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  • Using old fashioned/out of date language or rules just for the sake of it (example: using words like ‘furlough’ and ‘cartridge’ in the Salvation Army in the 21st  century.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

    Share your story

    So our songsters (choir) led the morning meeting at a small Salvation Army corps (church!) in Springburn in Glasgow last Sunday morning. They only have a congregation of around 10 – despite having once been a large thriving church, as far as I am aware – and with no offence intended, the average age must be quite a high number. I do however have a huge amount of respect for what they do there – despite being few in number they run mothers and toddlers, a community choir, amongst various other weekly activities. The thing that struck me most on Sunday morning though was that yes, there were only ten of them, and they have no appointed officer (minister), but they all seemed so enthusiastic and passionate. It was evident that they were there for the right reason, and that they truly received blessing from being here. You don’t always (don’t always or don’t usually?!) get that impression from everyone in larger congregations, certainly not in my experience. Anyway as part of the meeting plan, I had been asked to give a personal testimony, and I thought I may as well share it. It’s nothing overly profound and probably doesn’t say anything I’ve not said on here before, but thought I’d post it anyway: 
    My name is Roslyn, and I somehow agreed to share some personal testimony this morning. I thought I’d start by sharing a bit about me…so I’m 23, I’m getting married in August, I’m in the middle of buying my first house, and I’m in my final few months of a degree in psychology at the university of Glasgow. I grew up in the Church of Scotland, then at around 13 started attending the Salvation Army in Hamilton with my grandparents, who have been soldiers in the corps there for the past 60 odd years. After a few months at the corps I got the chance to go to my first Salvation Army music school, and I decided to give it a go. I’ve always been quiet and shy, even more so when I was younger, so at 13, going to an event with around 100 people when I only knew one other person was terrifying, but I can only assume it was God guiding me in a certain direction. I’ve now been to 10 music schools, and it has had a huge impact on my life, both in general and spiritually. It led me to meeting my fiancé – which I presume was a good thing!! 😉 – but it also led me to start worshipping at Clydebank and brought me to where I am now.

    The theme for last year’s music school was ‘Transform’, and we focused on people’s stories and testimonies, God’s plans, and how God can transform our lives for the better. Something that came up a lot during the week and that really struck me was the fact that God takes the lives of ordinary people just like every one of us, and transforms us. You don’t need an incredible background story or to be at your lowest or going down the wrong path, but God will transform us wherever we are. 
    Romans 12 verse 2 was mentioned a lot during the week and has stuck with me since, and I really like the way the New Living Translation puts it. It says: 

    “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.”

    ‭‭The message translation describes it as ‘taking your everyday, ordinary life’ and placing it in line with God. And I have to say I find this quite a challenge – i find it easier (though still very difficult at times!) to try and put myself in tune with God and listen to him when I’ve got a big decision to make or something significant is happening, but in terms of every day life – going to uni, interacting with people, even things like band or songster practice – i find it takes much more conscious effort to be in line with God and to let him shine through what I do and how I behave.

    I have always found the idea of God having a plan for our lives a difficult one to take in or be comfortable with, particularly at the minute when I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do once I graduate from uni…whether I’ll be able to go on to further studying or get a job or build a career or anything like that. This verse however reminds me that as well as letting God transform me for the longer term picture, I need to try to rely fully on him for the present too. I need to listen to what he’s saying and focus on where I am just now, and remember that wherever I am, whatever my situation is, God is using me all the time without me even realizing it. In the small things just as much as in the big things. God is constantly working to transform our lives whether we’re aware of it or not, and I thank him for that. I pray that I’ll be able to listen and follow where he leads me, but also that he’ll use me and equip me to help transform others too. 




    – And I really do mean that last bit I wrote/spoke. I don’t have all the answers or have it all remotely figured out, but I do pray that I’ll be able to listen and follow God and what he has in store for me, however that works or whatever that really means!! I don’t know what I’m meant to do with this life, but I do know I’m passionate about helping people, supporting people, and experiencing this journey with other people. So I really do hope he uses me to help others figure it all out too. 

    “Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You; We turn to You 

    Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You; We long for You

    ‘Cause when we see You we find strength to face the day

    And in Your presence all our fears are washed away”

    Always more questions 

    Finally for a faith based post after my weekend at Deep Impact. (The first one, at least!) I took lots of notes in the sessions at the weekend and it’s something I actually found really helpful. Jotting down either things that stood out to me because they made sense, or because they didn’t. And some were just quotes or song lyrics that I liked. The process of writing it all down and being able to look back over them helps me to process what I think. There was a large number of people sitting with pen and paper, or with the notes app on their phone, writing things down throughout the sessions. There were even people doodling or sketching away, using their own talents to make sense of what they were hearing. I really liked it, but how many people do that on a weekly basis in Church? Certainly in mine, very very few, if any. If I took a note pad out and started writing during the sermon I’d no doubt be judged for being weird, or being disrespectful and not listening, and would have to justify to some that it was actually taking notes to help me process what was being said, for the sake of strengthening my relationship with God. (Oh, and I can only imagine the response if I took my phone out to start taking notes!!) 

