Every week I try to direct my posts away from myself, but for some time now, they seem to always start with me. I, I, I. Obviously, that is the world I operate in and know best but there’s got to be something more to talk about.
The other day I had to look again to see the purple crocuses I knew were there in the back flower bed. The garden was in shadow and the flowers had closed up. It took a blast of sun to reveal them in their full glory.
Do you ever have times like that when you feel invisible, not seen? Most days when I’m writing I have to tell myself somebody, some day might notice. Every like or comment I get each week is worth more than gold to me.
It’s the same with my children. I have learnt that focusing on the positive works. Criticising never does. When my daughter is struggling with her violin, pointing out her mistakes leads to a massive melt down. Finding one part that sounds good and pointing it out makes her whole face light up and her playing improve. She came home today smiling because her music teacher had said, ‘for such a quiet person, you really speak through music.’ I know she will remember that for the rest of her life. Teachers can bring out the best and also the worst. No-one wants to see a child with their head down, fading away. Today I saw the opposite and I’m so very thankful.
In the same way, telling the dog off retrospectively changes nothing. I remember the dog trainer saying ‘do not reinforce bad behaviour’. ‘No’ might stop the dog one time, but ‘good dog’ gets them doing the things you want a lot more frequently.
Just like the crocuses, everyone needs the sun of encouragement. One ray of praise can change everything. If someone gives that to you, don’t shake your head and wave it away. Soak it in and smile.
Do you feel invisible at the minute? Or maybe someone close to you is trying their utmost but feels unnoticed. Think of all the cleaners, medics, retail assistants, bus drivers and many more who work everyday for no thanks. There are undiscovered heroes all round us, crying out for a little affirmation. When one person says one good thing, that can last for days. In fact, I can still remember nice things I was told years ago.
You see? A little encouragement can last even longer than sunlight.
About two years ago I watched the documentary ‘Amazing Grace’ featuring Aretha Franklin. There was one song that I noted down back then called ‘How I got over’. For two years I have wondered if I can write anything about that.
As COVID throws its heavy blankets of fatigue over my already tired body, I have been close to giving up all hope. I forgot to laugh, to sing, to look out at the blue skies, to step into the garden and breathe in fresh air. The idea of making a change or trying something that may be scary but could be good didn’t even enter my head. When we decide we are tired and everything is too much then it is very easy to give up.
This past week or more I have been awake in the wee small hours. If I’ve had sleepless nights before, I’ve either been upset or relieved that the birds are announcing the night is past. But this blackbird? He’s singing at the ungodly hour of half past two! Maybe I’ve never been awake to hear him before, but in these dark times, I do.
Lying awake last night, listening to the coughs of family members, the story of Jesus calming the storm came to mind.
As I thought about the panic, fear and frustration the disciples must have felt, I saw the same in myself. When things are going badly, sometimes unexpectedly, we have a human tendency to shriek at Jesus for His intervention. It often feels that He is unresponsive and we panic on. But in the storm that day there were two true things: Jesus was there and He was doing something: resting, safe in the knowledge He was on His Father’s path.
It comforts me that Jesus was there. And when He was pestered by human fear, He immediately dealt with it. Then. But what about now? When the waves in our lives are breaking into our boats? The fear is as real as it was for the disciples but the answer is, for our human time scale, slow. I heard someone say that that God is never early, but He’s never late either.
The only way to keep going is to live in the knowledge that Jesus is still here with us, and our story is completely known by Him. He’s patiently waiting for the perfect time to calm our storms. I’ll not lie, I desperately wish there was a sudden, immediate answer. But that is held within the hands of our Eternal Father.
One day, I’ll see Him stand up and calm every storm, in me and in you. After that, we will finally be able to stop fretting and start worshipping as we were designed to do.