Friday, April 28, 2017

Our Weaknesses: Our Greatest Teachers and Catalysts For Change

What is it about our human condition that easily sees dualities everywhere except in ourselves? We speak loosely about notions like good and evil, right and wrong, and black and white in addressing the world around us. But when we need to turn inward to examine ourselves we trip over these concepts.

The idea that in one person there can be both good and evil is hard for the individual to accept about herself. We prefer to think of how we can unify these dualities so we can live with ourselves more easily. We are not both good and bad, and there is no right and wrong, we tell ourselves, because we reject moral absolutes or the idea of a sinful nature. We prefer to see our dark side as our weaknesses that need improving and our limitations that need accepting. It's easier to sleep at night if we don't face up to what we really are.

We buy the lie and the truth of who we really are is relegated to a dim corner of the mind and banished from the heart. Absolutes supposedly belong there, in exile, with God and all those uncomfortable impositions of sin and its consequences, and notions of accountability and personal responsibility. We are happy to accept this sort of mediocrity with regard to our inner life because it is hidden away from the world and we're the only ones who really know ourselves.

Acceptance helps us live with ourselves but surely there is more to life than just living with our limitations and tip toeing around our sinful nature because we are so fragile that if we really looked in the mirror and saw what we were we'd hate ourselves, and that scares us.
Can we ever truly love ourselves with all our blemishes, weaknesses, dark corners, evil intentions, lies and failings? Don't we want to overcome and transcend our so called limitations and rise above the level of mediocrity to be better than what we are?

It's very hard for many of us to do that because first we'd have to admit and accept that we sin and that evil does lurk in our hearts, right alongside good. Then we would have to hate that sin and evil within us so much that we'd want to change, while accepting that we are good and worthy of love, all at the same time. Hate the sin, but love the sinner. This can only happen when we recognise the duality in all of us, and that God loves us as we are.

Instead, we become prickly and collapse inwardly when we perceive our weaknesses to be condemning us when they are actually our greatest teachers and catalysts for change. We are defensive and overly sensitive and put up a fight to hold on to that which needs to change so we can really grow. If others point out our weaknesses, limitations, failings, sins etc to us then they teach us about ourselves, about them and ultimately about life and love.

Loving others can only happen when we love ourselves, warts and all. We just need to keep excising the warts. It takes so much courage and great humility to be honest with ourselves but that's the only way to live, with honesty and constantly fighting the darkness within. It is a battle. The only way to win it is to be honest with one's self and humble before God. That's actually half the battle won.

When my life is over I want to be able to say I fought a good fight, and that goodness, truth, honesty and love won. Hardest thing ever, but the best things usually are. Mediocrity is cheap. I'm not buying.

Thanks for reading,

14th January 2017

I'm In A Good Place

Today I managed my 30 minute morning walk without shedding a single tear. Amazing. The human body is resilient but the spirit even more so. No matter what I have endured, I do believe I am on the path to healing the wounds of my soul. I feel shades of anger, at things said and done to me, but I think this anger is good as long as I contain it well. Anger is a sign that change is needed. It's a catalyst for deep change that can be harnessed and used to turn things around. I jumped out of bed today and told myself that nobody, NOBODY, can hurt me so much that I cannot put the pieces of my life back together again. Of course, I can. I have survived all sorts of things. I am a survivor. I had a great walk while bird spotting, and reveling in the greenery and the odd dog being trotted about. Faces sped past, wrapped up in their own daily dramas. Everybody has a story of pain and sadness and grief. And everybody finds a way to just carry on. I do believe that I've begun carrying on. Finally. It quietly happened one day. Maybe the other day, when I told myself that it was time to stop crossing oceans for people who won't cross a puddle for me, and to stop shedding even a single tear for those who do not care for me. Moving on feels good. Gotta stay in that mode. Grateful to be able to see where I've been and where I'm heading, and where I am right now. I'm in a good place.

Thanks for reading,

25th April 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Note to Adele - "I Am Worried About You".

For Adele. For me. For everyone.