    Anyway, rant over 😉, I thought I’d share some of the questions I took down in the first session about prayer. I’m not sure how many people really read this blog and after posting 3 days in a row, anyone who did read it is probably bored now. But I’d be really interested to hear anyone’s opinions on the questions below. I had many discussions over the weekend, (and actually, there are parts that I’ve become closer to figuring out myself over the last couple of days) but would love to hear different people’s takes on it. So…

    How do we lead others to Christ if we haven’t experienced it for ourselves? It is difficult to get excited about a place I never go (prayer). How can I get others excited if I’m not? 

    This is actually something I had been thinking about prior to the weekend. I’m enthusiastic about my welfare role in the youth band, and I’m passionate about helping other young people develop their faiths…but I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite standing doing devotions or preaching at them when I’m pretty clueless and confused myself. Is that ok? Can we really bring others to God without completely understanding it or having experienced it ourselves? Is that possible? Without knowing if we’ve had that real experience of God? 

    Step beyond knowledge, and into experience of intimacy with God. 

    This point struck me quite hard and I love the way it is phrased. We can know everything there is to know about prayer and God, but there’s a huge difference between knowledge of it and experience and practice of it. 

    But how do you know if you’re doing it right? What constitutes ‘experience’? Is there a certain way to do it? A certain amount of practice that is needed to qualify as ‘experience’? (My reasoning behind these questions is that you could pray a prayer everyday, that is generic and has little thought or passion behind it…but does it still count as real prayer and intimacy with God? People often compare a relationship with God to a relationship with a friend, in that if you don’t put in the effort, your relationship will not become/remain close. If you only speak to a friend about superficial things and only do it out of habit, your relationship probably won’t grow. Surely the same thing goes here?) 

    It is easier to trust him and worship him wholly and passionately when we see his face and meet with him regularly

    But HOW do we ‘see’ him or ‘meet’ with him? What does this really mean? As I said in my last post, I am someone who values and craves deep relationships, and I would love to experience that with God – after all if what the bible says is true, then that should be the most special, important, and intimate relationship of all right? I just don’t really understand how to achieve it. 

    Any answers/suggestions/opinions would be welcomed! As I said in my last post, i love having proper honest conversations with people and I love the fact that this blog often opens up opportunities to do that! 

    “I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide, but i know we’re all searching for answers only you provide; ‘Cause you know just what we need before we say a word.” 

    Values and Relationships

    So as part of my homework for my Positive Psychology class, I had to complete a ‘strengths’ questionnaire. I’ve always loved filling out questionnaires of any kind (is that just me?!) , but particularly personality questionnaires. This one was a character strengths questionnaire, which is supposed to help you understand your core characteristics, by ranking 24 character virtues based on your responses in the questionnaire. It’s selling point is supposed to be that it focuses on your best qualities, rather than positives and negatives like other personality questionnaires do. I wrote a post about a year ago about the values I thought I had, but I thought i’d post the results this questionnaire generated. Interestingly, there is lots of similarity between what I thought my top values were, and what my questionnaire answers generate them to be.

    1. Judgment
    2. Spirituality
    3. Kindness
    4. Forgiveness
    5. Love
    6. Honesty
    7. Prudence
    8. Fairness
    9. Humility
    10. Perspective
    11. Love of learning
    12. Gratitude
    13. Social Intelligence
    14. Team Work

     

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    My top characteristic strength is:

    1. Judgment
    Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one’s mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.

    Which, to anyone who knows me, or even anyone who’s read any previous posts of mine, shouldn’t be a surprise. If you read my last post in particular, you will be aware that I analyse and think a lot about things before forming opinions or conclusions. Combine this with prudence at number 7 (being careful about one’s choices) and you’ve got me described pretty well!

    Strength number 2…

    2. Spirituality
    Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

    Again, makes sense! My life is indeed shaped by my spiritual beliefs, and these beliefs do do provide comfort (amongst other things like confusion, angst, frustration haha!) Although, there is definitely some irony in the statement “having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe”… I have beliefs, but they are often far from coherent!!!

    Strengths 3, 4 and 6 are Kindness, Fairness and Honesty – which i would certainly like to think are accurate descriptions of me and my personality, as well as three things that are important to me and which I value in others too.

