. I began to feel irritated. Why haven’t people collected them? Don’t they realise how in the way they are? Then my favourite one… I would have collected them straight away if they were at someone else’s house.

Judge. Blame. Self righteousness. Yuck.

I feel a nudge from the Spirit interrupt my horrible thinking. I blush and remember that I haven’t taken my insurance form into work for 2 weeks.

Everybody is I. Remove the log.

Maybe they just forgot like me, maybe they are busy like me, maybe they have other stuff going on.

I say sorry to God. I feel so much better and I no longer care about the boxes. I tell Jon and he laughs with me. He’s so awesome.

2. I receive a difficult and unfair message from someone and I flip out inside. How could they say that to me? Are they really that insecure? Do they have any idea how that makes me feel? and the big one, Im never enough….this one comes up a lot in me.

I chat it through with Jon and let off some steam, I go to reply and then sense to wait.

Everybody is I. Remove the log.

They are not in a good place, they didn’t mean to hurt you, don’t you remember feeling that way? I send a kind message back. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because I want to. I know the truth. I choose to be gracious. I feel compassion and empathy. God is softening me as I yield and follow Him. He is so good.

3. One of my children is perpetually difficult to get out of the house in the morning and Im not handling it well. Its ending in stress and shouting I feel powerless so I begin to blame. Why can’t they just get ready calmly? Why is it so stressful? Why do I have to put up with this? If they complain one more time about how their socks feel Im going to cry/shout/explode.

I feel that familiar nudge, my tinnitus was so bad last week every noise was just awful and I struggled to cope and complained a lot.

Everybody is I. Remove the log.

Maybe they need more time and a bit more help. Maybe they are worried about something at school. Maybe their sock really does feel weird! I leave more time this morning to help them through it. I show compassion and kindness. It goes so much better. Im so grateful.

I had a few minutes to practice some lectio divina today,  a discipline I have done intermittently over the last couple of years. One that doesn’t come especially naturally to my ‘get it done’ way of living. It’s a way of attending to scripture, a way of slowing down and letting a small part of it really sink in.

I chose a small part of Matthew 22 ‘……love your neighbour as yourself…’ . In the contemplation part of the exercise I was drawn back to my “everybody is I” statement. Lord will I ever be someone who can do this, really love people? Really treat people with the dignity and compassion they all deserve?

I feel the answer. Keep following me. Keep remembering everyone is I. Keep forgiving yourself when you mess up.

I smile. I am I as well.

So are you.

Lets be kind to ourselves and others. We are all learning what it means to be human and see that humanity in everyone else.

Emma

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Why I bother reflecting….

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I spend time regularly reflecting on my thoughts, attitudes and the way I interact with those around me. It is one of the most valuable things I do. This is where the rubber hits the road, This is where I do business with the Lord. This is where I grow, mature, repent, forgive and am humbled again and again.

I can’t hide here.

Since the 18inch Journey last April I have spent more time intentionally writing it all down. Over and over I take time to discover the ‘why behind the what’.

‘Why did I overact so strongly when I was misunderstood earlier?’ ( Because I hate injustice of any kind)

‘Why did I get frustrated with Jon when he tried to help me?’ (Because I love to be in control)

‘Why were my thoughts so critical towards myself for making a simple mistake?’ (Because part of my value still comes from getting everything right)

‘Why can’t I let it go when I don’t fully understand something about God’ (Because I don’t always trust Him)

Theres always a reason for our broken ways of thinking, feeling and relating. The Holy Spirit will always reveal the truth if you’re willing to hear it. The more you do it the quicker your pride breaks down, the more you do it you begin to see patterns to your brokenness. Healing and wholeness come hot on the heals of truth and vulnerability.

Because I have practised this sometimes quite painful and pretence crushing discipline, Im starting to do it without the pen and paper every day as I live my life….It’s brilliant. I quickly recognise when one of my ‘sticky struggles’ is rearing its head and sort it much quicker. The fruit is beginning to grow both in my more positive mindset and my relationships, particularly my marriage and parenting.

A recent example;

On Thursday morning I really wanted to have some quiet time as it had been a while. So I decided to get up super early and nail my jobs to make the most of it. I got to crossfit for 6.30am, then straight to Tesco. I got home for 9am and had the fairly unrealistic expectation that I would have the whole 2 and a half hours before nursery pick up to spend reading/writing. (I’m always over ambitious and deluded when it comes to time) Jon had of course got all the kids up, sorted, done lunches school run etc and had started work on my return. As reality kicked in and I realised I now had to eat, shower, pack the shopping away, sort the breakfast pots etc my irritation grew and grew. As the minutes slipped away all my negative agreements began to rear up in mind.

‘theres never enough time’

‘nothing ever goes to plan’

As well as very unfair feelings of anger and blame to the rest of my family

‘Why didn’t the kids put the cereals/bowls away’

‘why didn’t Jon straighten the kitchen’

Slam, Huff. Slam, Huff.

Poor Jon who had only helped me out came in to make a coffee and made the mistake of asking me if I was ok….my selfish complaining began to come out. Historically my whole morning would have been ruined in my eyes and Jon and I would probably have an argument…

However I caught myself quickly and quietened quickly. I felt that inner nudge, notice all he has done to help you instead of the one thing he missed. Say thank you. Your not making eye contact (another thing I do when I’m annoyed) All of this is happening in my head and nobody is going to notice or pull me up on it. But I notice, I don’t want to be like this.

