Read all about it

So on the back of my last post, I’ve had a few responses about how I am in fact an influence on others, even if I do think I’m quiet or lacking in confidence. Which got me thinking about something a friend said to me last week.

We were talking about how In girls chorus I had actually participated (relatively enthusiastically, by my standards at least) in the dancing and movement we had to do along with our songs. Anyone who knows me, knows how much I generally hate this kind of thing – both cos I’m very uncoordinated and just generally awkward, and because I’m too shy and get so embarrassed!
So I was talking about how I felt that girls chorus, and summer school in general, had somehow boosted my confidence a bit, and her next response surprised me. She said:

“Have I ever told you that the Emeli Sande song ‘Read all about it’ makes me think of you for that reason? You’ve got so much good to say, but you don’t always say it! I’m excited to see you getting more confident – everyone deserves to see what I’ve been privileged to see now I’ve got to know you a bit better!”

This seriously took me by surprise, partly because it was so unexpected – to be perfectly honest, I’d always felt (and still sometimes do feel!!) like I’m just a bit of an irritation to her! She’s always there for me and listens to all my little dramas and the crazy goings on in my head, and I appreciate that SO much, but I always felt self conscious that maybe to her, I was just an annoying wee girl who always needed advice!! So it was very nice to realise that actually, it was a stronger friendship that I had given it credit to be!
And secondly, to hear that someone thought that what I had to say was worthwhile hearing – I don’t take compliments well (again with the lack of self confidence thing!!) so it was quite humbling to hear!

I’d heard the song loads of times, but straight away put it on and properly listened to the words.

“You’ve got the words to change a nation
But you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
Afraid you’ll say something wrong

If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?
So come on, come on
Come on, come on
You’ve got a heart as loud as lions
So why let your voice be tamed?
Maybe we’re a little different
There’s no need to be ashamed
You’ve got the light to fight the shadows
So stop hiding it away”

And it just clicked. The bits I’ve highlighted are extremely accurate, but on the whole, it described me!
The title of the song is also pretty accurate – Read all about it! I’m not great at talking or articulating myself in person, but I can write things down a lot easier! This blog being the prime example of what I mean!

So to sum up – I’m trying to be more confident. And I am getting there! Myself and the same friend mentioned above have spoken to each other via Facebook or text for a few years, but until maybe a year ago or so, we struggled to have a conversation in person for more than about a minute! Last week however, we sat for nearly four hours chatting (in person!!) about pretty much anything.
I’m getting to that stage (albeit slowly) where I don’t care as much what people think – I’m fed up of trying to be who I think they want me to be, and am (almost) content with just being me!!

“confidence is something you create within yourself by believing in who you are”

Positive influences

Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you

So I’ve been thinking a lot over the past week or so about influences, and God’s been doing that thing where He throws things right in front of me to point it out even more. So I thought I’d write a post!
Summer school especially always makes me realise who the biggest influences on my life are – God, family, friends – whether they realise it or not, certain people in my life are a huge influence on the person I am. The way they lead their lives greatly influences the way I live mine. And I guess that influence can be both positive and negative. And this year I was also painfully aware of the scary, scary thought that I might in fact be an influence on others too.

I’ve started using this ‘Bible in one year’ app on my phone, which gives little devotional readings and a few bible passages to read every day for a year. I’d done today’s and was flicking through the titles for some of the days over the past couple of weeks and found one called ‘Maximising your Influence’, so decided to give it a quick glance.

“Everyone influences someone….. Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted individual will influence 10,000 other people during his or her lifetime.”

Now whether that statement is accurate or not, it’s a pretty daunting prospect. The reading goes on to talk about how no matter how small and insignificant you may think yourself to be, you are always influencing someone, and how that influence can be used for good or evil.
Now I’m a relatively introverted person, and the thought that I may be influencing even a handful of people makes me excruciatingly aware and conscious of my behaviour and how I come across to well, everyone!

As I’m sure my friends (who have to put up with listening to me all the time) will agree, I am good at moaning. I don’t mean to moan, and it’s generally all trivial stuff, but I do it quite a lot. And though it’s not necessarily evil, it’s negative, and my negative attitude about, well, life, I guess, could easily have an effect and influence on someone else’s day, or even on their attitudes or opinions.