    5. Love
    Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people.

    I’m almost surprised this one isn’t a bit higher, as if I was choosing the order myself, I would have put this description right at the top I think! I wrote a blog post last night about relationships and friendships and then never posted it, so i’m going to combine it with this post as it follows on quite nicely from the description of the character virtue description of love…

    If you’ve read any of my other posts you will likely know that it is in my nature to be shy, quiet, and introverted. I prefer to listen and observe more than I do talk, particularly in larger groups, and I enjoy spending time on my own. I hate small talk and really struggle to do it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to speak at all. Like many introverts (many or most? I’m not sure), i love deep discussions, particularly about things that are important to me. Which is why I was so thrilled and energised by my weekend at Deep Impact. Not necessarily because of anything spoken about in the sessions (although some of that did have an impact..blog post still to come on that!), but because of how many real, honest, deep conversations I had with people.
    Throughout the weekend I had countless talks with people – real, open conversations – about faith, God, church, Salvation Army practices, youth work, plans, dreams, feelings, and just life in general. And it made me so happy. I don’t really mean that in a ‘beaming from ear to ear, cheesy smile’ kind of happy, but in a cliche, ‘it made my heart happy’, content kind of way. I had these chats both with people I would regularly speak to about ‘real’ things, and also others I wouldn’t generally talk to very much. From group discussions to conversations at dinner or in the car, there was plenty of honest chat this weekend. I didn’t always speak – sometimes I just sat at listened to other people being honest and open and truthful about their feelings or opinions, but either way it was so refreshing to have these sorts of exchanges.

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    Because all too often, in my opinion at least, we don’t. We internalise things, either afraid of what others will think if we start being really deep or even honest, or sometimes in the busyness of life we are rushing about and don’t get a chance to properly talk to even the people we love. And to me, that’s just rubbish. I think another introverted trait is craving deep connections with people. You don’t necessarily need lots of friends, but you invest wholeheartedly in the ones you do have and that are important to you, and things like authenticity and sincerity matter to you. The Grey’s Anatomy quote: “At the end of the day, all we really want is to be close to somebody” is so true, for me anyway.

    “And if you have someone in your life who you are grateful for — someone to whom you want to write another heartfelt, slanted, misspelled thank you note – do it. Tell them they made you feel loved and supported. That they made you feel like you belonged somewhere and that you were not a freak.”

    This quote is from a blog post by someone called Lisa Jakub. She is most well known for playing the oldest daughter of Robin Williams in the film Mrs Doubtfire, but she actually retired from acting not too long after that (have recently read her autobiography!) and is now a writer. I follow her blog, and find a lot of it relatable. She writes a lot about being introverted, and what it’s like to experience anxiety and be shy and a bit awkward. (Not hard to see why I relate to it ay?!) She wrote the quote above in a blog post some time ago, but reshared it on Instagram today and it just stuck out as it was so in line with what I’ve been thinking since the weekend about relationships. ((Side note – I was convinced I’d shared this quote before, but I’ve just scrolled through every one of my posts and can’t seem to find it, so maybe I haven’t, but no apologies for sharing it again if I infact have!))

    I am so deeply thankful for the people I would call my closest friends. When I sat and thought about it last night, not one of them is the exact same age as me, and there are very few of them who I see on a really regular basis, like Tv shows or movies portray friendships. But they are there for me, and they support me, they make me laugh, and they make me feel like I belong. Another quote Lisa Jakub uses is ’embrace your weird’, and my friends let me do that. There aren’t many places I feel comfortable to be ‘me’, but I’m grateful for the people who make me feel like being me is a good thing, even if I do have my quirks. (Lets face it, who isn’t a bit weird?!!)

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    I wholeheartedly agree with her quote in terms of telling the people who make you feel loved and supported and normal, just how much you love and value them. And I do try to do it as much as possible. Although I do sometimes feel like a nutter, and worry that they think the same!! (What if they think I’m weird and embarrassing for saying this? What if I’m annoying them? What if I’m reading it wrong and they don’t actually like me very much, and the relationship is one sided?) But I still think it’s important. I’ve written about this so many times from different stances, but I always come back to the same point of telling the people you love that you love them. What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe sometimes they will think you’re mad. But sometimes it’ll be exactly the moment they need reminding that they are great.

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    Is your brain as annoying as mine? 

    So I’ve spent the weekend in Aviemore at Deep Impact youth and children’s work conference. It is a Christian conference for anyone involved in paid or voluntary youth or children’s work across Scotland, and since I help (or hinder 😂) with the kids stuff at Clydebank, and have a welfare role with the divisional youth band, I was able to go. It was an interesting weekend with challenges in several capacities. Challenges to my own personal faith but also how I can work with youth/children and share about God with them. I was hugely interested by the way people from different churches and denominations worship completely differently to how we do (future blog post…). I was also challenged to think about my relationships and even just about who I am as a person. And I will no doubt write posts about several of those challenges.

