Just be kind.


How hard is it to be kind? 

This post is inspired by a clip I saw from today’s episode of This Morning. The clip was of Philip and Holly interviewing a mother whose teenage daughter took her own life just 2 weeks ago, aged only 14. The mother explained that they discovered only after her death that she had been been the victim of relentless online bullying, which led to her suicide. The (exceptionally brave!!) mother described her daughter as a bright, vivacious, happy girl who always looked out for other people. And yet the girl was bullied so badly over social media – from name calling to nasty and mean comments getting inside her head –  that she felt she had no alternative than to take her own life. It was heartbreaking to watch and very difficult not to get emotional listening her grief stricken mother. 

But this type of story is far too common. The other lady sat on the This Morning sofa was also the mother of a boy who took his own life for similar reasons last year. It’s happens so often, and it’s just not right. It shouldn’t be this hard to be kind. 

Bullying is always terrible, whatever form it takes; whether physical, verbal, in person or online. Cyber bullying is interesting however in that a lot of the time, people probably don’t even consider themselves to be bullying someone. You’re so remote from the situation, that you don’t see what impact your one sentence text could have. You don’t see what your ‘bit of banter’ in the group chat is doing to someone’s self esteem. You don’t see that you’re the tenth person to say something nasty to that person in the one day. You don’t see the consequences of what you’re saying – possibly until it’s too late. 


So why is it so easy to be mean or nasty? As the second mother on This Morning, who’s been campaigning in schools against bullying since her son died, said: Why is being kind considered ‘not cool’? How did that happen? Has this always been the case or is it getting worse? She made a point that ‘role models'(??) on reality tv get more coverage for being nasty or mean or rude than the ones who are nice, and she has a point. It normalises it, and kids (or adults for that matter) think it’s fine to make fun of someone or be mean to them. And it’s so not. 

In band last week, the person doing devotions mentioned that it was apparently ‘random acts of kindness day’ – but made the comment that we shouldn’t need a day set aside to be kind, and that it’s really quite sad that it’s even a thing. And it’s so true. Not just as Christian’s, but as humans beings, we shouldn’t need to be told to be kind. Why is it seemingly so difficult?! 

I’m not claiming that I’m perfect or that I’ve never said anything nasty about someone – I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t. Plus it’s very easy to get sucked up in the moment and say something when in a certain group that you’d never say if you weren’t with them – I’ve been there many times. And while it’s easy to forget, stories like this really make you conscious of just how much of an impact what you say and do actually can have. But it shouldn’t take a tragic story like this to make you realise that. It should be obvious that being kind is better than being nasty. 

If you’ve read anything on my blog before you’ll know I’m not great at face to face interaction, but I am a fan of social media and texting. And if I see that someone is struggling, I will frequently text or message to say I’m thinking about them, or I hope they’re ok – regardless of how close I am to the person. (It’s actually something I think inherited from my mum, cos she’s always doing the same!) Sometimes I worry people think I’m odd, but I’d much rather they thought I was strange for sending them a kind message and caring, than saying something nasty or being horrible and ignoring them. You never really know what people are going through, and your message could be the thing that tips them over the edge, or makes their day. It’s up to you which way you tip the scales. 


Never underestimate the impact a kind one line message could have. I actually got a text tonight that said ‘How are you today my friend?’ And the gratitude I felt when reading it – upon seeing that someone was interested and that they cared – was great. And actually, not only does being kind benefit the people you are kind to, but from a selfish point of view, it usually makes you feel pretty nice too. 

This is a pretty messy post, but I think it’s clear what the message of it is. And I would encourage everyone – young or old – to listen. Be kind. Always. 


Ask and it shall be given? 

So I was looking on Pinterest last night for the C.S Lewis quote about friendship (“friendship begins in that moment when one person says to another: ‘What, you too? I thought I was the only one!'”) and came across a tonne of CS Lewis quotes that I instantly liked/agreed with/could relate to. Then I saw this one, which reminded me of something that was going through my head a couple of weeks ago that I almost wrote about then forgot about/never got around to. 


