I've had the first half of this blog post written for over a week and I didn't know how it would end until tonight when God spoke to me while I was doing the dishes (yes God literally is in everything we do!)
I recently had dinner with a friend who is one of the strongest, bravest woman I know. If our lives were depicted as roller coasters her's would have loop the loops whereas mine would be the children's train ride! However, as we chatted about life, the ups and the downs I started talking about some of the challenges I've faced and after sharing one story she exclaimed "you're a survivor!" Me, a survivor? This courageous woman was calling ME a survivor?
As I reflected on this I realised she's right. Every one of us has faced challenges in our lives and guess what? We made it through! So congratulations, you're all survivors! It doesn't matter how big or small the challenges were what matters is that we made it out the other side and that we've been changed through the process. As I look back I can see God's hand throughout my life, shaping and moulding me to be more like him. It is not a coincidence that I'm living here, working as a teacher and worshipping at Falkirk Vineyard. God has me here for a reason and that's exciting!
Life is so busy and fast paced that it's easy to go through things, move on, put them in the back of our minds or forget about them completely but I'd encourage you to take a step back and reflect on what God's done in your life, the good and the bad. Be encouraged that God was faithful and be thankful for how he used it to grow and change you. The Bible says in Roman's 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." So if you're going through a hard time just now, take heart, one day you'll look back and rejoice at how God used the situation!
I've recently been re-reading 'Love Lives Here' by Maria Goff. In it she writes: "Jesus is more interested in who we're becoming than who we were. He doesn't want us to become like each other. He wants us to be like Him." God made each of us unique, he loves us for who we are, the past is in the past and he's changing us to be more like him - how exciting! However, this really hit me, (so much so I reread this chapter at least three times in a week) as I've said I can see how God has changed me throughout my life but how much time do I spend trying to be more like Jesus and how much time do I spend comparing myself to others? Just look at the first paragraph of this blog - guilty of the later!! Comparison doesn't just rob us of joy, it holds us back from being the person that God made us to be. Maria Goff paints a beautiful picture further on in the same chapter as she says:
"God stretches each of our lives before us like a canvas. He hands us the brushes and the paint and asks us to make our lives look like our unique version of His love. Pick your own colours, not someone else's. He only creates originals, not copies, and expects no less from us.
The more time we spend comparing ourselves to others and striving to be more like them the less time we spend with God learning to be more like him. How different would life be if we valued ourselves and others for the individuals that God created us to be and focused on becoming more like Jesus?
Love Claire xxx
Thoughts, experiences, and encouragement from the ladies of Falkirk Vineyard.