Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Waiting for Christmas

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I’m so excited for Christmas this year.

This year it feels like it’s taken on a different dimension, an extra layer of resonance. I really relate to the things that other people have been writing about – their reflections on the hope of Christmas, a small but mighty light in the darkness: Emmanuel, God with us. With us in the chaos and cruelty, the beauty and triumph.

It feels like we’ve all been through a lot this year – so many things have happened that should have been unthinkable. I used to try and make a habit of listening to the radio with breakfast but these days I can’t take so much heartbreak so early on in the day.

I’m also living with elements of personal uncertainty at the moment. Some days I soar with elation in the face of the unknown. On other occasions, I’m more prone to self-pity with an unattractive tendency to swear at the people who make light of my disappointments. 

Because of all of those things, all my heart wants to do is spend time with Jesus. His beauty is unparalleled. His kindness is revolutionary. And He is here. For me, that makes all the difference.

“Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed, 
save me and I will be saved, 
for you are the one I praise.” 
Jeremiah 17v14

That’s what I want this Christmas. Time with Jesus – the chance to be renewed by Love and come out on the other side of this season as a better version of myself, ready to take on the world. Ready to be counted again in our collective push for good, whole and worthwhile things in 2016.

Happy and merry to you and yours.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Quietness and Trust

"When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown up
we would no longer be vulnerable.
But to grow up is to accept vulnerability."

- Madeleine L'Engle -
"Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art"

Today, I feel like a grown up. At least by this definition, and at least for the time being. I promised I would follow up on how my lessons in letting go are working out. I think it's safe to say I'm coming along. I don't dare to declare myself finished but over the last months, since August, things have been tumultuous. Bad news has followed hard on the heels of good, exciting things have turned to ash in our hands, and you know what they say about the best laid schemes of mice and men... And that's just in the small corner of my ordinary life, without taking into account the horrors and harships in the news and embedded in our collective conscience. Without doubt, we are living in difficult times.

But what has really surprised me is how great a superpower vulnerability really is. I am vulnerable. There is a part of me that whispers truth, admits mistakes, releases wrong-turns when the unknown crystallises and rearranges everything. There is a part of me that breaks freely, cries emphatically and heals completely. It's messy and complicated and real. And I'm so amazed that right in the middle of things breaking down on multiple fronts when it feels (maybe melodramatically) like everything is falling apart - I have never felt stronger or truer or more rooted.

I think I'm probably surprised because I live in a culture that celebrates the strong and the finished, the quick and capable. It's hard to remember the truth. And the truth is that I shouldn't be surprised - I've been told all of this before

"This is what the Sovereign LORD...says:
'In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength'..."
Isaiah 30v15 (AMP)

"He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'."
2 Corinthians 12v9  

I am living the paradox of strength in weakness, of trust in the unseen and hope in disappointment. And it's uncomfortable and bit terrifying, but on whole it's actually a pretty great place to be.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Ideals & "The Opposite of Loneliness"

This book came into my life over a year ago, and hesitantly. I wasn't sure if I could bear the sadness of reading the words of a brilliant writer who died too young. And, honestly, I also wasn't sure if I'd be big enough as a person not to slightly envy her brilliance and post-humous success. In the end I succumbed, and I'm so glad I did. Marina Keegan writes with a luminosity that makes me glad to be part of the world.

But I also find her words challenging - particularly her essay "Even Artichokes Have Doubts". In it, she explores the trend that sees creative graduates enticed into jobs in professional services. She questions the right-ness of that path and posits the idea that maybe, just maybe, we could change the world through spending our working lives in other, less mainstream ways.

It feels wildly ungenerous given the circumstances, but a part of me really longs to know how she would have lived out that reality. I'm sure she would have - I don't doubt her commitment. She is quoted in the book's dedication as having said "I will live for love and the rest will take care of itself". As a stranger to her in real life, off the page, I don't have a right to mourn her as her friends and family do. But I still feel the loss. I would have loved to see her example. I would have loved to find inspiration from her story of balancing the pressures and aggravations of the so-called real world against that greater reality: the urge to live well, to live a life of love.

