gifts, influences and confidence 

The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

Something i’ve always really struggled with is the concept of God having a plan for each of our lives. I really struggle to make my brain comprehend, or be comfortable enough to not comprehend, how this can be.  The cell material on the Wednesday of summer school was titled “playing my part”, and it got to me so much that i legged it out of the room at the end and hid in my room in tears for 20 minutes. This was partly because one of my friends has been dealing with something for some time and was particularly struggling last week, and i felt absolutely helpless. I was doing and saying everything i could think of, but it made no difference, and the stuff in cells that day made me really upset that i didn’t know what ‘part to play’ in helping her. On top of that, we were spoken to about being what God has made us to be, and using our gifts. Again, this is something that always stresses me out because i have no idea what my ‘gifts’ are, or how to use them. I don’t have a high opinion of myself and i find it very easy to find the negatives in most things in life, but particularly when it comes to myself. So when given a sheet that asked us to describe our ‘shape’ – (Spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality and experiences) – i instantly became really negative and down on myself. When trying to think about what ‘gifts’ i have, both spiritual gifts and otherwise, i couldn’t come up with anything at all. Literally everything was negative – bad at communicating, too quiet, awkward, not very good at anything at all. Now granted it was Wednesday and i was relatively sleep deprived by this point, so my negativeness was probably exacerbated by that, but still, i couldn’t come up with anything. I desperately want to follow God’s plan for me and do what he wants me to do and be a good Christian, but i don’t know how, and I didn’t seem to have any of the spiritual gifts that were listed. 

So I was extra quick to argue last week when someone said to me that I was a good example to others. ‘No I’m not – I’m useless’ was something close to my response. I really struggle to understand how to listen to God, or feel him, or follow his plans. I want to live out my life for him but I don’t really understand how. Then Matt explained that actually, I already am. Several people came to me last week wanting to talk. They needed advice or support and came to me for help. His point was that this wasn’t just coincidence or because I happened to be about, but because God shows through me. God is in me, and has made me exactly the way I am, for his purpose. He’s using me without me even realising it. And if this is true, it terrifies me!! 

Another thing that really struck me last week was when during the talk from a guest speaker about social media, he asked if anyone had a blog. I kept quiet, but I heard several people, maybe even as many as half a dozen, say my name. Not only that, but a handful of people said to me during the week that they missed reading my blog coz I hadn’t posted in a while. And on top of that, I’ve had so many comments and messages from people, including some people I’d never expect, after my post last night..about how they liked it and how encouraging it was. I was so surprised that 1, people actually read what I write on here, and 2, that people actually liked it and got something from it. I’ve always thought of communication as being something I’m bad at, but maybe by writing on here, I’m utilising a gift in a different way? 

As I’ve written before, the thought that I could actually be any kind of influence on people really scares me. Firstly, I find it really hard to comprehend that anyone would look to someone like me for an example, that’s honestly beyond me. But the fact that I could influence people without realising it scares me more, and really makes me consider the way I live my life. When I think of the people I look up to and who encourage and inspire me most, it really really scares me to think that people could be looking at me in the same light. 

I don’t have much confidence and 4 different people have spoken to me today about it and said they wished I had more. About a year on from when they first quoted this at me, one of my favourite people told me again today that the lyrics of “Read all about it” remind them of me – 

“You’ve got the words to change a nation but you’re biting your tongue, you’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence afraid you’ll say something wrong…” 

And it’s true. Even posting these blog posts absolutely terrifies me. I read over them so many times, my heart pounds out of my chest, and if I’m honest, I even filter which friends the post shows to on Facebook, because I’m never brave enough to let everyone read it. But I’m coming to realise that I maybe need to be braver, more confident, and worry less about ‘saying the wrong thing’. As I said in my last post, I need to recognise when God is working in me and using me, and I really think this could be at least one way God is using me to help and encourage other people. This could be part of his ‘plan’ for me. Couldn’t it? 