    But for this post, I’m going to ramble on about me as a person. I titled this post before I wrote it – which I don’t do very often. Usually I write down whatever’s going on in my head, then try to think of something to stick as the title at the end. But this one, I at least know where I’m trying to go with it. (Whether that’s where it’ll end up, who knows) 

    Is your brain as annoying as mine?

    Well, is it? Let me explain what I mean, and then you can decide. 

    • I overanalyse everything: I do. Past, present, future, doesn’t matter which..I overanalyse every detail. Take today as an example. I spent the weekend with friends; some of whom are extremely close and very important to me and who I know care about me and love me and all the rest of it. But that doesn’t stop me spending a good few hours on the way home going through conversations I had, wondering if I said the right thing at the right time, or even the wrong thing. Should I have said or done something differently? What if I gave off the wrong impression? What if I annoyed them, or offended them? Do they really like me? Were they really interested in what I was saying? Were they judging me? These are the sorts of things that will go through my head for hours/days/weeks, even longer sometimes, after an event or conversation or situation. Is this just me?! 
    • I question and doubt and overthink: I’m taking these together to hopefully ramble a little less, but they could probably be separated. I am terrible at accepting what I am told. I question things. I doubt everything. And it is very annoying. If you’ve ever read any of my posts, most of them involve me either doubting aspects of Christianity and faith, or questioning practices within the church, or questioning my own path or personality. Just questioning. All. The. Time. It’s exhausting. But it just seems to be who I am. Faith wise, every time I start to take a step forward, 1000 why? questions seem to arise. ‘But why?’ ‘But how do you know that?’ ‘But why should I believe that?’ Someone mentioned today that it’s a good thing because we need both people who readily accept things, and questioners, but being one of the latter sure is draining sometimes. (I also overanalyse this and think that with my constant questions and unwillingness to accept people’s answers or justifications, they’ll think I’m deliberately being awkward and obtuse and get frustrated with me. See? It is all linked…)
    • I worry: I do seem to spend a lot of my time, particularly recently, worrying about things. “What if” is the very familiar question that rattles through my brain multiple times a day. A lot of it comes from my dodgy, uncooperative insides, which make me really nervous. What if I don’t feel right? What if they act up when I’m out or with people? Some of it comes from the irrational sick phobia. What if someone is sick on this plane/bus/train/anywhere? What if I’m sick? What if someone else gets sick and I’m near it? What if I catch something? What if Matt/Parents/anyone gets sick? Some is uni based: what if I don’t pass this exam/coursework? What if I fail the course? What if I don’t know what to do? What if I can’t figure out what to do after uni? What if I can’t get a job? And the rest of it just comes from general awkward me: What if that stranger who just sat next to me starts a conversation? What will I say? What if I say the wrong thing when making that phone call? What if I don’t know what to say? What if, what if, what if?! 

    Right so what am I on about? I think a lot of what I’m going on about here comes back to anxiety. Now everyone has some experiences of anxiety in their life. Before a big test, before giving a talk, before something important/exciting/scary. It is the body’s natural response to get nervous and have anxiety with certain kinds of experiences and situations. And that is normal and healthy and can be useful. However, there’s definitely a double edge to it. If you have too much anxiety, and when it’s not really necessary, it can be a problem. And a serious pain. I’m not saying I have an anxiety problem. I know people who do struggle immensely with anxiety and I don’t envy them one bit, but I do understand how hard things can be when your brain just won’t stop worrying or reacting anxiously to normal things. (Even more so when physical symptoms start joining in!) Taking the test for generalised anxiety, my score suggests low mild anxiety. My social anxiety score does suggest moderate social anxiety, however I’m not remotely surprised by that – I also think the combination of shy and introverted already shapes you up for having at least some social anxiety! 

    I do however give myself a hard time for struggling with things that other people seem fine with or for not feeling normal, and I see a lot of my personality aspects as negatives. Just yesterday one of my closest friends made a passing comment about me being quiet and not a chatty person – she didn’t mean it negatively, she was just stating a fact that that’s who I am – I’m not one of the chattiest people and that’s not a bad thing! – but I realised after I jokingly took offence, that I do see that as a negative. I was incredibly envious of the same friend this morning when in a group discussion she was able to openly talk for ages about her point of view and things that were important to her. Meanwhile, my palms were sweating and my heart was pounding every time I wanted to join in, then by the time I got brave enough, we’d moved on to another topic and my chance was gone. (I did manage to speak up at one point! Although I have been overanalysing it ever since 😉)

    So ultimately, what am I saying here?! I think I’m asking, is it just me who has these issues of overthinking, overanalysing, doubting, worrying, and just generally being a bit insecure? Or is it more common and I’m actually more normal than I think I am? Is it just in my nature to be quiet and questioning, or are these things, like confidence for example, that can be improved or changed? Any opinions welcome 😊 

    (Side note…I’m not trying to be negative or self deprecating, nor am I looking for praise about how wonderful I am and that I’m perfect just the way I am, quirks and all. (Lol!) I’m just genuinely intrigued to know if it’s just me who has these thoughts!) 

