So, I was in my favourite place in Bedford, the beautiful Embankment, where I walk and talk with God on a regular basis, but always on a Friday as this is my day off (what an absolute blessing Fridays are to my soul). Today, like every other day I have been down at the river I saw a swan glide towards me, which is not a surprise as the river is famous for its swans. But today, God used the swan as I stopped to admire it, to speak to me.
He asked me a question, “Do you want to be like the swan?”
Well that’s a bit weird I thought, but as I started walking I began to think about what a swan represents to me. I always admire the way the swan glides along effortlessly with everything above the waters surface (that which is seen), looking graceful, elegant and so peaceful. They never seem in a rush, always just skimming through the water so serenely. However, I know that just below the surface their legs are paddling away rhythmically to propel them forward, but you don’t see that. The swan doesn’t seem disturbed by what is going on around it in the water and keeps its own course letting nothing fluster it.
God began to reveal to me how I was like the swan…
This is going to be good I thought because of what the swan represented to me. But how wrong I was! Who knows that when God is highlighting something it’s because He wants to do some business and boy did I need Him to, as I had really been making a hash of things just lately, So it seemed He was taking matters into His own hands, taking control of the wheel as it were (once He managed to prise my hands off it that is).
You see I am currently in a somewhat difficult season in my working life and this has been causing me some real issues, but despite what has been going on around me, to onlookers I probably seem fairly calm and peaceful on the surface and holding it all together. Obviously I have those moments when the emotions break through and I find myself close to tears or crying at the drop of a hat (what’s new, those of you who know me might think), but really the sad truth is I’ve been squashing everything down and bottling things up because I simply don’t have time to deal with these emotions right now as I might go under if I let it all out! Having a big cry leaves me exhausted and swollen in the eye and nose department and having to get up and go to work with swollen eyes is not the one, can I get an amen!
In the not dealing with stuff, my legs (back to the swan analogy), below the surface of my life are going like the clappers, not rhythmically like the swan, but are an actual hot mess! I’m beginning to be affected by ‘everything’ that is going on around me, as well as my own stuff (as I’m highly sensitive), but those I work with and encounter daily and this has been leaving me feeling stressed out and full up emotionally. I am usually able to brush this stuff off as it’s not my own, but because I’ve been struggling myself I’ve become less able to do that. The gliding on the surface thing is beginning to break down and I can no longer pretend everything is okay as the cracks appear and are letting in water. I’ve been feeling like I’m drowning, can anyone relate?
The truth is I’m exhausted by it all. The lies have been building up and causing my thinking to become clogged up. As I have been down at the river the last few weeks whilst the weather was still glorious I have been shocked and upset by the build up of algae on the surface of the water making it look horrible. Things have been caught in the algae and look like they are suspended in green sludge. The algae has looked like it’s chocking the life out of the precious life giving river and it hasn’t looked like it’s flowing like it usually does. I’ve felt God say that my thinking has become just like the beautiful waters of the river-toxic!
But, guess what? Yes, I managed to push those thoughts to one side and ignore them! How interesting that I could ignore God pointing out this stuff because it was too difficult to deal with at the moment! Surely it’s not just me who does this?
One of the rotten lies I’ve been believing is that ‘I’m too busy to stop’ and there is an element of truth to that (there is always an element of truth to most lies which is what makes them feel so real). I am incredibly busy at work and this is affecting my ‘down time’. But without stopping I can’t really move forward. Catch 22!!! I have been too busy to allow God in to help me and have been trying to cope under my own strength and in the meantime I have been trying to ‘control’ everything around me as so much feels out of control and all wrong. This is what happens when God isn’t at the centre, you lose your peace and I realised as He spoke to me that this had gradually been happening to me without me realising it, a gradual eroding so I didn’t notice it seeping away. How would I realise if I never stopped to reflect on why my stomach was constantly in knots.
So, as God highlighted these things I was shocked!