Because that's what I want to do. I am twenty-eight and I am still not sure if I'm doing a good job of cultivating the kind of life that I feel proud to own. I stand by each of my decisions, in work and love and life. But there are times, sometimes frequent occasions in quick succession, when I question what this is all building towards. I want my work and my words and my being here to count towards something better for all of us, but it feels so nebulous and unattainable when pitted against the realities of my daily routine and the vastness of the world's intractable problems.  

I have doubts about how worthwhile some of things I'm engaged in really are. And I struggle to pull together a coherent criteria to evaluate those bigger questions. I doubt and I struggle and I don't know where to look for role models.

And so I just keep going, and miss the ones who might have shown us the way.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Daisy Goodwin & The Queen for Our Times

I bought this copy of The Times on 9 September 2015: the day Queen Elizabeth II surpassed Queen Victoria as Britain's longest reigning monarch.

I'm a fan of Queen Elizabeth II. I'm also a fan of Queen Victoria (and a few other queens of note, thanks to the eloquent introduction to their life and times in "She-Wolves" by Helen Castor). I think I gravitate to all of their stories because, in history books heavy with the contributions and perspectives of men, they provide a rare demonstration of the longstanding ways in which individual women have been influential and had social significance through their public positions. 

So it was interesting to me to see Daisy Goodwin's column in The Times, pitting Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria against each other and declaring the latter to be a more fitting role model for our era. 

There's something in the zeitgeist at the moment that seems all for the empowerment of women. When I was seeking out my role models as a teenager, I gravitated towards women whose lives resonated with purpose and achievement: artists, activist, women with a voice. But I felt more alone in that search - less connected to a movement. These days, it feels like lots of women are being identified and championed as role models. It feels like, as a society, conversation is turning to the role of women with greater attention and seriousness than I detected growing up.

Queen Victoria may seem to more closely embody some of the characteristics we are keen to admire in women today: outspoken political leader, dedicated working mother and the other things Daisy Goodwin's column points out. Maybe that does make her "the woman for our times", in the sense of reflecting present values. But I think we need more than that. We need a range of people in public life who, together, help us remember how to be our whole selves.

Maybe the fact that Queen Elizabeth II is less 'of' our times is exactly what makes her so essential 'for' our times, so necessary in our current cultural make-up. In the Queen, we have someone who shows us the value of discretion, fidelity and compromise - things that are often in short supply in this restless, ambitious age of the internet extrovert. In the Queen, we have a reminder of other ways of being in the world. Whether we want to imitate them or not is our personal prerogative. But we at least get to see another way.

And, at the end of the day, isn't giving women options what feminism is about? 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Beyond Understanding

I used this photo in a blog post once before, over 2 years ago, called "Moving On". It seems appropriate to use it again because moving on is exactly what I'm trying to do.

The last two years have been... an experience. 

I very recently listened to a friend encouraging a group of us, gathered together in a church context, to embrace a life with God that takes us beyond our comfort zones. And I have to say, I cried. And I walked out. Because I love those sermons, I love that sentiment and it's the only kind of life I have ever wanted to live. And four years ago, I chose to implement that in my choice of career. And two years ago, on the edge of big change and challenge, I took my first steps into the unknown. I haven't seen my comfort zone in years! Which I suppose is commendable in some sense, but the thing that I find hardest to come to terms with right now is this: leaving my comfort zone has been really, really uncomfortable!

It's kind of obvious, right? And yet I've been blind-sided by the pain of it. The realisation has all come at once, full force, as I've made the decision to move on. It's fair to say I struggled from beginning to end. But even more so in these closing weeks, it's like a valve has been released and all the brave-facing and genuine faith and hope that I tried to hold onto over the years has disintegrated into an eruption of latent disappointment.

There are indisputable truths - things that I've seen and known in the last 2 years that I would stake my all on. And the fact that God has been good to me, so good to me, is one of them. Numerous kindnesses, multiple ways that hard things have been relieved, bad things redeemed, shafts of light and silver linings.

But what I think I'm realising is this: if I'm going to trust God with my life (and that is entirely what I intend to do, every day, hands down, non-negotiable) - if I'm going to trust God with my life, it's not enough for me to admit that He is good. I also have to admit that He is God.

I've been thinking about this Bible verse:

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge [submit to] Him
and He will direct your path."
Proverbs 3v5-6 

The second part is not the challenge for me: I submitted to God and this is what He directed me into. Fine, done, keep going. But I know I'm not trusting God with all my heart - I feel bruised and hurt and I can't sing song lyrics like "I surrender all" and "all I have is yours". I don't trust God with all my heart because I am too busy trying to figure out the point of His leading. And I absolutely cannot grasp it. "Do not lean on your own understanding." Why?