I had opened the bible app on my phone, and the verse of the day was this: 

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew‬ ‭7:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Which instantly made me think of the (really very cheesy) Salvation Army Chorus: 

Ask! Ask! Ask! and it shall be given;   Seek! Seek! Seek! and you’re sure to find; Knock! Knock! Knock! and the door will open; For God! God! God! is so good and kind!  

When I initially read it I found it really encouraging. And then I properly thought about it. (Thinking is always the downfall!!) So my thought process was; is that really how it works? If we ask for something, we’ll get it? If we search for something hard enough, we’ll find it? If we try (the door), we’ll get there (get in)? Because to me, that contradicts a whole load of other bible stuff and what we’ve always been taught. 

So based on that, I really don’t know how to interpret that verse properly. It all comes back to the topic of prayer again. Now, surely that’s not supposed to be like a shopping list? You’re not meant to go to God and ask for all of these things you want, and he won’t just grant you them either. If I pray and ask for £1 million, I won’t suddenly get it. If I pray and ask for a relative to be healed, that won’t necessarily happen either. He’s not a genie with a magic lamp. But that bible verse seems to suggest so? It seems to say that if you ask for something, you’ll get it. (The next verse goes on to say that God is good and therefore will give us good things) On the other hand though, surely if I’m praying that I’ll become closer to God, or that I’ll experience him, out of a place of pure desire to follow him or whatever the phrasing should be, surely if he’s good and gives us good thing, he’d want to ‘grant me that’? Maybe I’m reading it out of context, but I’ve read round about it and it doesn’t seem to clear anything up for me! 

So my big question really is, how does prayer actually work? The thank you and the sorry bits I get. But the asking bit, I don’t understand. The praying for specific people, I don’t understand. (If God has a plan/a will for us all blah blah blah…then surely me asking for something will make no difference to that outcome?) Are we just supposed to be super vague and ask for ‘help’ or ‘support’ or ‘guidance’, then trust that he’ll do those things (even if we don’t realise it)? Ask and it shall be given seems pretty literal, and although many people don’t take a huge amount of the bible literally, I don’t see how else you could interpret that verse? 


I’d love to be able to agree with and believe in what this quote is saying. I would love to think that because I’m actively seeking God, and seeking joy, that I would find it. But I just don’t understand how the theory and theology behind it actually works or makes sense. 

So, answers on a postcard please. (Well actually, fb comment or message would be more practical…) I’ve had similar conversations to this with people before, but I’m interested to hear what others might think. 
#confusedchristian 😂

Bullet journalling 

So I was up til almost 3am last night finishing uni work and I’ve been shattered all day. And I did exercise for a change, which made me even more tired. Now I’m lying in bed and can’t get to sleep because I can’t seem to stop thinking. Not amused. So I thought I’d try and write. 

I came across something on Pinterest last week called Bullet Journalling. It basically involves taking a notebook and making it into the kind of diary/journal/planner than suits your own needs. And you can make it as simple or as pretty as you want (and seemed like a good excuse to buy more pens!!). As I said in my last post, I’ve been trying to improve. Improve my productivity, improve my exercise levels, improve myself. Be better. Be more present, more positive. And using this journal seems like a good way to track and observe that.

It involves a future log, monthly and daily logs, and ‘collections’ which can be just about anything. You can track things like sleep, water intake, household chores, TVs series you’re watching, literally anything you like. 

 

My favourite page so far is my gratitude and prayer log for this month. It’s something I’d already started towards the end of January, but I love seeing it all written down together like this. I find it so easy to be negative about things – life, me, anything really, so It’s nice to see a record of all the good things that have happened this month – both big and very small, random things – that I’m grateful for. And the daily ‘person to pray for’ helps me remember to think about, and pray for, someone other than myself. Something I think is often easy to forget. 

