Unimpressive

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This is our garden, I just spent an hour digging up weeds. Stood back and realised it didn’t look as if I’d done anything. It’s been in a process of change for over a year since we started our renovation. Right now, someone on the outside might even look in and think it’s not a very impressive patch of earth. Muddy, strewn with kids toys and garden tools and bags of stones and plants waiting to be planted. But when I look at it, I see how far we’ve come, I see the potential in that back left corner for a seating area under the maple we’re going to plant in that top tier. How we’ll spend sunny days reading under those glowing maroon leaves or playing cards and I’ll remember how much my father loved maple trees and playing cards. The mud transformed into green grass with a picnic blanket spread out where we will eat our dinner when the weather favours us. We’ll lay on our backs and look for shapes in the clouds whilst the bees buzz around the herbs and flowers we’ll plant.

My little unimpressive patch of earth. But it’s mine. Before we renovated it was a neat little garden, with neat borders – we had paid for it and it was in a much more impressive state. But it was not mine. I’ll plant haphazardly, crookedly, less clean lines, less organised and more scattered, softer. More me. I guess from the outside, I could be described as unimpressive. I passed high school by some sort of miracle, I received a fluke A in drama theory and my teacher verbalised her shock and disbelief – people didn’t expect much of me and I didn’t expect much of myself. I have no university degree. I speak only English. I don’t play an instrument. The worlds standards, the requirements to be successful by this world’s standards are not met by me. But I’ll tell you a badly kept secret, the worlds standards are not the measure of a person, nor a barometer of worth. The invisible pressure to do and be perceived as impressive is a suffocating blanket of oppression, choking out contentment.

What a relief to know that I can be unimpressive and still deeply valued, unimpressive and still worthy of love and affection, unimpressive but still positively contribute to the world I find myself planted in. Impressive is far heavier a label to carry.

My health is not impressive, an accident as a child triggered a chronic pain condition that was also the likely cause of losing 3 babies, the grief of which escalated the symptoms of pain I experience daily. So unimpressive, but it’s generated an appreciation and a gratitude much deeper within me that would never have been cultivated outside of the struggle to find hope and light and laughter. Grew a quiet understanding and love for those that don’t make the grade in some way, removing the ‘impressive’ qualifiers that our culture bombards us with.

I am so beautifully unimpressive. I find mornings hard and sometimes have to drag my reluctant behind from bed and dig deep for the gratitude that finds me a half hour later dancing to Hakunna Matta, unapologetically blurting out the “farted” bit that’s skipped over for the sake of the kids, in the kitchen with my two miracles. I dance and sing loudly and pull silly faces. Some days I don’t, some days it’s too much, I’m too tired or too sore and the kids get taken to school by their wonderful granny or watch too much tv because I’m not well enough for high energy. But they always have my arms around them and my whispers in their ears of how precious they are and how much I love them. They understand that mommy struggles sometimes, they love me.

It would be lovely if my husband and I always conversed in tones that reflected how precious we are to each other. But the early years of our marriage were quite unimpressive communication wise and now sometimes our tiredness gives way to what will later require apology. But if you could time lapse our 14 years together, it would show how our unimpressive bits tended by our love and nurtured by our commitment grew a bond that wouldn’t exist without navigating each others spiky, smelly, rude, hurtful, ungrateful parts of our nature. We’ve become less spiky, still smelly, less rude, less hurtful and more and more grateful.

Impressive so often gives way to unimpressive. The initial attraction to the achievements, the talents, the looks, the hormonal surges, the excited anticipation pull apart like a heavy theatre curtain revealing the true stage of life. The grit, the drama, the mundane, the loss, the confusion, the questioning and yet remaining faithful.

Sometimes unimpressive is the soil that grows the fantastic and meaningful.

Baseball Faith

Faith

One of the consequences of a young life with a scarcity of affirmation and full of emotional injury, is that your mind is wired to constantly question yourself. It is a form of mental torture that requires strength of mind to rebuff.

When your low self esteem keeps those curve balls coming, it takes some inner grit to keep stepping up to the plate and knocking them out the park. Because, questioning every sentence that comes out of your mouth, revisiting conversations over and over again, sure that you put your foot in it, said something that made you look a fool, that irritated your friends. Every time. Questioning yourself. It. Is. Exhausting. But you’ve got to fight it, you can fight it.

You’ve got to find a place where you can know with certainty that you have strengths and wonderful qualities. That needs to be non negotiable. But even more powerful than that is knowing the source of your identity. Knowing that it doesn’t matter if you screw up, if you fumble, if you’re off centre, if you’re not on form. It doesn’t even matter if you’re in a jail cell or if you’re a CEO, if you’re desired or rejected by people. It doesn’t matter.