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55v8 

Damn straight! There are a few things I would have orchestrated differently in these 24 months or so. Particularly the painful non-work related things, like several kinds of difficulties in family life that have left me feeling vulnerable and bereft. But:

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55v9

That's what I need to accept if I am ever going to transition into the peace that comes from totally resting in trust. I have fooled myself into believing that I have a right to know what my life is about, the value of my work and contribution to the world, where all my relationships are going and the full extent of what is possible from a life lived with God. But how much of that is really my business? How much of that belongs to God?

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, 
but the things revealed belong to us..."
Deuteronomy 29v29

God is not some Local Authority that I can petition under the Freedom of Information Act. He doesn't have to explain to me what He's been up to in my life over this season, or the ones to come. There are some beautiful verses in the book of Isaiah in the Bible that speak about God carrying us. I know that He is carrying me. I also know that I am kicking and screaming and squirming in His arms like a small, wilful child. Hopefully at some point soon I'll exhaust myself, and this need to know will fall away somehow. This is what I aspire to:

"My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quietened myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.
[I will] put [my] hope in the Lord
    both now and for evermore."
Psalm 131

When I get to that stage, I'll let you know. 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Fine, Thank You

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Sometimes I wonder whether I'm the only one who still has days that don't score ten out of ten?

You know: the days when you're a bit sweary on the inside but can be proud of yourself for keeping a lid on it. Or you're feeling a little flat, but it doesn't go so far as to make you self-absorbed - you're still fairly kind and okay company. The quiet days when you're without amazing things to say, when everything feels a sort of gentle ordinary - "not bad", "fine thank you".

And I am thankful. I'm really thankful that those days are allowed, acceptable and can be celebrated too. It's fine to be fine.

It is. Irrespective of what the facebook news-feed suggests, with its constant stream of comparison-inducing highlights: the births, engagements, holidays flushed with filters. Irrespective of the mad beauty of living in a city of perpetual strivers. Irrespective of the internal churn of goals and dreams. 

It's fine to be just fine.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hello Lomo!

I have so much enthusiasm for lomography right now! At the moment, I've just been experimenting with the instant back attachment on the LC-A+, taking polariod-like pictures at random and watching them come to life in my hands.

The instants come in packs of ten, and my initial gut reaction was to want each one to be worthy of being treasured. The pictures feel vulnerable. I wanted to only take the best shots and keep them somewhere really safe as a testament to the glowing moments, the beautiful times. It's early days, but I can already feel the futility that approach. 

I'm right at the beginning of learning to use the camera - some of the photos aren't great. Even when I improve, inevitably some of these credit-card sized prints will get lost, have something spilt on them or be tarnished in another way. Clutching at them because they're unique doesn't help me to enjoy their uniqueness - it just detracts from the joy of making the images in the first place. Better to hold them lightly for the sake of a rich "in the moment" experience rather than guarding them closely out of fear.

The whole Lomo experiment is a small echo that makes sense of something I've been contemplating recently in the riddles of Jesus:

"Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. 
But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal."
(John 12v25 MSG) 

It's easy to accidentally end up spending so much time and energy fiercely accumulating tokens of our worthiness: things, status, achievements, pictures that prove we meant something to someone or have done something interesting with our lives. But the more precious I make those tokens, the more important it becomes for me to defensively maintain them at all costs, and the more likely it is that they will eventually morph into burdens.

I don't want to be weighed down by a stack of photos I feel I can't let go of. So I'm starting to make some of them into cards. I love that these pictures are the only record of a particular space and time, a snapshot in the truest sense. They're special because of that. But because of that it also feels extra special to be liberal with them, to give something of mine that's irreplaceable to someone else and paradoxically feel enriched by that act, rather than diminished. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

I Believe in Stories

A couple of things have left me wanting to write this post, but it's turning out to be one of the tricky ones where I don't feel very eloquent...

These are the triggers.
One: I've just finished reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Two: A friend shared the Mama Hope video above on their facebook page.

I guess a nebulous connection is that they both challenge racial stereotypes and go some way to redefining the realities presented by fiction. But I've been mulling them both over and I think the broader point I feel so strongly about is this: I believe in stories.