So I make a choice I know I’m freaking out and being horrible because I never think there is enough time, the tighter I grip it the more it falls away from me. So I do the exact opposite of what I want to do I breathe deeply, I stop stomping around, I give eye contact and I say thank you. It hurts, it crushes my selfishness. The fruit is beautiful…

My morning isn’t ruined. We don’t have an argument. I kicked selfishness’s ass!

I’m embarrassed to write this. I feel ridiculous that I have these thoughts but even as I risk vulnerability and share them with you I’m becoming more free. I don’t want to stay where I am and use excuses to justify unacceptable ways of thinking and behaving. I want to grow and I want my life to marked my love and kindness. I think it’s worth the work.

I encourage you reflect on your life, admit your faults, find your freedom.

Its so beautiful and every part of your life will begin to flourish

Love Emma

Listening and letting go

‘Theres always room for everything that matters’ ( Call the midwife, Christmas Day 2018)

As a mother I have learned over the last 11 years to listen out for the voice of the Lord in and through everything. For years I punished and tormented myself with striving to create a life where I could meet with God and experience him according to my preconceptions and preferences. I love the quiet, solitude, nature and my journal. I always meet Him there, I make sure I go there regularly, but it isn’t my daily reality. Through the fire, through persistence, through desperation I have found a new way, a way I will keep on finding for the rest of my life;

Everything is sacred.

The Lord is always present and always speaking, that’s the deepest reality, not how we feel or our circumstances.

Sometimes He uses words, sometimes films, nature, heartache, relationship, bible study, beauty, song, church gatherings, poetry or suffering. But more often than not its a whisper, not a shout. Sometimes He even speaks through silence and you have to extra quiet deep down inside to hear that…..

For the last decade Jon and I have created a rhythm of seeking a word of theme for our year. The Lord has always answered that prayer, his response is often a surprise and nearly always disruptive. I always begin the year with a fast, reactive interpretation of the word or theme and I finish the year realising I had no idea what God had meant by it, and what He worked in and through me was far deeper and richer than anything I could have come up with.

My word for 2018 was grace. I imagined spending the year trying to give more grace to Jon and the kids, to our team at church and to wider friends and family. I ended the year knowing God has been teaching me how to receive it.  This morning a tiny reaction, so small and insignificant showed me I’m making progress. I woke late, the house is a bit messy and as I sat on the toilet (such a glamorous story!) I glanced over and saw our bathroom plant totally dead

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Instead of my usual reaction of anger towards myself for neglecting it, annoyance at the waste of money to replace it, I found myself letting it go and deciding to just go and buy another one. Not really choosing to have a good and rational attitude just having one. Grace towards myself, fruit growing in my life, change happening.  Tiny, small, insignificant yet so beautiful to me. I felt heavens smile. Went downstairs and the first thing that caught my attention was this little lemon tree shoot i’m nurturing a gift from a friend. It’s thriving.

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It’s unrealistic to expect everything in our live to be thriving all the same time. No one can live like that. I found gratitude springing up. I do do some things well, and it’s OK that I make mistakes. Other people are also allowed to make mistakes, whatever we first live and do the work in in our own lives will always spill out to those around us. Without a doubt I have given out more grace this year to those around me than ever before as I have learned to receive it.

SO this year my word is focus. God gave me the word about two weeks ago and in that time I began my usual race to interpret it and make a plan. I was halted in my tracks. No more rushing ahead this year, Im waiting. Partly wisdom is making my wait on the Lord, partly circumstances is forcing me. But Im waiting all the same. Below is the list that began to swirl in my mind of what God might want me to focus on in 2019. This isn’t a joke by the way this is how intense and unrealistic I can be!

  • Getting up at 5.30am
  • A daily pilates routine
  • one to one time with my kids
  • supporting Jon
  • keeping the house really clean
  • the youth work at church
  • cross fit
  • my close friendships
  • my broader friendships
  • my prayer life
  • my giving
  • my bible reading
  • my marriage
  • decluttering
  • getting my book published

So waiting is new unsettling, control freak crushing, Jesus’s sense of humour plan.

He’s given me the word focus and then led me to a place through different circumstances  where I am unable to make plans and choose my focus. I mean He’s brilliant, I just love Him!

Christmas Day I was watching Call the midwife with my mum, I wasn’t prayerful or attentive but I was quiet, my heart, thoughts and plans were quiet as I allowed myself to rest and be present with my mum and the show.

Suddenly these words jumped straight out of the screen and grabbed at my heart

‘theres always room for everything that matters’

I filed it for later and when I went to bed I scribbled it at the start of my new journal. Whatever surprising things end up being my focus in 2019 He quieted my fears by interrupting call the midwife and telling me that whatever he calls me to focus on in 2019 will leave room for everything that matters. It won’t require my old ways of striving and needing to know everything, I can use what I’ve learnt in 2018 trust him to lead me in 2019.

Everything is sacred. He is always speaking. He is always present.

I pray Gods richest blessing over your 2019, and I pray you show yourself kindness however things end up playing out

Love Emma