“This is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.”

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Why would we choose darkness? Because we have something to hide? We all have something to hide. Light exposes every wrinkle, every blemish, every imperfection, our flawed, secret self.

Ask yourself, could I stand naked in front of a room full of people, not strangers, people I interact with? The answer for most of us is no. Then think, could I be entirely naked before someone I love and who I know loves me, just as I am warts and all?

This is the secret of embracing the light. Knowing  God loves us with such perfect love He sees past our imperfections, we can yield ourselves in total, naked, honesty. Not because we feel we are perfect or beautiful, but because we trust totally in His limitless love for us. This is true humility and only in this way can we embrace the light.

If you can to your own self be true…

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Diversity is one of the great wonders of life. We celebrate it in flowers, in landscape, in animals, in every facet of nature, yet think others must adhere to our own personal box. Worse yet we endever to confine ourselves within the criteria of others. God made people as diverse and wonderful as the rest of his kingdom – good comes in many forms, let us celebratthem all.

When life freezes over.

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As days grow colder, the trees gradually drop the gaudy garlands of leaves masking their true strength and beauty. Even so do we, as adversity’s chilling winds efface the sunshine in our lives, drop our masks, revealing our inner nakedness and humility. Others watching marvel, overwhelmed by our true beauty. As distresses fall, like freezing snow, upon our boughs we become ever more beautiful to the beholding eye. Old dead branches fall away and our inner soul is strengthened.

Love Humbles.

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To really love and be loved by someone we have to lay down our guard, trusting them not to stomp all over our fragile inner being (and they sometimes do). Most of all we have to lay aside our pride, love is always humbling, or it isn’t love.

Gayle Erwin (one of my favourite pastor/ comedians) coins the term “falling in lust” to describe the initial attraction a man and woman may feel for each other. Sadly this type of relationship is often portrayed as love in movies etc. but while physical attraction and sex generally forms a large part of romantic relationships, there has to be more, much more, or it will explode in glorious colour but then fizzle like a firework, leaving you with ashes.

Sometimes we want to be loved for our attributes, our looks, our strength, our intelligence, but real love cannot be founded on any of these (even being a kind/good person). We all mess up sometimes and one of the most important things we can learn in life is to come to terms with our own fallibility. Love founded on looks will die with age; an accident can take away strength and sickness our intelligence. I love the movie “The Ugly Truth”. I’m not sure why, perhaps I identify with the romantically inept female lead. Most of all, I love the end where he says he’s in love with her and baffled she asks why. He replies something to the effect of, “Hell, I don’t know why. I just am!” That’s how love is, it doesn’t love “because” it just loves, unconditionally, no matter what, warts and all. To receive this kind of love is humbling, it is undeserved.

I think this generation have it far harder than mine. The promotion of a cool image, of pride and independence makes it much harder to dare to expose your vulnerability, the inner you. However it’s impossible to form a love bond of any sort unless both parties drop the social masks and reveal their inner selves, and that’s humbling, more than that, it’s terrifying for some. Yet to be without these bonds of love whether romantic, parental, sibling, or friendship, is to live a life lacking the vibrant colour love brings.

“Fine”

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With just one word you have said so much and yet so little…. Wrapped up in those four letters is everything I wanted to hear and yet nothing at all.

You toss it out like throwing pennies to the performer on the street, knowing it’s not all I’m worth but giving you a way out in the immediate.

That one word does not suffice me. It does not tell me what oceans you swim in now. It does not tell me what mountains you have climbed or how far you have yet to go. It does not tell me of your heartache or of your joy. It tells me nothing.

Still, those four letters have told me everything. They have told me that you are sailing the oceans and not drowning. That you have survived the mountain and continue to climb. They have told me that your heartaches are your own and your joy is shared with others. They have told me everything.

But I haven’t stood by your side all these years only to be given the same fleeting smile and handshake you would give a total stranger. I haven’t been the friend that held you when you cried only to now be given the same scraps from your table that you would give to your dog.