Dear Adele,

I listened to several of your wonderful songs in an Adele fest this morning. I love your voice, and the lyrics of your songs are so real. Your songs touched my heart, and I love them. I have to admit, however, that I am worried about you.

Adele, don't find somebody like him. Find someone different and exciting and totally, mysteriously, new. Why look for someone who will simply remind you of lost love? That would be torture for you, and rather unfair on the new bloke. Find somebody who's nothing like the old chap. Find someone better!

Adele, I don't quite know how to set fire to rain, but if you've finally realised that you never really knew the man you loved and you've seen his true colours, then don't start playing with fire, just walk away from more hurt and pain. Save yourself!

Adele, you can't make anyone feel your love. They either do or don't. You shouldn't have to try so hard and promise to do anything and everything for them. Sometimes that's just not going to be enough. Yes, you could still try and it wouldn't be enough, and you'd be even more heartbroken. Find your dignity, hold on to it and walk away with your head held high. You deserve better!

Adele, you could have had it all but you didn't. Nobody really does in this life. Just take whatever you had and cherish it and learn to let it all go. Don't hold on so tightly to what you had or didn't have. Let go. Rolling in the deep is nice. It's better than playing in the shallows. But sometimes people drown in the deep because they can't exist there. They need the shallows. Let them go. You were never meant to have it all with them. You love depth!

Adele, you have to stop calling him from the other side. He's ignoring you and doesn't feel your pain or want your apologies. He doesn't care any more. That door is closed. He's moved on. Stop knocking on that door. Close your heart too. Say goodbye and mean it!

Adele, you've got to stop remembering what it was like when you were young. So he was like a movie, he was like a song. So he was beautiful and you loved him. But it's over now. Stop dwelling on it and torturing yourself by looking back all the time. Rewrite the movie ending, change the lyrics of the song. You were young once but you're not any more. Accept that!

It's time to move on, Adele. I really hope your next few songs reflect that you've truly moved on and are ready for new things in your life. Please, no more hankering for the past. It's beautifully melancholic, touchingly nostalgic and sweetly sentimental, but I don't know if it's the best way to heal your broken heart. I don't think so. Perhaps these songs have run their course and it's time for a new direction and a new you. A fully healed you. I'm just worried that you're not living in the moment by looking back so much. Let the past go, move on and live fully. Be happy being you, as you are. You're gorgeous and lovable and wonderful. Love you, Adele. Take care, Pav.

(Feb 2016)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Reflection For This Easter

They say "be careful what you pray for", presumably because you might actually get it. Philippians 3:10 comes to mind as a verse that I have sometimes felt drawn to in prayer: "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..." (NIV).

It's a lovely Easter season prayer. One that brings together Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. Some versions use "fellowship of His sufferings" which I prefer, imagining myself on some Tolkienesque quest to experience the suffering of Christ in the world, dying to self and perfecting His image in my life as I trudge along in search of all that is good. It seems noble, and pure and like a pilgrimage, and at heart aren't all our lives like holy journeys if we reverence them correctly?

Into this somewhat romanticised notion of life I have tried to fit chronic illness and heartbreak, amid seasons of spiritual dryness, similar to variations of the dark night of the soul that anyone truly searching for God experiences. Sometimes He has been so real, at times He has seemed very far away. But always, I have felt drawn back to Him, no matter what. I can't explain why that is, other than to simply say God made me that way. I wish everyone was the same, but apparently it isn't so.

Many are content to go through life in the dark, thinking that's all there is and all they want. The dark comforts them, and they feed off it. Still, there are many who feel drawn to the light no matter what happens, and the moment they stray, they know it for what it is. Sin. A separation from God.

The world doesn't understand this sort of person. They're not just unusual, they're practically abnormal because the norm, really, is to love the things of the flesh, the ways of the world, and of pride and ego, and to pursue them wholeheartedly, and anybody who doesn't isn't in sync with the world. They don't really belong here, and in their hearts they know it. Their hearts tell them they belong elsewhere, and theirs is an exile of sorts as long as they journey through life.