I felt Him offer an alternative version of the swan where I look serene and peaceful on the outside but in this version it also matches the feelings I’m having on the inside because I’m allowing time for God to help me work through some tough things going on. I’m existing from a place of peace again where my legs are no longer working furiously because I’m allowing Holy Spirit to be the driving force in my life and with Holy Spirit it’s not about me putting in all the effort, but it’s about resting in Him.
A bit of back story now…
In the Spring of this year I started seeing herons and felt God tell me to ‘be still and wait’ (just like the herons I was seeing everywhere), but I didn’t understand why or what I was waiting for?
I obviously listened to God but said to Him in my whiniest child like voice, “but you said it’s my year of acceleration” (like God had somehow forgotten this). I had several words around the same time that confirmed this word so I actively listened and I stepped back from my beloved TSM role to be obedient and have been prayerfully bringing things before Him that I have been asked to do before saying yes to anything. I have been in a real quandary about what I am waiting for and anyone who knows me will testify that I find being patient the most difficult thing to do (probably why He keeps teaching me about it!!!!!)
Psa 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
But I’m learning lately that to move forward you need to be still because God can’t get to do the stuff that needs doing while you are going at full pelt in your own strength!!!! I think I have become disappointed and cross with God because I don’t understand what He is doing and it seems like He isn’t doing anything. Anyone else been in this position or felt like this?
As I write this I can’t believe some of the whopping great lies I’ve succumbed to, including the one that says that God has moved me to Bedford and basically doesn’t have good plans for me and that He isn’t going to break into my work situation and turn things round or that He doesn’t have anything for me to do here. Even as I type this I am shocked at my own stinking thinking! Shame would tell me not to write this blog because the thoughts I’ve been having are awful and that people would be shocked if they knew what was really going on in my head! But I’ve learnt that shame is no longer part of my identity and I removed that ‘comfy coat’ I was wearing some years back on my TSM year, I didn’t even know I was wearing a big shame covering because it fit me so well and had gradually crept up on me bit my bit jut like the lies I have been believing.
Thankfully, you’ll be relieved to know that over the last week I have been dealing with the lies…
One of the truths is that myself and God have a track record in the waiting department, as I waited five years to move to Bedford, and I am still amazed to this day that I am here and that God literally moved a mountain to make it happen (the mountain was my husband btw, but that is for another blog). God knew the desires of my heart as He put them there in the first place and I know that He has the best plans for my life and my life bears witness to that in a major way. He has also proven Himself to be faithful when over the years I lost faith in moving several times. Thankfully God’s faithfulness will always trump my faithlessness!
Another truth is that God set me up for the job I am currently in (enabling us to move to Bedford) and is partnering with me there to bring His kingdom. He cares deeply about it and it’s ‘our’ current assignment, but that doesn’t mean it’s forever. Even though it’s tough He is with me and will make a way where there currently seems no way. But while I am waiting and being still I will keep my eyes on Him and I will keep Him at the centre as this is the only way that my life makes any sense. I just need to trust Him in that and know that with God ALL things are possible.
I also took some time to hand control of my life back to God and apologised for trying to do things in my own strength. Who wants that responsibility anyway, it’s utterly exhausting!
Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I also know that God wants to release all the creativity that He has put inside me and that there is a new season coming that will see this happen and that He has much for me to do that is going to look uniquely different to everyone else’s journey (watch this space).
Psa 27:14 Wait on the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait on the Lord.
Another truth, that I know well is that my biggest weapon is worship and that it’s a weapon to wield everyday, wherever I am. This song has been really helpful, Waymaker Paul McClure Bethel Music.
Even when I don’t see it, you’re working,
Even when I don’t feel it, you’re working,
You never stop, you never stop working,
You never stop, you never stop working,
Waymaker, Miracle worker,
Promise keeper, Light in the Darkness,
My God that is who you are!
I pray that if this post has spoken to you that you too would grab hold of those lies that have built up in your head, that feel so real, and that you would give them to God and let Him come and show you the truth.
The truth is He is a good, good father and He knows just what we need.