There is Hope

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Imagine you are trapped in a small glass box. The only way you can get out is to smash the glass box. However this leads to you getting cut with the shards of glass. The pain takes up all your attention and you forget you are no longer trapped in the box.

Sometimes things happen in our lives which cause us pain; physically, mentally or spiritually. When things like this happen it’s hard to see how this could ever be part of God’s plan for your life. A lot of the time when we find ourselves in these situations we focus solely on the hurt and find it hard to see the bigger picture. All we see are the wounds from the shards of glass, however if we persevere someday we will see that we are now free from the glass box.

In John 13:7, Jesus speaks to his disciples and says “you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” Sometimes we can feel this way too, but from this verse we are given hope that although we have to endure terrible suffering it is for a bigger purpose. Of course, sometimes it can be so difficult to see this but if we put our trust in God and persevere we will one day be able to see the reason why.

One of the best examples of this, is surfer, Bethany Hamilton. When Bethany was 13 she was in a shark attack, whilst out surfing in her home town in Hawaii, causing her to lose most of her arm. Her main concern was that her accident would prevent her from surfing, and at first it made it much harder. But this amazing girl persevered and has now helped many others who have had accidents leading to amputations through her charity and despite her disability, became a professional surfer!

She is an inspiration to so many people and a great reminder that there is hope! 1 Peter 1:6 says “So be truly glad, there is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.”

Remember, through Christ there is hope!

Love Yourself

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What if we spoke to other people the way we speak to ourselves?

Over the past five days I was at an event run by my diocese called “On the Move” which is a street reach mission trip which aims to spread God’s word and love through serving others. This year we roamed Letterkenny in our (very bright) yellow t-shirts. On the back of them was printed a part of Mark 12:31, “Love your neighbour.” But on the Sunday morning a women came up to me and a few others and said “don’t forget to love yourself, that’s just as important” she was referring to the rest of the verse, “Love your neighbour as yourself

The women quickly walked on, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what she had said for the rest of the day. It’s true that sometimes in the midst of our busy lives we focus so much on how we treat others that we forget about ourselves. Jesus doesn’t tell us to love our neighbour and hate ourselves, he asks us to love our neighbour and ourselves equally.

I feel that in today’s society people (including myself) sometimes think that if they love themselves it makes them cocky or big headed-it doesn’t! You can still be grounded and love yourself, in fact, the two go hand in hand.

I understand completely that sometimes it’s harder than others to love yourself, but in these situations I take a step back and remember to whom I belong.  In Ephesians, Paul describes us as “God’s masterpiece” and in James it says “we, out of all creation, became His prized possession.”

God sees the darkest parts of us and yet loves us as if we were perfect. We need to know that we are significantly loved and that we can love ourselves, just as we love the people we surround ourselves with.

The Masks That We Wear

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Today I was reading an article about the beautiful Cara Delevigne (my eyebrow role model) and she was speaking candidly about her struggle with depression. The journalist then commented saying how shocked she was to hear these words coming from the mouth of one of the world’s most renowned super models who supposedly “has it all.” Yes, her exterior comes across as if she is a girl full of fun and laughter, but below the surface there is much more.

It’s the same in our own lives. With the growing phenomenon of social media, people are sharing what seems to be their whole life with the world, but are we really? Most of the time we just post the best parts. You don’t see many Instagram posts saying “throwback to the day I couldn’t get out of bed.”  Of course it’s ok not to post every little thing that happens to you online, in fact I don’t recommend doing that. The thing with this is that it easy to think that everyone has a better life than you, you think you must be the only person to have a rubbish day. But trust me everyone has those days.

It’s not only online that we cover our real problems with a mask. I know for me my mask is my extremely smiley and loud personality. Yes, usually that is how I genuinely act and feel, but not all the time. And the only person who I’m affecting is myself. Imagine every time someone asks you how you are, you answered truthfully. Most of the time I say “good, thanks” without even thinking about how I really feel.

But the thing is, its ok! It’s ok not to always feel ok all the time. In fact, it’s more than ok. In the Bible Jesus speaks on the sermon of the mount about how broken people are blessed. The amazing thing is that God doesn’t only love us if we are perfect, He loves us for exactly who we are, unconditionally. We don’t need masks, in fact they are pointless when it comes to God because he sees the depths of our hearts, he sees the hurt and the pain and the laughter and joy. Not one bit of us goes unnoticed by him, “the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”(Matthew 10:30)

Just remember, the next time you are putting on your mask, you don’t need to! God sees the real you anyway and still wholly and unconditionally loves you.

