“Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.”
I have believed this for a long time and I always will.
Insights of a Christian Mystic
“Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.”
I have believed this for a long time and I always will.
God isn’t really trending – at least I don’t think he is! I don’t know why though because it is the only thing that makes sense to me sometimes – the fact that we are in relationship with God.
I just can’t imagine not finding this truth for myself. My most treasured possession aged 4 was my picture service booklet I took to church. Yes – I was raised to go to church – but more importantly I had an idea that was was a very significant thing that I learn about God. It seemed so big and exciting from where I was standing with my family in our 3 bedroomed house. Yes, we went school and had Birthdays and Christmas and new shoes . . . but this was God – a whole different kettle of fish! I wanted to know who God was and what he might have to do with my life and me.
As I grew older I became more and more convinced that life wasn’t enough just as I saw it and felt it. There was clearly something very big missing. It sounds so cliche but there was a gaping big hole and I had no idea what was supposed to fill it – O Levels, A Levels, a degree, husband, children maybe? But I knew right then and there that those things would not fill it.
I liked the idea of God, the mystery, the journey, the expecting of the unexpected, the puzzling things out with someone so much bigger and wiser than me! I loved that idea and so I chose to pursue it down all the twisty turny roads that have bought me to this point. And I will pursue it for ever!
Let’s tell our children about God. Don’t sell them short and give them the idea that life is just about having things, knowing things, a career, partner, children and holidays. IT ISN’T.
Seeing the colours in the light gives to me clues as to why I may feel a certain way in my body or emotions, or why I am thinking certain thoughts. I don’t mean that I am just dependent on my connection with the environment. Far from it – I am always asking God what things mean and how to interpret the messages I get through my relationship with the light.
Today, for instance, I notice a lack of yellow, and this always causes me to feel less emotionally connected than usual. When I first realised this, I was quite devastated, thinking “How am I going to live if I don’t feel really emotionally connected all the time. Isn’t this what everyone is striving for?” But I have had to let go of that way of thinking. God has shown me that connection runs deeper than heart energy or hearts or being grounded or breath or stillness or emotion.
Connection is through the soul. It just is!
In my last post I said how God speaks to me through my relationship with the light. Today I want to give you an example of what I mean by this.
January isn’t that long after the winter solstice on 21st December so I am always amazed at how the light suddenly becomes brighter and more enlivening as soon as Christmas is past.
For me, though, the spectrum can feel imbalanced. I may be seeing more blue and violet light but I am struggling to see red light. I feel energised yet I don’t feel very grounded. And when I don’t feel grounded it is harder to process all of my sensitivities so it is harder to engage with my projects and with the world.
My reaction could just be frustration and defeat but I prefer the route of frustration and determination! If I don’t feel grounded it means I struggle to use the analytical part of my brain to work everything out and create plans. Another way of looking at is that I can experience more freedom and less control. I have to dig deep to find out what I should be doing. What helps is to give myself a role like ‘Path Forger’ or ‘Battler’ so if I am having a hard day I still feel some sense of purpose.
This year these were the roles I gave myself in early January. I was trying to work out how I could fit some music composing and crafting into my life to help me stay feeling more enlivened and positive this year. I studied some complicated computer software and taught myself a new knitting style! I didn’t manage to complete a project. I was just path forging. Then came a day of deep black cloud and I really felt stuck because I need light to feel good. That day I was thinking about my next way forward with my highly sensitive son. This gets beyond path forging at times. It turns into battling!
Now, having connected with those energies I have kept myself moving and motivated. Now I sense the light going through a more balanced phase I am ready and charged for more creativity like writing this post!
If you find yourself feeling challenged by your own feelings this January, go deeper, and find out what is there. Talk to God and ask what it is all about. As far as I can see, God is is the only one who really knows!
Hi, I was lying in bed last night struggling to sleep. This is not a mild sort of struggle. It is a real ‘I can’t sleep!’ It has been going on for a long time and I would say that it is because I don’t feel grounded. So sometimes I talk to God.
Last night I said ” God, Why do I have this problem?” and God replied “Because you are not fully in your power” I asked “What stops me?” and God said “You.” I said “How?” God said “Well, you have this experience of me. Why don’t you write about it?”
So here I am willing to write. I find it hard to write about my relationship with God. It is like someone asking me to write about my husband. I mean there is so much I could say . . . where would I start?!