We have a lot of information. And we have a cacophony of opinions. Stories, though, they do something else. Stories help us see bits of the world or ourselves that we can't necessarily take on board in the cold light of day. They create a more manageable ecosystem with a beginning, middle and end. Even the more thought-provoking narratives will have a limit to the number of tricky issues they throw at an audience. We never have to be completely overwhelmed in the way that life can make us feel. We get to explore new things (or escape familiarities) in the safety that comes from slight detachment: this is not, after all, "real life".

But stories are powerful. Repeatedly telling the same kind of story at the expense of others enshrines one view of normalcy and acceptability. The stories become a lense, a kind of shorthand for knowing the "real world". Narratives shape world views. World views shape attitudes. Attitudes shape actions. Actions shape cultures. And culture is the ocean we swim in and the air we breathe: we only notice it when someone cuts across it, exposing the construct and making us question the assumptions we didn't even know we held.

Stories are powerful.

That's why we need more storytellers. We need the playwrights, the scriptwriters, the poets, the novelists. We also need the honest people: the ones who say it like it is from their point of view, whether or not they use fiction as a vehicle. We need the truth-tellers. And we need them to come from every corner of society and of the globe. We really do. How else will we know ourselves? How else will we learn? 

How else will we change the world?

Monday, 8 June 2015

"The Bridges of Madison County"

Photo credit: screen shot of a still from the film in the Photo Gallery on IMDb

Starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood
Based on novel by Robert James Waller

This film about a married mother's affair has come into my life via extended family and I have no idea how I feel about it. There's something melancholy and unsettling about it but, at the same time, words like "uplifting" and "redemptive" don't seem out of place either. It's complex. Like life. I think I react strongly to its themes because seeing someone lost inside their own life scares me: I don't ever want to be in that position. And I guess, from that fear, part of me judges Meryl Streep's character, Francesca, for ending up in that state.

Not long after seeing this film for the second time, I had a conversation with someone who essentially shares a similar world-view to me but phrases things in language that makes me uncomfortable. Her expression of things close to my heart has less nuances and more certainties. As she talked about her views, I could feel myself growing increasingly defensive. Hostile even. And I'm so sorry for it. Because I was judging her too.

It is easy to judge. Too easy. And labels can feel handy and necessary when the alternative is having to actually grapple with how little we really know of other people, and even ourselves. But I think this film and the aftermath of watching it makes me re-realise that I don't want to waste my energy being critical of other people.

I would love to be a voice of insight and challenge, someone capable of calling out the best in others before they recognise it in themselves. But more importantly, I also want to know how to mind my own business and take care of my own life. That's the task I'm really held accountable for: the small but essential business of being me.

So I want to live and let live.

Because I think if I can really live - if I can get into the guts of my own life, mining it for all it's worth, if I can cherish people and experiences and be generous with my kindness and gifts - that will surely turn out well for all of us. That will surely point to something special and Someone more worthy of our attention than the details that seemingly divide us.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

"The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman" - Denis Thériault

Most of the way through this book, I didn't get what the fuss was about. A friend recommended it. Somewhere along the line, we found ourselves talking about haiku and she brought up this book, stuffed full of Japanese stanzas.

The poetry is integral to the whole pace, structure and plot of the story, and initially I felt a little like I was reading an educational guide thinly veiled in fiction. I was frustrated by the sparse character detail. The lack of direct speech seemed like a barrier to really entering into the action, and the action seemed like a secondary interjection to the main feature: haiku after haiku, then tanka (the haiku's five-lined counterpart), then back to haiku. I was tempted to just not finish it but it's a pretty short book to quit on, so I ploughed through.

And then. Then I got it.

For me, the closing pages elevated this book from a fairly odd read to a confirmed work of genius. I don't want to spoil it for the uninitiated, but it was so surprisingly satisfying. Thériault's smashing of storytelling convention, like his complete disregard for the cardinal rule of "show, don't tell", is perfectly attuned to such an unconventional tale. At the end of the 101 page journey, everything and nothing makes sense.

I would love to have the language skills to read it in French. Although the translation fully paints the story's excessive passions and unsettling, fantastical events, I imagine the rhythms and romanticism within its original language take the craftsmanship to a whole new level of sophistication.

