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.

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

Sing Out My Soul

Faith, Poetry

God you pursued me with your love

When my life depended on it, you took on my pain

Jesus, I was weak at your feet

My heart couldn’t contain it so I laid it at your feet

If it weren’t for your mercy, it would have completely overwhelmed me

But your heart was for me and I felt your arms around me

So I declared your kingdom has come

Jesus you took on death for the joy set before you

Thank you!

My heart was dead but you saved me

I’m your inheritance

I will pursue you because you love me

Because you know all of me and still you died for me

Jesus I want to know you like you know me

I lay my life down for the joy set before me

To walk beside my King, my friend

So take courage my soul in your unwavering God

From the deepest of depths, His love resurrects

When the night’s at its darkest, sing out my soul

Jesus has conquered death

Jesus has opened the door

Separated no longer

I am yours and you are mine

I revel in the wonder of walking with my Creator

Heavenward

Faith, Poetry

You may think I am delusional, to believe God cares about every detail

But if he knows the number of hairs on my head, then I know that he’s my author and creator

If he writes my name on the palm of his hand, then I know that I am visible to him

If he knitted me together in my mother’s womb, then not one strand of my DNA is a mystery to him

If he’s held my life in his heart, before it even started, then I am assured it matters to him

If he sent his son to die on a cross so that I could be near to him, then I know my presence delights him

If he raised Jesus up from the grave, I am confident that I will be raised with him

If he sent his Holy Spirit in his son’s place, then I am promised his everlasting presence

So you may think I’m delusional, but my heart has been altered by too many sweet encounters

Despite the pain of this life, I am born of hope, washed in the mindset of eternity to see just a spec of how utterly vast and incomprehensible his love is for me

Not just for me and not just for those who call him father, even though we have the mind blowing privilege to walk with our Papa

For every human soul, of every religion and creed is loved with an almighty love and so I cannot stay silent

Whether you know it or not

You were born to know the creator of star dust, of science, of seasons, of harvests, of music, of beauty, of secrets and stillness

You were born to receive the love of our father expressed in the life of a servant we call saviour, Jesus Christ

You were born with a singular purpose, to love and be loved by God, who wills all goodness to pour into you through his relationship

You are his favourite creation, you and billions of others…

If you don’t believe me, stop and ask him

You never know, you might come face to face with Jesus

You might just hear a whisper and an unexpected nudge to look heavenward

Fear vs Hope

Poetry

You know when you realise you’ve wasted half your life on misguided fear

Like a drunken misadventure and you’ve become aware far too late, that this person you’re cosying up to in the corner, you wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole if sober

Had you seen with clear eyes that this affair with fear was only going to leave you out in the cold, identity clouded and searching for your soul

Too many times I let your interest define me, your disinterest define me

Wasn’t taught to value me, was only mocked and disciplined for who others moulded me to be

You bartered for my sexuality like I was yours to buy, only children caught in an adults game

But it’s not charades, it’s not pretending when you touched me like you owned me and sent fear into the very heart of me

And I learnt that attention from boys, attention from men equalled desirability

So I laughed off education, surrendered to depression and defined my life by sexual admiration

All the while fear crept in, it kept me caged, it kept me in and I never explored or had adventures with people or stories that fed my soul

Fed it with hope, fed it with joy, fed it with possibility

And even though I know there is freedom from fear, still I struggle daily

Don’t want to let those ugly moments define and chain me

Want to be able to see a clean page free from insecurity

So every day in some small way I stand defiant of all that fear

Fear that I’ve wasted it all and it’s way too late to live my life with eyes that see and a heart that hopes

I look in the mirror and see who God sees, a miracle, a life, purpose in living

I will not be defined by the ghosts of the past, I’ll be defined and changed by truth and love