This next page is definitely my favourite collection page so far. My bookshelf. As I read a book I’ll colour it in, and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll have a full and colourful page! It’s maybe not such a productive page, but it’s fun and will hopefully encourage me to read a bit more.

I’m excited to keep adding to it with lots of random things as well as real helpful trackers to help me stay happy and healthy. Cos it’s not always easy. I just find it far too natural to complain, or moan, or be negative/scared/worried. The list goes on. It’s easier to think of negative ‘what if’s than it is positive. Easier to think I can’t do something than can. And I would love to be able to change that. I’ve recently come to the realisation though that you can’t expect things to improve – circumstances, attitude etc. – if you don’t make any effort to make them change. It’s not a difficult concept to grasp, but so often we expect everything to be bright and shiny without doing anything to make that happen. So that’s what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to take control of my situations, attitudes, thoughts and feelings, so that I can be the best version of myself. For my own sake and sanity, more than for any one else’s benefit. (All help/support/encouragement is appreciated!!!) 

This post is probably terrible and I am finally almost asleep (I hope!), but thought I’d end it with a quote page from my new bullet journal that I think fits quite well with this ramble! 

Question time

So I’ve been looking at ways to be more positive and productive, and ways to improve myself. I was having a look at “30 day challenges” on Pinterest mainly just for fun (Pinterest is by the way one of my favourite ways to procrastinate). Squat challenges, planking, photo challenges, self-care challenges, writing challenges, the list goes on. The writing ones gave me some ideas for blog posts, but rather than write 30 separate posts, I picked a few of the questions and made them into one post. And I’ve always loved filling out things like this. 

So, here we are. A random post about me. Random facts, ‘interesting’ info, and some real insights into who I am and what makes me happy/scared/inspired/influenced etc. etc.

10 things that make you really happy:

  • Spending time with my parents
  • Spending time with Matt
  • Real, honest, deep conversation
  • Laughing until your insides hurt with good friends
  • Being on holiday
  • Being on a beach (preferably a sunny one!)
  • Feeling appreciated
  • Sleeping and/or lying in bed
  • Stationary
  • Books or TV shows that you can really relate to/connect to

 

Five places you want to visit:

  • Hawaii
  • Chicago
  • China (great wall)
  • Rome
  • Barcelona

 

Five ways to win your heart:

  • Bring me chocolate
  • Be honest
  • Take me on holiday
  • Take me to a beach
  • Let me sleep

 

Something someone told you about yourself that you never forgot:

  • Sharon telling me that the song “Read all about it” by Emeli Sandi reminds her of me as (apparently!) I’ve got so much good to say but I don’t always say it. She told me she was excited to see me becoming more confident because everyone deserved to see what she’d been privileged to see now she had gotten to know me better.
  • I’ve always remembered it for several reasons, but mainly because it made me believe in myself and be braver to be exactly that.

 

3 pet peeves:

  • Any kind of eating noise
  • People who use the word ‘sick’ to describe having a cold or flu
  • Using old fashioned/out of date language or rules just for the sake of it (example: using words like ‘furlough’ and ‘cartridge’ in the Salvation Army in the 21st  century. I know why we do it, but seriously, just call it holiday and offering/collection!!)

 

Write about someone who inspires you

  • My Grandpa
    • He is 83, and has more energy than I do at 23. He is constantly out and about, always on the go, and spends a huge amount of his time giving to others. He’s always visiting people who are ill or can’t get out or just need a friend, or giving his time to help people in any number of ways. He inspires me to be better and be more giving and generous.

 

List 10 songs you love

  • For Good – Wicked
  • How to save a life – The Fray
  • Blessings – Laura Story
  • The Story – Brandi Carlisle
  • Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol
  • He will not let go – Laura Story
  • Keep Breathing – Ingrid Michaelson
  • Just like heaven – Katie Melua
  • Read all about it – Emeli Sandi
  • I Am – Nichole Nordeman

 

Something you struggle with:

  • Confidence – being nervous/anxious for things

 

Something you dream of doing:

  • Swimming with turtles in the wild (and might be able to do it on our honeymoon!!!)