    “Everyone is weird once you get to know them” 

      Using time wisely

      So I was supposed to be on devotions for youth band tonight, but I’ve got one of those annoying cold things going around and had a super sore head and ears and couldn’t make it. I did however send on what I’d prepared and someone else read it out for me. Anyway, I thought I’d share it on here, as who knows, someone might find it relevant 🙂 
      So I’m currently in my final year of my psychology degree and I’m in the middle of doing my main project where I need to carry out research into a particular topic. I’ve chosen to do mine around Facebook, and the impact that has on wellbeing. (BTW If you’re over 18 and have a Facebook account, you can take part in my questionnaire!!) I’m looking at how people use Facebook, whether this changes for different personality types, and how Facebook use impacts self esteem and depression. Part of my questionnaire asks things like how long you spend on Facebook per day, how many friends you have on Facebook, and how often you post about different things. 

      Looking into these things has made me realise just how much time I spend on social media – be it Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or a variety of others. On Saturday night the General kept mentioning that time is precious, and a combination of that and my uni project have made me very aware of how much time i spend on social media compared to how much time i consciously spend with God. How long can you last without checking Facebook or Instagram or Twitter? I know for me, it would be a lot less time than if you asked me how long I could and do go without reading the bible. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. 

      Don’t get me wrong – social media can be great and among many other positives, we can actually share and learn a lot about God online. But let’s face it, a lot of the time we’re just procrastinating. Or I certainly am. Previous generations would have spent hours sitting on the phone to their friends, whereas we sit on Facebook messenger or text each other for hours..but in amongst those exchanges, how often do you talk about your faith or what God is doing in your life? Do you ever talk about praying for each other, or even together? It’s important that we talk to each other about our faith and how we’re doing spiritually, just as we would have a conversation about how we’re feeling physically. I know it can feel awkward, but it really shouldn’t. 

      Everything we spend our time doing – be it using social media, watching tv or films, listening to music – it all has an impact on our lives. It influences how we spend our time, how we make decisions, and how we see both ourselves and others. All of this noise and information speaks so loudly into our lives that it actually shapes who we are. And often, we are not even aware that it’s happening. 

      Colossians 3:2 says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

      ‭‭Basically, when there are so many things that can impact us, we need to make sure that the main thing we are being shaped by is God.
      —side note: I wrote in my last post that I was going to write a ‘2017’ post and I haven’t got around to finishing it yet. It’ll come, but it’ll probably be a ‘new month’ post in February rather than ‘new year’ like I intended it!—

      2016

      So, it’s nearly that time again. Time to reflect on the past year, and look ahead to the one to come. I’ve seen many people mock this practice of looking back at the year gone by and making lots of predictions and promises for the year ahead, particularly in terms of new year’s resolutions. It’s completely true that if you really want to make a change, this could be done any day of the year..but the whole process of moving from one year into the next gives a good opportunity to stop and take stock of where you’re at. So, that’s what i’m going to do now, starting with a look back at my best and worst bits of 2016. (Apologies if this is not my most exciting post..writing this one to look back at 2016 for my own benefit..the next post about 2017 may be more interesting to read haha!)

      2016 canvas Matt bought me for Christmas

      So 2016..how was it? I’d give a mixed reaction to that one I think. There have been many, many amazing moments, but it’s been challenging as well. I’ve been lucky enough to travel abroad 4 times this year. Prague in January with Matt and my parents was lovely – great sightseeing, great company, and we even got lots of snow which made me extra happy.

      Then there was Florida in April..what started out as a joking comment on Facebook sometime in 2015, turned into a fantastic, very memorable trip to Orlando with some very special friends. I still find it a bit surreal that it even happened…that Matt and I flew half way across the world (or near enough) with four of our friends who are roughly a decade older than us (sorry guys!) and their three kids under 5. It always promised to be a fun, crazy, yet exhausting holiday and I think it definitely lived up to all three of those descriptions! I am hugely grateful for the many memories made with people who mean so much to me..and thanks to Matt’s dreaded food poisoning incident (literally still gives me the odd nightmare!!) they all saw me at my best and worst (rocking in a corner in hysterics!!) that week. Just thinking back on the holiday makes me smile – from fun in the villa pool, to many fun rides (Matt’s horror at getting soaked on a Universal water ride, and me almost deafening Sharon with my screaming on the Mummy ride standing out a lot!), to Karen’s lost phone and Bath and Body works purchases ;), it was a great two weeks. Looking forward to repeating it someday…?!