“So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what God wants.” Ephesians 5:15-17

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Open my eyes

“Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart, I want to see you” 

So it’s that time of year again for the post-summer school post. I’ve been wanting to and trying to post something on here for months but couldn’t quite work out what i was trying to say, and have actually been trying to write this post since Sunday so not sure where it’s really going.

The Thursday night at music school is something i always look forward to. A lot of people dread it – it’s colloquial name of the ‘greeting meeting’ probably gives away why that is, but i actually look forward to it. It’s real name is Reflections, and that’s exactly what it lets you do. I enjoy it because it lets you reflect on life – where things are at, how relationships are etc, but most importantly it’s a solid few hours where you can sit and really reflect on where your relationship is at with God. I’m well aware that you shouldn’t simply do this once a year, but there’s something about the atmosphere and the amount of supportive, clued-up, often like-minded people to talk to about things that makes it easier, and more special.

Now to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure i’ve been to a ‘greeting meeting’ and not cried. Maybe 1 out of 9 at the most. And this year I wasn’t planning to either. I was content to just sit and listen and wasn’t expecting much from it. To give some background and to save you having to search for last year’s post-ss post, i had been convinced that God simply wasn’t real. It was all too far fetched and unrealistic, and i found it easier to deny it all completely rather than try to deepen my understanding or comprehension of it all. A year on from then, my view has definitely changed. I know God’s there. I still have doubts, frequently, and i can’t even begin to explain or work out why I know he’s there, but He just is. 

I know God’s there, but i really don’t understand how to let him in. There was a lot said last week about giving, or surrendering, your all to God, and i simply don’t have a clue how to do this. And i really really want to. Despite my reluctance to get involved, this year on the Thursday night i ended up sat on my own for a while thinking and really trying to talk to and connect with God. And i was getting nowhere. I was desperate to talk to someone but i’m terrible at asking for help..I always feel like I’m just annoying whoever I talk to, and quite frankly didn’t know who to go to. I was getting more and more frustrated and out of the corner of my eye I saw a friend walk past and seriously hoped they’d come and speak to me. Next thing i knew, he had sat down next to me and was nudging me on the shoulder. I was so relieved i could have cried right there and then! I’m terrible at explaining how i feel and talking about myself, but somehow i eventually managed to get there. I explained how i desperately wanted to let God in, but i didn’t know how. I’ve always had issues with feeling lonely. Part of that is because i’ve never really felt like, and still often don’t really feel like i fit in anywhere. But I explained that i was pretty convinced that the rest of it was because there was a gap where God should be, i just didn’t know how to let him in. I was pretty worked up but i think the main conclusion we came to was that I need to put in the effort. I’d made the first step by wanting to let God in, but i had to make an effort to do that. You wouldn’t expect to suddenly develop a really close friendship with someone if one of you didn’t put in any effort would you? The other thing I need to do, or stop doing, is ignoring God when he is very clearly there or working in my life. I find it easy to put things down to coincidence, and I need to stop that and realise when it’s God making things happen. For example, when that friend came and sat down next to me right when I needed him, it wasn’t just coincidence. God knew I needed help and support and that was the person he knew could help me most in that moment. And I’m so grateful both to God and that person for being there. 

So that’s the next step for me – putting in effort to really let God in and to get to know Him. It’s all very easy to say you pray lots or read your bible often, but actually doing it takes time and effort and discipline, and it’s something I’m really trying hard to do better. I find it so difficult to keep up enthusiasm and momentum once that week of music school is over – all of the people who encourage me most in my faith I don’t get to see very often, so without that regular support it gets even harder, but I’ve read my bible every day since that Thursday night, and prayed every day, and that’s how I need to keep going with things. 

A few people prayed with me last week (have you ever had someone sit beside you and pray for you? For me, it’s one of the most special, intimate, emotional experiences ever!)  and if you’re that way inclined I’d really appreciate the odd prayer, because I don’t find any of this easy and I’m super scared my doubts will get the better of me and my faith yet again!

You are holy holy holy, I want to see you”


Stay tuned for more summer school related posts soon…there’s so much in my head I just need to make it make sense on paper ūüôā