And this scares me! I’m not necessarily a negative person, but I don’t have much confidence which makes me see all things relating to myself pretty negatively, and I’m always scared that being quiet (and being quite content with quietness and pondering in general) might come across as just plain miserable!!
And without wanting to sound too cheesy – I love cheering people up and making people feel better (maybe psychology is the right path after all?).. And I want to make a difference to people’s days and peoples lives…in a good way!! So the thought that my negative outlook could be influencing them for the worse makes me determined to change that!

Some of my closest friends are a good few years older than me, and they are a huge, huge influence on my life. (And I sincerely hope they know this!!!!) I don’t know if it’s because they’ve already been through the stages I’m at now, or if it’s just because they’re genuinely lovely people and I’d be inspired and influenced by them at any age (or maybe a bit of both!) but their morals and their take on the world, and on God, definitely influences me.
So, the thought that I may be a similar influence on some of my other closest friends who are maybe that same age gap younger than me? Well that’s scary. As I said, I don’t have any confidence in myself and find it truly difficult to believe that anyone could be influenced by me at all – for good or bad. But even if it’s just one person, it still makes me want to strive to be the best possible version of myself that I can be. At all times. Which is hard!!! But I think it’s worth trying hard to do. I’d be delighted to think I had been half of the positive influence on someone that certain people have been on my life!

So my encouragement of the day is: Be yourself. Be the best possible version of yourself. Be Happy.

Because you never know who you might be influencing!!

You know better than I

So that’s summer school over for another year. (cue tears!!) There’s so much i could (and probably will) write about the week, and what’s going on in my head after it. But for now, i thought i’d write out the testimony i got up and spoke in front of about 120 people on Friday morning. (eek!!) So here it is!

So last year after summer school i was in such a good place as far as my faith was concerned. I was so excited about my relationship with God and was truly trying to live for him. However, as you can probably guess where this is headed, it didn’t last for too long. After a couple of months, a variety of things led me to doubting everything. I’m quite a deep thinker and not a great talker, which combined with the doubting, led me to the state i’ve been in for the past 6 months or so of being convinced that i have no faith and that God didn’t exist. To me, it all seemed too far fetched and too many things didn’t seem to add up. My opinion stood as this when arrived at Summer School this week.

Summer school is somewhere i usually feel closest to God as it’s a rare, uninterrupted week of being able to really focus on him, so feeling convinced he’s not real has had me reduced to tears on multiple occasions this week. I’ve been trying really hard all week to feel God or see some sort of sign that would prove my doubts wrong, as the thought of there being no God at all leaves me feeling pretty terrified and lost to be honest! And i’m pleased to say that my opinion has altered some throughout the week.
It wasn’t a lightening bolt or Damascus Road experience, and i’m by no means doubt free. But a few too many things have happened this week, which could not have been coincidences, and have reminded me of why i used to have faith in God.
Thursday night in particular, i could see from a distance that one of my closest friends was inconsolably upset. Situations like that usually make me exceptionally uncomfortable and reaffirm just how awkward a person i generally am, however before i knew it i was sat beside her chatting and comforting her. But it was the next bit that surprised me the most – as i suddenly felt the need, i guess, to pray with her. Given how quiet i am and that i have never ever prayed out loud on my own, let alone with someone else, the only way i can comprehend why i did it was because God told me to.
Now i’m not saying that i could literally hear a voice, but there was something in me that made me do something SO outside of my comfort zone, and i’m almost comfortable with the fact that it was God speaking through me.

I have been overwhelmed with the support i’ve received this week and i’m so grateful for it, and someone came and shared a verse with me last night which said

“you did not choose Me, I chose you.”

I love how, to me at least, this says that although i was choosing, wrongly, to ignore and deny God and his existence, he still chooses me and is still there, full of love, despite my flaws.

So i still have a long way to go with my faith, and i’m not saying that just because i felt the need to pray with someone, that i instantly know God is there, that’s not my only basis for my faith, clearly. I’ll go into more about that later. But someone else sent me song lyrics this week that i haven’t been able to stop thinking about, and the chorus sort of sums up where i’m at now:

For You know better than I
You know the way
I’ve let go the need to know why
For You know better than I