So here is an attempt to explain how I go about things in my day to day life. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t quite say “Hello, God” but I immediately wonder what my day is going to be about. I check into my feelings, my thoughts and how my body feels. This always gives me some clues. Well, this is all I used to do . . but these days it is a little more complicated. 3 years ago I realised I had an unusual experience of being very sensitive to the light. As the light changes, so do my feelings, thoughts and how I feel in my body.
For instance today, on January 9th, I am seeing a little less red in the light that I think most others would see and a little more violet that most others would see. The lack of red causes me to feel ungrounded and the violet light causes to me to feel full of ideas and inspiration. Understanding more of why I feel the way I do enriches my experience of God. I think “Wow . . God is speaking to me through my relationship with the light. This is amazing!”
I would say that living by the light is like having an extra anchor for my soul. It takes me deeper and helps me feel more connected to myself, my environment and of course ultimately . . . God.
I have a 12 year old who is scared of many things. He is scared of the electrical sockets in our house, the gas fire, the fact that he didn’t have chicken pox, a tiny speck of blood on his finger, an expression on someone’s face, the tone of someone’s voice . . . and the list goes on.
My son has light, colour, pattern and sound sensitivity. Life is naturally more scary to him than others. He is struggling to process all the colours, patterns and sounds in the world. And I totally understand his fear.
We have tried rationalising things, teaching him more about things like electricity and gas but it doesn’t seem to work. The only thing I can do for my son is to teach him about faith.
I find this pretty hard as my son has a very scientific mind and has learnt that he feels better when he is being very logical and systematic using the left side of his brain. And to live by faith we need to let go into the right side of our brain, where things aren’t rational and logical. They are more feeling based. This is where we make connections and see life as more of a whole, and start to wonder if there might be a bigger plan, and whether we might be part of it.
My son already lives by faith in a way. He often says that things don’t feel right, whether that is food, place, a person or an activity. And he is very strong on these things. However he is also open to change. He told me very strongly that he didn’t want to have anyone massage him the other day. Then when I walked out of a massage with a very nice lady in a very nice place, he said ‘Actually, I think I would like to have a massage!’
When I spoke to my son about faith this morning, I could see deep down that he found it comforting and he said “Well it was a bit of a coincidence that we found our white doves the way we did!” We had been to a pet shop and we spoke to the lady there of my son’s love of pigeons. We had decided to buy a smaller variety of doves called diamond doves, but when we next went to the pet-shop there were 3 beautiful white garden doves in one of the aviaries. They had lost their mother and the lady at the pet-shop had hand reared them. We all knew they were waiting for us!
Call it coincidence or call it synchronicity or go for all out comfort and call it God!
I have visited many churches and sometimes been inspired by the preaching, sometimes moved by the worship, sometimes touched by the sense of community but I have never quite felt at home. I have always had a slight sense of isolation as I sit in my seat and the service unfolds. I start wondering about the person next to me and wonder what their life is like and how they are touched and moved by God but when the service closes and we speak, it is only of surface things and the depths within both of us remain untouched.
Occasionally someone has wanted to know what bought me to their church and when I have said God told me to come, they have given me a puzzled look and said “You mean you felt you should come.” And I repeat “No, God told me to come!” And I wonder but stop myself from saying “Doesn’t God speak to you too?” On other occasions people have asked me directly “Are you a Christian?” Oh how I hate labels! Of course the person wants to know whether I recognised myself as a sinner and asked God to help me with my life on a specific day at a specific time. Well, as it happened I did but there was so much more. On that day I opened myself to the great mystery that me and God are indeed one. Since that day we have walked and talked and laughed and cried together as I have walked the twisty turny journey of my life. To reply to the question “Are you a Christian?” I would incur the same pain as if someone asked me “Are you a wife?” or “Are you a mother?” How deeply impersonal and how wounding to my soul.
At a different sort of church people don’t seem bothered at all by such matters. In fact the minute the service closes it is as if we haven’t been in church at all. The conversation is only of how well you timed your roast dinner to be ready and who is making teas at the village fete. The word ‘community’ is used a lot and there is much ‘doing’ and organising. But, I think to myself – I am hungry deep down in my sprit – hungry for some touch of another soul, hungry for connection, a moment of realness. I want someone to hear me, I want someone to see me but I feel invisible. I want to hear and see another but there is no chink of vulnerability big enough for me to crawl through. I shake the vicar’s hand, respond to the comment about how my son has grown and pass down the church steps, unnoticed and unknown. I had so many thoughts, feelings, ideas, gifts and talents that I wanted to bring but there is no room for such things here. I came to meet others on their amazing journey of faith but I wasn’t met.