He’s Got it Covered

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This week my mum and I took on the challenge of painting my bedroom in our holiday house in Bushmills. Originally the walls were painted bright pink and purple, looking back it wasn’t the best decision-but hey we all make mistakes. At long last my sister and I decided we wanted a change and we opted for the mature (and slightly boring) colour, cream. The room eventually will hopefully have a vintage theme, but for now it’s a bit of a mess to say the least.

Over the duration of two days we painted the wall with three coats of cream paint and the pink and purple is still shining through. At certain points I thought we were never going to get rid of the bright pink and purple, however I am now hopeful that with one more coat the pink and purple walls will only be a distant memory.

This got me thinking about our lives and our sins. Sometimes I find myself thinking about something I’ve done and it’s hard to forgive myself so I try to forget about it. But somehow, just like the pink and purple paint, it lingers in the back of my mind. When this happens it’s hard to comprehend how anyone could forgive you and it’s even harder to move on from it.

But the great thing is, God isn’t like the cream paint that didn’t completely cover the previous colours. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness and he covers our sins and transforms us. This way it is so much easier to move on knowing we have been made clean, that we have been given yet another chance. Of course, we still need to have integrity, we can’t use God’s grace and forgiveness as an excuse to do whatever we want.

Isaiah 1:18 speaks beautifully of how God forgives,  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. “

It’s so great knowing that no sin is too big or too small for God to forgive. He paints over our sins, so we no longer have to worry about them. Jesus already died for all our sins even before we had sinned. Amazing.

Just remember, once we’ve asked for forgiveness God has got it covered.

The Non-existence of Normal

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The other day I came across a Buzzfeed post in which women of all different shapes and sizes were trying on clothes which were labelled as “one size fits all.” The women each tried on the different items and usually it only fitted one of the girls well, if even. One item which stood out for me was this ridiculous skirt which didn’t fit anyone. This skirt, that was so called “suitable for all body shapes and sizes” went round one woman’s leg and that was it! At one stage one of the girls even said it made her feel bad that she didn’t fit into something that was supposed to fit everyone.

This got me thinking about our society and our obsession with being “normal”. That video was a visual representation of our society, as girls squeezed into clothes which were labelled as “one size” it was showing exactly what’s happening today, people are being squeezed into a supposedly normal-shaped mould. But this is impossible. We have all been made uniquely by God for a unique purpose. This completely contradicts the media’s idea that there is one type of beauty, one normal size, one way to be.

But that’s the thing, we can’t be defined by this, we can’t have one type of person. We were made to stand out,to be unique, we shouldn’t feel bad about being different, but instead embrace it. Yet again and again people talk of being “normal.” To me this makes no sense how can we be unique and normal? Surely being normal suggests that you have to be like others to be accepted and that’s just not true.

The same goes for being a christian. Many, including myself, thought that to be a “good christian” I had to do certain things, act a certain way, but in fact God doesn’t want us to try and be like everyone else, but to be different. Bob Goff speaks of this in his book, Love Does, saying “God doesn’t want us to be typical.” And this is so true, in Romans 12:2 it says, “2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” In order to fulfil God’s purpose for us as individuals, we have to embrace our uniqueness.

So the next time you feel different or don’t feel like you fit in, remember no one should have to “fit in.” You are “wonderfully and fearfully made” by the King of Kings, you were made for a purpose, a unique purpose, so embrace it.

Be Bold!

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Everyone has that one place where everything feels perfect, where they are infinite and feel like no one can stop them being the way they want to be, but what happens when you leave it? Suddenly the soft sand that hugs your feet becomes the tiny pieces of gravel that shoot canons of pain through your soles.  Once again the insecurity begins to fill up inside of you, and you begin to change yourself to fit the mould of society. But really our place of refuge and comfort should not be a physical place, but instead be God. In Psalm 91:2 David shouts to the Lord saying, “You are my place of safety and protection.” Therefore wherever we are in are day to day lives we should remember that God is always there and that we can always be in our place of comfort if we just have faith.

Sometimes, yes, we fight for our individuality, but most of the time we fight a battle with ourselves, we fight against how we really feel until finally we win and our beliefs become the same as the person next to us, but why? God created us to be bold in our faith and to not be shaken by what others think, but yet we are sometimes scared for people to know how we really feel and what we really believe in.

How I feel on standing strong for God is definitely summed up in Philippians 1 verse 20, “For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ.” This verse really struck a chord with me when I thought about the situation in parts of the world where Christians are being persecuted for their faith. It made me think that if they can stand strong in their faith in the midst of such hatred and danger, what is stopping me?