For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Claire, I’m a full time teacher while also currently completing a masters part time at Stirling University. On a Sunday morning you’ll normally find me in a yellow t-shirt on younger kids or hiding behind the piano on the worship band. I like to be busy taking on many additional roles and responsibilities, striving to be the best at everything I do and constantly looking for my next project, you know what they say – ‘if you want something done, ask a busy person’.
I like to give the impression that I can do all of the above and be happy, I can juggle uni with work, keep my house clean and presentable, still make time for the gym five days a week (got to love a 5:45 am alarm), attempt to have a social life and still take on more, right? Wrong! So wrong! Yes I was managing to do all of the above but it was slowly breaking me, I was unhappy, grumpy with those closest to me and close to completely giving up. I didn’t know what to do, where to go and I was questioning whether there was a way out. I was becoming desperate but I maintained a façade that ‘everything was fine’ because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was failure, that I couldn’t manage.
Around this time I had decided to sign up for a 10K run after I felt convicted to raise money for Glasgow Children’s Hospital. I have never been a runner, I hated playing sports as a child and after being laughed at for the way I ran on a treadmill at the age of 16 I vowed never to run again which I didn’t until June this year. My previous attempt at running 10 years ago had resulted in knee pain and my Mum laughed when I told her about my 10K ambitions – this is how out of my comfort zone this was! However, I signed up for the Scottish 10K with only four months to train and took my first steps outside.
The first few attempts were pretty horrendous but I slowly built my stamina and to my (and my parent’s) astonishment within just five weeks I had run my first practise 10K with no knee pain in sight. I found I was not only able to run but I was enjoying it!
There was no doubt that at this time I was over-worked, anxious, had taken on too much and was unable to stop and relax, even more I was spending less and less time with God as uni and work was taking up the majority of my time. However, the time I was spending running was forcing me to stop, I couldn’t look up teaching ideas on Pinterest as I ran and as the running became easier I was relaxing, enjoying myself and beginning to connect with God in a way I hadn’t for a long time. As I ran I began thanking God for His beautiful creation, the weather, the way He has created everything to be unique, designed by His hand.
I started running further each few weeks spending more and more time outside and as I ran I began praying to God, talking to Him about my hopes, dreams, worries and fears and I found that as I ran God started breaking the chains which were holding me back: I am not enough. I can’t let anyone down. I have to be strong and capable to be loved and accepted. Love and relationships are conditional. I have to prove my worth. Instead I started believing that I don’t have to prove myself, people will love me for who I am, God made me the way I am and I started to let it sink in that He will never love me any more or any less than He does now no matter how much I’ve messed up in the past or will in the future.
This hasn’t been a quick journey (this is only a small snapshot), this has taken months of baby steps forward and some giant steps backwards but I’m getting there. I successfully ran the 10K a few weeks ago and am enjoying training for my first half marathon in May, it’s not always easy, I’ve not always got the motivation to go out but once I get over the door and get started it’s amazing how much better I feel.
Alongside the gift of running God has provided a beautiful friend who has allowed me to talk through my fears and anxieties, listening to my ups, downs and sagas of life each week, He has also provided an amazing circle of friends who have prayed, encouraged and laughed with me in the highs and the lows. Above all He has been incredibly patient as I move towards an understanding that God loves me just the way I am and that it is ok to not be ok.
As 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Love Claire x
There was a day not so long ago that I call ‘The fateful mint aero rocky road day’.
My lovely friend Mhairi had successfully made a delicious treat which I loved. I asked for the recipe and was excited to make it for my friends coming round. I am 35 years old and have worked out some of my strengths and weaknesses. While I am first to admit my many failings I am fairly confident in my cooking abilities. This recipe looked like a breeze. I tried, I failed. I bought more ingredients, I tried again, I failed. I bought yet more ingredients… I tried, I failed… do you see where this is going?
I cried, I wailed, I swore, I declared in a loud unwavering voice “This rocky road will not defeat me!” (In case your wondering it did) I wholeheartedly overreacted when my husband gingerly suggested I stop and maybe just buy some cookies and I shouted things like, “I can’t do anything else in life! This is the only thing I am good at and now I can’t even do this - I’m a complete failure!” I slammed doors wasted more money on something that didn’t matter. This rocky road was becoming a battle I was going to win and after spending over £20 on ingredients I finally admitted defeat. It had won. I couldn’t do it. I felt a failure. I had not only wasted money, swore at my husband and acted like a raving lunatic in front of kids crying into my seized chocolate I had surprised myself.
The things that I said about myself, did I really believe them? I thought I had embraced Gods grace for me. How could a traybake shake me so much. Did I really base that much of self worth in my cooking. What was so awful about buying cookies?!?
It’s a funny story and looking back I can laugh. But I had to answer those questions. Who really cared about the traybake? My friends didn’t. It was pride and God was teaching me through this. Niki, you can’t be perfect. It’s not about what you can do. Accept my grace.
I was sure I had dealt with these insecurities already and I shocked myself.
Tonight as I remember this day I am reminded of the words of a song, “You’re not finished with me yet! By your power, I can change I can change. You’re not finished with me yet.” These words that are circling round my head.. and I’m am not so tunefully singing them and can’t stop tears welling up as I think about Gods grace and abundant love…God is not done with me! He has pruned me, moulded me, pointed out the stuff I’m not proud of, shone light on the darkness and lifted me out of the filth! He’s saved my life! And yet he’s not finished! I am so grateful! He’s never done with me, he is never going to stop loving me..I literally am tired of my own voice saying sorry at times, I’m tired of making the same mistakes and repeating the same patterns but He never ever ever tires of forgiving me! He adores me. I am the apple of his eye! And he’s not done!!! In fact I believe the best is yet to come! Instead of sitting still and having my story stop here I will run forward and press on and into what comes next!
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. -- Philippians 1:6
How exciting. So yes, a mint aero chocolate rocky road may still reduce me to a potty mouth lunatic but there is grace for me!!! He’s not done! In his goodness he says keep going , keep pressing on toward the goal. My story isn’t over. It’s still being written. My worth is not found in what I can do but who I am in Christ and what he has done for me! I am not defined by my failures and disappointments. Today I had those same friends over for lunch. I love cooking for people and I really enjoyed preparing and making them lunch and for pudding…. I bought some cookies. I am learning it’s all about grace not perfection!
P.S. My beautiful and talented friend Carol Anne was also defeated by the rocky road recipe but she didn’t swear!!! She kindly sent me a picture of her separated chocolate and told me I wasn’t the only one. Don’t you just love friends like that?
I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I will press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. -- Philippians 3:13-14
Love Niki x
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.