And so the next time I stand beside you and see joy dancing in your eyes, the next time I hold your hand and feel the pain trembling therein, the next time we hug and you linger that little bit too long, the next time I ask how are you, please, I beg, allow me the honour of being a friend and give me more than just:

“Fine.”
(Taken from a young friend’s writings.)

sometimes I just don’t understand.

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It’s hard for me to understand when people act deviously and without integrity, I can’t see the motivation. Over my 65 years of life I’ve seen the inevitability of these things boomeranging back. “You reap what you sow” has proved true in my experience, if not in physical losses then in an embittered and lonely old age.

The last two weeks have hit crisis point for my youngest daughter’s family in a year long struggle to get their landlord to properly fix the heating. Penny wise, but pound foolish he now has severe damp, mound and rot in one of the rooms, plus they are moving out as the house is rapidly becoming uninhabitable. Even this move was only possible due to a threat to expose them to the local council. It’s ugly to have to use such leverage and they hate it, but they have a young child.

God, as ever, has taken care of them providing a super nice apartment close by with a more responsible landlord, but I feel sad for the pretty little house going to rack and ruin and the landlord, who repeatedly lied, has lost all credence with the estate agent that manages the property. They loved the tiny house and were good tenants. Now he has to do the work anyway while the house sits empty and word has spread. It will be hard for him to get good tenants now. So sad.

Who are you hiding ?

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(A thought for the new year)

I’d so often tried to be
The sort “they” thought I ought to be.
To wear the clothes, the face, the fit
To wow the crowds, to be a hit.
Yet hidden deep beneath it all
My hidden self began to call

“Now let me out, don’t be a fake!
Just let me fully life partake!
Open the window of your soul
For good or ill ‘twill make you whole”.

Hand shook and thumbled with the catch,
My inner being to unlatch.
Flung wide the door to let them see
That thing that was the inner me.

To my surprise and not alarm
They looked within serene and calm,
Embraced the inner me with love
Became connected far above
Those former shallow futile links
I’d made with “friends” all full of kinks.

The sun comes down upon me now
The art of living? I’ve learnt how.
The precious you that dwells within
Just set it free real joy to win.

Good old advice.

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Looking back on a long and somewhat unusual and adventurous life, one of the most important things for me is not how much money I have in the bank, how many of my goals I accomplished etc. No, when you become old it’s important that you have a peace with yourself, to look back and know you did the best you could. You may not always have gotten it right, but you tried. That you might have blown it a lot of times but you didn’t chicken out or pull your punches, that you lived in integrity as much as you were able.

These things bring peace in old age. I know some who do not have this peace, though they have been forgiven they find it hard to forgive themselves. We tend to lose our critics along the path of life, but our own heart ever holds the mirror.

Honesty – a long term investment.

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When I was very young I worried a lot about “friends”- being in with the cool crowd (not that I ever was lol!) I lived life with one eye on the mirror.

You see honesty isn’t only about telling the truth (though that’s important if you want to be trusted) but also about being honest about who you are.

My inner me finally revolted in my mid teens and I decided to just be me (I was pretty lousy at being anyone else anyway lol!). It worked amazingly well. I was suddenly catapulted from the bottom to the top of the coolness social strata even surpassing those unfeeling souls I’d tried to emulate. I found myself, the artist, outspoken iconoclast, rebel, dreamer, seeker, to be actually cresting the wave of late 60’s hippiedom.

Of course that didn’t last. I wouldn’t want to be associated with much that is thought cool today, but I learnt a valuable lesson – to be honest (even with myself). My long term friends are mostly the same. I trust their integrity. We talk straight and deep. I hate to play games, especially with people’s hearts or emotions.

Though I’ve learnt wisdom over the years and don’t generally blast folks with my more radical views or tales of my more colourful adventures, I still  avoid empty conversations and can spot flattery or manipulation a mile off (and quietly cross its perpetrators off my list of acquaintances).

So if you happen to feel yourself boxed into pretending to be someone on the outside you are not on the inside, try it! Honesty really is the best policy!