29 January 2015

Change, My Dear. And It Seems Not A Moment Too Soon

A podcast that I've been listening to recently reminded me of the need to expand the boundaries of my own particular Comfort Zone. It's essential to keep pushing yourself to new things if you want to grow. And I do.

However, the host warned me of the dangers of trying to make too many changes, too quickly. You still need to have a different degree of comfort left to retreat into when the day is over. That little place of calm. Changing too many things, say, in your work and in your personal life at the same time, could be problematic - too much, too soon.

Having said all that, here's a question that I've been left with to mull over:
  • Should I change my inner passion to align with my circumstances?
  • Or should I, perhaps, change my circumstances to align with my inner passion?
I know what I think. But dare I make that change? It will impact on everything! Will that be too drastic a change?

(picture: 'Change, My Dear' by Leda74. One for the Doctor Who fans! This blog entry's title comes from the first few lines spoken by the Sixth Doctor - "The Caves of Androzani", 1984. )

27 January 2015

Deep In My Fortress

I haven't felt very well this week.

Guess that I've just been giving out just that little bit too much. Perhaps I have ended up giving more that I was physically able to. And, as a result, I ended up physically and emotionally drained. A bit of a mess.

Was saying no a viable option? I can't tell at the moment. Perhaps I'm a bit too close to the problem. One to reflect on. Now is the time to recuperate.

I slept. I watched 'Man Of Steel' and the Christopher Reeve 'Superman' movies back-to-back, from the depths of my own particular Fortress Of Solitude. I sought wise counsel from my Lord, who reminded me that He loved me, whether I went the extra mile or not. And that He appreciated me trying.

Tomorrow is another day. I will return, and try again.

24 January 2015

Change It Or Channel It

(This entry is based on an email that I received recently from Rick Warren)

Yes, I know how I feel about a given situation often affects how I react to it. And many folks keep telling me that, in fact, it's all up to me. They tell me that I have a choice about how I feel. The problem is that they don't explain do it very well. They say - "like it or lump it". Which immediately switches me off... do they think I want to feel this way? That I like to feel bad? Sure, that leaves me with only one option: lump it, put up with it. :(

However, I like the email that I got recently, which explains it in a subtlely different way.

You either change it, or you channel it.

Sometimes you need to change what you’re feeling. And that's because raw emotions are so powerful, so potentially destructive, so damaging to some situations, that you're going to have to change it if you want to survive. Perhaps you are carrying around bitterness for something that happened years ago? You shouldn't. Because who is it hurting? Yourself - and in many occasions, only yourself. Everyone else may have forgotten it, which means you're the only one still keeping this alive. Christians are encouraged to ask ourselves "How would Jesus feel in this situation? Would He get annoyed? Would He be fearful?"

Sometimes you need to channel what you’re feeling. Some emotions or griefs are far too much to bear - however, we can decide to channel that grief for good - use that pain to help other people. That's bringing a good thing out of a bad thing. You are angry about an injustice? Write a letter, start a campaign, help someone who has been a victim. Turn this negative into a positive. Listen carefully - I'm not saying that you should be happy about it. I am saying that you need to find a way to find a positive from it. Name it, challenge it, channel it, use it for good.

If you can't change it, channel it.
If you can't channel it, change it.

Philippians 2:5 (TLB)
“Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ.”

21 January 2015

Alone, But Not Lonely

"I think it's very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person." - Oscar Wilde

As I take a long, hard look at myself and my personal influence on this world (part of what we were asked to do in Vision and Commitment Sunday), what is increasingly obvious to me that I'm someone who actually needs periods of time alone. It's more than just 'enjoying my own company' - it's beneficial. I use the time to recharge my emotional batteries. Batteries that are quickly drained in real life, dealing with crowds of people. It's vital for me to regain my balance. I'll read, listen to music, catch up on TV, write, blog. Finding things to do when you're alone is not a problem.

After sufficient recharging time, I come out from my corner, fighting fit, ready to face another day. How long does it take to recharge? It varies - just like your mobile phone, you need to check on it from time to time. A couple of hours, the rest of the day. As for me, I'm not quite so bright if I'm running on half a charge. If I haven't had enough 'me-time'.

I don't have problems with alone. What I have difficulties with being considered lonely.

There's a big, big difference.

Loneliness is a feeling of isolation, an increasing realisation that when it comes to the crunch, "the buck stops here" and there's no-one else in your corner, there's no-one else to turn to. It's having no peers, no like-minded friends. (Or, no-one at that moment.) It's those cases when you need meaningful social contact, and yet you are unable to get any.

Aloneness is different. Aloneness is freedom. There's a strange sense of calm that comes from relaxing in your own company. You don't have to be on guard any more. Being alone is settling down with a box set of DVDs and working through the box. Or curling up with a good book - or several. It's having an evening off with absolutely no other plans made. Sure, you give of yourself most nights of the week, volunteering for this, that and the other. You're that strange, selfless individual. Well,  tonight's your night. You can be selfish once in a while. Nobody needs to come to save you from being alone, because you don’t want them to. Because you don’t need to be saved.

I want to be alone. I don't want to be lonely.

Does that make sense?

15 January 2015

So, Who Am I?

I've been thinking. I suspect that a lot of this comes off the back of the Vision and Commitment Sunday meeting last week. As part of the day we were encouraged to have a clear vision of who you are.

So, who am I?

Not just "who do I think I am"...

Who I really am.

The words of Robert Burns spring to mind:
"O wad some power the giftie gie us to see oursels as others see us."
(O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.)

13 January 2015

Caring In A Hurting World

There are so many hurting people out there. So many. I simply can't help them all.