Because in Jesus, you are accepted. You are seen. You are known. And you are deeply loved. Not because of anything you have done or not done, but simply because he knows who he created you to be and he loves you. His love has the strength to step up to the plate with you and adding his power to your swing, helps you hit the home runs you need.

Child of God

Faith, Poetry

Don’t you know who you are?

I’ve seen you, I’ve heard you spend your mental energy battling with negative attitudes about yourself

The words that slip off your tongue without you even realising

The labels that have been printed out onto your mind, revolving round and around

Your hurting heart projecting those tainted thoughts into your daily life

 

Oh don’t you know who you are?

If you knew, you wouldn’t speak such things over yourself

It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’ve traversed, dripping in gold or dripping in dirt

The choices that you may have made or had others force on you, that doesn’t define you

The consequences of those choices don’t define you

Trust me when I say, God does not see you as a set of circumstances, he doesn’t define you by good or bad choices

He sees you accepting his enemies taunts over you and all he longs for, the only thing he desires is your whole heart

He is jealous for you, raging with fire for you to know your true value

Because he knows, apart from him we misspend our worth, we throw it away with cultural trends, with unattainable expectations, with idols of money and perfection and comparison, on things that are constantly shifting and changing

 

God is steadfast, he doesn’t change with the seasons

It’s only when you step into your true identity that you will strip away the influence of the world to cut you down, because underneath it all, the unseen rulers know that if you rise as a child of God, the light in you will push back the boundaries of darkness because darkness is as light to Jesus

God has never wanted to reduce you, he has always wanted to adopt you

Sons and daughters of pure love, pure grace, pure peace

Jesus didn’t willingly reduce himself to an unrecognisable mess of human flesh and then rise from death, so that we have no way out of our own mess

In his name, you have inherited the entire Kingdom of heaven, you have power and authority to dismiss the voices that tell you you’re not worthy

My sisters, my brothers, walk with your heads held high, don’t cower beneath your fears

You are not just a human being, you are a child of God

We Can Trust Him

Faith, Poetry

I’ve come to loathe negative “I am” statements…

I am where I am

I’ve been where I’ve been

No amount of striving is going to rewrite my history or quick fix my flaws

My mind has succumbed too many times to the visible and invisible taunts of worthlessness

Inflicted by self, by careless words in well meaning mouths or downright spat out with spite by people also lost inside their own mental health plights

Mine is a life potholed by moments of rejection which have so often threatened to incapacitate my person

But greater than any rejection is my confidence that I am accepted, by God no less, and who would argue with him?!

The devil is who and he’ll make you believe that God hates you, but there is absolutely no foundation or slither of truth there

So I’ve started asking a different question, not who do I say I am

But I ask who does God say I am and I choose to believe it, regardless of feelings

The power in truth is no hippy notion of filling our lives with physical satisfactions which are only fleeting distractions

I have found the power in truth, is that, spoken out loud and chosen inside it begins to uproot the lies that degrade our lives and in its place grows a tree of life

Irrevocable value takes root

It forms a system in my heart that holds together the banks that previously threatened to fall apart

Each root a whisper from heaven writing a love song in the depths of my soul

You are forgiven, you are loved, you are accepted, you are protected, you are redeemed, you are worthy of love, you were seen before you were conceived, you were held in the womb, you are treasured, you have a purpose and that purpose is to be known and loved and to know and love your Creator, you have a God given right to be alive just as you are right now

Because His love isn’t forceful but it is a force, His grace takes you on a journey to freedom without guilt

He celebrates you in the light of Jesus

He, the Holy Spirit, is the greatest of counsellors leading us alongside gentle waters and green pastures, even when storms are raging overhead he’ll help us find rest amidst the maelstrom and give us power to command its stillness

God knows we’re not perfect and doesn’t expect it, but he also knows that being in his presence will help us navigate the mines in our mind fields

Fear cannot exist where perfect love is

So I choose to see myself through the lense of his love

I am not lost, I’m found and this pavement of peace that I walk on is hedged in by grace

No one is lost in the light of his love, we can trust him

Unforced Journey

Faith, Poetry

I’m no longer in a hurry to prove myself to anybody

When I thought as a child, negative opinions would have cut me down

But I’m learning the unforced journey

Reaching for the “well done” from the one who knows my name and everything that my heart contains

You may not see it, my outward appearance isn’t always attractive

I fumble and stumble and make awkward advances for the kingdom

But I’m learning the unforced journey

Reaching for the “well done” from the one who knows my name and everything that my heart contains