But I think the thing I'm the most grateful for from my experience of reading the book, is that it's played its part in the "wow" I feel about the world again. Its rekindled my sense of wanting to write, wanting to share, wanting to appreciate the artistry of others.

It's reminded me of the magic in the mundane. So thank you, Thériault.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The Pollyanna Project

I started another postcard project a few weeks ago at a point when I really needed to challenge myself to change my thinking.

It's called the Pollyanna project in honour of the slightly annoying heroine of the self-titled books and film: an orphan who is seemingly able to see the bright-side of absolutely everything. I found myself counting down the days left in this particular life-season in a really unconstructive way, and decided I needed to take a leaf out of Pollyanna's book and "count my blessings" instead. 

As a fresh way of tapping into that old cliché, I am writing a thank you note at the end of each work day to acknowledge the positive things I've gained during this whole phase, despite the difficulties. Things like integrity, resourcefulness and the overwhelming kindness and support of others. Things like financial stability, opportunity and a greater capacity to persevere. By the time I've found another 63 reasons to be thankful, it will all be over. Somehow, seen from that perspective, the end doesn't seem so far away.

The best part about the Pollyanna Project is that I am finally, finally, FINALLY making peace with the way the last couple of years turned out. I am making peace: I am constructing it with effort and deliberate focus, building peace out of gratitude and the humility to accept that life is bigger than my whims and agendas, but I am cared for at all times anyway.

I'm finding the truth in what others discovered before me:

"Whatever is true, 
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable
- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about such things...
And the God of peace will be with you."

(Philippians 4v8)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Attention Please! Emily Dickinson and Being Invisible

(available for a limited time)

Emily Dickinson is hardly a secret: she's one of the American poets whose name might spring to mind alongside Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson - a classic voice that people feel passionately about.

What I hadn't appreciated, until recently, is just how much of a recluse she was while she was alive. Listening to 'The Poet and The Murderer', I learned that Dickinson didn't publish a single poem during her lifetime. It was the posthumous discovery of her poems that released them, in their hundreds, from the confines of a locked box into the waiting world.

I listened to the programme over a week ago - it's about much more than Dickinson's approach to writing. But those introductory comments have stayed with me, as have the echoes of her poem "I'm Nobody! Who are you?".

There's something so brave and so rare in her defiant indifference to being noticed and celebrated. That level of personal contentment feels like a lost skill, maybe even a luxury that our age just can't afford anymore. We have musicians who have to moonlight as social media marketers. We have models who are not only expected to look a certain way, but also to be brands themselves with followers in the millions. We have politicians who are required to take a break from the business of running the country so that we can have a stream of selfies taken with them. 

It's not to say there aren't positives in all of this: transparency, power-shifts away from institutions to the individual...

But being recognised has become so important. 
Do we do anything for its own sake anymore? 

Thinking about Emily Dickinson makes me tingle all over with the realisation that I can write because I love to write, not because I need to be read. I can love because I'm learning to be loving, not because I want to be loved. We can escape the clamour for external validation and just relish the act of the doing the things that make us come alive. We can choose to share selflessly, as a byproduct of being the people we want to be.

We might be noticed. We might not. But we will definitely have lived well.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tyranny of the To-Do List

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I've been making lists. 

There's a sad and funny page in Sabrina Ward Harrison's art journal "Messy Thrilling Life" that I've had open for a few days now, face up by the sofa, illustrating what I don't want to feel but have seen creeping into my thinking anyway:
"The first thirty-four things on my mind today:
Keep up
Keep up

Instead of enjoying the excitement of the unknown, I've been drowning in the need to "make the most of everything" and "get things straight" and "work out what I'm doing". Which is a pretty massive task for a weekend to-do list.

Thankfully, I've been reminded in conversation with an old friend that everything is already right. This stumbling around is good. These growing pains are good. There is something special in the vulnerability that comes from not knowing what we're doing.

So I'm trying to reclaim the list as a tool to point me towards adventure and new ways to fill my time with things that energise and inspire me. And more importantly, I'm reclaiming the truth that I don't really have to do anything. I am already enough. My foundations are solid. Forgiveness, hope, assurance - all the important things that make life meaningful are already taken care of: it is finished.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

"Ode to the Dreamer" (Joshua Luke Smith)

Part of the 'Lyrical Lifelines' Series.