      Not only did I have these two fantastic trips, but I was fortunate to go to Tenerife for a week in June with Matt, and Sardinia with my parents for a week in July. Both of these were lovely, sunny, relaxing weeks in beautiful hotels and locations. Lots of good food, sunbathing and many good memories were made throughout the summer, particularly on these two holidays! It was great to spend some uninterrupted time with my three favourite people!

      As well as many lovely holidays, I was very excited and grateful to be a bridesmaid at my lovely best friend’s wedding – it was a beautiful day, she looked absolutely stunning, and I had a lot of fun getting my hair and make up done and wearing a pretty dress! (Practice for next year too!!) I’m so happy for them both and was thrilled to be part of their special day!

      Summer School this year was a bit of a different one. Lots of familiar faces weren’t there including many of the people i’d usually spend my week with, so I was apprehensive about going, but ended up really enjoying it. Since the friends I’d usually be with weren’t there, I had to force myself to be confident and speak to different people/be more sociable, to avoid following Matt around all week or hanging out on my own the whole time. I found my confidence definitely grew throughout that week and i’m glad I decided to go. There were some special moments for me that week both with friends and faith wise, which i’m grateful for, particularly as it may be my last! (We’ll see!)

      One of my favourite points of this year was when Matt’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew spontaneously booked a trip from Australia back to Scotland for a few weeks. It was brilliant to unexpectedly spend some time with all three of them, particularly as it was right before going back into the stress of uni. It was a great end to the summer! 

      Uni this year has had it’s ups and downs. I finally got some A’s in both coursework and exams, but I also got three C’s in my April exams. (I know that a huge part of this is because I had been in bed with the flu and an ear infection before/right through the exam period, but it’s still annoying!!) I did at least pass them all, so that’s something. I’ve found 4th year considerably more difficult than any level of studying i’ve ever done (which makes sense!), and have struggled to keep up or get to grips with it at times. Hopefully i’m heading in the right direction now, and December exams didn’t go too badly…or at least I don’t think they did!! I still struggle with the fact i’m into my fourth year and have like 1 friend and a couple of acquaintances – I hate that i’m not like other people in my year with tonnes of friends to see either in or out of class..whether that’s because I’m too quiet or didn’t try hard enough I don’t know, but it’s not always fun. However i’ve only got a few months to go.. yippee!!!

      I’ve struggled a bit health wise this year. Nothing drastic, but detrimental enough to make my head a bit messy along with it. It’s not something i’m too comfortable talking about (so if you’re one of those people I moan about it to all of the time, you must be one of my favourite few haha!) but basically my insides are a bit temperamental and as a result, i’ve become a lot more anxious with it. (For someone who’s always been shy and got nervous easily, this isn’t fun!) I could write pages and pages about my annoying stomach and the associated anxiety that comes with it, but I don’t really want to. But if i’ve dodged your messages or have been difficult to make plans with in recent months, I’m sorry! I’m trying to get my head around dealing with my complicated insides and sometimes my head just gets a bit too messy. Something I really want to make better in 2017…the vicious circles of being anxious are really quite draining!

      I had a lovely Christmas spending time with family – plus I was thoroughly spoiled, possibly even more than usual! It was extra special to spend some of Christmas Day with my gran, given that she’d been not too well in hospital in December. Was very grateful all round for how I spent my last Christmas as an Adamson! (Eek!) 

      Overall though, 2016 has been full of lovely memories. I made a ‘Flipagram’ video earlier tonight full of pictures from this year, and there were so many lovely photos of lovely moments to choose from. I feel as if i’ve spent a huge amount of this year either moaning or complaining..either that I don’t feel well or that i’m stressed with uni work…but actually I’m hugely grateful for (the majority of) this year. The things i’ve struggled with have brought me closer to people, and it’s been one of those years when i’ve realised that it’s definitely quality and not quantity in terms of friends and family. I love the saying “it takes a village“, and I love the people who make up mine. I believe people come into your life for a reason and I’m grateful for everyone who’s played a part in my life over the past year – there are many people I would have really struggled without. I also think I’ve grown in confidence a bit again this year which is something i’m always trying to improve on. Anxiety may have held me back at times, but I think i’ve grown in confidence and maybe even self-esteem.

      I’m going to write a ‘2017, looking forward’ type post maybe tomorrow, but i’ll end this random, biography type post with a Grey’s Anatomy quote (how else?!)