Many don't even try. In fact, many choose not to see them. It's as if these are invisible. Individuals that many simply ignore when they walk down the street.

But I try and think differently. I've come to the conclusion that I can do something. So, I do.

And so, as I come across people, people that I think I can develop a rapport with, I do something brave.

I let down my defences. The defences I use to stop myself getting hurt.

It's starts with something as simple as exchanging a name. It's not so easy - it takes a while to build up enough trust to give something as personal as a name. Not easy for me - so I can imagine that it's not easy for them!

Because these aren't the dossers, the low-lifes, the asylum seekers that the popular press keep going on about.

They are Bill, or Sindy, or Frank. It becomes personal.

And as you get to know them well, you realise that they are hurt because of a combination of circumstances. Simply put, because of things that have happened to them.

Just as we are. Often, in the same way.

Hurt by their family
Hurt by their so-called friends.
Hurt by society.

They are really hurting.

The trouble is, this, in turn, starts to hurt me. As I get to know these guys as people, it's increasingly harder not to feel for them. And this starts driving me to do more.

Because I care. And want to care for them.

Professional detachment? Sorry, it's not so easy.

Mark 1:41 (The Message)
Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, "I want to. Be clean."

8 January 2015

You Need A Rest

Take a break ... the world will keep spinning!

I have a poster by my desk which says exactly that. Because I have to constantly remind myself to take a break every so often - for my own health's sake as much as anything!

It's so easy just to keep sitting at your desk and to keep on working. Once you have taken a break it's so tough to get back into the swing of where you have got to. And I still remember one boss who once tried to convince me that "lunch is for wimps". A stupid comment, but one which has stayed with me...

Of course, scripture is filled with instructions about recreation and relaxation. It's right there in the Ten Commandments. The Good Lord knew we needed this sort of guideline. It’s for our own benefit so we don’t burn ourselves out.

Yet, how often do we see people doing exactly the opposite. Even on their supposed day-off you can catch them working. And often, their bosses are in agreement with this!

It does matter that we are obedient - to God. You are of more use to him if you recharge your batteries regularly. And then you can give Him your best.

I'm off to lunch now.

Exodus 34:21 (NIV)
"Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest."

6 January 2015

Building Up People

Forgive me, if I have a bit of a rant today.

Are you one of those people who simply love to criticise people? Pointing out faults in someone's genuine attempts to do things. Yes, they don't get things right 100%, but at least they are trying to do something...

But you just love to pick holes in what they do.

You're not helping. You do know that, don't you?

And if you're not helping, you are potentially being more destructive than you are constructive.

Of course, knocking people down is easier. To build up a brick wall can take a skilled bricklayer a whole morning's work; perhaps a whole day. To knock the same wall down? Why, a swift kick in the right place could bring the whole thing down in seconds.

Let's face it, it is your choice whether you want to be constructive or destructive. Your choice, whether you want to build up, or to pull down.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

4 January 2015

A Time For Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

I mentioned yesterday that it can be a real challenge to work out what I can change. There is a whole list of things that I would desperately love to improve upon, however it always seems to be something to plan to do  tomorrow; never anything I can do today. And tomorrow never seems to come!

Life could be so much better! And yet, some things seem to be impossible to change.

I have a good feeling about this year. I believe that 2015 could be the year when it all starts coming together... when, finally, it all begins to work...

I know that I cannot control the different things that happen. The ebb and flow of life.

However, I do have a degree of control over how I respond to each event as it occurs.

And I'll strive to discover what God wants me to learn, while trying to live a life that reflects His light to a dark world.

2 January 2015

Seeking Inspiration

I must admit that I wasn't feeling particularly good on New Year's Day. I was still tired, recovering from a busy New Year's Eve where I strived to be as pleasant as I could be while feeling totally like a fish out of water. Social gatherings are always so draining. I had got out of one party successfully earlier that day on some pretext but there was no way I could avoid this second... By 1am on New Year's Day I was running on empty, so we made our excuses and left...

It was now New Year's Day morning, 8am. I crawled out of bed and made tea for my wife and a large coffee for myself. I was looking for something awesome to lift me up and set me off on the right path for the New Year. I had another party to go to that night (this was a family do, couldn't cry off this one either!) so I desperately needed some meaningful input!

The most inspiring thing on the telly at the time was "Bee Movie", an animated tale about bees, work ethics and the dangers of litigation - a distraction, but only for a short while. Mostly spotting which character actors were doing the voices...

I took time to read my emails. Topics were as you might expect - primarily related to goal setting for 2015, or what was on offer in the January sales. There were a large number of people on Facebook wishing everyone well for the New Year. Then the computer rebelled, kept falling over, and I ended up shutting it down. A new PC for the New Year looks like it's becoming an essential.

In the end I started out on the kitchen cleaning and buried myself deeply in the task. I ended up spending the best of the morning on it.

A blog post that I found during the course of my afternoon's sit down revealed (at last!) a little nugget of wisdom from J.R.R. Tolkien:

"Still 'round the corner there may wait, a new road or secret gate."

This comes from a poem by Tolkien, I've now found the whole thing here. At last, something a bit more inspirational!

Finally, I found myself going back to dwell on the Serenity Prayer, written by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971):

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I'm still seeking. There's a whole bunch of things I need to change, it's just that some things seem impossible to change, no matter how I try. But perhaps I haven't found the 'secret gate' yet...

I know that nothing is impossible for God, and He knows the things that I struggle with. I bend His ear with them often enough.

The good stuff - it is still out there, however somethimes it takes quite a while to find it. I'll keep searching. :)