 

Words of wisdom that speak to you:

I really struggled with this question because there are SO many quotes and ‘words of wisdom’ that I love.

  • ‘Everything happens for a reason’ – love the idea, but not always sure I agree with it
  • “I hope you know you’re capable and brave and significant. Even when it feels like you’re not” – This definitely speaks to me.
  • “Be an encourager, the world already has enough critics”
  • “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about” – Too true!

 

Something you always think “What if..” about:

  • What if I can’t do this?! (With ‘this’ being just about anything!!)

     

    Favourite movies you never get tired of watching:

    • Mrs Doubtfire
    • Home Alone 1&2
    • Just Like Heaven
    • Forrest Gump
    • Matilda
    • Many Disney or Pixar films

     

    Something that you miss:

    • School homework (random yes, but it was routine and had instructions and I preferred that to uni work!)
    • But right now, My Grandpa, as it’s 11 years today since he passed away. Can’t believe it’s been so long, and I really wish he were here today to see who I’ve become and what I’m up to. I hope he’d be proud.

     

    5 Books on your bookshelf right now:

    • How to be here – Rob Bell
    • The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
    • The Diary of Anne Frank
    • One flew over the cuckoo’s nest – Ken Kesey
    • Sane New World – Ruby Wax

     

    3 things that make you laugh out loud:

    • Miranda (tv show)
    • Friends (tv show), even after all this time!
    • My little pal Sophie!

     

    Five greatest accomplishments so far:

    • School Exam results – they may not really matter now, but I was hugely proud of them at the time. 8 1’s at standard grade, 6 higher A’s, 2 B’s and an advanced higher A. (if only I could get that many A’s at uni!!!)
    • Making it through my psychology uni degree – we started with around 600 on the course, and only about 150 I think now remain in 4th I’m proud to be one of them. (And will be prouder if/once I graduate!!)
    • Being on Junior Camp staff – this is a random one and for most people would not be an achievement, but given how shy I’ve always been, it was a huge deal for me.
    • Playing a trumpet solo at my final school concert in Hamilton Town Hall (seats about 800 I think?) – standing on that stage on my own, with just the piano to accompany me, was petrifying. I still can’t quite believe I managed it. (Although I’m still annoyed by that one note I split…)
    • This is only 4… but i’m struggling to come up with a fifth!

     

    10 people who have influenced you and how (all of these people have influenced me in way more ways than what I’ve mentioned – as have many many more people – but trying to keep it brief!)