      “Maybe being grateful means recognising what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we’re thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we’re thankful for the things we’ll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate. – Grey’s Anatomy”

      Clear the Stage

      I do this thing where I go between being super super enthusiastic about my faith, to being completely sceptical of everything. There is very rarely any middle ground. There are times when I feel like shouting it from the rooftops – I’m engaged in church, I want to take part in worship and cell groups, I write blog posts about it, i’m enthused by the lyrics to songs about how great God is, and I get frustrated when other people don’t seem interested. I sing along to songs with real passion – I want to believe it all and feel it and connect with God. But then I hit this brick wall, where I realise I don’t understand what i’m singing about or reading about. I listen to a podcast, but I raise my eyebrows at every second sentence because it just all seems too far fetched. The passion turns to doubt, and I just end up confused and frustrated.

      This turnaround happened at youth councils at the weekend, and actually went back and forward about 3 times within a 2 hour meeting.  My mind kept going between being really challenged by what was being preached or by the words the worship band were singing, to thinking ‘how does anyone in here know any of this is real?’

      Across the weekend it was reiterated that we are all created by and loved by God. We were given a bit of paper that read “You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you”. But how does that even make sense? I heard someone much older and wiser and further along their faith journey say the other day that they think some of the old testament should be discarded, partly because of how ridiculous and unrealistic stories like Jonah and the Whale, for just one example, sound. I had to physically bite my tongue to stop myself from replying that surely Jesus rising from the dead is just as, if not more, unrealistic? I just don’t know how to comprehend it all. Can you believe some stuff but not others? Is that allowed? (Answers would be appreciated!!!)

      I am someone who wants to believe and trust and understand and really ‘enter in’ and have a relationship with God. But how it can be remotely possible to have a relationship with someone you can’t see, or really talk to, or even prove is real? How can someone so powerful, who’s supposed to have created the world and everything in it, know every person on the planet…know them and know how their life will turn out and hear their prayers? I just don’t get it. I really want to get it – I want to believe that there is something out there to fill the gap. I’m not finding things very easy at the minute, and people always say that ‘His strength is perfect’ and that your help will come from the Lord and about 30 other similar cliches, and I want to believe that if I trust and rely on Him that everything will be okay (well, maybe not okay, but that whatever happens, I’ll be following God’s plan/in his arms blah blah blah)… but how do you even do that, and how does it work?

      A song called “Clear the stage” was played on Sunday and I find the lyrics quite powerful. (And I don’t think I was the only person on Sunday who felt that way, I’ve seen it shared on Facebook a couple of times since!) I don’t necessarily agree with all of the lyrics, but there is a section near the end of the song which reads:

      “We must not worship something that’s not even worth it
      Clear the stage, make some space for the one who deserves it…
      Anything I put before my God is an idol
      Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
      Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol
      Anything that I give all my love is an idol”

      At the time I was challenged by those lines – there are so many things that we let, either purposely or subconsciously, get in the way of our faith and our relationship with God. I couldn’t even start to list them. A conversation with someone on Sunday afternoon subsequently made me realise that actually, not only do the things I do/want/love/think of become ‘idols’ and get in the way, but actually, so does the way I think. My incessant analysing and questioning and dissecting of everything i’m told, particularly when it comes to things about God, often pushes me further away, instead of giving me a better understanding. And i’m not sure where that leaves me. I don’t want to blindly accept things because that’s not me. But I don’t want to push myself further away from God either. I’ve been told before that as mere humans, we’re not meant to understand Him, and I’ve posted before that I thought i’d become okay with that, but maybe I’m not after all.

      Another song that was played at least twice on Sunday was called ‘Simplicity’. At the time, I really didn’t engage with it, but upon listening to it again and reading through the lyrics, I can really connect to it.

      “I come in simplicity
      Longing for purity
      To worship You
      In spirit and truth
      Only You”

      The lines that get me the most though are these:

      Give me a childlike heart
      Lead me to where You are

      To some extent, I would love to have a childlike type faith, where I didn’t question every little detail, and just accepted readily who God is and that He loves Me, rather than raising my eyebrows to the ceiling and asking 20 questions when someone says that. This is a very messy post, but I guess that’s my ultimate prayer at the minute. I need his help, I just need to figure out how to comprehend trusting in him and all that He is.

      More than a song

      In my last post I wrote about how I love listening to ‘worship’ music. I’ve only recently discovered the band called Rend Collective, and I think they’re brilliant. They remind me of Mumford and Sons, only the lyrics are all about God/Faith and everything that comes with that. I downloaded one of their albums this morning on Apple Music, called ‘Campfire’. I had it on shuffle in the car and a track came on which was actually a video, containing clips of different songs, and one of the band members describing why they had chosen to record an album around a campfire. Some of the things he said struck me straight away – either because I completely agreed, or was totally challenged. So I thought i’d type out some of what he said and share it:

       

      “That openness and vulnerability is exactly what we should see in the greatest community on earth: the church. There are no walls out here and there should be no walls of defence towards God or each other, even if we have been hurt. 