That's the fellowship of the suffering of Christ. The cost of wanting to be like Him, and yet journeying through a world that doesn't welcome you. It's loneliness, abandonment, betrayal and heartbreak. The ultimate sacrifice for the faith would be a martyr's death. And yet one doesn't need to go so far to be a part of the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.

This Easter, as I gaze upon Christ on the cross I am grateful for every painful suffering I have endured in my pilgrimage through life. These sufferings have brought me closer to my Lord, and that is good enough for me. The world will never understand what it cannot comprehend, but the soul that loves God knows.

This Easter I want to know the power of His resurrection also. To rise from the ashes, to come alive once more, to live more fully and joyfully. Every Easter brings these things to mind. This Easter will be special. I can feel it in my soul.

Thanks for reading,


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Gift of Self Awareness

Self awareness is a great gift to give to oneself and to others. Being aware of what we feel, say and do helps us tremendously. It's the ability to suddenly see where we are in a point of time, what we are thinking, what emotions are taking hold of us, what our actions and words are, and where we need to stop, and change direction immediately.

It's as if a fog lifts and suddenly everything is clear and you know just what needs to be done. Or maybe a fog descends, and you realise that you're overcome by a sense of regret that self awareness has come too late that day, and that misty, musty feeling of being stuck in a rut with old feelings and emotions and the possibility of never changing for the better haunts you. One must face those gloomy moments head on and persevere towards positive change, and even this knowledge and the manifestation of its wisdom in one's life is a kind of self awareness.

For a long time I was not self aware in my life. I was on autopilot. Now through life's circumstances and hours of prayer, tears, more prayer and quiet meditation I have found myself developing some form of self awareness, perhaps in a state of infancy. It must feed on itself to grow.

The more self aware you are, the more self aware you become. If you refuse the gift of self awareness and turn away from it, it will never take hold and grow. It will shrivel up and die while ego and pride continue to thrive. Only recognise the gentle voice of self awareness, heed its call, back away, back down and conduct a proper self examination, and that seedling of self awareness is fed and can grow. As it grows, pride and ego will give way to humility.

If we could only step out of ourselves and observe ourselves in action we would be so shocked by who we are, and what we can be. We can't truly step out of ourselves but we can step away in any given point of time to examine who and where we are.

May our states of consciousness and our consciences be so sharply attuned to the gentle and quiet voice of God that calls us to stop, step away, step back and be still. Being more self aware means knowing that God is right there with me at every step of the way. I just need to be still.<3 p="">

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Missing the Message of a Massage

Went for a massage a couple of days ago. One of those "restorative" and "reinvigorating" massages meant to revive and re-energise you and have you bouncing off the walls. Set in lush gardens and with a sea view, the spa is truly lovely. The massage was awesome. A Chinese lady, called Elise, used her arms and elbows and hands to knead out knots in my back and shoulders especially. The oils were aromatic with lots of peppermint and rosemary. I wondered if I was a lamb being marinated for a roasting or a post dinner digestive treat! It was heavenly, and I chided myself for not going for massages more regularly. And then the next day it hit me with a bang. I felt like a truck ran over me. No restoration, invigoration, energising or reviving. Just plain flat out, everything hurts, especially my back and shoulders. Oh dear. Am reminded of when I went to an osteopath for an upper back treatment a few years ago and she left me with mutiple red welts all over my back. When my daughter saw them she was so horrified, she forbade me to return, saying, "You must never go back there, Mum, the lady's trying to kill you!". Glad she had my back! Poor Elise from China, she meant well, and I wanted to be gung ho and not wimpy, so I asked for "medium" strength pressure. But my body is rather wimpy. Next time I shall simply say, "No kung fu please, just be very gentle". Might be a pointless massage but at least I won't feel run over the next day. Of course, proponents of the major benefits of massage will say that I am simply experiencing the aftermath of the release of toxins from my body, accelerated by the massage and all for my own good. Frankly, my toxins, such as they are, seemed pretty harmless. Why they hurt so much on their way out is beyond me. I am not inspired to release my toxins in this manner. Nonsense. I'd rather hold on to them, it's far less painful! ;)

Thanks for reading!