Living the Questions

questions

Probably one of the greatest struggles humans face is not knowing the future. It’s obviously a good thing because all hell would break lose if we did. If you ever saw an episode of the short lived TV show “Flash Forward”, then you will know that seeing the future did not help the characters, it created more problems for them. They faced the dilemma of whether to accept their “fate” or fight it, and some even tried to make it come true. It was absolutely shambolic.

We don’t know the future for a reason but that doesn’t make it any easier to make big decisions based on an unknown future. I know I have struggled with this a lot in the past five years. Recently things have started falling into place, but not without much prayer, discussion and research. Mixed in were many moments of dejection and frustration, while I was struggling with big decisions like “what should I do for a career?” and even heart wrenching ones like “should I marry this person?”

One of my favourite people to talk life, dreams and careers with is my wonderful friend Candace. She lives big and she lives real, and she often reminds me of her favourite quote by Rainer Maria Rilke;

“Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

This has changed the way I see and do life. I like answers, we all do. We like to have it all figured out and know what is next, but the beauty is in the not knowing and who we become in the process. Sometimes waiting is the best thing for us and it fosters virtues like faithfulness, patience and trust.

Questions are such a big part of our lives, for we can only see what is in front of us. The more time we are spending trying to answer them ourselves in all of our limited knowledge, the less time we have to learn. There is something to discover in every stage we are in, whether we want to be there or not.

I dare you; stare your questions in the face. Don’t be afraid of them or angry at them, but make them feel at home. Set them up on your couch with a cup of tea, a digestive biscuit and a smile. Sit yourself across from them and make conversation. Be kind to them. You don’t know how long they will be around, but I can tell you one thing for sure; they definitely have the answers you need. They just aren’t very forthcoming, but you will be surprised what some gentle coaxing will do.

The good news is that the questions won’t stick around forever (not the same ones anyway). Despite how treacherous it feels, we do come out the other side eventually. Stronger and wiser, hopefully! We all have questions, big and small, but we don’t need to have the answers. For perhaps the greatest beauty of life is that we can only live one day at a time.

So quit planning and resenting the lack of answers. Don’t rush or rebuke the process. Instead, try to embrace it and live in those moments, even if they involve tears. You will be okay. Before you know it, you will be living in the answer.

What questions are you grappling with right now? 

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Have Peace, Take Heart!

I had this petrifying thought the other day. I was day dreaming of all things pretty. I.e. What big life change will be next. I like elaborate, life-altering changes, you see. Moving to London was big but that was four years ago now. I need something else new and fresh, because I’m 22 and I’m still in that stage of life where I crave adventure.

Well, I say that I crave adventure, but it’s not entirely true. I do desire a big life full of great experiences, but I also love routine. You have no idea how much I like knowing what I’m doing everyday and that I will get paid a consistent salary at the end of the month. Yet I have this constant unsettledness inside that wants to take risks now, while I can. Yes, fear of the unknown scares the heck out of me, but mediocrity scares me even more.

My personal definition of mediocrity being…? Letting opportunities pass me by in case it won’t work out. Working for money and not passion. Essentially, mediocrity to me is choosing the safe road instead of the leap-of-faith road. So until I find the passion that will drive the cause of my life, I’ll just keeping jumping off cliffs. (Figuratively speaking, obviously!)

Anyway, now that you have the back story to my day-dreaming, I’ll get back to this terrifying thought I had. It was simply the possibility of loneliness and displacement that may befall me as the repercussion to another drastic decision. Once the fun is over and the sun has set, who will I be? Where will I be? What will I want?

Will I be happy? It’s the greatest paradox of our human existence; the pursuit of happiness.

Quite a depressing moment, it was. Realising and eventually accepting that no, I will not always be happy. In fact, God forbid, sometimes I will be desperately unhappy. Thinking of the future heartache, frustration and disappointment that I am yet to experience in my future. Pre-empting the worst.

The Bible puts it perfectly:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

You will have trouble, without a doubt. Have peace. Take heart. He has overcome the world! What GOOD news. 

So, yes, I will have trouble. But when I set my foundations on the promises of God and truly take Him at His word – that He has overcome the world – I will have peace. Not necessarily always joy, but peace. Peace that surpasses all understanding, in fact. (Philippians 4:7)

It’s important that I remember there are also some utterly amazing moments yet to make my acquaintance. I haven’t even sctratched the surface of life and all it has to offer – the bad but also the good. After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided I would experience the bad 10x over if it meant I got the good stuff too.

I’ll take it all, please and thank-you. Every season, stage and phase that the menu of life has to offer. Happiness is transient and temporary, God is not. 

And to think that I’ve already faced fire in my short life, and much of it now but a distant memory. I only have forgiveness to thank for that. I am so much stronger than I was because I discovered that I had a choice. The choice to be refined by the suffering, or to be burned. I daily choose the former, along with a healthy dose of God’s grace, and He’s doing something beautiful in my heart.

I’m happy, for now, and that’s good enough for me.

Can you relate to any of the above? How do you feel about taking risks, and what’s your greatest fear when it comes to stepping out of your comfort zone? 

We’re All Pretenders

There are so many women I admire, that I either directly know or have heard about. They are strong and secure, confident and beautiful, talented and humble. From the outside they look organised (such a coveted attribute), fun and free. But on the inside, I think they’re just like me: afraid and unsure of what they could do if they tried. Pretending, even just a little bit, that they’re already there.