      Worship isn’t just confined to the four walls of a church building. And it’s certainly not exclusive, but it’s for every human being on this planet. In the kingdom of God there are no outsiders. 

      We need to be careful not to allow hurt or cynicism to drive us from church. Otherwise we end up like a branch taken from the fire – lifeless and cold. I know the painful experience in life can be overwhelming, but we aren’t meant to go through it alone

      All of us have the divine spark within us, and we so desperately need the breath of god to bring us to life and light. Jesus wants to set the church on fire, so the world can warm themselves around us and find light and safety. We are here on earth to be a home and a refuge for the lost and broken, but first we must learn the art of togetherness and celebration. To welcome people into the party of true freedom found in Jesus, we first must be students of that very way of life. We need to learn to celebrate, we need to choose his joy. 

      We are the Church, we are the hope on earth. 

      To be on a journey as God’s family, going through the highs and lows of life, suffering and laughing together, thats what i want. Not some holy huddle where we all pretend everything is okay, but a real community who believes in the God of miracles, but also in the God of the trials. That’s what the world needs too, so lets give out the invites, put aside our selfish ways, and celebrate Jesus round the campfire. It’s time for you to start your fire. “

      Is it just me that finds a lot of that hugely challenging, but also so, so true? I thought i’d talk about the bits that stand out to me the most.

      • Worship isn’t just confined to the four walls of the church building. I really agree with this one. I personally find that I worship God with far more enthusiasm, often when i’m not stood in my normal church building. I think that belting out songs about God’s love by the likes of these guys, whilst driving in my car, is just as authentic, if not actually more so, a form or worship than sometimes when i’m stood in church out of duty or habit. I’m not always necessarily connecting to what i’m singing/playing/listening to/being preached about in a church building, but if I’m singing at the top of my lungs in the car (happens a lot!) and really thinking about and meaning the words i’m singing about how great God is or whatever, then that’s just as important and worthy for him. No?
      • We need to be careful not to allow hurt or cynicism to drive us from church. This one I definitely agree with and can relate to, from a variety of angles. Firstly,  Churches essentially, whether they should be or not, are like any other organisation. And they’re full of us flawed humans who all have strong opinions about how things should and shouldn’t operate, who should and shouldn’t be in charge of things, and what should or shouldn’t be done. And all too often that causes arguments, animosity, and issues that distract us from focusing on God, or stop us from worshipping at church altogether. Secondly, anything in life that hurts us can easily make us blame God. and thirdly, I am all too aware that cynicism for God – whether that’s in believing he’s there at all, or trusting him, can drive a huge wedge between yourself and him, and yourself and your church.
      • We aren’t meant to go through this alone. Right?!! Again, i agree with this on two levels. We aren’t meant to go through life alone in the sense that God is always with us..if I ignore my scepticism long enough to believe what i’m told, there is absolutely nothing we can do to escape God or his love. But also, ‘it takes a village’. We don’t need to go through the confusion of figuring things out – life or God wise – on our own. I was told in a text last night that “you’re so very definitely not on your own my friend – please don’t ever think that”, after admitting I often felt like I was alone either in navigating my way through the mess that is my head just now/through life/through figuring out my faith. It was a simple thing to be told and something I really shouldn’t have needed reminding of, but I re-read the bit of the text about a dozen times, and was very close to crying because of how comforted I was by it. Humans aren’t supposed to be alone, we need people. And we need God (and we have him!)
      • We need to learn to learn to celebrate, we need to choose his joy. I had a conversation yesterday about people who, when told about God and his love etc., are indifferent. To me, there are two reactions that could come from being told that, and indifference isn’t one of them. Either you would be overjoyed and elated and shouting it from the rooftops, because if it is all real and authentic, then it truly is awesome and amazing. The other reaction would be scepticism/cynicism/disbelief/doubt about whether it is true or not. I personally struggle to comprehend how you just wouldn’t care either way. So yeah, if it’s all true, then joy is indeed what we need to choose. No one else is going to listen if we don’t learn to choose his joy.

      This became quite a huge blog post, and actually there could be a few more in the not so distant future because my head is pretty full right now! But i’m going to end it with the last bit I highlighted above, because I couldn’t say it any better myself.

      To be on a journey as God’s family, going through the highs and lows of life, suffering and laughing together, thats what i want. Not some holy huddle where we all pretend everything is okay, but a real community who believes in the God of miracles, but also in the God of the trials.