    • Dad – seems obvious that your parents would influence you, and mine have for the better in many, many ways. But the value I always think I learn the most from my dad is to be generous. Not just in terms of money, but in terms of your time too.
    • Mum – again I have been influenced in more ways than I’ll realise by my mum, but most of all she shows me how important it is to care about people, and to support people, particularly when they need it most.
    • Matt – over the past 9 years his outgoing, extroverted personality has rubbed off a bit and has helped me become less shy and much more confidant. It’s the most cliché phrase, but I really would be a much different, lesser version of myself today if it hadn’t been for his influence.
    • Rachel – has influenced me by never giving up on me. She’s seen every side of me; good, bad and in-between, and has always stuck by me and this has in turn taught me to do the same with other people too.
    • Sharon – has influenced me by always making time for me – being there for me and listening to my endless moans and dramas and worries. She’s always encouraged me to be confident in who I am and not settle for less than I deserve or am capable of.
    • Hannah – my dad’s cousin’s daughter. We’ve only ever met each other twice I think, but my Nana introduced us and we used to email and MSN back and forth lots as teenagers. I haven’t seen her in years but do keep up to date on Facebook, and she constantly inspires me. (And probably has no clue!!) She has had some rough things to cope with in recent years, but is always positive, full of smiles and full of love for everyone. Her FB posts and Snapchats always make me smile, and remind me to try to find joy in everything.
    • Grandparents – I am fortunate enough to still have two of them living today, but the main influence I’ve always felt from all four of them was in terms of commitment. They were all fiercely loyal and committed to the Salvation Army in particular, and I admire that trait in them. My Nana was immensely proud to be the first female in the band at Hamilton, and my Gran recently received commendation for being in the choir for 60 years! At 83, my grandpa still attends every Sunday, plays in the band, helps with the accounting and stands in the town centre selling the papers. I struggle to have that level of commitment and I’m 60 years younger than he is. I am inspired by their commitment.
    • David – Has influenced me by his sheer kindness. It always amazes me how selflessly kind and generous he is, and it always inspires me to be a better person, and friend.
    • Fiona – Initially she influenced me by making me realise just how much of an influence I can have on people, which made me conscious and more aware of how I behave and act. As we’ve become closer, she’s influenced me by showing me time and time again how to be strong, and how to be a great friend. 
    • Adam – has influenced me by showing me what it’s like to be truly passionate about something, and to follow that passion. And he reminds me to find the potential good, both in myself and others. 

     

    5 weaknesses I have:

    • Procrastination
    • Indecisiveness
    • Lack of confidence in myself and abilities
    • Excessive worrying
    • Tendency to give up on things

     

    5 Strengths: (why are strengths always much harder to come up with than weaknesses?!) 

    • Listening
    • Perceptive of other people’s feelings
    • Passionate about people
    • Loyalty
    • Empathy

     

    If you had one superpower, what would it be and why?

    • Telepathy, without a doubt
    • I would love to be able to hear/see what people are thinking. Not necessarily because I’m nosey (although I’d be lying to say that wouldn’t be part of it!), but mainly to see if what goes through my head is remotely similar to what other people think about! Plus, if you could know what other people really did think of you, it would remove the annoying habit of worrying what people think.

     

    What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

    • My instant response is to say ‘anything’. Not out of self-pity, but because I’d really love to be great/excellent/amazing at something. Anything. I’m decent at a few things, and maybe a tad above average at the odd thing, but I’m not great at anything. Or I don’t think so.
    • For a more concrete response, I’d say playing the Piano. Or any instrument actually. I learned the keyboard as a child (even sat exams up until grade 5!), but for some bizarre reason, I chose this over the piano. (why?!!) Matt and I have agreed to buy a piano once we’re in the house, and I’m excited to learn how to play it properly.

     

    What do you think people misunderstand about you the most?

    • I think people may assume that because I’m quiet, shy, and introverted, that I’m unfriendly and don’t like to talk. But that’s not true at all.
    • I actually love talking, if it’s something I’m passionate about, or with people I’m really comfortable around.

     

    List 10 things you would tell your 16-year old self if you could:

    • Stop trying so hard to be someone so different from who you are
    • Stop trying so hard to make people like you
    • Spend less time worrying about what everyone thinks of you
    • Have more confidence
    • Start (and keep up) more hobbies
    • Have more fun
    • Learn more about God/Christianity/your own faith before becoming a senior soldier
    • Learn how to use straighteners properly, and stop getting a fringe cut back in
    • Don’t eat nuts – you’ve got an allergy you’ve not discovered yet
    • Figure out what you’re passionate about and go after it (i.e. don’t go to uni to study business, you’ll hate it)

    Five questions you wish you had the answers to: 

    • Is god real/really there? 
    • If so, how do you really experience him/connect to him? 
    • What really happens when you die?  
    • Do other people really overthink things the way I do? 
    • What kind of job/career am I going to have?

    What are you excited about?

    • Getting married and living with Matt in our beautiful new house
    • As well as being scared, I’m excited to finish uni and start figuring out where my life is going to go next