Where can I go now? Like many of us, the answer is ‘nowhere’. On a Sunday morning I will stay home in the warmth and intimacy of my family. I will go walking in the hills and fields near our home and watch the flocks of sparrows chattering in the hedges. I will make junk model dinosaurs with my son and listen to him giggling with glee when we can’t seem to make the head stick on the body. I will do anything to make life flow through my body, interest my mind, light up my emotions but I will not go to church where I feel no life and my soul simply goes to sleep.
The best way to illustrate how I hear God’s voice is by giving some examples of the journeys that I go on with God – funny little journeys with big out-comes.
This particular journey took place a few years ago when I saw a picture in my head of a reservoir about 5 miles from where I live. I had only visited it once and it hadn’t become a favourite place. However on that day I felt this strange pull to visit it again so I dragged my husband, Richard and my 4 year old son out for a walk! On arriving, what first occurred to me was that it was a good place for thinking. Simply following the marked paths and feeling the calm of the water was quite therapeutic especially as I had some big thoughts going on in my head that I wanted to share with Richard. As our walk continued we came to a sort of jetty that was like a narrow closed-in walk-way leading to a hide out by the water’s edge. I don’t like tunnels or motion but felt drawn through this tunnel to the small square box-like hide sitting over the water. It wasn’t really moving but as I looked out over the reservoir and saw the water rippling by, I really felt like I was on a boat. Finding myself doing something strange but feeling I had to be there, I put my antennae up and talked to God. Our conversation went something like this:-
“OK, God what I am doing here?”
“Facing a fear.”
“What of . . . motion, boats . . ?“
“Movement. You need to face your fear of movement. You get so scared when you have a dream, something big and you see it unfolding before you, expanding, and then you don’t want to move. Jennie I want you to move, to run with your dream. I want you to face your fear of losing control. I want you to let go.”
Hearing these words made me curious about my fear. I tried looking out at the rippling water from different sides of the hide. I looked at the information on the walls about the birds we might see and then my eye caught sight of something big moving in the water. It was the biggest fish I’ve ever seen actually swimming and it was going surprisingly fast, heading straight for the hide. Part of me became entranced by this fish but just in a corner of my mind was my fear, and the thought that watching it was making me feel slightly dizzy and I didn’t like it. Quite suddenly I decided that enough was enough and I wanted to go now. I moved quickly through the tunnel and back onto what I thought was dry land! I was happy again but I was changed. A little bit of the fear had gone.
Today is May 9th – my Birthday. Now I guess May 9th may have no special ring to you but of course it does to me.
I am not a celebration person though and have had many grumpy Birthdays! I could never work out why. Did I feel people were not treating me right? Did I have too few cards? Did someone important forget? Well – the answer was often all of the above! However in another way the answer was something completely different.
Today I remembered how May 9th was special for me as a child (just the date) and also how I used to pray that the sun would shine on my Birthday. I literally did that every year and to my surprise, God did seem to answer my prayers! I can remember many a sunny Birthday.
Well, this year I kept looking at the weather forecast and I could see drizzle and a north east wind forecasted. So . . .what is God up to this year, I wondered! I had decided to go to my son’s favourite place for the morning as his happiness is everything to me and his visual processing gives him few choices to be happy when out. So we went to see our friend Vic and her lovely alpacas. We also took our hover-boards because I remembered Vic had a particularly promising looking new drive for a hover-boarding ride.
When we left in the car it was sunny. I noticed the old familiar cow parsley that is always out for my Birthday (and my Mum remembers from the day I was born.) The bluebells were still out (flowering late this year) and dotted in the hedgerow was the flash of red campion. The yellow was very strong in the green of the leaves – in fact so strong I had to shut my eyes when we went through leafy tunnels. And I thought to myself “Yes, it feels like my Birthday. All my special wild flowers are out.”
I haven’t had any presents because you try buying a present for a colour sensitive person! I haven’t suffered the sound or the pattern of wrapping paper. And I asked not to have cards.
The most memorable thing of my Birthday will be the trip in the car and all the colours of the spring flowers dancing together in unison for me! It seems that I was born at a time when the light feels best for me. And I must have known from very young just how much I needed the sunlight to really make the colours dance.
Did you pray for things that felt important to you as a child? I would love to hear your stories.