I'm making some life-changes and, from a few of the reactions so far, I'm worried that I've accidentally made it look easy.

I get it. It's tempting to look at other people's lives and think that their struggles aren't as difficult as our own. Or that they have some innate ability to handle life with fewer hiccups along the way. But it's bollocks. Most people find parts of their lives really, really hard - even if they don't say so.

I don't tend to share "my insecurities" with many people; I need to be sure of a constructive response. I don't even like to claim them as my own. There are things that make me feel small and afraid, but I don't choose to wrap them into the way I define myself. That doesn't mean they're not there, or that I won't need or ask for help.

But as much as we all need support in our weakness, I actually think our greater need is support to be strong. 

We need to be surrounded by people who let us be brilliant and vulnerably glorious. When I start daring to dream and begin to follow through, when I'm doing the hard work of putting my money where my mouth is and I'm persevering in the face of uncertainty and personal cost - that's when I need encouragement the most.

I crave an audience of yes-sayers. I want an army of people who believe in impossibilities and, better still, live out that belief in their everyday lives. I want inspiration, iron sharpening iron.

That's when I put on "Ode to the Dreamer" by Joshua Luke Smith. I put it on repeat, I sing along with an inevitable head-bop and I remember this beautiful collective of artists who are continually putting themselves out on a limb, doing incredible work to remind us of who we really are and what we're really capable of.

"I believe you have a hope and a future, a hope and a future - darlin' I believe."

This is how it should be. Instead of feeling intimidated and buying into lies that other people are more "sorted" than us, let's borrow each other's bravery. If they can do it, I can do it. If I can do it, you can definitely do it.

Let's all go on to better things, together.

'Lyrical lifelines' - songs that save my world

Monday, 6 April 2015

Wardrobe Stories (the Resurrection edition)

It's Easter weekend, and this year that feels more significant than it has in a while.

A few weeks ago I bought a ring - gold coloured, if not actually gold. It caught my eye in one of my go-to secondhand shops near Goodge Street, and - magpie like - I had to have it. Not because it's a pretty ring, although I think we can agree that it is. I had to have it because I was feeling utterly miserable, burnt out and jaded. An unfortunate sequence of events had just led to me being signed off work for a week on stress related sick-leave and I was starting to do the hard work of putting myself back together. The ring was a symbol for me - a reminder of something I read a while back. It reminded me of a beautiful letter of complaint someone authored and 'sent' to God a long time ago, and the hopeful conclusion that person managed to come to in spite of their pain:

But if I go to the east, [God] is not there;
    if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
    when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.
But he knows the way that I take;
    when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
 Job 23v9-11 (the Bible)

The whole of Job chapter 23 is a poetic masterclass in being honest about struggling in life and faith, but I especially love the verses above. I love being reminded that when I look for God in my circumstances and come up empty, I can still choose to trust that the place I'm in is okay and will mould me into someone I can be proud to be: "I will come forth as gold".

I wore this ring on the index figure of my right hand for days straight (despite the fact that it is ever so slightly too small). I wore it with my pyjamas, duvets piled on top of me, reading Made for Goodness by Desmond and Mpho Tutu, learning how to let go. I wore it when I felt strong enough to leave the house, strong enough to go back to work, strong enough to be better not bitter.

And now?

Truth be told, I haven't worn it in a little while. I've noticed that the "gold" is rubbing off and the ring is morphing into just another grey accessory in my stockpile of silver and white-gold jewelry. Sad times. But it makes me aware of how much I don't want that to be the case for my character. I don't want it to be said that when the pressure is on and I'm in the grind, the good things fall away and I'm revealed to be a lesser person: less kind, less gracious, less grateful, less passionate.

So I'm making some changes. I'm taking some leaps of faith to try and keep my life and my values aligned. I feel ready to share some of those things again - it feels good to "be back", to be doing more of the things I love - writing included - and drawing inspiration from the goodness that surrounds us.

Easter, to me, encapsulates the miracle of empowerment and second chances. Beginning over, bravery winning out over fear and discouragement, building on a foundation of love and security that Someone Else laid for us.

It's time for resurrection. And it feels so, so good.

'Wardrobe Stories' are a string of posts helping me to appreciate the clothes and accessories I own in an atmosphere where it's easy to end up taking things for granted.
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