Then there are the ones that aren’t pretending, they’re just not public about it. It’s amazing how much we can presume about a person without seeing them behind closed doors. Whether we admit it or not, we all share this in common: we doubt ourselves. Whether it be hourly or daily or whatever, we all do it.

I’m sick of thinking everyone does it better than me. I’m over making comparisons, because obviously I never come out on top, and then I’m back to square 1 of being discouraged and not good enough. It’s getting a little old to be honest.

For me right now, it’s this blogging world that I have stumbled upon. I’m scared of this blog; of it’s potential to flop and become yet another abandoned hobby; or of the success and opportunities that it could lead to. More the latter than the former. What we are capable of is daunting, so much so that we end up not doing nothing.

Reader, you intimidate me but I want you here more than anything.

I don’t know if I’m disciplined or talented enough, and the more effort I invest, the more risk involved. I know I know, it’s not complicated, all I need to do is write. As long as I know the reason for my words and keep close to the Source that provides them, then I’m good.  It’s about keeping the main thing the main thing.

I find comfort in knowing that the women that inspire me in the blogosphere, the ones that look like they totally know what they’re doing and have a million things to say; they started out the same as me, and might still be there.

We are all in the same boat. Some further along in the journey, others just pushing out from the dock. We all have something for each other and none of us are there yet.

Let’s do this together, by stepping out individually and encouraging each other collectively.

What’s Your Legacy?

I want to leave behind an authentic residue on the earth that will last longer than my life ever could. A residue of actions, words and accomplishments that inspire others.

When I was 15, in a sermon I was posed with a question that has never left me; what will people say at your funeral? What a powerful way to live our lives – to be present, yet know we are leaving a mark on the world that no one else can.

Jesus didn’t write the Bible; his disciples and people that witnessed his life and ministry did. What will people say about your life after your gone?

I want people to say I knew how to laugh at myself

I want people to say that I was a ‘go-getter’ that didn’t let opportunities pass me by

I want people to say that I was kind and loving

I want people to say that I always had an open hand

I want people to say that I was a blessing

I want people to say that I knew how to listen

I want people to say that I was a joy to be around

I want people to say I made them feel good about themselves

I want people to say that I was genuine

I want people to say that I was fun

I want people to say I lived with purpose and intent

I want people to say I pointed them to Jesus

I want people to say I pleased God’s heart

I want people to say that it was obvious I didn’t care what they thought about me

I want people to say I was organised

I want people to say I was smart

I want people to say I was successful

I want people to say that I knew who I was in Christ

I want people to say I was outrageous

I want people to say I was determined

I want people to say I was consistent

I want people to say I was an overcomer

I want people to say I had integrity

I want people to say I had a hunger for God

I want people to say I made them I loved them as they were but knew they could be better

I want people to say I was a loving daughter, sister, aunty, friend, mother and wife

More than any of the above, I want Jesus to say that I made Him proud.

Some of these things I have been since I was born, some of them I am on my way to, some of them are so far off they’re a distant goal. But it starts with a decision.

Decide now and then go out and live it because life is short and your legacy is long.

How do you want to be remembered? 

Thoughts, Life & Contentment

Thoughts have a snowball effect. Think negatively and you will continue to think negatively until you arrive at a pretty depressing conclusion about your situation or life. Think positively and you will be at peace, happier, and a lot more enjoyable to be around. You can’t always change your circumstances, but you can change your perspective; which changes your attitude; which changes your thoughts; which changes your actions; which changes your LIFE! I know right, wowzas.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about what I don’t have. I don’t have a flat, I don’t have my own laptop, I don’t have my own iPod (as I write this I am realising how much of my boyfriend’s stuff I have claimed…eek!), I don’t have a good enough phone, I don’t have enough clothes….. blah blah BLAH. It’s all absolute rubbish.

Heck, we all don’t have enough when you think about it. And if I did have all of the above, it would be ‘I don’t earn enough, I don’t have a house, I don’t travel enough,’ etc. If we choose to be, we can be constantly ‘without’. But it’s a simple turn around of thinking that can change everything.

Because what I do have is so much more than what I don’t have. I have so much to be thankful for, but I have been overlooking that because I am too preoccupied with what I don’t have. That is not the way I want to live my life! No way. Plus, I personally believe that all blessing comes from God (though I know that may not the case for all who are reading this). And why would God want to bless you with more if you don’t even appreciate what you do have?

So, which snowball do you want in your mind, and controlling your life… A big ball of frustration and unhappiness because you aren’t getting what you want out of life? Or peace and joy, because you are seeing all the good in your life and enjoying each day? Of course, there are hard times. But you can still be calm amongst a storm. If you start off looking at the half glass full, soon the glass will be overflowing! Your mind is a battlefield. Choose life and hope.

Contentment. Its such a beautiful thing. There are moments when I am completely and utterly content with life, and it is the best feeling on earth. Other times, I have to choose to be content with a situation, because it’s easy to get down when every day feels the same. Sometimes you have to seek contentment out, otherwise you will only feel it at very intermittent times in your life. It can easily be found, but you are at the heart of the search.

Just a thought, take it or leave it.